Paul Madson

THOUGHTS, QUOTES & REFLECTIONS

Year: 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Courtesy Big Stock Photo

As we approach the beginning of 2015 in a little over 24 hours, I thought I would share a few year-end thoughts and quotes.

For those of you looking for a good plan to read through the Bible in 2015, Justin Taylor (blogger for the Gospel Coalition) gives one of the best, most comprehensive lists I’ve come across. I would encourage you to set aside time each day to read through the Bible in 2015.

“When all your favorite preachers are gone, and all their books forgotten, you will have your Bible. Master it. Master it.”  (John Piper)

Also, if you want to read an outstanding article that will help you to understand the Bible in a much greater way, I would encourage you to read a recent post by Gavin Ortlund, entitled: What Kind of Thing is the Bible: Six Theses. Every pastor should give his congregation a copy of this article! 

And finally, CBS News put together a video montage of many of the well-known people that died in 2014. Here are a few of the people they mentioned…

Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lauren Bacall, Richard Attenborough, Sid Ceasar, Shirley Temple, Maria von Trapp, Mickey Rooney, Maya Angelou, Casey Kasem, Tommy Ramone, James Garner, Phil Everly, Pete Seeger, David Brenner and Joe Cocker. 

As I watched the video, I was reminded of what Scripture says in James 4:13-15
 
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’” (NASB)

As the video montage scrolled through so many well-known people the world admired, I couldn’t help but think about those that didn’t make the “CBS News” list who served Christ faithfully and used their life to influence others for the glory of God.

I was reminded again what matters most in life – living for God’s glory and the good of other people.

“The best use of one’s life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” (Oswald Sanders)
 
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”  (Jesus, from Matthew 16:26 ESV)
 
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” (Jim Elliot)
 
“Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.” (Anonymous)
 
“I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all. But whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”  (Martin Luther)
 
As you enter 2015, may you remember the promise of God’s “steadfast love”

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)
 
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12 NIV) 
 
“All of us would be wiser if we would resolve never to put people down, except on our prayer lists.”  (D.A. Carson)

Finally, one last note – thank you to all of you who have so faithfully prayed for Lisa and I and the ministry of Global Training Network this past year. We are eternally grateful! Please continue to bring us and our staff before God’s throne in 2015. The longer I live, the more I realize how deeply I need the prayers of fellow believers in Christ! Thank you!

Some Uncomfortable Questions

I really enjoy reading pastor and author Kevin DeYoung. He is amazingly insightful, and very articulate. Recently he wrote some brief thoughts on The Gospel Coalition’s website that I found perceptive, as well as convicting.

Much Grace. Enjoy…

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

Would you like others to remember your failings as long as you remember theirs?

Do you like it when people assume the worst about you? Put the worst possible construct on your motives? Never give you the benefit of the doubt? Size you up and figure you out 140 characters at a time?

Do you like it when others are quick to speak, quick to anger, and slow to forgive? How does it feel when others speak about you instead of to you?

What if the measure you used with others was the measure used with you? What if everyone else took things personally? What if tearing you down became someone else’s personal mission in life? Have you ever tried to see things their way?

Have you ever been mistaken for a son of encouragement like Barnabas or a great refresher like Onesiphorus?

Are people more surprised when you are outraged and offended or when you are tender and compassionate?

How would I answer these questions? How am I doing? Every “you” in the questions above is also for me.

Have mercy on stupid and sinful people. You and I will be one of them soon enough.

Selah. 

What I Learned in the Heart of India

“…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father 
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Ephesians 5:20 ESV)
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!”
(Psalm 100:4 ESV)

I saw it on my first trip to the heart of India in 1998. I was in the city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and had met several indigenous Christ-followers over the preceding week. What was it? A joy, a peace, and a contentment that I had never witnessed at such a deep level.

You could see it in their eyes. Almost every sentence was filled with gratitude to God. These were people who had virtually nothing in terms of earthly possessions. They were (and are) some of the poorest people in the world – basic homes, many with nothing more than dirt floors. No air conditioning – in a place that can reach almost 110 degrees Fahrenheit (with 80% to 90% humidity!). And yet their prayers were filled with the common refrain of gratitude for God’s unending goodness and kindness in their lives.

How is it that people who live on less than $1,000 U.S. dollars per year can be so joyful? So content? So at peace?

The answer? The joy that only God can give… the peace that Scripture says “surpasses all comprehension” (Phil. 4:6-7)… and the contentment that is talked about in 1 Timothy 6:8, where the Apostle Paul writes, But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”

As we approach this Thanksgiving Season and express our gratitude for all of God’s gracious (undeserved) gifts, let’s remember that the most important gifts are not things… but rather those intangible, invisible gifts that can only come from the hand of God Himself. Things like salvation, forgiveness, redemption, adoption (spiritual), acceptance and love – all undeserved gifts from our gracious heavenly Father.

I grew up Lutheran, and one of the traditions we had as a family was singing the Doxology before every Thanksgiving dinner. It set the tone, and it always reminded me that these “blessings” (visible and invisible) ultimately flow from God… and therefore He is to be praised.

“Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

James 1:17 says, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

As we approach Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I would share a few important thoughts on the subject of “gratitude.” These thoughts were originally shared by Randy Alcorn on his blog. Enjoy!

“Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” (Romans 11:35). The answer is nobody.
 
Our culture is riddled with a poisonous spirit of entitlement. We always think we deserve more. We’re disappointed with our family, neighbors, church, the waitress, the sales clerk, and the department of motor vehicles. Ultimately we’re disappointed with God. He hasn’t given us everything we want.
 
What madness! If only we could see our situation clearly – even for a moment.
 
We deserved expulsion;
He gives us a diploma.
 
We deserved the electric chair;
He gives us a parade.
 
Anything less than overwhelming gratitude should be unthinkable. He owes us nothing. We owe Him everything. When you realize you deserve nothing better than hell, it puts a “bad day” in perspective, doesn’t it?
 
Christians in Sudan – who’ve suffered unspeakably for their faith – are deeply grateful for God’s daily blessings. But us? We whine and pout.
 
Thankfulness should draw a clear line between us and a Christ-less world. If the same spirit of entitlement and ingratitude that characterizes our culture characterizes us, what do we have to offer?
 
If I grasp that I deserve hell, I’ll be filled with gratitude not only for God’s huge blessings – including my redemption and home in heaven – but also for His smaller blessings: sun, rain, a beating heart, eyes that see, legs that walk, a mind that thinks. If I don’t have these, I’ll be overwhelmed with the knowledge that I have plenty else I don’t deserve. And because Christ allowed Himself to be crushed under the weight of my sin, I’ll enjoy forever a clear mind and perfect body.
 
Lord, help us to be thankful people. Help us to be grateful for ordinary days. And during our bad days, remind us of what you are preparing for us – endless days filled with goodness and abundance, where we will look back with amazed delight at your deliverance and look forward with anticipation of the endless wonders yet to come.
 
“…having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:7 ESV)
 
Selah.

GTN’s 10th Anniversary Vision Video

For this week’s blog post, I wanted to share Global Training Network’s brand new 10th Anniversary Vision video (which we shared for the first time at our recent Banquet). Enjoy!

 

A Few Quotes for Spiritual Encouragement

“Without Christ, not one step; with Him, anywhere!” (David Livingstone  – 19th Century Missionary to Africa)

“Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man.” (Dwight L. Moody)

“I have often repented of speech but hardly ever of silence.” (C.S. Lewis)

“The early church didn’t say, ‘Look what the world is coming to!’ They said, ‘Look what has come into the world’!” (Dr. Carl F.H. Henry)

“The God who has been sufficient until now can be trusted to the end.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“There are two kinds of people in the world: the givers and the takers. The takers tend to eat better, but the givers tend to sleep better.” (Danny Thomas)

J.I. Packer’s three-word summary of the gospel: “God saves sinners.”

“Access to God under all circumstances is guaranteed by Christ’s one sacrifice that covers all transgressions.” (J.I. Packer)

“There is great want about all Christians who have not suffered. Some flowers must be broken and bruised before they emit any fragrance.” (Robert Murray McCheyne)

“To belong to Jesus is to embrace the nations with Him.”  (John Piper)

“The task before the church is to be relentlessly and winsomely Biblical. We can’t settle for slogans. We need to open our Bibles and look carefully at actual chapters and verses. If we want the world to find the truth, it starts with us being better Bereans.”  (Kevin DeYoung)

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” (Corrie Ten Boom)

“We fear men so much, because we fear God so little.” (William Gurnall)

“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.” (Martin Luther)

Charles H. Spurgeon on prayer: “The Christian should work as if it all depended on him, and pray as if it all depended on God! No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.”

“For Jesus, Scripture is powerful, decisive, and authoritative because it is nothing less than the voice of God.” (Kevin DeYoung)

“Wisdom is knowing how to live God’s way in God’s world.”  (Alistair Begg)

“May a merciful God preserve me from a Christian Church in which everyone is a saint! I want to be and remain in the church and little flock of the fainthearted, the feeble and the ailing, who feel and recognize the wretchedness of their sins, who sigh and cry to God incessantly for comfort and help, who believe in the forgiveness of sins.”

(Martin Luther, in Luther’s Works (St. Louis, 1957), XXII:55.)

A Beautiful Doxology to use in closing a Worship Service or Bible Study…

“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Jude 24-25 NIV78)

Encouraging Thoughts on Heaven

“Life on earth is the preface to the book, the warm up to the concert. Heaven is the main event!” (Randy Alcorn)

 “Joy is the serious business of heaven….In heaven, we will be strong, radiant, wise, beautiful and drenched in joy!” (C.S. Lewis)

“Let temporal things serve your use, but the eternal be the object of your desire.” (Thomas a Kempis)

“And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” (1 Corinthians 15:19 NLT)

“When we live our lives as if this world is all that we have, life is very disappointing and even despairing. When we live our lives as if this world is all there is, questions have few answers and crisis becomes all-consuming. This present world only makes sense when we live here in light of there!” (Joseph Stowell)

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) 

“If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next… It is because Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.” (C. S. Lewis)

“We are to view the present in light of the future; we are to see time in light of eternity; we are to look beyond sacrifice to reward; we are to bear the cross in anticipation of the crown.” (Randy Alcorn)

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in his wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim; in the light of his glory and grace.” – Lyrics to “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2 NLT)

“Heaven is our real home. Home is acceptance, security, rest, refuge, deep personal relationships, great memories. Home is where your treasure is. If heaven is your home, then your mind and heart and treasure will be there also.” (Randy Alcorn)

“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.” (Psalm 39:4-5)

Scripture says in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that “God has set eternity in the hearts of men.” God has placed within our hearts as humans the awareness of eternity…the internal awareness that there is something beyond this life. We are to see and interpret all of life through the grid of eternity. We are to live here in light of there!

Until next week, my prayer for you is…

“May the LORD bless you and keep you;
may the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
may the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
(Numbers 6:24-26)

*All Scripture quotations are taken from The English Standard Version Bible (ESV) unless otherwise noted

What is a “gospeled” church?

San Francisco Peaks – Flagstaff, Arizona

Recently I came across an excellent article so rich, so potent, and so profound that I want to pass it along to everyone I know so that they can benefit and be blessed by it just as I have been. 

This week’s blog post is an example of one of those “rich, potent, profound” articles. It was written by Jared C. Wilson, a well-known author and a regular contributor to The Gospel Coalition website. It will take you 60 seconds to read – but a lifetime to apply. But it’s soooooo good. Don’t just read it…chew on it.

Selah!

A Gospeled Church

By Jared C. Wilson“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus (Romans 15:5).

The gospel cannot puff us up.
It cannot make us prideful.
It cannot make us selfish.
It cannot make us arrogant.
It cannot make us rude.
It cannot make us gossipy.
It cannot make us accusers.

So the more we press into the gospel, the more the gospel takes over our hearts and the spaces we bring our hearts to, and it stands to reason, the less we would see those things antithetical to it.

You cannot grow in holiness and holier-than-thou-ness at the same time

It works out this way individually.

The most gracious people you and I know are people who have had an experience of grace and fixate on grace. The least gracious people we know are people who may know about grace academically, “theologically,” but don’t seem the least bit changed by it and really have a fixation on the law. They have an inordinate fixation on who did what wrong and what they deserve.

The same dynamic takes place in churches.

Where grace and law are taught academically but law is “felt” as the operating system of the church, you will likely have a stifling, gossipy, burdensome environmentWhere grace and law are taught theologically but grace is felt as the operating system of the church, you will see people begin to flourish, breathe(You’ll also attract more sinners, which is where religious people start getting a little antsy.)

But the message of grace made preeminent will generate an atmosphere of grace.

This is why the harmony with each other of Romans 15:5 is “in accord with Jesus Christ.”

It’s not predicated on having a bunch of stuff in common.
It’s not predicated on common race or social class.
It’s not predicated on a common special interest or political cause.
It’s not predicated on all being theology nerds, liking the same authors, being Reformed or Arminian or somewhere in between.
It’s not predicated on all being Republicans or Democrats.
It’s not predicated on all being for social justice.
It’s not predicated on all being homeschoolers or public schoolers.
It’s not predicated on music styles or preaching styles or anything like that.

All of that sort of commonality produces a very fragile harmony.

It is instead predicated on our common Savior, Jesus Christcompared to whom we are all sinners who fall short of God’s glory, and from whom we have all received grace upon grace

So the more that we together focus on the gospel of Jesus, the more together we will walk in accordance with him and therefore in harmony with one another.

“Gospel doctrine,” our friend Ray Ortlund says, “creates a gospel culture.”

What’s all this “Gospel-centered” talk about?

Have you heard the term “gospel-centered” recently? If you read much within evangelical circles, I’m sure you have. I use the term quite often as I describe the ministry of Global Training Network.

Recently I came across a great article by Dane Ortlund that describes beautifully what “Gospel-Centered” means. I think you will find Ortlund’s thoughts like a cold drink of water on a hot day – refreshing! (bold, underlines & italics are mine)

Enjoy!

What’s all this ‘Gospel-centered’ talk about?

By Dane Ortlund

“Gospel-centered preaching.” “Gospel-centered parenting.” “Gospel-centered discipleship.” The back of my business card says “gospel-centered publishing.” This descriptive mantra is tagged on to just about anything and everything in the Christian world these days.

What’s it all about?

Before articulating what it might mean to be gospel-centered, we better be on the same page as to the actual message of the gospel.

I don’t mean Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

What I mean by “gospel” in this article is the outrageous news of what has been done for us by God in Jesus. The gospel is the front page of the newspaper, not the back-page advice column; news of what has happened, not advice on how to live.

Specifically, the gospel is the startling news that what God demands from us, he provides for us. How? In his own Son. The gospel is the message that Jesus Christ delights to switch places with guilty rebelsThe one person who walked this earth who deserved heaven endured the wrath of hell so that those who deserve the wrath of hell can have heaven.

And the gospel is not only personal, but cosmic. Christ’s death and resurrection doesn’t only provide forgiveness for me. It also means that in the middle of history, God has begun to undo death, ruin, decay, and darknessThe universe itself is going to be washed clean and made new. Eden will be restored.

But to be part of this movement, we too must die. Grace requires death. We must die to our bookkeeping existence that builds our identity on anything other than Jesus. We must relinquish, give up on ourselves, throw in the towel. And out of this death—letting God love us in, not after getting over, our messiness—resurrection life quietly blossoms.

Gospel-Centered Worldview

What does it mean, then, to be “gospel-centered”?

As far as I can tell, the phrase is used in two basic waysOne way is to view all of life in light of the gospel. We’ll call this a gospel-centered worldview. The other is to view Christian progress as dependent on the gospel. We’ll call this gospel-centered growth. The first looks out; the second looks in. Take gospel-centered worldview first.

Think about what we mean when we call people “self-centered.” We don’t mean that all they think about directly is themselves. They also think about what to eat, what to wear, how to conclude an email, and a thousand other things each day. But self informs all these other decisions. A self-centered person passes all he does and thinks through the filter of self. Self trumps everything else and orders all other loves accordingly.

In a similar way, to be gospel-centered does not mean that social action, marital and sexual matters, ethical issues, political agendas, our jobs, our diet, and all the rest of daily life are irrelevant. Rather, it means all of life is viewed in light of the gospel. Everything passes through the filter of the gospel. What Jesus has done and is doing to restore the universe trumps everything else and orders all other loves accordingly.

Gospel-Centered Growth

There’s another, more common way that the phrase gospel-centered is used. Here we narrow in to issues such as Bible-reading, book-writing, preaching, and teaching. Generally when we speak of “gospel-centered discipleship” or “gospel-centered preaching” we mean that such activities are done in the light of two core realities: our ongoing struggle with sin and our ongoing need for grace.

The twisted fallenness of the human heart manifests itself in our constant self-atonement strategiesThe natural, default mode of the human heart (including the Christian heart) is restless heart-wandering, looking for something to latch on to for significance, to know we matter, to feel okay about ourselves. This tendency is often profoundly subtle and extremely difficult to root out. We are sinners. We are sick.

However, the far-reaching grace of the gospel calms our hearts and nestles us into the freedom of not needing to constantly measure up since Jesus measured up on our behalf. In Christ, we matterClothed in his righteousness, we are okay. This sweet calm is the soil in which true godliness flourishes.

Gospel-centeredness, then, funnels the gospel out to unbelievers and also into our own hearts. It acknowledges that the good news about God’s grace in Christ is the supreme resource—for believers just as much for unbelievers. In other words, the gospel is a home, not a hotelIt is not only the gateway into the Christian life, but the pathway of the Christian life.

This is why Paul constantly reminds people—reminds Christian people—of the gospel (for example, Rom. 1:16–171 Cor. 1:1815:3–4Gal. 1:6). We move forward in discipleship not mainly through pep talks and stern warningsWe move forward when we hear afresh the strangeness of grace, relaxing our hearts and loosening our clenched hold on a litany of lesser things—financial security, the perfect spouse, career advancement, sexual pleasure, human approval, and so on….

Keep the Reality

There’s one more thing to be said. The label “gospel-centered” is neither here nor there. There’s nothing sacred about it. But the heart of what is being recovered, both in terms of worldview and in terms of growth, is vital for calm and sanity amid the ups and downs of life in a fallen world.

Every generation must rediscover the gospel for itself. “Gospel-centered” happens to be the label attached to this generation’s recovery of grace. When we tire of the label, get a new one. But keep the reality.

We will be broken, messy sinners until Jesus comes again and gives us final cleansingUntil then, true shalom and fruitfulness can only be found through waking up each day, shoving back the clamoring anxieties, and defibrillating our hearts with a love that comes only to those—but to all of those—who open themselves up to it.

**If you would like to read the complete post, you can do so here.

Holy Love

Courtesy Big Stock Photo

Francis A. Schaeffer, in his book, The Church Before a Watching World, wrote the following…

“If we stress the love of God without the holiness of God, it turns out only to be compromise.  But if we stress the holiness of God without the love of God, we practice something that is hard and lacks beauty.  And it is important to show forth beauty before a lost world and a lost generation.  All too often young people have not been wrong in saying that the church is ugly.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we are called upon to show to a watching world and to our own young people that the church is something beautiful.

Several years ago I wrestled with the question of what was wrong with much of the church that stood for purity.  I came to the conclusion that in the flesh we can stress purity without love or we can stress the love of God without purity, but that in the flesh we cannot stress both simultaneously.  In order to exhibit both simultaneously, we must look moment by moment to the work of Christ, to the work of the Holy Spirit.  Spirituality begins to have real meaning in our moment-by-moment lives as we begin to exhibit simultaneously the holiness of God and the love of God.”

One of the theologians of the 20th century that I have always had a great admiration for is the late Dr. Carl F. H. Henry. Dr. Henry was asked,

What causes you the most concern today as you view the Body of Christ?

His answer?

“I suppose the needless competition and conflict, the lack of coordination and cooperation—which are really reflections of sin, compromise, and self-seeking at the expense of the whole body. These blunt the cutting edge of the Church as the regenerate Body of Christ in the world. I think evangelicals tend to institutionalize their differences swiftly, and then those differences contribute to conflict in the evangelical community. I am not interested in the least common denominator of evangelical commitment, but I do think that we need some sense of our commonalities and of what we ought to be doing together. We must not simply emphasize our differences.”

Over the years I’ve noticed that one of the habits that Christians can fall into the longer they know Christ is when they are reading a book or an article (or a blog post) and Scripture is quoted, they tend to “rush through” the verse (or verses), barely paying any close attention to them. Why? Because in our minds we tend to think: “I’ve already read this before – many times before – and therefore I don’t need to read it again. There is nothing new.”

The sad reality is that all of us tend to do that in one way (or at one time) or another. And yet nothing we read is as important or as valuable as…the Word of God! The Bible, God’s Word – Genesis to Revelation – is “God-breathed.” We should never “rush through Scripture.” We should learn to linger, slow down, browse slowly as we come to a verse of Sacred Text.

Can you imagine what the local (and universal) church would look like if we ONLY practiced the verses that are listed below? I would suggest to you that it would be a thing of amazing “beauty.” So beautiful that a watching world would have to wake up and take notice. And they would be drawn in because of the supernatural work of God’s Holy Spirit being made evident in the way everyone treats one another in a “Christ-honoring manner.”

As you read part two of what Scripture says about treating one another in a Christ-honoring manner, please “linger”… slow down and think about what each of these passages would look like if they were to be lived out in your life on a daily basis (and please resist the temptation to think about how someone else you know needs to read and practice this…let God deal with them).

Enjoy!

Treating One Another in a Christ-Honoring Manner (Part 2)

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

“Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14)

“For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish,…that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.” (2 Corinthians 12:20)

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2)

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 NASB)

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NASB)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” (Philippians 2:14)

“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.” (Colossians 3:8-9)

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14)

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” (Colossians 3:23-25)

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:5-6)

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15)

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 13:16)

“Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” (James 5:9)

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9)

“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (1 John 3:11)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)

“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:19-21)

Treating One Another in a Christ-honoring Manner

Courtesy Big Stock Photos

Having taken most of the Summer months off from my blog, I thought I would begin this Fall season with a topic that I think is extremely relevant and applicable to our daily lives.

The subject?

What does Scripture say about how we are to treat one another – specifically as brothers and sisters in Christ?

At the center of what Scripture says about how we are to treat one another is the command to “love one another.”

What I have found so often throughout my years of pastoral and missions leadership is that we all tend to focus on how someone else has not “loved me like the Bible says they should” and therefore (we think) that gives us the right to not treat them in a loving manner back (it doesn’t).

This is tragically similar to behavior on par with Jr. High students: “They hurt me so I’m not talking to them anymore!” or “Their academic or athletic achievements exceed my own, so I’m going to find ways to cut them down and say unkind things about them.”

Jealousy, unkindness and unforgiveness often rule the halls of most Jr. High Schools. And sadly, also among many Christians. That should trouble us – deeply and profoundly!

We can’t control whether other people act in a loving and forgiving manner, but we can control (and are responsible before God for) our own actions and attitudes.

I find that we so often forget that at the heart of loving one another is “forgiving one another.” You cannot have love for a fellow brother or sister in Christ without also having forgiveness toward them.

So often when someone hurts us, offends us, disappoints us or lets us down, we begin to carry a grudge toward them…a tiny seed of bitterness creeps into our heart and if we are not careful, can spread pervasive poison throughout our soul.

As the Apostle Paul wrote…

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NASB)

Refusing to forgive a person that has hurt us ultimately harms us.

It’s like the well-known saying…

“Refusing to forgive someone (and therefore holding a grudge) is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

The late Francis Schaeffer, in his book The Mark of the Christian, wrote the following…

“We should never come to [differences] with true Christians without regret and without tears. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Believe me, evangelicals often have not shown it. We rush in, being very, very pleased, it would seem at times, to find other men’s mistakes. We build ourselves up by tearing other men down. This can never show a real oneness among Christians. There is only one kind of man who can fight the Lord’s battles in anywhere near a proper way, and that is the man who by nature is un-belligerent. A belligerent man tends to do it because he is belligerent; at least it looks that way. The world must observe that, when we must differ with each other as true Christians, we do it not because we love the smell of blood, the smell of the arena, the smell of the bullfight, but because we must for God’s sake. If there are tears when we must speak, then something beautiful can be observed.”

As Ray Ortlund said (in response to the above quote) on The Gospel Coalition blog…

Whatever the current controversy may be — whoever, whatever — are there tears? Do we express our differences with such care that a reasonable unbeliever could say, “There is no blood-lust here. This is different. There is sincerity of heart here, even nobility”?

As the Apostle Paul wrote in that famous love chapter (1 Cor. 13)

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love [which includes forgiveness], I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love [which includes forgiveness], I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love [which includes forgiveness], I gain nothing…. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (vv. 1-3, 13)

Below are a few Scripture passages that talk about how we are to treat one another (specifically as brothers and sisters in Christ). Enjoy!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:43-47)

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) (i.e. a paraphrased version of this would be: treat others the way you want to be treated. If you don’t like being treated in a particular way, then don’t treat others that way).

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:20-23 ESV)

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” (Romans 12:14) 

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” (Romans 12:16)

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:17)

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:18-21)

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10)

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:1-4)

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Romans 14:19)

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (Romans 15:1-2)

“So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.” (1 Corinthians 4:5 NLT)

Selah.

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