Tags: Apostle Paul, automatons, Christ Jesus our Strength, department store shopping, department stores, embarassed in public, mannequin, mannequins, Philippians 4, pride attack, riches in glory, robotic, robotic technology, robots, secret of success, strength of Christ
Once, in a department store, when I was not paying enough attention to where I was going, I felt a sudden nudge, and thought I had carelessly bumped into a fashionably-dressed lady. “Oh,” I said, “I’m so sorr…” Imagine my embarrassment when I realized I was talking to a very lifelike mannequin.
I remember thinking that, if manufacturers can make a statue look this real, it won’t be long before they figure out a way to mechanize them, and make them walk and talk. (This may already be the case with robots – I’m not up to date on the latest technology.) But, one of the main obstacles to walking, talking mannequins would have to be their inability to adapt to changes and solve problems which would allow them to overcome obstacles without someone pre-programming them.
In Philippians 4:12, the Apostle Paul sounds almost smug as he sounds off on his own ability to adapt to changes and overcome adversity. “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Did the world’s greatest Christian suddenly have a “pride attack?” Is he bragging that he knows how to handle being mistreated and being praised? That he knows how to handle getting everything he wants and getting nothing that he wants? That success and lack of success are all the same to him?
Not exactly. In Verse 13 he boldly proclaims the “secret of his success:”
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
The Apostle Paul was not a mindless automaton, unaffected by the ups and downs of life. Instead, he had an inner strength that was stronger than anything which could be implanted in him by man. His Strength was Christ Jesus.
When we trust in Christ, rather than in our own resources and selves, there is nothing we cannot withstand, and nothing we cannot overcome.
Tags: commentary on Romans, Genesis 6, Habakkuk 2, homosexuality, Jesus Christ, Robert Jewett, Romans 1, Sunday School lessons on Romans, the Gospel, total depravity
The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans was written around A.D. 56. “A.D.” means anno domini, Latin for “in the year of the Lord.” What we now know as the Book of Romans was written in Corinth and sent to Rome from there by Phebe.
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
Paul was a voluntary slave to Christ. All slaves serve their masters, but many slaves do not love their masters and question their orders. Paul served Christ willingly, and did not question His instructions.
The part of the Bible which is its main theme, and which we must not, as believers, get wrong, is the Gospel. It is the Gospel of God and of the whole Bible. Most people think of the “Gospels” as the first four books of the New Testament, but it is much more than that.
The Holy Spirit through Paul refers right away to the holy Scriptures – opening the Word of God.
By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
Paul had a mission. He was sent with grace and a special calling. With these gifts came his obedience to go to all “nations” (Gentiles). What do we have that we can honor God with? Our obedience.
Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:
The Holy Spirit had Paul remind other believers that they were appointed – given a special commission. Let’s not waste time waiting around to receive our special “anointing.” God can find me wherever I am. I need to be busy taking the Gospel everywhere and reminding others to do the same, unless and until God leads me into some very specialized ministry. The “body” starts off as just one small cell. It gets more specialized as it develops. God is really the One Who owns “my” time.
In Romans 1:8-15, Paul expresses his love for the other Christians.
Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
He freely told them he was in debt to them – but also to many others. I need to remember that I owe a debt to God I can never repay. What if you discovered a cure for cancer? Would you anxiously start telling everyone, or would you keep it to yourself? When God revealed His Gospel to you by His Spirit, you discovered something far greater than the cure for cancer.
In verse 17, Paul begins to preach:
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
This is the main theme of Romans Chapter 1, and, again, Paul preaches straight from the Word of God:
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
He now begins to explain where the Gentiles went wrong in relation to sin, and he shows that all are guilty before a holy God.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
Unbelievers “hold” the truth, but do not allow it to have any effect in their lives. Sadly, the areas where sinful man first went wrong are the areas where we go just as wrong today.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
I believe the King James version, cited above, is the best translation of these verses, which clearly condemn homosexual acts, but there are many modern Bible scholars who are trying to prove from the New Testament that the original languages didn’t condemn homosexual behavior. However, even in today’s liberal and disbelieving climate, there are still scholars who believe that the Bible passages on this topic are even more clear and more graphic than most fundamentalists believe. From Robert Jewett’s 2007 Romans commentary, here is his version of Romans 1:26-27: “For this reason, God delivered them to the desires of their hearts for passions of dishonor, for their females exchanged the natural use for the unnatural, and likewise also the males, after they abandoned the natural use with females, were inflamed with their lust for one another, males who work up their shameful member in other males, and receive back for their deception the recompense that is tightness in themselves.”
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
The Holy Spirit through Paul is speaking of people whose affections, desire, love, and “knowledge” were so far from God that He gave them over to a reprobate mind.
And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
A reprobate mind is what happens when God’s Spirit is so grieved that He no longer strives with someone. Let us pray for the unbelievers we know that their hearts would not be hardened.
Tags: 1 Sameul 18, Camille Paglia, commentary on Genesis, date rape, Dinah, Genesis 33, Genesis 34, Isaiah 2, Matthew 10, Sunday School lessons on Genesis
In Genesis Chapter 33 Esau and 400 men are coming to meet Jacob. Jacob was afraid. He feared men more than God.
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?
Jacob managed to get past Esau without the violent incident he feared, but he treated Esau as an obstacle, not an opportunity.
And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money.
Delayed obedience is not really obedience at all. In this case, delayed obedience proved very costly for Jacob. Here are three good principles to remember about obeying the Lord: Obey immediately. Obey sweetly. Obey completely.
Jacob should have been going to Bethel instead of hanging around Shechem.
And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel.
Elelohe-Israel means “God, the God of Israel.” This sounds like a name that honors God, but God wanted Jacob and his sons at Bethel. Bethel means “House of God.” We need to remember that our homes should be God’s homes, but our homes are no substitute for the “house of God,” a local church fellowship.
Genesis Chapter 33 ends with the name of the Lord, But His name is not mentioned once in Chapter 34. Jacob’s new name, Israel, is not even used. It is the chapter which contains the account of Dinah, and it is difficult to tell if she was raped or seduced. Perhaps it was the first “date rape.” It is a strong reminder to fathers not to let our daughters be put in that situation. One of our society’s greatest disservices is convincing women they don’t need men for protection, and compounding it by failing to train them to protect themselves – especially by staying out of dangerous situations where they will be alone and vulnerable.
These Shechemites were wicked. Sex of any type held no shame to them. Jacob’s sons were out with the flocks.
And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.
Dinah went to hang out with the women of the land. Here is the result:
And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.
Genesis 34:2, emphasis added
And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister:
Genesis 34:13, emphasis added
The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.
Genesis 34:27, emphasis added
The pagan practice of the Canaanites/Hivites was to treat immoral intimacy as a very common thing. Dinah was “defiled” – violated – and made to feel dirty.
Jacob’s sons plotted vengeance. Dinah’s name meant judgment, and, boy, did these men of Shechem meet judgment! Jacob’s sons were justified in being angry, but Simeon and Levi were not justified in using deception. They used the sign of the Covenant as a means of deception.
Why did the men of Shechem agree to do what they did? One reason is that they were perverts who were probably into mutilation, anyway.
And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.
What I practice in moderation, my children may very well debase themselves in to the point of excess. The actions of his sons brought shame to Jacob, even though they are viewed as heroic in Jewish tradition. The bride price that David paid for Michal was 200 Philistine foreskins which he took from the dead and gave to Saul. (I Samuel 18:27)
The last verse of Genesis 34 is a question:
And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?
This question goes unanswered – maybe because Jacob would have been two-faced to condemn them for practicing deceitfulness, considering his own history.
Jacob was probably between 97 and 100 years old when he finally obeyed God by heading on to Bethel. (He had left home at 77.) The death of Isaac is recorded in Genesis Chapter 35, and he was probably 157 when he died. Chapters 37-40 record events that occurred while Isaac was still alive. Isaac was 180 when he died.
Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.
As spiritual leaders, fathers must instruct their households.
And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.
We are to make our house the house of God, and worship God as the God of our house. We should do what Jacob did: look for God to meet with you.
And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.
Pour your life out before Him.
Tags: Astroturf, bitterness, blaming God, contentment, covetousness, Deuteronomy 29, gall, gratitude, greener grass, Hebrews 12
Previously, we saw that:
Being content brings generosity, but being covetous brings greed.
Now we will see that:
Being content brings gratitude.
What are you thankful for? “Count your many blessings – name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done,” says an old hymn. Do you ever feel like God has not really done so much for you? Do you ever think that your car isn’t the fanciest car, or maybe parts of it don’t even work that well? Do you ever get depressed because your house isn’t the nicest house? Do you sometimes think your marriage is not all you hoped it would be, and wonder, why did I wind up with this spouse? Are there times when your kids are behaving like heathens, tormenting you to death, and you think, why can’t they be like so-and-so’s kids? When that happens, grab your steering wheel and say, “Thank You, Lord – this is the car You’ve given me – it gets me from work to home and home to work – thank You for it!” Husbands, when your wife isn’t always nice and sweet – or when you wish she looked like she did when you first married her – or when you wish she looked like that Hollywood actress or model – look at your wife and say, “Thank You, Lord – this is the wife You’ve given me!” Wives, when you think, why can’t my husband be more romantic – why can’t he spend more time with me or with the kids, why doesn’t he ask me how my day was, or why is he too tired to talk after working all day – look at your husband and say, “Thank You, Lord – thank You for a husband that works, that supports the family!” Parents, look at your kids and say, “Thank You, Lord, for these kids – these are the kids You’ve given me – I love them – help me to be a help to them!”
When you are not satisfied with your husband, your wife, your job, your home – when your children don’t make good grades like someone else’s children, ask God to change things – but THANK HIM for what He’s given you already. Contentment is when a Christian draws on Jesus Christ for his or her joy. Covetousness is when you blame God because you think deep down He didn’t know what was best – that He gave to somebody else what He should have given to you. Be very careful about thinking you know better than God. He sees things we don’t see – and He knows who can handle what. I once heard an evangelist named John Bishop say, “If we took all our problems and hung them on a line, you’d choose yours, and I’d choose mine.”
Being content brings gratitude, but being covetous brings gall.
What is gall? It’s the Bible word for bitterness. When God brought His people out of Egypt He warned them not to covet after all the things and the possessions and the ways of the Egyptians and the Canaanites.
(For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:) Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;
According to God, the water of covetousness is poisonous water. This poisoned water waters a poisonous little root – a root of bitterness. And bitterness, when it grows into full bloom, doesn’t just defile you – the Bible says beware of a root of bitterness because many therewith will be defiled.
The things and the people in your life that tempt you to covet may be ordained by God to make you like Christ. Don’t spit in God’s face by being covetous – by wanting what He’s given to someone else. The grass is not always greener on the other side – sometimes the grass is Astroturf – and you’ll die trying to digest it.
Next time: Being content brings glory to God, but being covetous brings grief to a generation.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Corinthians 4, 2 Corinthians 3, Colossians 3, Hebrews 6, Matthew 10, Matthew 28, Proverbs 8, Romans 12:11, Romans 2
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
II Corinthians 3:1-3
Christian teachers are to strive for excellence – to be the very best teachers we can be – not necessarily the best there are – but the best we can be. We may not have the most expensive materials or the fanciest facilities. Our students may not have read the lesson. In fact, they are more likely to read the teacher than the lesson. So we must make sure we are good “letters.”
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
“Fervent” is more than “not slothful.” We are to prepare our lessons while being mindful that we are serving the Lord. Don’t prepare just for the students – do it for the Lord.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
Planning ahead of time makes for smooth-sailing on the day of the lesson. Take some time thinking about and planning your routine.
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
I Corinthians 4:2
As a teacher, be reliable. This is more than not missing the teaching time. It includes being trustworthy as a person. We want our students to grow in number, in knowledge, in maturity, and in fellowship and closeness.
For the body is not one member, but many.
I Corinthians 12:14
The Body of Christ is alive. A living body is an organism, but a disorganized organism will die. Therefore, teachers need to work together with each other and with those in other ministry positions. We need to work together and meet together. Not only are we valuable to each other, but we are valuable to the Lord.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Right after Jesus proclaimed His authority He proceeded to allocate His authority to His disciples. But their enthusiasm must have been somewhat dampened when He told them what this authority meant, and how they were to use it. Our “value” lies in our willingness to serve. God doesn’t “need” me in the sense that He needs my permission to accomplish His will. Teachers have a target on them. We may only influence our students for an hour a week. They may be “taught” by someone else all the rest of the week. That’s going to lead to conflict once in a while between us and their “other teachers.” Just like some parts of the body protect other parts, we need to be loyal to each other. One of the reasons we value each other so much is because we know the Lord values us, and we are under His protection.
For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
It’s natural to start off life as a child, and it’s natural for a new believer to start off as a child. But teachers, like good parents, not only love their students, but want to see them grow up, too. Proper growth comes about from feeding (the Word), exercise (getting them involved in service), and instruction (the teaching itself.) To encourage others to grow, we need to make sure we’re growing ourselves.
Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
If students outgrow teachers, teachers are going to have trouble teaching them.
Tags: blowing your nose, cease, holding your breath, Isaiah 2, love of God, lungs, nostrils, preeminence of God, prominence of God, transcendence of God
Fill your lungs with air, and hold your breath. Now, see how long you can go without breathing. The average person can hold his or her breath for no more than 40 seconds. The longest possible period a person could go without breathing – due to specialized training or unnaturally slow heartbeat – is between 8 and 15 minutes.
Holding the breath in your lungs is one thing. Human lungs can hold a relatively large amount of air. But how about your nose? How much air can you hold in your nostrils? According to the Bible, the answer is: not much.
Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?
The word “cease” in this Verse is a command from God. It tells His people to stop honoring, accounting for, respecting, fearing, and loving men in the place of God. This is emphasized by the strong reminder that the life of man is nothing more than a “noseful of air.”
How differently would we live our lives if we remembered that, the next time we blew a breath of air from our nostrils, we would have no hope of drawing in another breath if not for the power and grace of our loving and almighty God!
Tags: 1 Peter 5, Benjamin, Jacob, Jacob and Benjamin, Laban, Luke 24, Rachel, right hand of God, suffering and glory, sufferings of Christ
Jacob showed up at a place called Padanaram empty-handed, and smitten with love for Rachel. Rachel’s father, Laban, was a shrewd conniver. However, after 20 years of hard labor, Jacob left Laban with four wives, huge herds of sheep and cattle, and twelve children – a blessed and wealthy man!
On his way to Bethel (which means the “house of God”) Rachel died giving birth to Jacob’s thirteenth child (twelfth son). Before she died, she named this child “Benoni” which means “Son of My Sorrow.” Imagine this boy going through life being known as his parents’ greatest sorrow! Rachel’s death was very hard on Jacob. Perhaps after a period of grieving he saw his opportunity to – for the first time – name one of his own children. Therefore, Jacob renamed the boy “Benjamin” (Son of My Right Hand).
The right hand is the side of favor and honor in Hebrew culture, and in Scripture. But how could a child of such great suffering be the child of such great honor? This question would not be fully answered until hundreds of years later.
And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus… He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee… And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them… Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Luke 24:2-3; 6; 15; 25-27, emphasis added
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
I Peter 5:1, emphasis added
Tags: commentary on Daniel, Daniel, Daniel 11, Daniel 12, Daniel's prophecies, Daniel's vision, Ephesians 4, lessons on Daniel, Sunday School lessons on Daniel
Daniel Chapter 11 up through Verse 35 contains prophecies that have already come true. What God showed Daniel about Persia, Greece, Egypt, and Syria all came to pass. Daniel 11:36 – 12:3 contain the prophecies of the Tribulation, the Antichrist, and the Millennial Kingdom. These prophecies fill in the details of Daniel’s earlier visions and dreams, and were probably given in response to Daniel’s three weeks of prayer and fasting.
The last verses of Chapter 12 are God’s final instructions to Daniel. Daniel was to “seal” the book – not close it up, but tell the people to give it special protection. It is also “sealed” in the sense of being God’s guarantee.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Christians are sealed by the Holy Spirit, but does the Holy Spirit feel at home in your heart?
We tend to clean our home when we know a guest is coming over to visit because we want our guests to feel comfortable in our home. How much more should we clean out our heart in order to allow the Holy Ghost to have free rein in our lives?
Tags: 1 Corinthians 5, 2 Corinthians 10, contentment, covetousness, Ephesians 5, Exodus 20, generosity, Jeremiah 2, Jesus Christ, John 4, Mark 7, Philippians 2, Philippians 4, Romans 1
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
To covet is to have a sinful desire directed toward what someone else has. Is it a sin? Yes (“Thou shalt not covet“), but let’s be honest – how many of us have coveted at least once this past week? Most, if not all.
If you are not covetous, what are you? What is the opposite? To not be covetous is to be content. It is to be satisfied with what God has given you and done for you.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Philippians 4:11 (emphasis added)
In the Old Testament, priests and Jewish scholars, and those serious about obeying God, bound the Word of God on their arms, on their foreheads, on their chests. It might be good for us to put Philippians 4:11 on our refrigerators, on the dashboards of our cars, on your coffeemakers, on our bathroom mirrors, on our alarm clocks, on the covers of our Bibles.
What is the opposite of contentment? It’s covetousness. Covetousness is a sin. It’s not one of the 10 Suggestions; it’s one of the 10 Commandments. It’s number 10. It comes after commandments like, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Most people won’t voluntarily admit it if they commit adultery – or murder – but if you ask a group of people, “Come on, how many of you have coveted this week?” most will be willing to raise their hands. We consider covetousness to be, not only the last of the 10 Commandments, but also the least – thus the title of this message: “The Last but Not the Least.”
Is it really that bad to covet? Let’s look at a few places in the Bible and see how God looks at the “little” sin of covetousness:
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
Mark 7:21-23 (emphasis added)
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Romans 1:28-31 (emphasis added)
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
Ephesians 5:3 (emphasis added)
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
I Corinthians 5:11 (emphasis added)
How does God classify the sin of covetousness? He classifies it along with murder and fornication and theft and extortion and adultery and all the worse types of behaviors that sinful man can dream up in his sinful heart. “Thou shalt not covet” is not the 10th Commandment because it’s the 10th in importance. It’s the 10th Commandment because it is the sin that leads men to break all the nine other ones. It’s the last, but not the least.
“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Treat it as a command. BE content. We’ve been led astray by psychology. We’ve been taught to think we have no control over our feelings or our emotions. So we say, I either am content, or I’m not – I can’t just make myself ‘be’ content.”
But we can:
… bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
II Corinthians 10:5
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
“Let” in that verse means “make” or “cause.”
Being content brings generosity.
Jesus Christ had the right to act like God – to take control and enjoy everything He owned. But He took on the form of a Servant and He was content. There is a freedom that comes with wanting good things for others, and not for ourselves. Children think they will be happy if they win the fight they are having over who will get the front seat of the van, or who will get to use a toy over the exclusion of his brother or sister, but that type of squabbling really enslaves them and makes them miserable. The world says that if you do not covet – that if you don’t make sure you get what’s coming to you – you won’t get anything good. But as Christians, we don’t want “what we have coming to us,” anyway. We don’t want what we deserve. God gave His Son for me. How freeing it is to remember that, and to try to be like Him – to get excited about giving instead of getting. There are bumper stickers that say, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but that’s not true. Life is not a race to see how much we can get. It’s a race to see how much we can give. It’s not, “He who gets the most, wins.” It’s, “He who gives the most, wins.”
Life is for living, not for making.
Life is for giving, not for taking.
(Couplet I made up, which proves I stink at writing poetry, but which helps me to remember a Bible principle)
Being content brings generosity, but being covetous brings greed.
How many sermons have you heard about supposed solutions for the problem of how “empty” we are? I said earlier that Christ Jesus took on the form of a Servant, and was more of a giver than a taker – and yet, according to Scripture, He was not empty. Up until the days when He was preparing to go to the Cross, He was full. He was constantly full. I’m not one of those “prosperity” preachers, but from what I can see in Scripture, the Lord wants us to be continually full. We are to be like Christ. Why are we so empty, and always trying to get more things, and always wanting more and better? Why are we not full? It’s not because we don’t have enough. It’s because we have too much: too much vanity.
Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?
The Lord is telling these people that their fathers became vain because they walked after vanity. Jesus was never empty because He never walked after emptiness. His meat was to do the will of His Father. (John 4:31-34) When I am vain – when I am empty – it’s because I’ve been walking after vanity – after emptiness. When I am walking after the things of God, I am content – I am full. And when I am full, I not only have the ability to bless others, but I am reminded to be grateful to God. This point will be developed more in Part 2.