Monthly Archives: August 2012

Putting the Scriptures into action

One of my favorite verses comes from Acts chapter 17:

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Act 17:11)

It is my favorite because the spirit that the Bereans had is the same that we should have today.

First, they received the word with all readiness.

They did not simply say “we have the Scriptures already and there is nothing new to learn.” In fact, those Scriptures which they had (our Old Testament) were pointing to a coming Messiah. When Paul showed up preaching that the Messiah had come, he appealed to those Scriptures to make his point. You can see in verses 1-5 that Paul first reasoned from the Scriptures in Thesolonica and some were persuaded of the Greeks, but not so many of the Jews.

Second, the Bereans searched the Scriptures to see:

To see what? To see if what Paul was saying was true. Did the Messiah come from Bethlehem? Would he be rejected? Was Jesus the prophet Moses had promised?

When I go to a place to preach or study for the first time, it is my custom to read verse 11 and explain to the audience (or individual) that we have a responsibility to search the Scriptures to see if the things presented are, indeed, from God. What we are doing, in this case, is saying that we accept the Scriptures as God’s Holy word and as our standard to measure our teachings.

That which is not from God is rejected, that which is from God is retained. Book, chapter, and verse is what we look for.

This means that when we hear someone who wants to impart to us something from God, we can afford to be courteous and do as the Bereans did: Listen. Yet, we also search the Scriptures, as they did. And a final step in that process is to discuss the message with the messenger.

Aquilla and Pricilla did just that with Apollos. They heard him, took him aside, and shared a part of the message that he was missing. He didn’t have all of the Gospel. (Acts 18:24-28) What I write, I hope (I believe) is in line with the Scriptures but it is for my audience member to search the Scriptures and see. They then are encouraged to offer information which they think would be relevant, even if, it is the opposite of what I said, or supplies more than what I said. The goal is not which of us is right but, knowing that God is always right, to make our message in agreement with his.

Which brings up another thought and the motive for today’s blog:

I am sure you have seen on Facebook, or other social media outlets, chain posts that go something like this:

I wanted to see who reads my posts (only about 7 of you) so you need to write one word on my wall and repost this on yours so I can do the same.

Or, If you don’t re post this then you are going to have to start paying for Facebook.

Or, Like this post if you are still my friend, I will delete the rest. Blah, blah, blah!

Why can’t we offer something to others that is truly inspiring?  Why not inspire a person with something that will encourage them to live better or do better? Posts about how your life is going, what the kids did or are doing are great;  we keep up with our friends, family, and current events. That can be encouraging. But posts like the ones above do not inspire a person to greatness.

While I  hope all my posts which I pass on to Facebook and twitter are thought provoking and encouraging, it isn’t like I am the only one who shares good things. So, I am going to take my own advice and try to share a blog post or two from someone else that I think hits the mark. The point of my blogs, and those that I will share, is to present the Scriptures and let my audience search and see if they are from God. If they are: put it into action. If they are not, ignore it.

Your challenge is to do the same. You don’t have to post mine, you can post someone else’s, but share another blog, either on Facebook or your own blog post. Why? Because you will introduce people to another’s perspective, writing style, and way to explain things. It is not the one who waters or who plants but the one who gives the increase (God) that we should be trying to glorify and point people toward.

How much better an inspiring post than a chain post?  Of how much more value? How much more a better use of the readers time?

Question: Who do you read that writes good inspiring blog posts? Share the link below. (Yes, you can share your own blog link!)

Photo credit: sbarkley

 

 

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7 things you need to go to heaven

How much clearer could Peter be when he said:

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2Pe 1:8-11)

There are seven things that we need to add to our faith in order to be fruitful and make it to Heaven.

As we finish our look at these characteristics, we have spent many weeks writing about these qualities. This post will review them as we finish this line of study. Should you wish to read  posts about these individual qualities, you can do a search on the characteristic you want in the search box to the right.

Lest we forget what they are, I will list them and a brief description:

Virtue (or moral excellence)

This is the characterisitc that you need to have which says “I will do what God wants me to do, regardless of the costs.”  This quality is needed because we don’t yet know everything God will require of us or that Satan will tempt us with. When Joseph fled from Potipher’s wife, he showed great virtue and it did cost him.

Knowledge

It makes sense that the faith we start with is not the faith we will die with if we live any length of time. Learning more about what God wants and meditating on His word will give us that knowledge to live more holy lives.

Self-control

A wonderful quality that more of us should practice. We should note that this is not “other” control. Once we have a little knowledge, it is easy to look at others and judge where they are. However, we need to focus first on our self, then we can see clearly to pull the mote from our brother’s eye.

Steadfastness

Without this, we may quit. To be able to beat  a temptation once may be easy but to endure the temptations of Satan, or to bear with those who are still learning, or to continue to grow even when we think we have attained all we need to do requires dedication to the race. When you retire from your work, you do not retire from God.

Godliness

This quality says, what I do, I do with God in mind. In being pious, I show the attributes that God would show were He on Earth. It is something to be trained in, is not to be used superficially for gain but to be coupled with contentment so that I can gain even more…in the next life.

Brotherly love

I owe it to my brothers to have a warm feeling for them, to desire to be around them more than the world. There is a companionship in the church that needs to be fostered to encourage others and allow yourself to be encouraged.

Love (Agape)

This is a duty bound love that does what is in the best interest of the person loved. Sometimes it is your neighbor, sometimes it is God, sometimes (occasionally) it is your self. You cannot love God unless you love your fellow man. This is the love that we are commanded to show to enemies because when we were enemies of God, He showed it to us!
This is not some check list that you can just mark off and say “I got that covered”, it is not that simple. You cannot simply do godliness for a day and think you have it. You cannot be steadfast for a week and mark it off. These are qualities that you ADD to your faith and CONTINUE IN and GROW IN.

Conclusion:

Notice Peter didn’t say if you ‘have them’ but if you have them and they “abound.” That is, if you grow in them. And if you grow in them, you will not be “unfruitful”, you will not “stumble” and you will be “abundantly” supplied entrance into the Kingdom of Jesus.

Those that do not, are soooooooooo short sighted (blind) that they can’t see past this world. In other words, unlike the great men of faith, they do not look for a heavenly home, it is not real to them. They also have forgotten that they were cleansed from their sin. Imagine someone barely saved from death by a liver transplant. Grateful, they stop drinking which caused the problem in the first place. Then they forget that they were barely saved and go back to the bottle and ruin the new liver.  Such are those who were saved and do not grow in these virtues.

Peter made a point of reminding his readers about these qualities. It wasn’t that they didn’t know these things but he wanted them always to be able to remember them, even after his death. Let’s work to add these qualities to our faith so that we may be fruitful for Jesus.

Love bears all things…for God and others

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1Co 13:7-8)

This section of Paul’s descriptive definition of Agape love emphasizes the permanence of Love. It is not something that shows up every now and then, whimsically. It is something that continues. Like the energizer bunny rabbit, it keeps going and going….and going.

Love, Agape love, will never end.

This section of Paul’s description of Love has a primary application and, I think, a legitimate secondary application.

The primary application: Love others

As we relate with others, whether family members, brothers in the Lord, people in the world, or even enemies of the cross of Christ, the one thing we should always show is love. Love is doing what is in a persons best interest. Paul could have written:

Love bears all things to do the best for others, believes all things for the other’s best, desires and expects the best for others always, endures every thing for another s best interest. Love will never stop doing what is in a person’s best interest. 

Believe all things? Hope all things? Not to the point of being gullible!

It is not good, nor is it doing what is in the person’s best interest (love), to believe everything that you hear! When you loan a prodigal son more money because he promises with tears that he will change and then say “I love him so much” you miss the point of “best interest”.  To say “I am supposed to believe him and hope he means it” is not love, it is wishful, gullible, and harmful (to them and to you) type of behavior.

On the other hand, we are to bear the burdens of others. When it is in their best interest to do so, we need to step up. When others would (or already have) given up, love is there. Sometimes with a hand out, sometimes with a rebuke but it is always for, and in, the person’s best interest.

The difference between helping and not helping can be as simple as distinguishing between boulder size burdens and the knapsack size burdens as Dr. Henry Cloud mentions in his book, Boundaries. We help with the boulder size burdens and encourage them to deal with the knapsack size ones themselves.

This is the type of Love God shows and has shown to us. Even while we were enemies, He showed his love toward us in Jesus.

Second application: love God.

A secondary application can be seen in our love for God. The greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. But if, as we have defined agape love, it is more duty bound and not based on emotion, how do we ‘love‘ God in that manner? How do we do what is in His best interest?

We who are Christians do what is in God’s best interest when we honor to the name that we wear. If we are going to wear his name, claim to serve Him, then our conduct should be “worthy of” the calling and Gospel we say we are loyal too. To use a Scripture:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1Pe 1:14-16)

To use an example from current events, we could point to Prince Harry of England. His conduct recently in Las Vegas did not bring credit to either the family, the nation, or the army he serves in. Of course, I know we can all point to ourselves at some time or other in our life when we did something that brought discredit to family or others, especially to the God we serve. Some of those were even worse than Prince Harry.

It was failure to do what is in God’s best interest (e.g. love God) that got David into so much trouble with Bathsheba. After the adultery, murder and rushed marriage to hide her pregnacy, Nathan rebukes David and adds that  David had given reason to the enemies of God to blaspheme (2 sam 12:14 nkjv). Imagine that, David gave a reason for people to blaspheme God!

Peter says that we should live in such a way that the enemies will glorify God (1 Peter 2:12). We don’t want our lives to lead to others turning away from God.  Doing what is in God’s best interest will keep Him being glorified and honored.

Love for God will bear all things necessary to be faithful. We are to bear the reproach of Jesus who suffered to justify us (Heb 13:11-15) and we are the bear His cross if we wish to be His disciples (Luke 14:26-27)

Love for God will believe all things he tells you. No need to worry about being gullible, if God says it, it is true; God does not lie. (Heb 6:18) That belief will result in trust and obedience to His will.

Love for God will hope all things. Hope is a combination of desire and expectation and the Christian will continue to hope, putting his/her trust in the God who never changes and cannot lie. We hope for what we cannot yet see but expect that we will receive it.

Love for God endures all things for the cause of Christ. Even when family and friends turn against you, you endure to the end and  receive your salvation (Matt 10:21) Even when you suffer trials and tribulations and perhaps even prison, we do it for the Gospel and,even if we are bound, the Gospel is not bound. (2 Tim 2:8-10) Be faithful unto death and we shall receive the crown of life (Rev 2:10)

Love never ends.

Question: Does thinking of Love as a duty and not an emotion, help you to show more love to those you have difficulty having warm fuzzy feelings toward?

photo credit: Freepix.com via Google images

Love does not rejoice in the wrongdoing of others.

Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing. In the last few posts we have looked at the wrongdoing of ourselves but now we need to turn to the wrongdoing of others and our reaction to it. It may be a surprise that people would rejoice in the wrongdoing of others but there are times when that happens. Two specific examples come to mind from the Scriptures.

Being tolerant of another’s sins.

In First Corinthians chapter 5, there was a brother in the church living with his father’s wife. The church, knowing this, did not take any action to stop him. It seems that they were tolerating his immoral behavior and, if I read it correctly, happy to be so tolerant of behavior that Paul says “even the Gentiles” don’t put up with!

Of course, we should remember that the intolerance of another person’s sins is more pronounced when the person is supposed to be (claims to be) a Christian. We do not expect, nor do we insist on righteous behavior from those who want to live in the world.

This may seem to be hard to accept but the Gospel spells our the message and only those who are willing to receive it place themselves under the rules and commands of Jesus. I do not expect godly behavior from the world but we should expect it from those in the church.

Rejoicing when the righteous do wrong.

While we should not accept the sins of other Christians and be tolerant of them, neither should we rejoice when another follower of God stumbles into sin.

And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. (Gen 9:20-23 NKJV)

When Noah’s son, Ham, saw that his father had gotten drunk, he delighted in that. Many interpretations exist but they center in the fact that Ham was only to happy to rejoice in his father’s sin. “The mighty preacher of righteousness has stumbled and fallen!” Both First Corinthians and James deal with the ambition of those who would only be too happy to have a rival fall into some sin.

Do you rejoice in unrighteousness?

The sad fact seems to be that we do not even recognize those times we rejoice in unrighteousness. Television and movies bring to our attention all sorts of scenes and scenarios that no Christian should be watching. It is not enough to say “but that is real life”, the fact is that T.V. and now even commercials are showing us images that do not even cause us to blush! We justify it in many ways, but I will suggest that if we enjoy and look forward to shows which have non married couples living together and root for the relationship of those who shouldn’t be dating, that we are, in fact, rejoicing in sin.

We need to take extra precaution to avoid some themes in our T.V. watching if we even choose to have a T.V.! Movies, even the seemingly innocent ones, bring in to our minds, via implication, language, and other means those things which can tempt Christians by piquing interest that otherwise would not be there.

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.

Question: Let us learn from others: What are other ways the we rejoice in unrighteousness?

 

 

Love does not rejoice in wrong-past, present, or future.

   Love does not rejoice in wrongdoings of others and should not rejoice in it’s own wrongdoings either. Yet, it seems that we do find some who do rejoice (take pleasure in) in the things that they did/do/will do which are wrong.

Past wrongdoings.

   Peter tells us that the past life is to be forgotten and left behind:

žSince therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. (1Pe 4:1-3 ESV)
   Yet, how many times have you known someone who finds glory in  the ‘good ole days’ of youthful indiscretions and immoral behavior? In the world, yes! But, what about those who claim to be Christians? Yes, it has been known to happen among Christians too.
   The affect of such glorying can be damaging to Christians (of any age) who have not grown up in the world and did not engage in worldly activities to the same extent. It creates the possibility of temptations in their life to do things they shouldn’t but which have been made to seem enticing and fun.
   We should rather mourn the past and glory in the forgiveness we have in Christ. Love will not rejoice in its own past wrongdoings.
Present wrongdoings.
   These are the ones we are currently battling. (Some which we may have carried with us from the past).
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (Jas 4:8-10 ESV)
   The good news (Good News!) is that God will forgive us but we need to draw near to Him. We can wallow in our sin because we enjoy it, find comfort in it, or think that it isn’t that bad. Unfortunately, we try to possess things that are not ours, will not be good for us and in the end, leave us more empty than when we started.
žAnd they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. (Exo 32:6-7 ESV)
   Israel’s attempt to have ‘gods’ who would take them back to Egypt was merely a pathway to unrestrained behavior. When the Bible says “rose up to play” it is not referring to a game of Baseball or Red Rover!
   What we need is the “godly sorrow” that Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 “it produces repentance than leads to salvation.” Love will not rejoice in its own wrongdoings.
Future wrongdoings
   Eugene is correct in his comment on my last post. “Getting even” is a future sin and all sin that is PLANNED out is future. When you think of sin as either ‘lust of eyes, lust of flesh, or pride of life” you can easily see examples of sin where the sin is planned out before being undertaken.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– James 4:13ff
My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; Proverbs 1:10-14
Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.  (Mic 2:1-2)

   It also does not rejoice in sins that you would do, if you wouldn’t get caught. Few children will steal a cookie from the cookie jar with Mom in the room.  (Fewer do it a second time!). No, they wait until they will not (they think) be caught and punished.
   If you would do this or that EXCEPT that God is watching or your parents would find out. It still is lust and desire that you are just as guilty of carrying out.
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Mat 5:28)

   Rather than planning to do evil, rather than planning to do our own will and satisfy our own wants, wishes, and desires (which in the process is to commit sin) we should devote ourselves to planning how to serve God. Love does not rejoice its own wrongdoings that are yet to be completed.
   One of the reasons why I have written on the aspect of “its own wrongdoings” is because while it is true that Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, we tend to only see the wrongdoings of others. We need to examine ourselves before we can properly (and humbly) identify the wrongdoings that others have, in an attempt to help them correct it.
photo credit: tourist_on_earth

Love does not rejoice in it’s own wrongdoing

What does it take for someone to rejoice in wrongdoing? To rejoice in the sins and unrighteousness of others, or yourself, is exactly what love does not do.

It should be obvious that we should not rejoice in our own wrongdoings and yet, that is not the way it always works. Rejoicing in one’s own wrongdoing can sometimes take a variety of forms.

“I am suffering for the cause of Christ.”

So many times people use their suffering as a proof of their devotion to Christ. While it is true the Christians will suffer and suffer for the cause of Christ, there are times when they are suffering out of their own fault. We should not go looking for suffering, nor should we bring it upon ourselves, nor suffer for doing what is wrong.

For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.  (1Pe 2:20)
If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.  (1Pe 4:14-16)

Playing the martyr for one’s own glory or being a thief or evildoer and yes, even meddling in the affairs of others is not love. When you suffer because of those things, do not think that it is because you belong to Christ. Do not justify suffering brought upon yourself as a suffering for Christ.

This is just the way I am!

While you might not think of this as a “rejoicing”, the person who makes this statement about things they do wrong, is saying in effect, that they are fine with how they are. “I like me the way I am and there is no need to change.” That is truly rejoicing or taking pleasure in wrong doing.

žBut if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (Jas 3:14-16 ESV)

You hear this kind of rejoicing when it comes to things like “temper”. Someone flies off the handle and loses their temper and then says “But that is the way I am.”  Whether someone is short tempered or unkind or weak against some type of temptation is NOT just the way they are. We need to recognize what we do and then work to change it. Someone once said “God saves me “just as I am” but wants me to grow so that it is “just as I was””

Love also does not rejoice in it’s wrongdoing regardless of whether it is Past, Present, or Future, which is for the next blog.

Question: We might know what past and future sins are, but what are the future sins we should not rejoice in?

Love is not resentful

Love also is not resentful. It does not take an account of wrongs suffered. It does not think that someone woke up with an intent to do them wrong. Love is willing give the benefit of the doubt when difficulties arrive. This results in one thing that is characteristic of Love, Forgiveness.

When I hold onto resentment, what I am saying, in effect, is that some injustice has been done to me and I need to see justice dealt out. Something needs to even the score. Reconciliation in such cases involves the offender grovelling. At any minute the offended can pull out not just the current offense but any list of previous offenses which they have been keeping track of.

Love, on the other hand, is willing to let go injustices and wrongs suffered. It certainly will not have a filing cabinet stuffed with all the wrongs suffered. It doesn’t keep a count of the wrongs done against it.

The prodigal son’s brother apparently was not one to let go of a resentment and it only got worse after the brother returned. I have wondered if the older brother was jealous of the his younger brother’s lifestyle. It shouldn’t be that way, of course (more on that in a bit), and it doesn’t seem as if he enjoyed the blessings of being in his father’s household.

At the very least, he was resentful of his father’s welcome of this prodigal young man. He says that he didn’t have any parties with his friends and feels as if his father has mistreated him in some way. This is highly unlikely based on the father’s response to both children AND even more unlikely when you consider the parable’s father is representative of our Heavenly Father who is only too glad to be generous in His blessings.

The men hired by the landowner to work in his field were grudge holders also. (Matt 20) They resented this good man for being generous to those who had worked a mere hour. I know that in today’s culture, labor laws would no doubt prohibit such generosity. There would be lawsuits and grievances filed and the poor landowner would be thinking, “why do I even bother?”. Yet, his question is valid “Is it not lawful….?” He broke no law, no crime had been done. There was no law against being generous and there is no law that prohibits us from being forgiving and letting go of resentment.

A better response to those that wrong us is to remember how much we have wronged God.

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mar 11:25-26 NKJV)

It matters not how bad the crime or how big the offense, the sins I have done against God are far bigger than those offenses against me. Hard to hear? Yep! Yet, well worth thinking about, pondering and trying to work on. If we are going to be Love (as God is Love), we need to remove resentment, for any reason, from our life.

But before I stop, what about that idea of being jealous of those who have lived the “good life” ( I am speaking tongue in cheek)? Have you known people who, with a wistful eye or tone in their voice, indicate that they would have liked to spend time “sowing their wild oats” but because they knew better, never did?  They look at those are now faithful to God and think ” but I never had all those fun times”

They forget that so many more sinners are trapped and will never escape. Should they, for example, take a single drink from Satan’s sparkling cup of pleasure, they may never return! The answer for them, of course, is not “Go ahead and do so” but rather, “Repent and do not envy or be resentful of that other person’s life.” If, indeed, those former prodigals have repented, they are now sorrowful and not reminiscing about ‘good times’.

Question: Why do we feel we need to resent and hold grudges?

photo taken from Google images.

 

 

Love is not irritable

Another version of the same passage says that Love is not easily provoked. I don’t think there is one of us with an older or younger sibling, who does not understand the meaning of the word “provoked”. Either we were the provoker or the victim! Hopefully, as we grew older, in most cases, that type of early childhood provocation died away.

Yet, we know people today, adults, who will, with the slightest hint of provocation, unleash a whole barrage of anger. They then turn around and say “YOU make me so angry” or “That’s the way I am”. Some even blame their heritage or hair-itage. “I am Irish” or “I have red hair”, they say.

Love does not rush to wrath. In fact, if we were to follow the advice James offers us: be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath, we might avoid a lot of problems in our own lives and create fewer difficulites in the lives of others.

James says that the “wrath of man” does not work the righteousness of God. Perhaps I am incorrect, but in the context of James, I think he contrasts “man’s wrath and will” with “God’s will” and implies God’s wrath is different.

We understand that God does show wrath but after how long of a time? The patience he showed while the ark was being built, while the sin of the Ammorites increased, with Nineveh during the days of Jonah, with Israel….all through their existence, teaches us two things very clearly. God’s wrath is slow in coming and is not something you want to experience.

Love does not allow the little things to provoke it. Love is bigger than the petty things that those who have not learned to love are interested in. Love will show wrath at appropriate times but the childish provocations of children and worldly people are not the times to let loose.

Can you imagine if Jesus had displayed the wrath of man?

He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1Pe 2:22-23)

How would the righteousness of God (Romans 1:16-17) been shown, if Jesus had been so easily provoked! (I hasten to add, that I speak in hyperbole when I say “easily provoked”, He showed remarkable constraint) What if He had called those 12 legions of angels? Where would the Gospel be?

Question: What causes you to get angry the quickest? Is that trigger mechanism something you have prayed to God about?

Photo Credit: Matt Erasmus

Three things Love does not seek for itself.

In the King James versions, 1 cor 13:5 says “Love does not seek its own” and my question is “Its own what?”

Clearly this is designed to be a selfish seeking and not one where “best interest” of self is involved. Since we are to love others as we love ourselves, some love of self is allowed for. However, Paul’s point would not be focused on that narrow definition. He is more clearly focused on those things that we seek which when we seek them, we do not show or become love. It is a selfishness like the seagulls in the movie “Finding Nemo”

I would suggest three things that love does not seek for itself.

Love does not seek its own desires!

This started early in our history at day two! (Well, maybe Satan waited a week, but I am sure he was busy quickly.) He tempted Eve with desires that she didn’t need to have or need fulfilled. All the other trees were good for food and beautiful, only this one would make her wise. Tempted by her own desires, she gave in and ate.

Solomon warned his son not to go along with those who put their desires ahead of others good. In Chapter one of Proverbs, he warns his son not listen to the enticement of sinners who will lay in ambush for innocent blood just to increase their own profit. These people are setting traps for their own life, in front of their own eyes, and do not realize it. (Prov 1:10-ff)

Micah warned the leaders who lie on their beds and dream up schemes of iniquity and then in the morning fulfill those dreams “because they can” (Micah 2)

Yes, our desires can be a driving force in our lives. I deserve, I need, I want…but Love does not seek its own desire.

 Love does not seek its own glory!

We have a saying today “Don’t toot your own horn” and in the context of First Corinthians, this is exactly what Paul would have been saying. Chapter 13 on Love falls between chapter 12 and 14 on the proper use of spiritual gifts. In this congregation, you had Christians using their gifts for their own glory.

However, as you read chapters 12 and 14 you will soon see a repeated theme: In the church, it is God’s glory and others benefit that God wants us to seek. We are in the body to bring glory to God not to our self.

They were using gifts that they had received…as if they had not received them. That is, they owed no one anything, least of all God! (1 cor 4:7)

The pharisees prayed, fasted, and tithed so that they would received the glory of men and God says “that is all they received”

While we may feel the need to bring glory to our self, Jesus advised humility. Let God and others exalt you, not your own hand. (Lk 14:7-11)

Love does not seek its own comfort!

An almost eternal question that Christians wrestle with is “how much do I spend on me and my family?” Is there such a thing as being too rich?

The question itself is worthy of consideration but considering the number of wealthy servants of God in the Bible, I cannot conclude that there is a limit on how rich a Christian can be. What does seem to be a question that we need to ask is “How much do I use, of this money that God gave me, to help others?”

The rich man and Lazarus make this point very well. Lazarus would have gladly eaten of the crumbs from the table. However, the rich man did not give him any. In this life the rich man was comforted, in the next one Lazarus was.

Whether a parable or a true account of someone who lived, the passage teaches us “Do not trust in riches”  I would suggest that you pick a percentage of your income that you set aside specifically to help the poor. Choose a percent. Maybe 2, maybe 5 you can always increase it later.

A question

Love does not seek its own desires, glory, or comforts. Only by paying attention to what we do seek, will we be able to better discern if we have begun to seek those things or if we are steering clear.

Question: What else might fit the statement “Love does not seek its own….what?”

Photo from Google images

 

 

 

Love is not rude

When you contemplate Love, Agape Love, you are focusing on the pure Love that God is. While we sometimes read the characteristics from First Corinthians 13 and romanticize them, they are serious attributes. These are not traits that we simply expect others to develop but we are to strive to develop them ourselves. As a Christian, we add or eliminate the traits Paul mentions because we want to become more like God.

Rudeness has no place in the Christian life. A fine example of rudeness (that may be an oxymoron) happens in the political realm.  If it is not bad enough that the politicians behave rudely, those who claim to be of faith behave rudely too. In this country, we have made political issues out of behavior. Because they are viewed to be political issues, political rules are applied. Rudeness is allowed. This religious group is ok with abortion, that one is not. This one tolerates a homosexual lifestyle, that one does not.  And the way it is discussed does not show love.

Sadly, people forget that behavior is not a political issue but a heart and soul issue. It does not belong to governments to regulate but to God.

Even though Politics allow for rude behavior, being rude about it is not what love is about. Love will speak the truth but it does not need to bring out contempt filled, belittling or degrading words, slogans and actions in order to make its point.  Another Bible version says that Love does not behave itself unseemly. That is to say, inappropriately to the situation.

As true as it is among those in Christ,  it is vital that love is shown to non Christians. If God is Love, how can we show ourselves to be God’s children if we act like the world does (and yes, the world is rude)?There is a group, you may have heard of that protest funerals of the military and other assorted individuals. The protests are filled with hateful rhetoric. The rhetoric makes it difficult for a person to see beyond it.

If the Scriptures teach (and they do) that God considers the homosexual lifestyle to be a sin then how do you teach that message?

If you have ever had to deal with a person involved in heterosexual lifestyle that was sinful, how did you deal with that? Protesting with signs and slogans? It isn’t the best way and in fact, it is not a way to do it all.

Peter exhorted his Jewish audience to save themselves from a perverse generation after he had preached a coherent sermon that they accepted and believed. He urged them to act but did not treat them rudely.

The greatest example of Love is the death of Jesus on the cross. No where do you see rudeness in His life, or in His trial, or in His death. You see direct points, you see rebukes, and you read tough warnings, but rudeness…? No!

Let us be sure we take steps to eliminate rudeness from our life.

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