Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Treating Each Other with Value

"For by the Grace given me I say to everyone of you:Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you...Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another about yourselves." Rom 12.3-10

I am amazed everytime I hear about a follower of Christ who is 'on the outs' with another believer. Despite evidence to the contrary, Christ-followers are supposed to behave differently toward all men, especially each other. What Jesus envisioned and Paul described here is a kind of relationship that believes the best of one another and refuses to give the enemy any ground to stand in the relationship of the redeemed. If you have frutrations, bitterness, hard feelings, and other relational difficulties with other disciples God sees that as inexcusable. Jesus said that making things right with another believer is more important than your worship (Mt 5.24)[and nearly every thing else you will do today!] so leave your gift of worship at the altar and go get right. The vertical righteousness is easy for us (though it cost Christ his life on the cross!) it is the horizontal working out of the righteousness of God in and among us that seems to cause problems.

In the text above we find a sort of check list that might be helpful in relationships between christians. Check yourself against this...

1. Grace-esteem- None of us is worthy of salvation and we continue to be less than profitable servants. We must see ourselves as recipients of grace and mercy. Further, our view of ourselves must be in line with our "measure of faith". This leaves no room for pride or huberous or arrogance. Are you prideful and arrogant or humble in your esteem of your self?

2. Sincere love- In spite of our differences, God expects us to rally around the commonality of the cross. Our mission and our working together must spring from sincere love. The greek word for sincere here is 'without wax'. Sculptors used to mask flaws in their work by filling the blemishes with wax. God wants our mutual love to be without wax... after all there is no masking and no faking real brotherly love. How sincere is your love?

3. Hatred- Evil, sinful and behavior that glorifies anyone other than God must be eschewed vehemently. What's your hate level?

4. Mutual devotion- Because you are my brother in Christ, I want success for you and blessing on your life. I cannot be self seeking; I cannot prioritize my own comfort or desires above yours because we are devoted to one another's success. Are you living with this devotion to your fellow believers?

5. Honoring one another- To value a brother or sister this high stands in stark contrast to the way of the world. We are to defer to one another, to value each other as co-heirs with Christ as indispensably precious. This is more than a heart attitude, though it sure begins there. This is a matter of behavior and treating one another as valuable not dispenable. How are you treating your fellow heirs with Christ?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Temptation Question

I received the following question via the 'ask the pastor' site.

In Luke 11:4, "And lead us not into temptation". I am inquiring as to why the text is suggesting such a thing when clearly as christians it is understood that God does not tempt or "lead" us but rather Satan or our own sinful nature brings us into that place, yet Jesus says this is how we should pray to the Father? Please explain. Thank you

Clearly, God does not tempt anyone (James 1.13-15) but he does test us (Gen 22.1). While the determination of our occassions to sin is always the impurity of our hearts, or as Paul called it 'sin in us' (See Rom 7.21-25), circumstances play a big role. The glutton has no business in the bakery. This is a prayer that God would not lead us into circumstances that would put us in the place of temptation. It might be easier for the person with the penchant for gluttony to work in a steel mill. Perhaps there is less temptation there. This section of this prayer is a plea for God to be sensitive to the weakness of our flesh while he is directing our lives.
Some commentators say this is a rhetorical device used to show that God has the power to prevent us from falling into sin and so it is a plea for protection.

So, in summary, I would see this as a plea for sensitivity to our weakness (under the right circumstances I will fail you, Lord!)and a request for protection fo the most valuable commodity in our lives- our relationship with God. As one writer put it, "Such constant (daily) spiritual inventory serves us preventative care of the soul."