To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Character’ Category

Blameless

This is a word used to express the character that should be displayed by believers in Jesus Christ. So in Philippians 2:15 we read 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. This idea behind the word blameless is that the christian is to be without reproach. There is nothing in our lives which blemishes our reputation. It speaks of reasonableness and honesty.

It is especially to be so of those who are called to eldership in the church that they are blameless. When the qualifications for eldership are examined in 1 Timothy 3 we see that they start with:  an overseer must be above reproach (1 Tim. 3:2a). This is the headline quality that an elder should have. In the church and in the community he should be known for the quality and consistency of his godliness. The rest of the qualifications stated in 1 timothy 3:2b-7 really explain what it is to be without reproach.

There are many good things to aspire to in life. However, for a Christian this must take priority. We need to aspire to being blameless. This is not a glamorous quality in the world and often it is not appreciated in the church. But with God it is well-approved of.

And may we be seeing many many rising up to shine out with their blamelessness so that they can be elders who can shepherd the flock of God.

When we see this attribute emerging we will be seeing more of our Lord Jesus in the church through the characters of His people. He is after all the ultimate blameless one. And as Robert Murray McCheybe said:  It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus.

Sweet-Reasonableness

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. This is Paul’s call to the Philippian Christians in Philippians 4:5.

Paul is providing this injunction in the context of the disputings in the church at Philippi. It seems from the early verses of Philippians 4 that good gospel workers were prejudicing the progress of their good work by their fraught relations with one another. Relationships prosper when there is a proper give-and-take over issues which are not essentials to the maintaining, proclaiming and furtherance of the gospel of Christ. When there is a reasonableness between Christians then love is manifest and sweet fellowship developing.

Hence we have Paul’s call for this sweet-reasonableness. This word (epieikes in the Greek) can also have the meaning of gentleness. In the reality of life it means that I am willing to give way on issues; I am not always seeking to defend and protect myself. I will willingly make myself vulnerable so that others can have their way.

Underlying this attitude is the discernment of what really matters in life. To give up essential truths about the Christians gospel, such as the eternal Sonship and deity of Christ is not being sweetly reasonable.

For us to be truly sweetly-reasonable in the maelstrom of the issues of life is contingent upon us being relentlessly aware of the final statement in Philippians 4:5; that is “The Lord is at hand.” Why should I be continually fussing about what might happen if I don’t do this or that, or if i don’t have this or that. What if someone acts in such a way so that I am left in a perilous financial position? In such situation we have no need to fret because The Lord is at hand. He is right there looking after you, so don’t get hung-up about winning every petty little battle. The Lord is there and He will look after you and He is THE LORD. He has all things under his control.

And finally, as I have written about here don’t forget that very few things are the end of the world. So keep being sweetly reasonable.

Where is Your Focus?

Our Lord said to the scribes and Pharisees: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! (Matt. 23:23-24). The question this statement raises is that of the emphases of our faith. Are we people who focus on the externals or on the matters of the heart?>

Our Lord is not saying here that this is an “either / or” issue. Neither is He saying it is simply a “both / and” issue. What he is saying is that both the externals and the heart issues should be in our lives. But beyond that, that we should be aware that the heart issues are weightier and of more consequence than the externals.

A religion which specialises in the correct external paraphernalia is a malformed religion. The proper arrangement of our affairs should be known and visibly on display. However, in our faith there should be a lot more than just the externals. A faith that acts with only the outward is dry and moribund.

Our faith rather should have a joy in the internally derived, Spirit energised workings of justice, mercy and faithfulness. These are beautiful characteristics in the life of a human being. They are the embodiment of everything that our Lord Jesus was. To have such a life coated with the right tithing techniques is beautiful.

There does seem to be the type of person in our churches who can by their emphasis on correct practices appear to be impressively spiritual. After all they seem so keen to implement the Bible. However, when you analyse their conduct a little more discerningly, you realise that their faith does not dig into the weightier matters of character development. Such people are more to be equated with the Pharisees than our Lord Jesus

To just have the right tithing techniques leads to an ugly and unattractive faith. So am I displaying straining of gnats and swallowing of camels faith? Lord please may it not be so. Help me to show a beautiful potency to my life whereby the realities of my heart lead to a well-ordered life. Please work to that end Lord.

He Does Not Want Our Sympathy

There is an interesting event recorded as our Saviour heads for the cross in Luke 23:27-31. The passage reads as follows.

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, “Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!” Then

‘“they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’
    and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’”

For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?’

 

As the Lord is headed for the gruesome suffering of the cross, a group of ladies emerge on to the scene demonstrably showing their grief and sympathy. But the Lord does not want their sympathy. He rather wants them to consider their own position in the light of oncoming events. Desperate times are ahead and they need to be thinking of what that means for themselves and their children.

AD 70 brought these catastrophic predictions to fruition as the Romans ransacked Jerusalem.

It is interesting that the Lord did not enter this world to win sympathy. He rather came to win a people for His Father and Himself. There were a multitude of ways that He could have legitimately played the sympathy card. After all, He was the ultimate “good boy” who was being treated disgracefully. But, no, he wanted and was working for the obedience of faith. He wanted people right with God; not taking pity on Him. The spiritual welfare of others supplanted any aspirations for personal popularity.

We must take heed to this in our serving the Lord. There are times when we can be treated badly even abominably by people and thereby think that we deserve some pity and sympathy. Alas, that should never be pour priority.

Our priority should always be to see others following Christ on account of our service. We relentlessly commit ourselves to this disciple-making agenda. We want no glory or pity for ourselves, but the consecration of others to our Lord Christ.

Roberto Firmino – Baptism

This video here about the baptism of Roberto Firmino has been doing the rounds this week. It has appeared in all sorts of connections.

In seeing the video on people’s facebook feeds etc. I am left wondering about whether people are all being a bit hasty in passing it on. The testimony itself seems somewhat hazy. I may be being cynical, but having Alisson there as well adds to the publicity effect and big impression.

Then there is the Hillsong connection with all the questionable theology connected therewith.

All this leads me to wonder about the issue of discernment. The concomitant implication of laying hands suddenly on no-one (see 1 Tim. 5:22) also comes to mind. We are so easily taken in by the impressive,

I may be being an overly-cautious misery-merchant. And of course should rejoice over one sinner who repents. But I have not read anything here about repentance. And that makes me suspicious.

In many ways I would be glad if this post is wrong, but I just wanted to express my concerns.

Envy

Envy is a sin that can grip the souls of all of us, It is that sense of displeasure that arises when we here of others being successful or prospering in a certain way. Church leaders are particularly susceptible to these things.

King Saul was an envious man. We read this of him in 1 Samuel 18:6-9:

As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,

“Saul has struck down his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands.”

And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul kept an eye on David from that day on.

This is a display of envy which shows all the classic features thereof.

  1. It does not delight in the success of others. Saul did not celebrate David’s achievements.
  2. It hates to hear others being praised over and above yourself.
  3. It seeks harm for the other person. We read how Saul’s envy led to him wanting and striving to eliminate David.
  4. Envy takes a soul from love to hate. We read  And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armour bearer (1 Sam. 16:21). Alas this love faded and was supplanted by hatred. So we read:  And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David ( 1 Sam. 19:2).

If you are a church leader it is easy to slip into envying other church leaders and churches. They have more numbers; they have better gifts: they receive more mention in the Christian press: they see more people being converted. The list could go on.

In many ways when we lose sight of our Saviour then envy can infect our souls. When we see our Saviour giving up all for our sins, we start to see our bankruptcy and unworthiness. This leads us into seeing how blessed we are in Christ. As a result we start to long for the progress of all of our fellows brothers and sisters and servants of the Lord. We long for them to grow in Christ. Moreover, we become driven by desires for the gospel of this grace to reach and transform many. We have no desire to “big ourselves up” and “little others down”. Our goal is for Christ our Lord to be big and made bigger still.

A sight of Jesus and His cross dispels all envy. A Christ-focused man cannot be an envious man.

A Man With No Deceit

In John 1:47 we read: Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” This was the estimate of the Lord Jesus of this man Nathanael. Would that be His recorded assessment of me and my life?

We must then ask what it is to be without deceit. Deceit is that aspect of character whereby we fail to present ourselves as we genuinely are. Actually, when operating deceitfully we are operating in a way contrary to what is presented. That is what deceit is  and it can be found in our words and our actions.

The first use of the word in the Bible gives demonstration of what the meaning is. Eve gives her commentary in what happened when Satan came with his temptation by saying “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Gen. 3:13b). Though the serpent Satan presented himself as one set to bless Eve, his actual purpose was to destroy. Always undergirding deceit is the drive to maximise self-interest, Why is deceit found in a person? It is because they want to promote the interests of themselves or of their grouping. Satan was the original self-interested deceiver.

Deceit then is a natural outworking of our sinful hearts. Paul says to the Ephesians that they are to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, (Eph. 4:22). Further he says: Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Eph. 5:6). Deceit is to do with the workings of our hearts in opposition to God. Deceit naturally flows in this world which is dominated by self-interested motivations.

Is God deceitful then? To which we answer No; never. We read of our Saviour that He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. (1 Peter 2:22). Our God always deals in a straight way. So we read: For I am the LORD; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, declares the Lord GOD.” (Ez. 12:25)

As those who are born of God we are called to a Nathanael type life. We are to be those who put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander (1 Pet. 2:1). Moreover we realise that For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit (1 Pet. 3:10).

Alas as believers we so easily go in the ways of the flesh and we need to realise it is a complete abhorrence. Deceit should be shunned and hated with all our beings.

Tag Cloud