Calm or Gentle
Intolerant of sin
Tolerant of sin
The Bible commands us concerning our brethren to "warn those who are idle" 1Thess 5:14b In fact we are commanded to keep away from fellow Christians who are intentionally idle. "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you nor did we eat anyones food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you." 2Thess 3:6-8
The lazy can also be identified by their whining and excuses. For example, the sluggard says, "There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!" Pr 26:13 Laziness and cowardice go hand in hand. While the lazy may covet others possessions, they don't work to obtain their own."A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing." Pr 20:4 And "diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor." Pr 12:24 Seeing as the lazy work reluctantly, they have to been overseen, and consequently don't end up as leaders or managers."The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions." Pr 12:27, which is also to say,"The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth." Pr 26:15
The practice of the Christian faith is characterized by diligence.
Paul instructs Timothy, "Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. ... Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress." 1Tim 4:12b-13,15
Heb 6:10-12 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
The diligent attain wisdom. Wisdom personified says,"I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me." Pr 8:17
Pleasure seeking comes natural to our flesh. It is characteristic of the world. "People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited,lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" 2Tim 3:2-4 If one does not set limits and exercise self-control it can take over one's life and turn one from the love of God.
Now "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures."Titus 3:3 But "those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." Ga 5:24
We should beware of excusing ourselves on the basis of being unemployed, disable or otherwise living under difficult circumstances. For "the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives."1Tim 5:6
Pleasure seeking gets in the way of living a frutiful Christian life. "The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature." Luke 8:14
It is not wise to always seek a good feeling. "The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure." Ec 7:4 Moses accepted the way of discipline over pleasure. "He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time." Heb 11:25
Peter instructs us to add the virtue of self-control to our knowledge "and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness" 2Pe 1:6 For it is one thing to have knowledge of the right, but another thing to exercise control over one's flesh to do it.
Self-control can be a scary or unconfortable subject for some. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, "That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you." Ac 24:25 For the worldly are charactaeristically "without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good" 2Ti 3:3 Yet self-control is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. Gal 5:23
People who lack self-control lack restraint, which is to their detriment. "Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control." Pr 25:28
Lev 19:11 "You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another."
Lying is characteristic of the children of the devil. Jesus said to a crowd of unbelievers, "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44 It is characteristic of those going to hell. "The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars— their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." Re 21:8 Satan tempts Christians to lie. "how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit " Acts 5:3a
But to be of the truth is not simply to tell the truth, but to live in accordance with it."The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him." 1John 2:4
While it is often difficult to find an honest person, hose in authority generally appreciate honesty. For what good are advisors who mislead him? "Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth." Pr 16:13
Don't worry how people react to truth. For those who are of the truth appreciate honesty. Jesus said, "Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." John 18:37b So who do you want to listen to you? If you want those who are of the truth to listen to you, then tell them the truth. Conversely if you find they don't appreciate the truth, then what does that say about them?
Rather than telling people lies,"instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ." Eph 4:15 "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body." Eph 4:25
Pr 20:6 "Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?" This is particularly the case with regards to marriage vows. They vow "till death do us part", but end up parting prior to the death of their spouse. And then they go on to make the same vow to someone else. And likewise of women it is written,"I found one upright man among a thousand, but not one upright woman among them all." Ecc 7:28 and "A wife of noble character who can find?" Pr 31:10
People are characteristically unreliable, both men and women. It's a weakness of the flesh. What should be our attitude towards the unreliable? "I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word." Ps 119:158 For example, "Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance." 1Ch 10:13 Let us faithfully seek counsel of the Lord rather than listening to the world, rather than simply boasting of how faithful we are.
2Ti 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. As noted, it's difficult to find reliable people. And thus the ministry suffers, few being faithfully involved. Men should strive to be reliable and to be teachers, which is a sign of maturity, and an expected end. For "by this time you ought to be teachers" Heb 5:12b
The Lord commends the faitfulness of his servants. Mt 25:21 "His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’Fatihfulness, reliability is what is sought in a servant. Which would you prefer? A fancy car which works 50% of the time or a cheap ugly car which works reliably? Reliability goes hand in hand with usefulness, and as such the reliable will be entrusted with more.
Consider Paul who said, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service." 1Ti 1:12 Reliability can give one a good reputation even to one's enemies. 1Sa 29:6 So Achish called David and said to him, "As surely as the LORD lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until now, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don’t approve of you.
A fundamental way in which reliability is practiced is in keeping one's word. A faithful man is one who keeps his oath even when it hurts Ps 15:4
The faithful reliable man has an attitude of long-term perseverance. The unreliable are prone to get-rich-quick schemes as he is not reliable in the long term to hold on to a job. Thus afaithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished. Pr 28:20
To help in the practice of faithfulness and reliability I would advise to avoid taking on non-essential responsibilities. And the more you have, the more resources you'll spend on maintenance and your interests will be divided."I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord."1Cor 7:35
Pr 28:2 When a
country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a man of understanding
and knowledge maintains order. That is likeJud 17:6 "In those days there was no king in
Among the Christian community there are heretics. "For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group." Tit 1:10, who reject the apostle's teachings and opt for allegiance totheir own denomination leaders. "They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good." Tit 1:16
Rom 1:5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. There's an obedience that comes from faith. For if we accept Jesus as Lord, our faith lead us to obey him. And Jesus said, "Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?"Luke 6:46 and "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Mt 7:21 For obedience is characteristic of saving faith.
Not only is obedience characteristic of faith, but it is also the expression of love in vertical relationships (those involving authority figures). Jesus said, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me." John 14:21a and John says, "this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands." 2John 1:6a
Likewise concerning other vertical relationships it says, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord." Eph 5:22 and "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older." 1Pe 5:5 and Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities." Rom 13:1a
Obedience brings glory to God as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves(that is, their service of generosity), men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else." 2Cor 9:13
Php 2:3a "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit." The Bible calls us to be more than just good. There are plenty of good people, perhaps even the vast majority of them, whose actions are largely motivated out of selfish ambition and vain conceit, who while they may have attained an enlightened self-interested, yet by nature are inherently selfish. They do good, not for the good of others, but for their own good, perhaps to attain material wealth or popularity. So let us consider not only what we do, but why we do it. For inevitably "where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." Jas 3:16 For one's motives are often revealed when one's ends have been attained.
Php 2:3b-4"In humility consider others better than yourselves.Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Meaning not that you necessarily take an interest in whatever others are interested in, but that you look out for what is in the best interest of others. Rare to find selfless people, but Timothy serves as an example of whom Paul wrote, "I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ." Php 2:20,21
Of course what may entail giving due consideration to others is making nothing of ourselves. For while those of the world may seek a celebrity status, trying to make something of themselves, we are to make nothing of ourselves.Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Php 2:5-8 And this is the example of love and humilty to follow. For"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
So let us not live for ourselves. "He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15
Cowardice & Shame
Ge 3:10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
Cowardice & the Concensus Oriented
1Sa 15:24 Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them.
Cowardice & Laziness
Pr 26:13 The sluggard says, "There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!"
Cowardice & Lack of Faith
Mt 8:25,26 The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
Cowardice & the Final Judgement
Re 21:8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars— their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong." 1Cor 16:13 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Josh 1:9
Saving faith is characteristically courageous, and it needs to be, seeing that the implications and applications of Biblical faith fly in the face of the world's practice and point of view, the world being hostile to it. Jesus said, "A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you."John 15:20a A person doesn't really believe in Christ until he realizes and embraces the implications of the faith. "Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house,if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast." Heb 3:6"I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you——unless you believed in vain." 1Cor 15:1,2 Saving faith is a courageous faith.
"Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold." 2Cor 3:12
For the believer, courage invokes courage among the brethren. "Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly." Php 1:14 And courage communicates conviction. "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved— and that by God." Php 1:27,28
Courage is a consequence of having fellowship with Jesus. For"when they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13
As all salemen and politicians know, human nature is inherently gullible. Consider the fall. Ge 3:13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Thus there are many warnings in the Bible to keep alert of false teachers, to not be deceived or led astray. Paul writes to the Corinthians, "I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." 2Co 11:3
Don't be led astray into sin "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps
what he sows." Gal 6:7 Nor be misled by Free Grace
Theology. For "no immoral, impure or greedy
person— such a man is an idolater— has any inheritance in the
Pr 15:21 Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.
Ecc 8:5b-6a the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter.
A servant of God is to discern between right and wrong; between what is appropriate and inappropriate.
Discernment through experience; that is, through exercise.
Heb 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Discernment is gained in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
1Co 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Discerment is gained through intercessory prayer
Php 1:9,10 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ
Discernment is gain though personal request and seeking.
Pr 2:3-5 If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
Discernment is gain by reacting properly to correction
Pr 19:25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge.
If it is in your power to do go, Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Pr 3:27 There are benefits to generosity and significant downsides to stinginess."One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty." Pr 11:24 But generosity is that which comes from the heart.
Do not eat the food of a stingy man, do not crave his delicacies for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. "Eat and drink," he says to you, but his heart is not with you. Pr 23:6,7 The stingy feign generosity, expecting to get back more from you than what they give to you. In their feigned generosity they don't have your best interest in mind.
Christians should look to their heart when it comes to practicing generosity. While there are promises of benefits from being generous, to be purely motivated by personal benefits is simply greed. It's of the flesh. The health and wealth gospel attracts the greedy, but in the end falls short of their expectations. Like those who seek to get rich quick, they seek not the benefit of others, but rather to satisfy their own material lusts and suffer for it. Of such people it is written,"A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him." Pr 28:22 No matter how much one gives, if one is not generous in their heart, they are greedy, as Paul wrote,"If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." 1Cor 13:3
There are those"who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain."1Tim 6:5b "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1Tim 6:10 Many peddle the Bible for profit. But "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit."2Cor 2:17
The greedy characteristically invoke their personal rights, bringing people to court to get what is rightly theirs. But this does not make them right.Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Luke 12:13-15
"A generous man will himself be
blessed, for he shares his food with the poor." Pr 22:9
Generosity comes naturally to the Christian. It comes due to the
Christian's compassion on the less fortunate, and due to the
Christian's sense of fairness.For in the early church "the multitude of those who believed were of one heart
and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he
possessed was his own, but they had all things in common." Acts
4:32 Likewise Paul commended the generosity of the Corinthians who
send a gift to the poor in
Rather than legalistic tithing, Christian generosity is to be from the heart."Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2Cor 9:7 So give only as much as is on your heart to give. Give only to those causes and in such amounts as you have decided in your heart. It's not generosity if it's of obligation. Don't give in to high pressured tactics or high pressured "fleece the flock" sermons by those who neither practice what they preach nor teach in accordance with the Bible on the subject.
But for your own good, I "command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. I command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."1Tim 6:17,18For"you will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through(those to whom you give)your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." 2Cor 9:11
"I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed." Ps 37:25,26 May this also be your legacy.
For more on Christian generosity see http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/generosity.html
Jas 2:1My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.
Paul commands Timothy,"I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality." 1Tim 5:21 Interesting the context of this verse has to do with rebuking church elders. For there are those who feel they are above scrutiny. Like the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' day church leaders often feel they shouldn't be treated as equals but as some sort of elite class. And likewise concerning other such people who in view of culture, social class, wealth or the like feel they should be favored with partiality.
Conversely are those who unjustly show partiality to
poor or other such people whom society may reckon as an under-class. "You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his
dispute." Ex 23:3And the verse before it says,"do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd" Ex
23:2b Whether it be racism or reverse-racism or the like, a
Christian is to be impartial, free from the prejudices which drive
secular society. "Here there is no Greek or Jew,
circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but
Christ is all, and is in all."
God's judgement is free from prejudice. "For there is no partiality with God." Rom 2:11 And "since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear." 1Peter 1:17
To be children of God is to behave as God does, taking
on his attitudes. "He has showed you, O man,
what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly
and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Mic 6:8
when it comes to money, Christians consider what is fair
and equitable in giving."Our desire is not that
others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there
might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what
they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then
there will be equality." 2Cor 8:13,14 Even slave owners
were instructed to treat slaves fairly."Masters,
provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that
you also have a Master in heaven."
A fair, dispassionate attitude is an aspect of the wisdom that comes from above. For"the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." Jas 3:17 Study of the Word helps one to attain such wisdom. For example, "The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: (are good) for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair" Pr 1:1-3 "For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding ... Then you will understand what is right and just and fair— every good path." Pr 2:6,9
"A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." Pr 29:11 Rage says less about what you're angry at and more about you.The Lord God said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." Ge 4:6,7 Are your emotions driven by circumstances, or are you in control of your emotions? Can freed his inhibitions and allowed his emotions take the reigns and he murdered his brother.
In fact you should "get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." Eph 4:31 "For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." Jas 1:20
Virtue: Calm or Gentle
Pr 25:15 "Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone." Influence is partly a function of winning a hearing by patiently listening to others. Imagine a person rudely interrupting a teacher in the middle of their teaching in order to vent their feelings on the matter. How do you think that will go over? Think he will win an audience?"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."Pr 15:1 Once anger comes into play, communication breaks down. Even third parties are so distracted by the smoke and fire, they can't concentrate on the ideas. So stay calm.
Christ does call us to a life of subjugation to his will, to his instructions. But he is gentle in carrying out his Lordship over the believer. Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Mt 11:29 Likewise "be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Eph 4:2 This is particularly challengiing in dealing with other's sin.
If women want to have great worth in the eyes, they can beautify themselves by taking on a gentle, quiet spirit. 1Peter 3:3-4"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty ofa gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." And such a spirit would make a woman particularly outstanding in these modern days of feminism where such a spirit is so rare.
Pr 14:29"A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly." Patience and understanding go hand in hand. If a person is easily angered, it's often over something they don't understand. My job is technically challenging. I noticed I get easily angered when things go wrong. But it's often because there was something I didn't understand or consider. Ever find yourself doing that?
Likewise with people You can get easily angered at those you don't really know. Likewise if a person is characteristically a fool, he doesn't try to understand. Such people tend to be always angry and impatient. He doesn't seek the end of the matter, but just starts arguments."The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride." Ecc 7:8 So"do everything without complaining or arguing." Php 2:14
"Love is patient" 1Co 13:4a So"be patient, bearing with one another in love." Eph 4:2bPatience is going to involve time. So if you love someone, free up time for them. Things will happen where they will suddenly demand time from you which may interfere with your schedule. It can be stressful. So try and order your life to accomodate those you love.
Patience is also going to involve tolerating things that make you uncomfortable. Patience requires one to control their temper. "Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city." Pr 16:32 At times it may involve confrontation, and at other times involve avoiding confrontation, even overlooking an offense. "A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense." Pr 19:11
Paul's conversion is a picture of God's patience. Paul testifies, "for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." 1Tim 1:16 And "Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him." 2Pet 3:15
I've been putting this off one long enough. It is the nature of the flesh to procrastinate. It's an expression of one's laziness. Procrastination may lead to people losing the opporuntity to be saved, and it may lead to Christians losing opportunities to effectively serve God.
And he said unto another, Follow
me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus
said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the
"The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions." Pr 12:27 Procrastinators will accumulate stuff which then becomes waste. Better to first resolve what you are going to do, and then obtain the resources necessary to carry it out. In fact it's often better to learn while doing by jumping into action for which are not thoroughly prepared rather than simply wishing or imagining you'll do something, but procrastinating. "Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap."Ec 11:4
Procrastinators miss out on the kingdom. Consider Felix who had the priviledge to hear Paul. "And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." Acts 24:25 Or consider the 5 virgins who came to Jesus too late. For while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. Mt 25:10-13
Isa 26:9a With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early
The world says it's fashionable to be late. People try to show themselves as being important by showing up late. For it means that others have to wait on them. Servants are those who show up early. They wait on others. Do you think you're more important than others? Or do you have a servant's heart? Do you make God wait on you or do you wait on God.
Ps 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
Mr 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
One with a servant heart takes action quickly upon hearing his Lord's commands. "I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands." Ps 119:60 Consider whether you have diligently been seeking what the Lord command and in what areas you may have been delaying to obey.
Luke 14:16-20 Then He said to him, "A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’
What excuses have you heard yourself and others make from time to time to avoid seeking the kingdom or applying your Christian faith? "Sorry, couldn't come to Bible Study because ..." Lots of seemingly legitimate excuses just don't cut it with God.
Luke 9:59-60 He said to
another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go
and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own
dead, but you go and proclaim the
Do your cultural obligations to your family make you unavailable for the work of the kingdom? Family responsibilities are apparently no excuse.
Php 2:20,21 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
There are Christians who think they can get out of serving God by simply redefining God's interests as their own interests. In serving God one must first recognize this distinction and be willing to relinquish spending time on their own interests to serve God's interests.
Lu 8:14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
Making oneself unavailable to God means one will distract themselves with things that are ultimately unfruitful. Work for God or waste your life.
1Cor 7:29-32 What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. I would like you to be free from concern.
Ceasing from taking on unnecessary responsibilities and prioritizing one's obligations in view of the Christian's eternal perspective will help to free one up for fruitful ministry.
A Christian's life is largely determined by their perspective on who they are in Christ Jesus. Do you see yourself as God's servant or is it that God saved you to live how you wish, following your own desires?"He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15
Paul draws the analogy of entering into service for God like that of entering the military. "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs— he wants to please his commanding officer."2Tim 2:4 A good soldier makes himself available for service by avoiding getting entangled too much with secular affairs.
Yet it's a volunteer army. Those who make themselves available for God's service are also those who volunteer for it, while the unavailable find excuses, being reluctant to serve.
Isa 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Lule 1:38 "I am the Lord’s servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."
What opportunities in God's service have arisen recently for you that you my volunteer for?
An inconsiderate person is one who fails to take alot of things into consideration with regards to other people.
Jas 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
This attribute of being considerate particularly comes into play in vertical relationships:
1Peter 2:18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.
1Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
And likewise with the underclassed
Pr 29:7The righteous considers the cause of the poor, But the wicked does not understand such knowledge
And even with regards to animals or pets
Pr 12:10 A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
In fact you can tell alot about a person by how they treat animals.
So in all these cases take others, even animals, under consideration.
Vice: Give up
The faith that saves is the faith that endures. "By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain." 1Cor 15:2 "For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end." Heb 3:14
A shallow faith is not one that saves. A shallow faith will not endure trials, showing itself to be not a conviction, but a mere opinion."The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." Mt 13:20,21
Those who have been born again endure through trials due to their regenerate nature. But if one has not become a new creature in Christ, "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." 2Pet 2:22
Mt 10:22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
There will be trials in life which will test the quality of your faith. Those with the faith that saves will benefit from such trials. "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." Jas 1:12 Jesus commends the faithful saying,"You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary." Rev 2:3 Indeed for such people trials develop character. So, "my brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience."Jas 1:2,3
So, "watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." 1Tim 4:16
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2Tim 2:3
A reckless person is firstly revealed by his speech. It’s a person careless about his word. Jesus warned such people, “I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. “ Mt 12:36 And Reckless words pierce like a sword. Pr 12:18a A reckless person may make all kinds of promises without thinking of the implications. The Law says of such people, “if a person thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil in any matter one might carelessly swear about— even though he is unaware of it, in any case when he learns of it he will be guilty.” Lev 5:4
A reckless person gets involved in destructive behavior associated with sin. “A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.” Pr 14:16 Even a dumb ass has more sense than a reckless person. Consider Balaam. The angel of the LORD asked him, "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. Nu 22:32
As with Balaam, scrutinize those who preach. "I am against those who prophesy false dreams," declares the LORD. "They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least," declares the LORD. Jer 23:32 So we must both avoid being reckless, and also keeping aware of those who are.
“Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways.” Hag 1:5
Being careful takes time. It takes time first to derive applications based upon the Bible and it takes time to think through all the implications. It takes time to consider how to implement such applications. And it may take time and resources to prepare to do so. Consequently a lot of the Christian life involves thinking – careful thinking. And like the Bereans who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11b, the Christian life involves thoughtfully scrutinizing what we are told. For example Jesus said, “Be careful. Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Mt 16:6
We need also to be careful about our desires. We need to examine our heart. “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.“ Luke 21:34 And given that “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” Jer 17:9, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” 1Co 10:12
Eph 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live not as unwise but as wise
1Co 10:10 And do not
grumble, as some of them did and were killed by the destroying angel.
The people of
People who love money – who are eager to get rich – are generally discontent. “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” Ecc 5:10 And “people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1Tim 6:9,10
Some soldiers asked John the Baptist concerning what would constitute repentance on their part. He replied, "Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely be content with your pay." Luke 3:14 Are you content with your pay?
Heb 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
The Christian’s contentment comes from a view that God cares and that God is able to provide for one’s necessities. That’s part of what constitutes the faith – a trust in God. Discontentment is characteristic of lack of faith. Consider also the Christian hope. Our hope is primarily not about the present but about the future, a future in which “the world and its desires will pass away” 1John 2:17a For now, while others seek material gain, for us godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 1Tim 6:6-8 What is it that you have which will last forever?
However contentment may not come overnight. It is learned. It is developed over time as one applies their faith through the trials of life. Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Php 4:11,12 Thoughout our lives there will be plenty of opportunities to learn this lesson.
Vice: Tolerant of sin
Some cultures are proud of their tolerance of sin. Paul rebukes the Corinthians for their tolerance of sin saying, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?” 1Cor 5:1,2 True that we cannot expect non-Christians to live up to Christian standards. But Paul writes, “I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.” 1Cor 5:11 Likewise Jesus spoke to one of the his churches saying, “I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.” Rev 2:20 Therefore let’s not be so tolerant of sin within the Christian community, for such tolerance is shameful.
Virtue: Intolerant of sin
Jesus commended his church saying,
"I know your deeds,
your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot
wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but
not, and have found them false." Rev 2:2 So despite the
emphasis on tolerance one finds so pervasive among the churches these
days, Jesus commends intolerance. Concerning wicked people who call
themselves "Christian", Paul likewise commands, "Expel
from among you." 1Cor 5:13b
There are two areas in which Christians are to be
intolerant. One is with respect to doctrine. Notice here "you have tested those
who claim to be apostles but are
not, and have found them false." Paul's treatment of the cult of
the circumcision in the book of Galatians was along these lines. And
John commands, "do not believe every spirit, but
test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false
prophets have gone out into the world." 1John 4:1 These
should be applied in Berean fashion. (Acts 17:11) Realize however that
is is human nature that those who have pledged allegiance to a
institution or denomination are prone to scrutinize those outside of
their organization while neglecting to scrutinize their own church,
their own institutional leaders or denominational theologians.
Secondly is intolerance with respect to behavior. Paul
was dealing with such a matter in 1Corinthians where an alleged
Christian was involved in sexual immorality. The Corinthians were proud
of their toleration of such sin. Paul rebuked them saying, "It is actually reported that there is sexual
immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among
pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you
rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship
the man who did this?" 1Cor
5:1,2 Toleration for sin is not something to be proud about.
The Bible characterizes God saying, "Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong." Hab 1:13a On a proverbial note, "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell." Mt 5:29
"Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?" Rom 2:4
God expects us to respond to his kindness with gratefulness and devotion. Ungratefulness is characteristic of the wicked "People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love" 2Tim 3:2,3 God expects the wicked to respond to his graciousness by repenting from sin, else he says, "because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." Rom 2:5 There is a corrupting effect upon one's reasoning and desires as a consequence of ungratefulness. "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." Rom 1:21 "In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God." Ps 10:4
"Do not be anxious
about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Php 4:6
God answers prayer, freeing us up from anxieties, but he expects us to
be thankful rather than taking his graciousness for granted. Under what
circumstances should we give thanks? "Give
thanks in all
circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1Th
Now some have understood this to mean to not give thanks
"for" all circumstances, but rather "in" all circumstances, but it
seems to me that if we can thank God for the horrific circumstances
Jesus endured on the cross which God orchestrated to come about, then
it seems that there is always some good we can thank God for whatever
circumstances he may orchestrate in our lives. And besides, our worst
day in this life cannot be compared to a good day in hell. So let us be
thankful for that at least.
Be thankful also for people. "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—" 1Tim 2:1 Paul says of the Corinthians, "I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus." 1Cor 1:4 and of the Thessalonians, "We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers." 1Th 1:2 and of the Philippians, "I thank my God every time I remember you." Php 1:3 and of the Colossians, "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you" Col 1:3
Who could you be thankful for today? (Thanks for
2Thes 3:6-12 "We
command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you
withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to
the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how
you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did
we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil
night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because
we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you
should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you
this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear
that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not
working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command
and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness
and eat their own bread."
Among Christians are the most gracious, generous and
merciful people in the world. As such there are those who would take
advantage of them, even within the Christian community. There are those
who are simply lazy, living an undisciplined life, and consequently "Lazy hands make a man poor" Pr 10:4
people are those who rely upon the compassion of Christians
to provide for their needs. But in fact by doing so they are being
rewarded for their laziness. By donating to such people they are
essentially being trained to be lazy, which is not helpful. So the
Bible commands Christians to withdraw from fellow Christians who are
Notice also they are characterized as "busybodies". The lexicon describes this word
as meaning "to bustle about uselessly, to busy one’s self about
trifling, needless, useless matters; busy about trifles and neglectful
of important matters." It's also "used apparently of a person
officiously inquisitive about other’s affairs", as in 1Tim 5:13
where Paul characterizes the behavior of the young widows among the
Christian community he encountered, "they learn
to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but
also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not."
So even if you're financially independent, the principle is that having
too much "free time" can be an unhealthy thing.
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." 1Th 4:11,12
1Cor 9:26,27 I do not run
like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the
air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have
preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
The Christian life is one of self-disciple,
self-control. A Christian learns to resist the passions of the flesh,
taking control of his thoughts and desires.The Christian life is a
goal-oriented life, a life Jesus lived. It has a purpose, an objective,
and consequently the Christian orders his life to that end. "Everything
should be done in a fitting and orderly way." 1Cor 14:40
"God is not a God of disorder but of peace."
1Cor 14:33a The orderliness of the Christian's life is a measure
of how he's doing. Paul writes, "though I am
absent from you in body, I
am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are
and how firm your faith in Christ is."
How does your life measure up? Are you living a disciplined life with respect to scheduling regular time for the Word, prayer, fellowship, good works? Have you prepared yourself to present the gospel in an orderly fashion. The gospel of Luke is a result of his endeavor to do so. Luke 1:3 "Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you." Are you practicing control over the passions of the flesh with regards to speech, sex, diet and exercise? Have you disciplined your mind to study the Bible objectively rather than lazily rely upon subjective impressions and feelings to understand the Bible? And are you working productively or wasting your time on trivial matters? These are the kinds of questions the disorderly avoid asking themselves.
Dan 6:4 "The
administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges
against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were
unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was
trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent." One nice thing
about living responsibly is that it frees one up from concerns of being
judged and being found out. What are some things which lead to a person
becoming untrustworthy and irresponsible? Perhaps the most common cause
is taking on too much. For example there are those who seek wealth, who
love money, who are not content with what they have. They hoard to much
for themselves and can't handle the responsibilities of their
resources. Furthermore such people can be easily corrupted by their
greed, becoming irresponsible for the sake of financial gain. Another
is taking on too many responsibilities in the search for social status.
Having attained such a position they can't handle the responsibilities,
and having attained their position with a self-seeking attitude, they
end up being negligent. Therefore avoid taking on unnecessary
responsibilities and don't waste money on useless toys which just eat
up your time.
Luke 12:45,46 "But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers." One thing that helps in living responsibly is embracing the idea that one day we will be held accountable for the responsibilities God has entrusted to us. There are many warnings like this in the Bible we should take to heart. "Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear." 1Peter 1:17
Another way to be irresponsible is by taking no action when you should. For example, "If a person sins because he does not speak up when he hears a public charge to testify regarding something he has seen or learned about, he will be held responsible." Lev 5:1 and "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins" Jam 4:17 Ignorance is no excuse. "If a person sins and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, even though he does not know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible." Lev 5:17 For he should have known it. Such people are ignorant due to their negligence in studying the Bible. It's no excuse.
"When you build
a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring
the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof." Deut
22:8 A responsible person considers the needs and the safety of
others.There is no excuse for negligent homicide. A responsible person
keeps up with maintenance standards, especially related to safety
issues. And certainly this is to be the case in building or designing
things. Laziness and greed tend to be the motivations behind cutting
corners, putting others in danger. "One who is
slack in his work is brother to one who destroys." Pr 18:9
A responsible person is driven by the sense of duty. "So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’" Luke 17:10 Thus Paul testified, "I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day." Acts 23:1 May this be the case for all of us, for "each of us will give an account of himself to God." Rom 14:12
Mt 7:15 Watch out for
false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they
are ferocious wolves.
There are those who purposely mislead people into
thinking they are something which they are not in order to get
something from them. Don't presume that if someone enthusiastically
affirms you that such a person has your best interest in mind. Consider
the cult of the circumcision of who Paul dealt with in the book of
Galatians, "Those people are
zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate
you from us, so that you may be zealous for them." Gal
4:17 Not that you need be suspicious of everyone, but don't be
gullible. Christians are to be honest and genuine, but not that we are
to reveal everything about what they think and do. But that we are to
not be disingenuous, being a false witness of ourself.
"A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit." Pr 26:24 A Christian should not have to disguise himself. Beware of those feigning friendship who seek personal information from you which they will then distort in order to slander you. David testifies, "Whenever one comes to see me, he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then he goes out and spreads it abroad." Ps 41:6 This is characteristic of the devil and his children.
1Tim 1:5 "The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." These kiinds of things should be the goal of Christian instruction. The application of our faith should be free from hypocrisy. That is, we should live in a way which is consistent with what we claim to believe rather than deceiving ourselves and others, putting on a false appearance. Jesus commended Nathanael for having that rare quality of be genuine, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!" John 1:47
Rom 12:9a Seems
so much deceitfulness practiced in the name of "love".
Sincerity is also a requirement for Christians
to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in
much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain." 1Tim 3:8
For just like any political office, the position itself will tend to
invoke just the opposite qualities from a person. Those in leadership
positions are particularly prone to being dishonest. So be prepared for
Likewise for those who get paid for doing ministry.
There's pressure to be dishonest for the sake of financial gain. "Unlike so many,
we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ
we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God." 2Cor
2:17 There's pressure to tickle the ears of one's constituents upon
whom one is financially dependent, compromising the truth. So if one is
in such a position, be prepared to resist the flesh in this matter.
Likewise for those who have a boss. "Slaves, obey your earthly masters in
everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win
their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord."
The wisdom from God may not be a popular thing. I may not be pleasing. It may not make people feel good about themselves, but it is impartial and sincere. "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." Jas 3:17
It is uncharacteristic of a child of God to be inattentive, particularly concerning spiritual things. Inattention is largely due to a rebellious heart. Those who don't listen will regret it after they have experienced the consequences. You will say, "How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly." Pr 5:11-13 There are even Christians who refuse to listen to correction. Jesus said, "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector." Mt 18:15-17 And Christians can get stuck in an immature state because they haven't learned to hear. "We have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing." Heb 5:11 (If Christians find Bible Study dull, whose problem is that?)
Likewise there are many non-Christians who refuse to
listen to a gospel presentation. In Luke 16, a man who went to hell
suggested that his brothers would be convinced if God provided more
miracles. But he was told, "If they do not
listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be
convinced even if someone rises from the dead." Luke 16:31
It's not for lack of convincing evidence that people refuse to hear.
Jesus did plenty of miracles, even raising the dead, but they crucified
him. It's because their hearts aren't prepared to receive the gospel.
In Romans 1 Paul describes the process of the corruption of a person's
soul due to sin, one part being that "although
they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to
him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were
darkened." Rom 1:21 This is one of the penalties of
sin - corruption. God allows this process to occur. To the stubborn he
says, "’You will be ever hearing but never
understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this
has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their
eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and
I would heal them.’" Mt 13:14,15
Proverbs says, "Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you." Pr 22:17-19 And it says, "A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke." Pr 13:1 Parents can relate to that.
Both people's eternal destiny and Christian's maturity
are largely dependent upon listening. Where does faith come from? "Faith comes from hearing the message" Rom
10:17b Listening to the message of the gospel and believing it is
God's chosen method of salvation. Paul speaks of the opposition he
faced. He says of his opposition, "They
displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us
from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved." 1Th
2:15b-16 For "it pleased God through the
foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." 1Cor
Children of God are to be characteristically "quick to listen, slow to speak
and slow to become angry" Jas 1:19 That is, to be quick
to receive instruction, but slow and thoughtful to react. "Quick to
listen" doesn't mean gullible. But rather to listen careful and then
consider thoughtfully. For example it says, "Let
two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge." 1Cor
14:29 When something is said, scrutinize, evaluate, interpret -
considering the sense of what was said, consider the implications,
develop applications, and then respond. It is a blessed state to be
able to hear and see.
One common experience shared by those born of God is an
internal conflict between our sinful nature and the Spirit. "The sinful nature desires what is contrary to
the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They
are in conflict with each other" Gal
In fact if you don't experience this conflict, you've given
into the flesh.
Formerly "you were dead in your
transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed
the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the
spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also
lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful
nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were
by nature objects of wrath." Eph 2:1-3 But while "you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind
by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled" Col 1:21
Being hostile, enemies of God, is characteristic of the
unregenerate state. "The sinful mind is
hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so." Rom
8:7 And those who oppose the propagation of the gospel are not only
hostile to God, but to all men. Paul writes of those who persecute the
displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to
from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved." 1Th
2:15b-16a For many will be lost in hell simply because these kind
of hostile men opposed the spread of the gospel.
God warns, "If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve." Lev 26:21
Among requirements of one who oversees other Christians
are that he "must be
hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled,
upright, holy and disciplined." Titus 1:8 Hospitality
first of involves inviting others to meet. And then being gracious in
the meeting. We are commanded to "share with
people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Rom 12:13 This is not optional to the Christian life.
God rewards even small acts of kindness along these lines. Jesus said, "If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of
these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he
will certainly not lose his reward." Mt 10:42 And he
speaks of the judgement day saying among other things, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your
inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the
world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty
and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me
in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked
after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." Mt
Hospitality can be a challenge as can any activity involving sinners. But try and "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." 1Peter 4:9
"Remember that at
that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in
If the unredeemed have hope, they hope in vain. For
there is no basis to predict a hopeful outcome to the fate of those who
are without God in this world. "Everyone must
die once, and after that comes judgment" Heb 9:27 "What will the outcome be for those who do not obey
the gospel of God?" 1Peter 4:17
"He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power." 2Th 1:8,9 Not much hope to offer there.
But when God disciplines his children for sin, "do not lose heart when he rebukes you" Heb 12:5b And as for rich Christians, it instructs teachers to "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." 1Tim 6:17 So don't put your hope in wealth. Keep an open hand concerning your expectations in life. For with respect to earthly circumstances God is prone to doing that which is unexpected so as to keep our hearts in check.
Heb 11:1 "Now faith is
sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hope
feeling of anticipation of a future event in which we have
faith. Hope is primarily about the future, not about the present. Paul
writes, "If only for this life we have hope in
Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." 1Cor 15:19
And what is the hope? The resurrection from the dead and the
implications of such. Paul says, "I have the
same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of
both the righteous and the wicked." Acts 24:15 And "we wait
eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in
this hope we were saved." Rom 8:23b-24a Here's
something you can write on your tombstone: "I'll be back!"
(It's a particularly effective epithaph for someone wandering around
the graveyard at night)
Those born of God had a good hope. As imperfect as we
are now, "we know that
when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is
pure." 1John 3:2b-3 Thus an indication that one has
Christian hope is they will be involved in purifying themselves. And
hope also inspires endurance. Paul writes, "We
remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your
labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in
Jesus Christ." 1Th 1:3
"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1Peter 1:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Rom 15:13
Have a sense of shame for doing what is wrong is a sign
of a healthy conscience. So what can be said of the conscience of those
who celebrate shameful behavior? Paul writes of homosexuality saying, "God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even
natural relations for unnatural ones. In
the same way the
men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with
lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and
received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."
"It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret." Eph 5:12 "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things." Php 3:19
But as for the children of God, "we have renounced secret and shameful ways" 2Cor 4:2a
One application of have a heathy sense of shame is to
be modest in dress and behavior.
"I also want
women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided
hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds,
appropriate for women who profess to worship God." 1Tim
2:9,10 Women who dress immodestly or who expose their nakedness
publically show that they have an unheathy conscience and inadvertently
(or purposely) tempt men to sin. Jesus indicates that being a source of
temptation is worse than being tempted. "if
anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it
would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck
and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." Mt 18:6
There's a spriritual nakedness which like its physical counterpart should be associated with shame. Jesus warned, "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed." Rev 16:15 The nakedness he's referring to here is the exposure of our sin. And he warns concerning the New Jerusalem, the final destination of the believers, "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life." Re 21:27 So don't be involved with shameful stuff.
A characteristic of the sinful nature is that Familiarity
contempt. Thus a challenge in the Christian life is respect
those who are close to you.
"Son dishonors father, Daughter
rises against her mother, Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; A
man’s enemies are the men of his own household." Mic 7:6 Jesus
fact and experienced it himself. "Even
his own brothers did not believe in him." John 7:5
and When his family heard about this, they
went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."
Mr 3:21 (Even his mother showed up to take him away. Mr 3:31)
surprised if your own family despises you for applying your
faith. King David celebrated in praise before the Lord dancing. But his
wife said, "How the king of Israel has
distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls
of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!" 2Sam 6:20 While
ourselves before the Lord, those close to us may find an
opportunity to kick us, to slander us. This often can occur in a church
Also on the job, respect your boss. And "those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them." 1Tim 6:2
It goes without saying that Christians should respect
God. And much more so. A primary way to show respect for God is by
listening to what he says. Studying the Bible is a way to show respect
for God. And much more so to apply it. Like for example by practicing
generosity. "Honor the LORD with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled
to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." Pr
3:9,10 Likewise there's a promise concerning honoring parents. "Honor your father and mother"— which is the
first commandment with a promise— "that it may go well with you and
that you may enjoy long life on the earth." Eph 6:2,3
As I mentioned previously, respect is particularly
challenging with regards to familiars. And due to the feminist culture
pervasive these days, this is particularly challenging of wives. "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord."
Eph 5:22 "Wives, in the
same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not
believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of
their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives." 1Peter
3:1,2 Children learn respect and submission by how their mother
submits to their father. Else typically, as Isaiah says, "Their children are rebellious and women rule over
them." Is 3:12a These go hand in hand. "However, each
one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife
must respect her husband." Eph 5:33
Also "Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." 1Peter 2:17
Jer 3:10b "
Just attending church on Sunday is not enough. There's
a zeal that drives the Christian to do more. 2Kings 13:18,19 "Take the
arrows," and the king took them. Elisha told him, "Strike the ground."
He struck it three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him
and said, "You should have struck the ground five or six times; then
you would have defeated
Mt 22:37 You shall love
the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all
In much of Jesus' ministry he contrasted the concept of wholehearted obedience - an actualized faith - versus that of the legalism of the Scribes and Pharisees who hadn't taken the Law to heart and so misapplied it. Wholeheartedness in the faith results in an inspired understanding of the application scripture in line with the spirit of the Law. Jer 29:13 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." A wholehearted person seeks diligently for understanding with a view towards application. The halfhearted are the armchair theologians - mere do-nothing speculators. Ps 119:34 "Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart." This is a measure of wholeheartedness.
Much of the book of proverbs is devoted to
characterizing the fool. Here are just a few verses.
Pr 12:16 A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult." That is, a fool is annoyed by every little thing. And he can't take an insult.
Pr 29:11 "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." A fool lacks the self-control characteristic of the wise.
Pr 18:2 "A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions." What's your opinion of that verse?
Pr 10:23 "A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom." A person's wisdom or foolishness is reflect in that which he takes pleasure. What do you do for fun?
Pr 14:16 A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.
Heb 3:12 "See to it,
brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns
away from the living God." There are generally two areas of
unbelief. One is to say that you cannot put faith in what God has
promised. That is to disbelieve that God is faithful and good. Related
is to disbelieve that sin has a consequence. And thus unbelief and
disobedience go hand in hand. Notice a few verses later give an
example. "And to whom did He swear that they
would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we
see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
Heb 3:18,19 Obedience comes from faith. Paul writes, "we received grace and apostleship to call people
from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith." Rom
Most significantly is the unbelief leads to
him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe
condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s
and only Son." John 3:18
Unbelief is also associated with a corrupt conscience.
(Not to be confused with a "guilty conscience", which is actually a
sign of a healthy conscience) "To the pure, all
things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe,
nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are
corrupted." Tit 1:15 So "although
God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to
him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were
darkened." Rom 1:21 and "since
they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he
gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." Rom 1:28
faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him
must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly
seek him." Heb 11:6 Believers trust that God is good
despite the circumstances he may put us in. God's promises are
primarily about the future. Thus Christian faith is associated with
Christian hope - the feeling of anticipation of what God has promised
to come to pass - the hope of the resurrection.
God has made salvation contingent upon faith. "For God so loved
the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in
him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 The
the gospel offers is by faith.
"For in the
gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by
faith from first to last" Rom 1:17a
But where does faith come from? How can one develop
faith? "Faith comes from hearing
the message, and the message is heard through
the word of Christ." Rom 10:17 The gospel composes the
content of our faith, and its propagation develops faith in those who
hear. So "I am not ashamed of
the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of
everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." Rom1:16
For "God was well-pleased through the
foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." 1Cor 1:21 Believe it or not!
Careless is synonomous with "thoughtless". People need to be thoughtful about what they say and do. Carelessness is particularly revealed in speech. "If a person thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil— in any matter one might carelessly swear about— even though he is unaware of it, in any case when he learns of it he will be guilty." Lev 5:4 While it is true that God judges the intentions, and a careless person may have said or done things unintentionally, nonetheless they are culpable, not with regards to intentions, but with regards to their carelessness. For this reason also ignorance is no excuse if thoughtfulness would have affected the outcome.
Mt 12:36 "But I tell you
that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every
careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be
acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." Notice
that such is the case even if one's words don't express one's real
convictions. As careless words can have unintended consequences,
those who use them will be held accountable. So consider the
implications of what you want to say before you say it.
"He who keeps the commandment
keeps his soul, But he who is careless of his ways will die." Pr
19:16 So "Be very careful, then, how you
live— not as unwise but as wise" Eph 5:15
Ps 101:2 "I will be
careful to lead a blameless life— when will you come to me? I will walk
in my house with blameless heart." Given that "the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the
Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are
in conflict with each other" (Gal 5:17), leading a
blameless life must be intentional. Thus in contrast to be
carelessly thoughtless, a cautious person is thoughtful.
"A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray." Pr 12:26
"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations." Pr 27:23,24
"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap." Luke 21:34
"Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody." Rom 12:17b
"We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." Heb 2:1
And "if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!" 1Cor 10:12
The proud don't have room for God. Ps 10:4 "In his pride the
wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for
God." Or they may fabricate a "god" made in their own image to
their own liking. Such people avoid Bible study seeing as God defines
himself in the Bible.
What does God think of pride? "To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech." Pr 8:13 Nebuchadnezzar learned that lesson. After the Lord disciplined him he proclaimed, "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble." Dan 4:37
Pr 16:18 "Pride goes
before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." This is
truism, and from it come other expressions like "never underestimate
your enemy". Pride makes a man careless. And "a
brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor." Pr
29:23 For "when pride comes,
then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." Pr 11:2
Humility is arguably the most important virtue of
all. It is prerequisite to all others. And indeed a person's
salvation itself is contingent upon it. For God has constructed the
gospel in such a way so as to prevent the proud from embracing it.
God exalts the humble. He says,
is the one
I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my
word." Is 66:2b
God gives more grace to the humble. "But he gives us
more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but
gives grace to the humble." Jas 4:6
God guides the humble. "He
humble in what is right and teaches them his way." Ps 25:9
God encourages the humble. "For
this is what the high and lofty One says— he who lives forever, whose
name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who
is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and
to revive the heart of the contrite." Is 57:15
Therefore "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Php 2:3 There's wisdom in humility. "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." Jas 3:13
A person's cruelty is seem by how he treats
subordinates, and particularly how he treats the ultimate subordinate -
animals. Pr 12:10 "A righteous man
cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked
are cruel." Likewise with pride. Proud people tend to have
little sympathy for animals, yet they consider themselves "kind" by
their own standards.
The cruel don't consider themselves cruel because their
conscience has been defiled, seared as with a hot iron consequently
numbing them to the pain of others. Or transferring their guilt to
others so as to take out their due punishment on others.
Mt 12:40 "They devour
widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be
punished most severely." The Bible has much to say about how we
treat those who have no one else to help them - the widows and orphans
are often mention in such a catelgory. In fact it says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and
faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Jas
Cruetly is characteristic of God's enemies. The
Psalmist says, "Consider my enemies, for they
are many; And they hate me with cruel hatred." Ps 25:19
God is not cruel (contrary to some popular heretical
theologies) God is kind and merciful. He is just, but not cruel.
Mt 9:36 When he saw the
crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and
helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Notice again as I said
in the previous section, a person's cruelty or sympathy is revealed by
their attitude towards animals, and particularly towards domestic
animals. For they are dependent up us. David was a shepherd, as was
Moses. And Jesus likens himself to a shepherd, and even to the "lamb"
of God. One aspect of being a good shepherd is to have sympathy towards
those who are helpless and harassed.
Mt 15:32 Jesus called his
disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for these people; they
have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not
want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way." Sympathy
in hand with thoughtfulness. One who gives little thought to
another's circumstances cannot be sympathetic.
Luke 11:46 Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. A person's sympathy is revealed by taking practical steps to help others who are burdened. If you are in a position to do so, beware of imposing regulations unsympathetically. "This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’" Zec 7:9,10 and "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices— mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law— justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." Mt 23:23
Sympathy is also developed through experience. Even of
Jesus it is written that, "we do not
a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet was
without sin." Heb 4:15 and
"For this reason he had to be made like his
brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and
priest in service to God, and that he might make
atonement for the sins of the people." Heb 2:17
Christians are to sympathize with fellow Christians who are persecuted for their faith, regardless of the consequences. Heb 10:34 You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
Pr 3:31 "Do not envy a
violent man or choose any of his ways." This principle is less
culturally acceptable than one might think. Kids play violent video
games and the protagonist of many movies today are characteristically
violent. And it's not simply a Western cultural trait. Muslims around
the world affirm violence and terrorism. In northern India Hindus are
attempting to genocide the Christian community. All over the world it
seems violence, even the level of atrocity is something characteristic
of the world's culture. Don't make the violent your mentor or hero.
Don't chose ANY of their ways. For "a violent
entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good." Pr
If a person wants to become right with God they must renounce their violent ways. Prior to his conversion Paul was a violent man. He said, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief." 1Tim 1:12,13 Living a godly life we should have the testimony of the Psalmist who said, "As for the deeds of men— by the word of your lips I have kept myself from the ways of the violent." Ps 17:4 And especially concerning those who shepherd the flock of God. "Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless— not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain." Tit 1:7
Mt 11:29 "Take my yoke
upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and
you will find rest for your souls." There's a correspondence
between a person's gentleness and their level of humility. So "be completely
humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Eph
Mothers are characteristically gentle towards their
young, as Paul also characterizes himself towards the Thessalonians. "We were gentle
among you, like a mother caring for her little children." 1Th
At times gentleness may incorporate a relaxing of strict legal
requirements concerning others, yet doing this in order more fully to
carry out the real spirit of the law. That is, to be lenient. And in
the extreme is contrasted with violence in listing qualifications of
overseers. "not given to
drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of
money." 1Ti 3:3 Or if one is not in authority,
"gentleness" is synonomous with "meekness" as a reaction to
Women beautify themselves with such a quality as Peter writes, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." 1Peter 3:3,4
Pr 23:30 "Who has woe?
has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has
bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to
sample bowls of mixed wine." That is, those who complain can't
stand some discomfort
they must endure. So they complain and seek relief from their
discomfort the easy way. Those who work hard complain less. Complainers
tend to be lazy pleasure-seekers.
walking according to their own lusts; and they
mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage." Jude
So let us beware first of all of grumbling against God as the people of Israel in the desert "nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer." 1Cor 10:9 And "do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!" Jas 5:9
"Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in
which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without
disputing or resisting. ... Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to
self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s
goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not
occupied with self at all." Online Bible Greek Lexicon
Php 2:14,15 "Do
without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless
and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved
generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." Alot
of times complaining is just due to a lack of meekness. But it's also a
matter of degree, depending on the severity of our circumstances, at
least in comparison to what we're used to, or in comparison with our
expectations. Job started off well when things started to go bad for
him. "Shall we accept good from God, and not
trouble?" Job 2:10, but as his circumstances became more
severe, complaining followed, which is the case with most of us.
As with circumstances so with people. Some people will
really challenge your meekness But "bearing with
one another, and forgiving
one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ
forgave you, so you also must do."
A famous book "Uncle Tom's Cabin" tells of the plight of African Americans a while ago. Uncle Tom was a Christian enslaved. He was brutally mistreated but always was gracious to his master, forgiving him, in accordance with 1Peter 2:18-21 "Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." However, the general reaction to the book among the African American community was to deride, belittle and make fun of Uncle Tom for his meekness. Even today "Uncle Tom" is considered a derogatory term in the black community. Such is the spirit of the world today. While today people emphasize personal rights and freedoms, they lack a spirit of meekness and graciousness.
Inherent in this quality of meekness is longsuffering.
Thus it says, "with all lowliness
and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love" Eph
4:2 Christ revealed such a quality in
a number of ways, such as in his not only electing Paul, but appointing
him as an apostle. Paul writes, "Here is a
trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came
into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst.But for this
reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all
longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him
for everlasting life." 1Tim 1:15,16 And likewise, "The Lord is not
slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is
longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that
all should come to repentance." 2Peter
Circumstances can reveal a person's character, but they can also shape one's character for good or bad depending on how one reacts to circumstances. Thus for example we read in Daniel chapter 4 of God humiliating Nebuchadnezzar due to his pride. After 7 years of humiliation he repented and learned humility. On the other hand of that generation of Israel that came out of Egypt it says, "He humbled you, causing you to hunger ..." Deut 8:3 and there were a number of humiliating things the Israelites face. Nonetheless God killed that generation but for 2 men. For that generation hadn't learned to embrace meekness. Conversely if things go well in one's life, that can mold a person to be proud. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." Mt 19:23 If one experiences success, public honor, prosperity in any realm, these can lead to pride. Thus even Paul appreciated being humiliated at time. "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." 2Cor 12:7
Vice: Sexually immoral
1Cor 6:9,10 "Do you not
that the wicked will not inherit the
Sex was designed uniquely for marriage, which is
covenantal union between one man and one woman for the life of their
spouse in accordance with God's design. And that's the main thing that
makes sexual immorality contemptible. Namely that its a rejection of
God's design. Why did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? Jude 1:7
And likewise he brought destruction on Israel for its
sexual immorality, "Nor
sexual immorality, as some of them (Israelites) did (in the wilderness), and in one day
twenty-three thousand fell" 1Cor 10:8 Paul rebukes the
Corinthians for tolerating sexual immorality in the church and commands
concerning the man involved, "hand this man over
to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit
saved on the day of the Lord." 1Cor 5:5 And Jesus
rebukes the church at Thyatira concerning its toleration of sexual
immorality. He speaks of a "Jezebel" there teaching Christians to
commit sexual immorality. "I gave her
time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. So I
will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit
adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her
I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I
am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you
according to your deeds." Rev 2:21-23
Don't associate with sexually immoral Christians,
regardless of whether they or others label you as "judgemental". Paul
commands, "I am writing you that you must not
associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually
immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a
swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine
to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?
God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you." 1Cor
Virtue: Sexually Pure
1Th 4:3 It is God’s will
that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality.
Some of the most emphatic statements in the Bible concern sexual
immorality. And there are only a few places where it explicitly and
emphatically states what God's will is. This in one of those
Holiness is related to one's sexual purity. A few verses later he
states in reference to sexual immorality, "God
call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." 1Th 4:7 And
of scripture all the way to Revelation draw an analogy
between holiness and sexual purity. (Rev 14:4 "These are those who did not defile themselves with
women, for they kept themselves pure.") As such, sexual purity
should be a very significant priority in one's Christian life.
"Among you there
must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of
impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy
people." Eph 5:3 What
"hints" may there be of sexual immorality in your own life? Hints like
living together with a "friend" of the opposite sex? Even a glance
could be such a hint. Jesus said, "anyone who
looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in
his heart." Mt 5:28
Avoid circumstances that lead to sexual temptation. For
those who lack self-control and have the option to marry Paul advises, "if they cannot
exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than
to burn with passion" 1Cor 7:9 Otherwise there is no
other option but to exercise self-control.
Mt 6:14,15 For if you forgive
men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive
you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not
forgive your sins.
Forgiveness is a practice of grace. If a person
embraces the grace of God, then they will naturally forgive others in
the same manner in which they have been forgiven. But those who don't
forgive others in the manner in which God forgives have yet to embrace
the grace of God and thus are disqualified from receiving it.
In Matthew 18 Jesus spoke of a man who was forgiven
much, but then failed to forgive his brother of just a little. The
Master took back his forgiveness of that man and threw him into jail to
be tormented. Jesus concluded, "This is how my
heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother
from your heart." Mt 18:35
The faith that saves is the faith that forgives. Or
more generally, it's the faith that imitates God. To believe in Jesus
is to follow him taking on his attitude and attributes.
Forgiveness is generally contingent upon repentance as
Jesus said, "If your brother sins, rebuke him,
and if he repents, forgive him." Luke 17:3 In the
Corinthian church there was a man having sex with his mother in law.
Paul had him handed over to Satan for discipline and disfellowshipped.
But we learn in 2Corinthians the man repented. Paul writes, "Now instead, you
ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by
excessive sorrow." 2Co 2:7
There are those who don't care enough to deal with sin,
and there are those who deal with sin, but not in love, having no
interest in reconciliation. The Christian way is to deal with sin. To
rebuke those who sin, but to seek to reconcile sinners to God and to
the fellowship of believers.
"Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man." Ps 112:4
Do you boast of your goodness and of your achievements?
Do you make sure others know of your accomplishments and good deeds? Do
you seek the limelight? Do you covet a celebrity status? Such was the
attitude of the religious elite of Jesus' day, and likewise since then.
Mt 6:2 when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
Mt 6:5 when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
Mr 12:40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.
Mt 23:5-7 Everything they
do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the
tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at
banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to
be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’
Don't be deceived. To do things in order to be seen by men is sin. Therefore to the extent to which you are able, keep out of the limelight. And don't use religious titles like "Father" or "pastor". It only invokes pride. And see to it that your religion is not merely symbolism over substance - dress and ceremony over the actually doing of good and practicing righteousness. Christianity is meant to be practice in humility.
Mt 6:1 Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Mt 6:3,4 when you give to
the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is
doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees
what is done in secret, will reward you.
Mt 6:6 But when you
pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is
unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward
How would you behave differently if you knew that the only rewards you would get from God are from works of which you had not been compensated for in this life? John 5:44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? Wouldn't it be a good idea - an act of faith - to actively avoid compensation in this life? To avoid the praise of men? Afterall "it is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one’s own honor." Pr 25:27
Pr 13:24 "He who spares
the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline
him." Hating is not the same as not liking someone. Rather
hating is not caring.
Pr 26:28 "A lying tongue
hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin." Even
though one have good intention, deceiving one's neighbor is a form of
hatred. Lying is never appreciated by those who are victims of it.
Tit 3:3 "At one time we
too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of
passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and
hating one another." Though they may put on a good face, people
of the world characteristically hate one another. It is only out of an
enlightened self-interest that people don't tear one another apart.
John 7:7 "The world cannot
hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil."
Christ and his followers are hated for proclaiming the truth
about evil. In fact this is one way to distinguish a false Christian
from a genuine one. Genuine Christians call sin for what it is. "Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates
you." 1John 3:13
Christians (i.e. children of God) are identified by
their love for one another.
John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
1John 3:10 "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother."
But Biblical "love" is not simply a feeling of
affection. Love is revealed by its works.
1John 3:17 "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?"
1Th 1:3 "We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."
"Labor" speaks of the intensity of a person's works.
For men go into work. But women go into labor!
Love is reflected in one's submission.
1John 5:3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome
John 14:21a Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.
And this is the case in all vertical relationships.
Such as that in which the wife in subordinate to her husband. Thus it
says, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the
Lord." Eph 5:22 For submission is the language of love
in such a relationship.
Christian love is to go beyond
one's immediate family, even to one's enemies.
Luke 6:27,28 I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.For such is the love God showed us as enemies. "when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son" Rom 5:10a
While God always rewards repentance, there is not much
benefit that comes from refusing to turn from sin.
Pr 29:1 "A man who
stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed— without
We should be careful not to confuse God's tolerance and
patience with his endorsement. Just because we don't immediately
experience the consequences of sin doesn't mean God endorses our
behavior or overlooks what we did. For God's tolerance is meant to lead
us to repentance.
Rom 2:4-5 "Or do you show
contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not
realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? But because
of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up
wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous
judgment will be revealed."
Likewise in our relationship with others. It's gracious
to tolerate misbehavior for a time, to give others time to adjust their
behavior. But there should be an expectation of change or else sin sin
has to be dealt with more directly.
Zec 7:11,12 "they refused
pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their
ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to
the law or to the words that the LORD Almighty had sent by his Spirit
through the earlier prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry."
Repentance first involves having the humility at least
to listen. (Which implies that someone - the prophet in this case - in
going to tell them that they need to change their behavior) How people
react to rebuke reveals their spirit. It's appropriate to get angry if
persistently fellow Christians refuse to repent. God does.
Re 2:21,22 "I have given
time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast
her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery
with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways."
This is how Jesus speaks to his church. Let us fear God and repent from sin.
Is 66:2 "This is the one I
esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my
Humility, which goes hand in hand with contriteness, is
apparently that chararcter quality that God most appreciates in people.
The Bible is filled with examples. Salvation
upon it in that only the humble will accept the gospel.
Ps 51:17 "The sacrifices
of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you
will not despise."
The greatest sacrifices we can make deal with our
sinfulness, acknowledging and giving up sin habits. Talking to God
about our sins is not something he despises. In fact not talking to him
about our sins can create a wall of separation.
"your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have
hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." Is 59:2
It's refreshing to deal with sin. "Repent,
to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of
refreshing may come from the Lord" Acts 3:19 and "He who conceals
his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them
finds mercy." Pr 28:13
So we pray, "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight" Ps 51:2-4
The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources
Friday, 29-Oct-2010 06:47:15 EDT