Others above Yourselves


From Pastor’s Desk: 5-27-18

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

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KJV uses vainglory, which, in the Greek is κενοδοξία kenodoxia (ken-od-ox-ee’-ah); empty glorying, that is, self-conceit…

It is interesting that most, if not all, sins can be traced back to the original sin, pride, which certainly comes into play here. The devil, which in heaven was called Lucifer, Son of the Morning, started this whole thing by setting himself up to exalt himself to the throne of the Most High (SEE Isaiah 14:13).

When all is considered, pride is the root cause of breaches in relationships. I would suspect that it is the biggest difficulty in one accepting the Lord Jesus as Savior; just can’t over the pride issue.

In the passage from which the verse is taken (Phil 2:1-7) we see the “Kenosis” of Christ which is simply an “emptying out” process or, by definition, is “…the relinquishment of divine attributes by Jesus Christ in becoming human.” Verse 5, in my opinion, is the qualifier for the passage and the principle therein: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

Key words could be “nothing” and “in humility.” Human nature is, from the beginning, inherently selfish and conceited. We are not inclined to put others above ourselves. But, as I have told people quite often, “I know you’re human, but you don’t have to act like it.”

Sunset over Mountain Range

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How to Treat Others


From Pastor’s Desk:

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; Romans 12:10 NKJV

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Following yesterday’s verse, “Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification” (Romans 15:2 NASB), there is substantial similarity, in that it is still examining the realm of how we are to treat each other.

We are standing, or living, in the realm of grace. To realize the grace of God extended to each of us should cause incentive to be gracious to others, which seems to be the gist of these verses. To treat others with kind affection should be a natural (maybe supernatural?) thing for those who are in Christ. KJV “Affectioned” is φιλόστοργος philostorgos (fil-os’-tor-gos), meaning, (cherishing one’s kindred, especially parents or children); fond of natural relatives, that is, fraternal towards fellow Christians: – kindly affectioned.

It’s not hard to display kind affection to those with whom we agree, or like, is it? But maybe one the biggest difficulties in life is treating those with whom we disagree, or don’t like, with kind affection. Note that neither of the verses gives a conditional aspect. That is to say, Scripture is not telling us that we are to treat others well and give preference only if they “line up” with our way of thinking, or act / react in a way that we think appropriate, or treat us well first. No, the principle on display here is one of doing what the Bible says regardless of the circumstance, the occasion, the time or place, our feelings, their feelings, or any other excuse we could give for not treating them well.

An adage, whether of recent times or times past I don’t know, rings true in this context: “When all is said and done, more should be done than said.” Or, how about this one? “Talk is cheap!” One more. “Actions speak louder than words.” You might know some more. Go ahead and apply them.

Bottom-line truth is that we are commanded to treat others with respect, kind affection, give preference, and all this for their good, and for the sake of building them up.

Sunset over Mountain Range

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Building Up


From Pastor’s Desk:
 
Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. Romans 15:2 NASB
 
***
 
Doesn’t take a lengthy elaboration on this one to get the point across. But, you guessed it, I can’t resist.
 
Matthew 22:35-40 gives the account of one of the Pharisees asked Jesus a question, trying to trap Him, Jesus rather refers to a principle from the Old Testament: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Then He lays another alongside it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It doesn’t stop there, however, because He continues: “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
 
“For his good” is an important phrase. Too often, even (maybe especially) in the church we tend to do much to our neighbor that falls far short of “for his good.” It seems that the trend is to tear down instead of build up, to berate rather than commend or compliment, to push them down farther when they’re down already, and the list goes on and on. Scripture has some things to say about “esteeming” our brother or sister. In Philippians 2:3-4 we see, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “…we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another” (5:12-13).
 
“To his edification” is just as important. Edification comes from οἰκοδομή oikodomē (oy-kod-om-ay’), which means, architecture, that is, (concretely) a structure; figuratively confirmation: – building, edify (-ication, -ing).
 
Notice the concept: Architecture, structure, confirmation all have to do with building one another up in the Lord. Remember that Gifts of the Spirit are for that same purpose, as Paul says to the Corinthian church in Chapter 14:1-5. He uses “edification” four times in his letters, each time the same Greek word, Rom. 15:2, 1 Cor. 14:3, 2 Cor. 10:8, 2 Cor. 13:10.
 
It’s impossible to please everybody, as we all well know. However, Scripture commands that we try. Hebrews 12:14 tells us to “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord…” (NKJV).
 
We are all, as human beings, and especially in Christendom, in this thing together. Maybe it’s time we started trying “please our neighbor” and do it “for his good” so that we may build each other up. Sometimes I need building up. How about you?

Sunset over Mountain Range

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Using Liberty Wisely


From Pastor’s Desk:

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13 NKJV

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Liberty is one of those highly significant things in life that is sought after. In this verse, the Greek word, ἐλευθερία eleutheria (el-yoo-ther-ee’-ah), literally means freedom.

Paul had quite a feat to accomplish with the Galatians. Remember, chapter 5 opens with the admonition to “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free…” This comes as certain people were trying to dissuade them from following Paul’s teaching about Christ.

A big issue with liberty can be that once we are set free from something, we tend to think that we have a license to do things just because we have been delivered. There is nothing so devastating to a person than to realize, that after having been free from something, we have replaced that something with something else and have gone right back into bondage, held captive in another area.

Tony Curtis, a movie star of long ago (some of you may remember) decided to quit smoking cigarettes. He was successful. But then, unfortunately, he turned to “weed” or, as some called it, “pot.” One newspaper, in reporting the story, led with the headline, “Tony Curtis quits smoking and goes to pot.”

Once we have been called to liberty, we must not use it as a license to fall out of it into the bondage of something else.

Don’t let flesh rule. Use the liberty wherein you are called to “serve one another.”

Sunset over Mountain Range

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Divide and Conquer


From Pastor’s Desk:

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10 NASB

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The most strategic approach to successful engagement of warfare is to “Divide and conquer.” This holds true in any aspect of life. If the devil can divide the family, it will, sooner or later, be destroyed. It is the same in the church. Written certainly not from an expert opinion, but I tend to think that probably more churches have been split apart because of division (in various areas) more than anything else. The church at Corinth, to whom Paul is writing, was having quite a disturbance due to this very thing, division.

There are no two people who are going to think exactly alike. But notice what the verse says: “…that you all agree…that there be no divisions among you.” It might necessitate some discussion for all to be in agreement, but it may very well be the only thing that will eliminate division.

“Be made complete” in the NASB is used instead of “perfectly joined together” in the KJV, which is, καταρτίζω katartizō (kat-ar-tid’-zo), which is, to complete thoroughly, that is, repair (literally or figuratively) or adjust: – fit, frame, mend, (make) perfect (-ly join together), prepare, restore.

To complete thoroughly, to repair, or to adjust, means that some serious conversation has taken place. Someone may have to put aside some stubborn ideas and concede to the majority. Or someone may have to reason with others and convince them that they are the ones who need to concede. That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that anyone is wrong, rather that there are different ways of looking at certain situations. Everyone should be aware, however, that all involved in the matter must, above all else, maintain righteousness.

The Early Church did it. They were of the same mind, in one accord. It is what made them what and who they were. They are, or should be, our example. We must set aside our differences, not allowing division among us, that we may be “perfectly joined together!” If we don’t, we will succumb to the “Divide and conquer” strategy of the devil.

Sunset over Mountain Range

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Commendable Commendation


From Pastor’s Desk:

For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. Hebrews 6:10 NASB

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Not until chapter three do we know to whom this letter is written. The usage of “Holy brethren” in verse one suggests that it was written, as scholars believe, for Jewish Christians who lived in Jerusalem.

 

That being the case, the passage of verses 9-12, is a rather commendable commendation to those “Holy Brethren.” The writer is “…convinced of better things concerning you…” says verse nine.  Expressed in verse eleven is “…desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end…” with an admonition in verse twelve, “…so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

We know that Scripture is written for the sake of not only the ones to whom it was immediately written at the time of writing, but to all those who believe in Jesus Christ, that is, Scripture is forever contemporary. Admonitions, disciplines, counsel, etc. applies to the Church of today as it did initially.

In a nutshell then, we can be assured that Hebrews 6:9-12 applies to us as it did to the “Holy Brethren.” It behooves us then to do as they were doing, that we might be commended for: “…work and the love…in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.”

Along with the commendation, notice that, it concludes, as is often the case, with the admonition, “…so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

Anything less would negate the commendation!

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“Mining” the Depths


From Pastor’s Desk:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! Romans 11:33 NASB

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We will never know the depth of His riches. Nor is it possible that, though fervently we search, His judgments evade us. His ways are so high above our ways, there is no way that we can scale the heights to discover them.

It is, however, an honor to explore the depths of His riches. Much pleasure and joy is found as we excavate in the mines where every nugget of wisdom and knowledge of God are stored. With every find comes enhancement for spiritual growth, and allows us, bit by bit, to reach deeper with every turn of the shovel.

Judgments of God are beyond imagination. Human rationale cannot comprehend why God exacts judgment(s) in one way or another. History is replete with times of God’s judgment upon mankind, and, of course, there is awaiting still the “End time” judgments, be it the “Judgment Seat of Christ” or the “Great White Throne Judgment” which tends to boggle the human mind.

To “fathom” is to “penetrate to the truth of; comprehend; understand…” God’s ways are so far beyond our intellect and reasoning that they exceed our understanding. We get a pretty good insight to this in Proverbs 3:5-6 where the wise man declares, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him…” When we examine the principles of Scripture, and the theology therein, we see that there are so many things that God does by ways and means that in no way coincides with the way we would do things. We should be greatly appreciative of that, seeing that most times when we do things the way we think we should do them, the end result is usually not so good. Not so with God! When He does something, He already knows the end result, thereby He is the only One who can say that the end does actually does justify the means.

Although we will never know the depth of His riches, be able to search completely His judgments, or understand His ways, this journey we are on necessitates us striving to do so.

A song written by Bill Gaither comes to mind:

The longer I serve Him,                                                                                                                   The sweeter He grows                                                                                                                     The more that I love Him,                                                                                                                 More love He bestows                                                                                                                   Each day is like heaven,                                                                                                                    My heart overflows                                                                                                                          The longer I serve Him,                                                                                                                   The sweeter He grows

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