Do Unto Others, part 2

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11 (NIV)

Sometimes it seems as if everyone these days is looking for a way to feel offended. A friend recently told me she attended a work conference, where they spoke about “microaggressions.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term (I was), an microaggression is a slight, maybe even unconscious comment or action that indicates predjudice against a marginalized group.

Some examples I have heard are::

*f a woman decides to avoid getting into an elevator alone with a man of another race, she is a racist”

*If you count calories and exercise to maintain a healthy weight, you are guilty of “fat-shaming”

*Using the word “white” in hymns(to denote purity) is racist”

While there is nothing wrong with watching our speech and actions to avoid giving offense –this is certainly Biblical–the Bible also tells us to avoid being overly sensitive. We are to give others the benefit of the doubt. A woman may avoid being alone with any strange man because she is concerned for her safety; a person may count calories out of concern for her health, without any condemnation of others; the church members singing a traditional hymn are not imagining that “white” refers to the white race, but simply a color.

Being impatient and easily offended, leads to anger and division. We are to love our enemies, not make more of them. Instead we should:

” Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:13-14

For more about this topic see:

Unoffendable

A Gentle Answer by Scott Sauls– Book Review

Little Children, Love One Another

Spend Yourself

I’ve heard it said that if you want to find out what is really important to a person, take a look at their checkbook.  How do they spend their money?  This is certainly an indicator.  Are you a shop ’til you drop sort of person?  Or do your regular expeditures reflect an attitude of love toward God and your neighbor?

Surrendering to God, however, requires more that writing checks to the church and other worthy causes.  Financial generosity may be your gift, but we are asked to be generous with our time and talents as well.  Read through this verse from the book of Romans:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12;1

We are to spend not only our money, but our very selves on God.  This is an acceptable way to worship Him — not with some money dropped in the collection plate, not just for one day a week, but every day, with everything we have and are. Wow!  That’s a difficult commitment to make.  I can hear your thoughts (along with mine) clicking …. uh… but what about my job?  My husband?  The kids?  All of my daily chores?  How do I even begin to spend my life on God?

The answer of course is in the Bible:

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

As you go about your daily activities, remember God.  Give thanks for your job, your children, your husband and friends, because God has given them to you.  Serve them sacrificially as if you were serving Christ.  Pray as you go about your day.  Ask for help.  Ask for guidance.  Show the love of Jesus to others.  Regard your work as a holy vocation, given to you by God.  Martin Luther once said:

” “God is milking the cows through the vocation of the milkmaid.”

So when it comes to the things of God, don’t just give your money.  Spend yourself.  Surrender.

Clothed With Christ

We’re studying the book of Colossians in our Adult Sunday School class, and this week I’m teaching.  The theme of our lesson is “clothed with Christ” taken from these verses:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility gentleness and patience.  Bear with one another and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them together in perfect harmony.”  Colossians 3:12-14

Clothing ourselves with Christ’s nature is something we need to do every day.  Unlike the atonement, it’s not once and done (although we might wish it to be so!).  This quote from my devotional reading describes how to go about this:

“Nothing so purifies the thoughts, shuts out self, admits God, as in all things, little or great, to look to Jesus.  Look to Him, when ye can, as ye begin to act, to converse or labor;  and then desire to speak or be silent, as He would have you;  to say this word, or leave that unsaid;  to do this, or leave that undone;  to shape your words, as if He were present, and He will be present, not in body, but in spirit, not by your side, but in your soul.  Faint not, any who would love Jesus, if ye find yourselves yet far short of what He Himself who is Love saith of the love of Him  Perfect love is in heaven.  When you are perfected in love, your work on earth is done.  There is no short road to heaven or to love.  Do what in thee lies by the grace of God, and He will lead thee from strength to strength, and grace to grace and love to love.”

Edward Pusey

So, dress yourself in Christ every morning.  Let Him lead you.

For more another quote by Edward Pusey see this posts:

Victorious Faith

For more about being clothed with Christ see:

A New Suit of Clothes

 

 

Personality or Character?

I’ve been musing about this idea for a while now.  With the election coming up, a friend directed me to a YouTube video of an “election sermon” (the term sermon is used loosely in this context, at least in my opinion).  The pastor said that once a year, he does this, in order to give his congregants advice on deciding how to vote.  He pointed out that our choices should be made of the basis of the policies supported and represented, not the personality of the candidate.  I certainly agree with this …. However…. what about a person’s character?  What is the difference and are those differences important?

So, I’ve been doing some research, and here’s what I found.  Personality refers to our outer self.  People notice and react to our personality all the time.  We may be impulsive or blunt, outgoing or shy, gloomy or cheerful.  Our character is our inner self.  It is less apparent, and is revealed by the way our deeply held beliefs and moral codes influence our behavior.  It may be harder to determine someone’s character because we must observe their actions over time. Character is more stable.  It rarely changes, unless the individual’s core beliefs change.  Personality is easier to manipulate, and has even been called a “mask.”

Having said all this, what does it mean, especially in a political context?  To me, it means examining a candidate according to both their views and behavior over time.  Are they consistent?  Are they loyal?  Do they lead a life that is worthy or respect?  Do they respect others, regardless of their political views? Do they demonstrate true compassion? Do they seek to promote unity and understanding or stir up discord?

Can a person espouse Christian values and positions and lack Christian character?  If that is what I see, I would doubt their trustworthiness and be uninclined to support them.  Over time, that person will advance those things that represent their true inner beliefs (whatever those are).  Unfortunately many of our politicians, in both parties, seem primarily concerned with self aggrandizement and personal power.

What kind of character are we looking for?  In my Sunday School class, we’ve been studying Colossians which says:

“… rid yourselves of all such things as these:  anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language …. Do not lie to each other … clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience …”  Colossians 3:8-9, 12

Election day is over.  We’ve made our choices.  Only time will tell if we’ve been wise.

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established”  Proverbs 24:3

 

 

 

Katelyn’s Question #4

Who or what controls the course of events in the cosmos?

This is a continuation of the following posts:

Is There a God? If So, What is God Like?– Or Katelyn’s Question #1

Katelyn’s Question #2

Katelyn’s Question #3

 

God has ultimate control over the course of events in the cosmos.  Nothing happens outside of His course or plan for the world.  If everything in the universe happened at random, then there would not be any cause and effect relationships.  God holds sovereignty, which means He is the ultimate source of power and authority over everything that exists.

God’s providence is His care for and absolute rule over all of His creation for His glory and the good of His people.  The Bible teaches that God not only created the entire universe, but sustains it day by day.  Colossians 1:17 says:

“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

Nothing happens that is outside of God’s influence.  Psalm 103:19 says:

“The Lord has established His throne in heaven and His kingdom rules over all.”

God rules the world with love and plans each person’s life for their own good.  Romans 8:28 says that:

“…. in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

This verse is one of many that demonstrates how an all powerful God cares for those who believe in Him.

Through the Bible I learned that we must trust that God is in control, even in the darkest times.  While God may let a bad thing happen, He is also the only one who can fix it.  God has the power to let good, and also bad things happen, but the Bible teaches that it will work out for our good.  Proverbs 3:5-6 tells everyone to:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

 

 

Be Patient And Humble?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Colossians 3:12

Yes, there it is.  We’re commanded by God to be patient.  Patience is not one of my strong suits.  And humble?  That’s even more difficult.  Yet when I am feeling impatient with others, a good dose of humility is in order.  I’m sure there are plenty of people I irritate on a daily basis.  I know I exasperate God constantly.  If I’m honest, I even find my failure to live up to my ideals pretty annoying.  This quote from Thomas A Kempis was in my devotional reading this morning, and it really spoke to me.  Maybe it will resonate with you as well.

“Endeavor to be patient in bearing with the defects and infirmities of others, of what sort soever they be;  for that thyself also hast many failings which must be borne with by others. If thou canst not make thyself such a one as thou wouldst, how canst thou expect to have another in all things to thy liking?”

Who Do You Serve? #2

“Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward;  you are serving the Lord, Jesus Christ.”  Colossians 3:23-24

I talked in a previous post about how we sometimes dislike serving because of what we are expected to do;  we also often fail to serve because of “who” is doing the asking.  Maybe it’s the parent who mistreated you as a child — now they’re elderly and need your help.  Maybe it’s the unappreciative and critical boss — quick to call on you to fix a problem, but slow with words of praise.  Maybe it’s the needy friend who never seems to have time for you, but expects you to instantly jump to her aid when she calls.  Maybe you don’t even like serving the needy–I mean, why weren’t they more responsible in the first place?

It’s a fact.  Serving others often means serving those we don’t particularly like or admire.  Serving means helping those who are undeserving and even critical.  Are we really called to do this?

Well, the short answer is yes.

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”  Matthew 5:46

The reasoning is this: first of all, we’re not really serving those unlovable people in our lives, we’re serving God.  We shouldn’t expect a “reward” for our service in the here and now.  That comes later, and it will be amazingly indescribable:  eternity with the One who created us.   Secondly, those undeserving wretches you don’t want to serve — well the Bible tells us,  ” such were some of you.”  1 Corinthians 7:11.  The only difference is:

“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”  1 Corinthians 11

Jesus didn’t save us because we were worthy.  He served us and saved us out of love, compassion and mercy.  He wants us to follow His example.  So, go in peace and serve the Lord!

 

 

Practicing Brotherly Love

The Bible not only tells us to continue in brotherly love, it gives us instructions on how to do that.  I’ve heard them called the “one anothers”:

  • Be at peace with one another (Mark 9:50)
  • Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
  • Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21)
  • Accept one another, just as Christ accepted you (Romans 5:17)
  • Instruct one another (Romans 15:14)
  • Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 4:9)
  • Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
  • Be patient with one another (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Be kind and compassionate with one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Pray for one another (James 5:16)
  • Confess your sins to one another (James 5:16)

Then there are some “do nots.”

  • Don’t pass judgement on one another (Romans 14:13)
  • Do not lie to one another (Colossians 3:9)
  • Do not slander one another (James 4:11)
  • Do not grumble against one another (James 5:9)

How do you do with this list?  If you’re like me, you fall down quite a bit.  I have to admit patience and not grumbling are areas I really need to work on;  serving and submitting deserve extra attention as well.  What about confessing sins to one another — I would really rather not go there!

It boils down to this:  brotherly love requires humility and sacrifice.  It involves imitating the one who loved us like a brother — Jesus.  He did all these things and did them perfectly.  He’s the one who teaches us to love.