You come to an intersection, stop in a line of cars, and you see him. His clothes are well worn, his hair and beard are unkempt, and his hand scrawled sign reads "Anything helps." It's not that you would miss a few dollars, it's that there is no telling what he will use it for. He may buy alcohol, cigarettes, or even something illegal.
Looking From the Outside
Let’s think for a moment about Saul, a persecutor and murderer of Christians, a dyed in the wool enemy of Jesus Christ. Now, why do you suppose God picked Saul? What was particularly attractive about this man? His willingness to be extreme? Maybe. For the task God gives to Saul, I think his zealousness is a good trait. Saul is also smart and knowledgeable about God’s Law, His Word. That had to be attractive to God. Yes? Maybe. But what of Saul’s hatred of the Father’s Son? How could that be attractive to God the Father? Or to God the Holy Spirit? Saul’s hatred of the Son of God had to be offensive to the Godhead!
So, why does Jesus appear to Saul on the road to Damascus?
Doesn’t it indicate God knows Saul’s heart? God knows what anyone looking from the outside could not possibly see – that Saul is ready to become Paul, the great Apostle of Jesus Christ first for the Jews then for the Gentiles.
Next time you start to judge another, stop and think about how you would have judged Paul.
"Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so also did all the men who were with him. They mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and his son Jonathan and for the people of the LORD and the house of Israel," 2 Samuel 1:11-12
When it came to TBN and what it has become, I've never changed my position one time when it came to how what once was an instrument of Biblical teaching and sound, Biblical preachers, to what it sadly has ended up being - a network that has tragically left the foundation of truth, which is Christ and him crucified.
“This, then, is the judgment” writes John, the beloved one. The judgment is that those who do evil avoid the Light because they hate the Light while those who do good seek out the Light because their deeds are done by God Himself. The Light exposes evil and those who do evil things hide from exposure.
And those who do good discover that those good things can not originate from themselves; instead the good emerges from the Light Himself.
19 “This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. 21 But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”
Real love, genuine agape love is unconditional, period. If you doubt this truth, re-read Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth. He boldly tells the church – a church battling crippling sins – that “love is kind” and “keeps no record of wrongs.”
And in his first letter, John writes:
And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
John doesn’t write, “The one who remains in God remains in love.” Rather, he turns it on its heels and states emphatically that “the one who remains in love remains in God.” You cannot hate people who you are able to see and touch while you claim to love God. You can not refuse to forgive others while expecting God to forgive you. Frankly love and hate are like oil and water – incompatible in the mix.
You can not be a Christian and hate people.
Today, writing from prison, I think Paul might be emphatic. He might scribble ( ‘see, I write these words in my own hand’ ): “Stop fighting!” before he explains why Christians should not bicker. Paul does write gently here; and a bit later in his letter to the church at Ephesus, he begs his fellow believers to “speak the truth in love.” But, here he implores them (“I urge you”) to “accept one another in love.”
4 Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love,3 diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.
Paul calls Christians to humility, gentleness, patience, acceptance ( tolerance! ) all of which lead to unity and “the peace that binds us.”
So how do Christians who disagree stop fighting? What is “speaking the truth in love?”
Examples (from a written social network debate) of “truth speaking”:
Person #1: “Heretic warning” then boldly typed N-A-M-E of heretic. Then, “BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.”
Person #2: “Beware that the good presentation you give is not clouded by pride.”
Which spoken truth do you think Paul prefers? And, more importantly, which statement sounds more like God, the Holy Spirit?
Solomon strongly suggests teaching your child early “about the way he should go.” He says:
Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
The pertinent questions, however, are:
1) What to teach?
2) How to teach it?
Solomon readily answers the first question by imploring the parent to teach wisdom. And for the second question, Solomon implies the work is primarily that of the child who must willingly listen to instruction. If the child refuses to listen, no amount of words will matter. Solomon implores the child to listen to instruction so that ”wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart.” ( Proverbs 2: 10 )
Solomon says to his own child:
My son, don’t forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commands;
for they will bring you
many days, a full life, and well-being.
Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.
Tie them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will find favor and high regard
in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths. Don’t consider yourself to be wise; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. ( Proverbs 3: 1-7 )
What Solomon does not offer is advice to model the behavior you expect from your child. He knows better than that. Instead, he calls on the parent to speak truth, write truth, think about truth and “trust in the Lord with all your heart” and “not rely on your own understanding.”
Solomon wisely says not to “consider yourself to be wise.”
Instead, “fear the Lord.” For awe of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.