Psalm71:20(ESV) You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.
In my reading this morning, I came across the aforementioned verse and found solace in the reaffirmation of God’s sovereignty over the created order, over circumstances, even difficult ones. Events are not now, nor ever have been, or ever will be beyond His reach, His hand. Things just do not happen to his elect as if we are caught up in some harsh machinery of cause and effect, of random, uncontrolled forces. Here in this Psalm we find a reminder that His loving and sovereign hand has always upon His children even before we were able to affirm such, even in troubles and calamities, all for our good and His glory.
“Can you serve your boss and others at work, helping them to succeed and be happy, even when they are promoted and you are overlooked? Can you work to make others look good without envy filling your heart? Can you minister to the needs of those whom God exalts and men honor when you yourself are neglected? Can you pray for the ministry of others to prosper when it would cast yours in the shadows?….But the Christian serves with humility because it leads to Christlikeness.”
- Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, ch. 7, pp. 122
Philippians 2:3(English Standard Version)
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
From Sharper Iron. Here one finds no shallow clichés:
Fourteen Reasons for Fourteen Years?
Fourteen years ago, my brother was hit by a truck. This past week, after living in a persistent vegetative state for all this time, he went home to be with the Lord. I shared the following at his memorial service on August 14, 2008. (Follow this link to view a YouTube tribute that was played at the memorial service.)
After Jeremy’s accident, I wrote a gospel tract entitled “Why?” that answered the basic questions the average person has when he undergoes trials. Now, fourteen years later, I find myself asking the same question, but in a different way. I was satisfied with the answers from God fourteen years ago, but why did God keep him around for fourteen years? Some people would say Jeremy was a drain on society and had a terrible quality of life. And at weary times, we are susceptible to all such tempting thoughts. In fact, I can say for the family this morning that in a way, a weight has been lifted. A fourteen-year weight. However, if we don’t answer that question, we are gathered here today as fools, trying to find meaning in a wasteland.
But God has the answers, and we are pressed to find them today. Why did God keep Jeremy alive in that condition for fourteen years? When you have a friend on the verge of death for fourteen years, you think about this day a lot and what you would say. I would like to share with you fourteen reasons for fourteen years.
1. Fourteen years changes the contemporary idea of quality of life. The idea that quality of life is to be defined solely by the individual rather than by the community is from the Devil. American individualism has robbed this nation of many benefits. Countless stories could be told of the untold blessings of Down syndrome, handicapped, special needs, and yes, PVS patients and the way they have made people ponder what true quality of life is-a life that displays the wonders of God. And all life is valuable.
2. Fourteen years was the time needed to teach us the ways of God. The psalmist said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn thy statues.” Some things we learn only in affliction. Visiting Jeremy was often like looking in a mirror. His life message was convicting. You were confronted with your life, your lack of love, your priorities, your dedication, your care for the hurting, and the nature of your service. I cannot explain it, but many of you know of what I speak. Many times I left his bedside and followed Job’s example in chapter 42 and repented of the idolatry in my life. One of his friends said, “There was a time when I struggled with what appeared to be the senselessness of it all. But the reality of the goodness of God and then the experience of the work of God in lives through Jeremy’s suffering have resonated with the truths of Scripture. It is real. This is what the world needs to see -a real God transforming real lives in the most intense of situations.”
3. Fourteen years screams at the suffering of their need of patience. James admonishes us to let patience have its maturing work. Job was held up as an example of patience; at the end of his long journey, he saw a merciful, compassionate God. When a trial grows in length, the value of it deepens like fine wine. Clichés no longer sustain us. Shoulders to cry on vanish. Christ demands that we do what is supernatural, to abide under the burden while He perfects us.
4. Fourteen years provoked thousands of Christians to improve their prayer lives. When the trial happened, thousands prayed. Over the years, thousands more have interceded. One note I received from a college classmate of his said that her mom prayed for him every day for fourteen years. That’s fourteen years of communication with God. Fourteen years of pleading with Him to work. Fourteen years of Him saying no. Fourteen years of Him increasing and His creatures decreasing. I observed this fact firsthand as my boys made him their prayer project from the time they learned to speak. Yesterday, as we closed the casket, they wept. Boys, thank you for praying for him all these years. Sometimes God says no, and we can know that this is best. I was reminded of David who prayed and fasted for his child to live. Perhaps God would show mercy. He didn’t to David, and He didn’t to us. He had better plans.
5. Fourteen years uplifts the sovereignty of God. In our wisdom, we wonder, Why fourteen? Why not four or twenty-four? Yet we can rest, not in our autonomy, but in God’s great, ultimate plan. He tells us that Jer’s days were numbered before he was born, so he went home on the perfect day. So if I asked God why not four or twenty-four, He may respond the way he did to Job. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements-surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’? “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?” God knows why it was fourteen years, and that is enough. Sovereignty is a soft pillow.
6. Fourteen years prolonged his earthly ministry. Jeremy’s legacy runs deep with many who remember his boundless energy, but he ministered to more through his tragedy than he ever did through his so-called “public” ministry. That was simply setting the stage for God to show something far deeper, far more marvelous. Over the past fourteen years, hundreds of people asked ultimate questions as they cared for him. Whether on his dozens of trips to ER, his transfer to multiple facilities, or his regular caregivers, he forced people to consider God’s hand in the world. One of his college professors e-mailed me yesterday with apt words. “As I see it, Jeremy has been full time in the ministry for the last fourteen years. It was not the ministry he would have chosen or any of us would have chosen for him. But he gave up the right to choose how God would use him sometime along the way, and I know he wanted what God wanted for him. He is a great example for all of us.”
7. Fourteen years has forced all involved to rely on divine strength. The physical demands of caring for Jeremy fell on his caregivers and primarily on my parents. And I want to publicly thank them for tirelessly caring for him, fighting for him, and staying by his side until the end. In our weakness we were forced to rely on a strength that was not our own. We can say that we were able to do this through Christ who strengthened us.
8. Fourteen years gave many people a new ministry of ministering the comfort of Christ. Second Corinthians 1:3-5 tells us that we get to take the ministry of a comforting Christ to our own hearts and use that to minister Christ to other hurting hearts. Our phones ring when brain-injured people enter emergency rooms. And we go. It’s a stewardship. It’s a gift. It’s a joy.
9. Fourteen years allowed him to preach the gospel longer. From the beginning, a gospel tract written on his life was used to give the gospel to lost sinners. At the end, on the night before he saw Jesus, one of his caregivers knelt by his bedside and accepted the Lord into her life. Paul testified to this in Philippians when he said of his persecution, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”
10. Fourteen years gave us a glimpse of what it means to be part of the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. No human being suffered the way He did. John MacArthur says it well. “The deepest moments of spiritual fellowship with the living Christ are at times of intense suffering; suffering drives believers to Him. They find in Him a merciful High Priest, a faithful friend who feels their pain, and a sympathetic companion who faced all the trials and temptations that they face (Heb. 4:15). He is thus uniquely qualified to help them in their weaknesses and infirmities” (Heb. 2:17). I can say that I better understand Christ and His cross because of fourteen years of suffering.
11. Fourteen years allowed us to see the works of God. God used Jeremy’s trial to transform lives. People were saved, lives were transformed, and believers were sanctified. Why was the man born blind? Because of sin? No, so that the works of God could be displayed in his life.
12. Fourteen years proved Satan wrong. I can visualize the day when Satan walked into God’s throne room and said, “Do the Janzes fear God for nothing? Do those who know and love this boy simply believe in a feel-good God?” I can see God granting His permission. I fast-forward to sitting in the Salt Lake Hospital with family and friends who were reeling. But let fourteen years prove that this trial did not derail the saints of God. Let Satan be silent. Let it be known that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. So fourteen years proved him wrong . . . for fourteen years.
13. Fourteen years made us long for heaven. Perhaps one of the more draining experiences of these years took me by surprise. It was the dreams. Nobody told me about the dreams. But more times than I could keep track of, I would walk into a hospital room to a coherent brother, and I would catch him up on all that had taken place only to wake up and realize that it was a farce. The new grief got old fast. I began to long for heaven where we could converse about life during these fourteen years. I want him to know my children, my wife. God tells us that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glories of heaven. In a sermon by Jonathan Edwards in 1733, he said, “God is the highest good of the reasonable creature, and the enjoyment of him is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. – To go to heaven fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows. But the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean. – Therefore it becomes us to spend this life only as a journey towards heaven, as it becomes us to make the seeking of our highest end and proper good, the whole work of our lives, to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for, or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end, and true happiness?”
14. Fourteen years showed us that our satisfaction should be in Christ. “The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!” (Ps. 21:26). God forbid if we ever lose sight of our true satisfaction. It is Jesus, our Creator, our Redeemer, our Sustainer, our Hope.
(The following is something I put together for a friend of mine from work yesterday. I was asked to provide input to a program his church was developing regarding the identification of different stages of spiritual growth with an overarching goal to move people to deeper levels of discipleship.)
Sorry for any lack of clarity on my part for what follows. I tell you, it is a daunting task to identify stages of spiritual development and perhaps describe/prescribe how one moves from one stage to another, and I do not know how qualified I am to speak to these issues. I am humbled by so many men far more capable than myself.
That all being said, here goes…………
I think I will start at the end and move to the beginning. I think we need to identify what spiritual maturity, the overarching goal, looks like It is conformity to Christ as evidenced in the following, and I believe these are evidences we in Christ all can agree on. In no particular order and perhaps a bit repetitive at times, here are some of those aforementioned evidences:
- It is evidenced in dying to self.
- It is counting as a loss everything the world may offer in comparison with knowing and being known by Christ.
- It is loving the Redeemer and Giver of gifts more than the gifts.
- It is evidenced in the attitude of exalting Christ without regard to circumstance.
- It is evidenced in the tongue that does not complain.
- It is evidenced in the heart that looks and longs for evidences of grace rather than always self-righteously looking at the faults in the lives of others who are in Christ
- It is evidenced when one looks at others as being more important than themselves
- It is evidenced in the ability to discern truth from error
- It is evidenced in the ability to know how to graciously respond to one who may be in error
- It is evidenced by seeking to ‘wash the feet’ of one’s brother.
- It is evidenced in the one who thanks God when circumstances may, on the surface, seem dire.
- It is evidenced by child-like (not childish) faith in the Redeemer
- It is evidenced by a heart that repents more dearly and sincerely, a redeemed heart broken over sin.
- It is evidenced by a humble and contrite spirit
- It is evidenced by a desire to share the Gospel and make disciples of the nations
- It is evidenced by an abiding love for the Church, the bride of Christ
- It is evidenced by a generous heart that gives sacrificially
- It is evidenced by a desire, a hunger, for the Scripture, the authoritative, infallible, inspired word of God
- It is evidenced by a desire to reflect the grace of Christ to others
- It is evidenced by a heart that grieves over injustice
- It is evidenced by a life of faith in Christ whose faith produces works of righteousness
- It is evidenced by a attitude that seeks obedience to Christ in ALL things
- It is evidenced by acknowledging that we in Christ bring absolutely nothing to the table in regards to our justification. Even our faith is a gift of God that no man should boast
- It is evidenced in an attitude of patience
- It is evidenced when one is satisfied with what one has
- A longing for the deeper things of Christ, to move beyond a diet of milk
- It is evidenced when we perhaps sometimes ask “why” instead of “why me.”
- A growing understanding of the absolute sovereignty and holiness of God and the ability to have that understanding reflected in our response to trials and tribulation.
- A growing tenderness of heart tempered by a fierce devotion to truth
- Knowing that when the Father looks upon us, He sees us clothed in the righteousness of Christ
- A life infused with grace
- A life defined by having no fear of death or life. To live is Christ, to die is gain.
- A life defined by having love for those who do not love us back.
- A life defined by not seeking retribution for those that hurt us
- A life defined by the ability to endure hardship in such a way that we, and others, may exalt Christ
- A life defined, for a husband and father, as being head over the family as Christ is head over the Church
- A life defined as being the first to seek reconciliation without regard to one’s guilt, or lack thereof, especially within the context of one’s marriage and the church
- A life defined, for a wife and mother, as one of Christ-like submission to one’s husband, whether or not he ‘deserves’ it.
- A life defined by submission to authority as long as such does not require immorality.
- A life defined as working for one’s employer as if one is working for Christ, without grumbling and complaining.
- (Irony alert) An understanding that we are not justified by faithful adherence to a list of behaviors and attitudes.
- A life defined by acts and attitudes of forgiveness.
- When one wakes up, one’s thoughts are on the Redeemer. When one goes to sleep, one’s thoughts are on the Redeemer.
- It is evidenced by acts of mercy, forgiveness, selfless service, selfless giving
- Being a gracious defender of truth, being one who stands on the wall to watch and protect
- Understanding that is ultimately the power of the Spirit that enables spiritual growth. We have nothing to boast about.
- It is evidenced when one has the courage, love, and commitment to graciously turn a brother away from sin. We are our brothers keeper.
- It is evidenced by obedience to Christ
While I have not provided any scripture to validate the above, I can do so, given a bit of time, if desired. I am admittedly writing from memory and though I feel comfortable with what the Bible states regarding spiritual maturity, I am not very good at memorization.
Having pointed out evidence of spiritual maturity, let’s go to the other end of the spectrum and ask ourselves what spiritual infancy/immaturity look like. It would be easy to simply state the opposite of the first list, but I will try to avoid, for the most part, that easy path
Again, in no particular order:
- The asking of “why me” instead of “why.” (I know that a pure, simple faith does not even ask the ‘why.’)
- The ‘pitching of one’s tent to close to the world.’
- Lack of discernment
- Focus on legalism
- Lack of knowledge regarding doctrine (Let me state that I am concerned about the ‘deeds, not creed’ attitude that seems to be so deeply embedded in large parts of the American church. Deeds and creeds go hand in hand. Ignore either at ones peril.)
- A prayer life that consists primarily of selfish petition rather than praise and thankfulness. “What can you do for me, God?”
- Seeking recognition of self – an overarching focus on self. Conversations are most always about oneself, one’s problems.
- An untamed tongue. We murder people with our tongue every day
- A tendency to involve oneself in fruitless arguments and discussions
- Finding one’s greatest satisfaction in hobbies, work, etc rather than in knowing and growing in the Redeemer
- When you may be more identified by your political affiliation rather than your affiliation with the Messiah.
- When you self-righteously judge the unredeemed for acting like someone who is unredeemed.
- Finding one’s peace and satisfaction built upon a foundation of circumstance.
- Trying to validate one’s standing with the Creator by one’s performance.
- Not knowing what doctrines are hills to die on and which doctrines may be agreeably disagreed upon.
- More on the tongue: engaging in crude comments
- Neglecting the gathering together within a local church where sound doctrine is preached and the body serves one another
- Neglecting to regularly spend time in the Word and in prayer
- Being entertainment driven
- Seeking more to be served then to serve
- Seeking revelation beyond what God has reveled in the Bible
- When you unrighteously/self-righteously judge the redeemed….which infers there are times and places of righteous judgment. You are to graciously point out/remove the speck from your brother’s eye; just make sure there is no log in your eye.
- A tendency to “play the Pharisee card” in regards to differences of ‘questionable things’. (The “Thank God I am not like those self-righteous Pharisees over there” attitude. We in Christ are all, in varying degree, recovering Pharisees.)
- Wavers on the non-negotiable truths of the faith……The “I believe in Jesus, but who am I to judge someone else on a different path to God” perspective
I have given two extremes. I think we all can identify with elements in both lists. I do not think everyone’s experience in growth to spiritual maturity is the same. Perhaps one could break the list into further categories…..infancy, toddler, etc…..but I am not so sure the Bible leads to that understanding of spiritual growth. Paul and the apostles speak in terms of maturity and immaturity. The Apostle Paul speaks of babes longing for and drinking milk and the more mature who are ready for a more substantive diet. Paul chastises those who are still drinking milk when they should move beyond the foundational elements of the faith. As an aside, I think about the church at Corinth. I think about how Paul did not call into question their salvation though he has grave concerns about that church.
Ultimately, the Spirit convicts us and leads us to righteousness. The Spirit leads us to exalt Christ. We have the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting. We have the body of Christ, the church, to relationally build us, mentor us, and correct us and encourage us. We have the 66 books of the Old and New Testament canon to build us, to train us in righteousness, to equip us for good works. We have under-shepherds, the pastor of the local church and the elders, to provide nurture and protection for the flock. We have the assurance that Christ will complete the work He began in us. We have the assurance that He works out all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
However, we are also called to check ourselves, to see if our election, our salvation is ‘real.’ Are we bearing fruit? Some, like me, are slow out of the gate and take many wrong turns while others grow and bear fruit soon after the seed is planted, but ultimately, we in Christ will bear evidence of spiritual fruit. I fear, however, so many in the church are on the wide path and will miss the narrow gate.
In closing, many of the attributes of the first list may be found in those who do not know Christ. Merely possessing these attributes does not justify us. Many of the latter attributes are found in those who are truly redeemed by the penal substitutionary atoning work of Christ on the cross. They are no less justified by faith than those in Christ who possess all the attributes of the first list. Therein lies the power of grace through faith in Christ. We are not to fall into the erroneous idea that this life is a ‘spiritual test’, that we are justified by our adherence to the ‘list.’ Adherence to the ‘list’ is an effect, not a cause. The cause is the grace and mercy of Christ as the Holy Spirit works within us and conforms us to His image.
Here is a sermon, an MP3 a little under an hour in length, based on 1 Corinthians, by C. J. Mahaney on evidences of grace. Here I find, thankfully, further conviction of my oftentimes overly polemic attitude. Too, there is perhaps a time and place for moralistic sermons, for corrective encouragement, but I would love for all to hear grace expounded so clearly. Grace encourages me. Grace drives that desire to be more Christ-like. Grace transforms. Grace nurtures and grows a heart that longs to die to self so that we may find our sole satisfaction in our Redeemer.
Back to blogging for a bit……
As we approach conclusion of this current electoral cycle, I find myself increasingly disconnected from the blur of political conversation and opinion. Not much more than a year ago, it would not be unusual to find me embroiled in ideological debate. I was resolute in my opinions, listened to and read my commentators of choice on a regular basis, and could articulate the assured correctness of my politics with a fair measure of coherency. If one were to list my most frequently visited websites, one would find a fairly large sampling of political pundits. Before I continue, I want it be abundantly clear that I am not making any kind of overarching blanket condemnation of all political thought, talk, and activity as it emanates from everyone. I do not infer that all political conversations are always inherently unhealthy to ones growth as a disciple of Christ; nor do I infer that one’s interest and involvement in politics is always and in all circumstances detrimental to the purpose of the kingdom of God.
Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, I want to testify to the transforming power of God in individuals and exalt and affirm His sovereign hand on the affairs of the world.
I think about the political climate of the 1st century Palestinian Jews and then compare it with the political milieu of 21st century America. Please forgive any error in detail and accuracy because I write from my fallible memory, but I recall reading about 30,000 Jews crucified, immediately prior to the birth of Jesus, by the Roman Empire in response to an uprising by Jewish zealots seeking to overthrow the rule of Rome over Israel. I think of the horrific persecution of the early followers of Christ under Nero and Diocletian. No matter how bad one may think the choices are come November 4, America under Obama or McCain will be a bit less oppressive than Judea in AD 70.
Having said all that, the New Testament canon, authored in times and places of political upheaval, is remarkably apolitical. We are told that disciples of Christ are in the world, but not of it. We are sojourners. We are to render to Caesar the things of Caesar and the things of God to God. Our Kingdom, our allegiance, is not in the here and now. We are not promised political stability. While being salt and light, we affirm that our hope lies not in any temporal political process, personality, or agenda. Our zeal for politics may often (but never should) mask our zeal for Christ. There is a danger that outspoken political agendas may overshadow the Evangel.
While the organized political momentum of 1980′s evangelicalism may thankfully be on the wane, our speech as individuals still reverberate in the lives of others. Will people, after engaging me in conversations, label me, remember me, as a conservative or liberal, or will they recall me as someone who seeks oportunity to exalt the One who spoke creation into existence from nothing, the One who redeems the lost. I am not always faithful, I know, but when Christ redeemed me by way of the Cross, He redeemed my tongue that I should use it to His glory.
I simply and thankfully find myself led to a place where I no longer care too much about politics. For me, politics was an idolatrous pursuit. It may not be such for you. I know that, left to my own devices, I am spring-loaded to a position of idolatry. That statement, I believe, is true for all of us.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Colossians 3:17 (ESV)
“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Philippians 2:14-16 (ESV)
Do nothing from rivalry 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. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:3-8 (ESV)
- Matthew 7:22-23 (ESV)
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
What does it mean to be known by the Messiah? How is one known by Jesus that one may not one day be faced with the unmitigated horror of being told by the Messiah, after operating under the false assumption that one had a relationship with Him, to depart from His presence into the outer darkness?
Somewhat tangential to the aforementioned question, does the 21st century American church, with admirable intentions, sometimes inadvertently present Him as a means to an end, as a freely dispensed drug that gives eternal life to those who take it? Does the church sometimes redefine itself to make Jesus and the His church more marketable, more attractive, to an increasingly competitive and post-Christian market? As an unforeseen side-effect of well-intentioned methodologies, do some manifestations of the contemporary America church sometimes seem more obsessed with the bride than the Bridegroom as they engage their bold, creative, and innovative evangelical visions, marketing schemes and strategies?
Too, why and when did those who have not repented and believed in Christ, who have not been presented with the Good News, become redefined as the ‘unchurched’ demographic? Returning to the opening query, what does it really mean to have a ‘relationship with Jesus?’ Has this phrase became just another evangelical cliché? Do we not all, ‘churched’ or not, have a relationship with Him of one sort or another? When did the often-heard invitation for the ‘unchurched’ to have a ‘relationship with Jesus’ replace the biblical call to ‘repent and believe’ in Christ?’
We are called by Christ in the New Testament to examine ourselves. What fruit are we bearing in our lives as we follow Christ? From the mouth comes the over-flow of the heart. What do we think about and what do we talk about most often and most excitedly? What, or Who, are we obsessed with? Hobbies? Sports? Work? The worries of the increasingly difficult economics of making ends meet? Or are we, over time, growing in our love for the Bridegroom? Is He valued and exalted above all, even our families? Or are we noisy gongs and clashing cymbals? We must ask ourselves, do we love the gift more than the Giver? How will our love for Christ manifest itself? Maybe how we answer these last few questions relates to the opening question.
- 1 Corinthians 13 (ESV)
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, 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, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.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.Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
- 2 Peter 1:3-11 (ESV)
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
John Piper speaking eloquently, powerfully and clearly, with powerful conviction, on stewardship, on discipleship, on the role of money/possessions in the life of a disciple of Christ.
On a far less profound note, perhaps I need, after having viewed this video, to reflect a bit on my perspective of what I recently defined as word-count eisegesis. Maybe I need to eat some of my words.