Archive for March, 2017
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
How the Lord would have us live isn’t some great, hidden, theological mystery. The favorable disposition expected isn’t the result of conjuring up enough energy to make sure it happens in certain situations. No, that the descriptive verbs are in the present tense means this is to be the unceasing reality of who we are as followers of Christ Jesus. Thus, the action required would fade if dependent upon human determination alone. The good news is that the very thing Paul sets before is but the inclination of the Spirit of the resurrected Christ dwelling within. By refusing to quench the Spirit, this kind of faith expression becomes the reality of our lives.
“Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on’” (Mark 12:43-44).
Jesus considers the offering of the widow to be a significant object lesson for the disciples and their understanding of the Kingdom of God; of what real faith looks like in contrast to self-aggrandizing, and self-satisfied institutional religion. The seemingly generous gift of the rich may have impressed the crowd that day, but it’s the sacrificial gift of the impoverished that has been preserved for posterity, and for 2000 years has inspired the church to levels of giving that have multiplied exponentially her faithful expression of trust in God’s provision.
“Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on” (Luke 21:3-4).
In contrast to the gifts of the rich, the poor widow gave two of the smallest coinage in Roman currency. Yet, in the strange world of Kingdom math, she gave more than everyone else. For all the things that wow and impress us about the affluence human wealth, God measures things differently. He looks not at the amount, but the attitude. He sees not what is given, but what is left. And while the rich will give from their wealth, they will never give their wealth. By God’s standard, the widow’s mite made her the richest person in the room.
“And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury…” (Mark 12:41).
One area you may not like Jesus is when it comes to giving. By our giving, he makes judgments about our lives, priorities, and whether or not we are arranging our lives to honor him. It’s a haunting reality that the true love of our life, and the object of our affection, is proved out not by the confession of our lips but the ledger of our checkbook and the receipts from our credit cards.
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
There is certain mindset that drives us each day; that compels us in the pursuit of the life we desire. The higher we set the bar and the loftier our ambitions, the more we are able achieve. For the people of God, the standard before us reaches into a kingdom not of this world. It requires a fixed perspective on life that’s undistracted by the material offerings and empty promises of this present life.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).
Human nature is to love those who are like us; those with whom we agree and share common opinions. The real challenge is to love the unloved; those who are difficult. Though unnatural, disciples of Jesus draw upon the supernatural resource of God’s Spirit to make it a reality.
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).
Being a disciple is much like a marriage. Each begins with an initial commitment and is characterized by a continuing faithfulness and growth in intimacy. The faithfulness of Jesus’ disciples is seen in their continuing in His word. That is, the purpose of continued Bible study is to become so familiar with the teachings of Jesus that we become more like Him. Every reading brings richer understanding.