Paul Madson

THOUGHTS, QUOTES & REFLECTIONS

Month: September 2014

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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