There are two kinds of people in this world.
People of Peace and People of Strife.
The question we must ask ourselves is: ‘which one am I?’
Everyday, you have a choice as to which you will be.
Gut check questions:
- Are you fascinated by strife and discord?
- Do you become consumed and inflamed by conflict and violence?
- Do the pattern of your thoughts reflect a thirst for forms of entertainment that portray strife, distrust, envy, violence and conflict?
- Or, do strive and violence make you sick and sad to your core?
FW Boreham says “strife has entered into and permeated every department of life. It affects society in general. On every hand, in a million different forms- we meet rivalry, suspicion and distrust. We see class contending with class: the rich oppressing the poor; the poor breathing maledictions on the rich. Petty jealousy mars the sweetness of every friendship; it stultifies the efficiency of every organization; and, entering our very churches, it disturbs and destroys that abiding unity that should be their most conspicuous charm.” The seventh Beatitude extends an olive branch…. “Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God” One does not need to be a ‘Christian’ to understand Jesus’s teaching here. The peacemaker is a lover of peace and works to preserve peace. “The sounds of strife and discord are an agony to his spirit.” says Boreham. Like a rose exhaling it’s fragrance is an involuntary expression of its nature, the peacemaker exudes a spirit of peace without even realizing.
I challenge you to work to become a peacemaker.
- Work not to offend others.
- Work on not taking offense.
- Work to extend an olive branch of peace to another (this is risky).
In order to change the climate of discourse, we must become people of peace (even when discord is the predominate noise).
Last night, I found myself reading about the Edward Snowden. He is the NSA guy who broke the news that the US Government has been gathering massive amounts of electronic data on US citizens. Snowden has currently found asylum in Russia. I find the unfolding story intriguing. Everything from phone calls and emails to text messages and other forms of private communication have been swept into NSA data bases. Suffice to say, the NSA knows a lot about millions of Americans. It got me to thinking this morning after reading Proverbs 8.
“For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings.” (Proverbs 8:18 KJV)
Not only are the actions and deeds of a man (or woman) known by God but, God knows a man’s thoughts and motives. Nothing can be hidden from God.
We are prone to hide anyway. Whether it is the tantalizing lustful fantasy or desire of a sexual nature or pride wrapped in the robes of radiant humility, ALL is known by God.
Perhaps its the good deed done in hopes of recognition by the world? ALL is known by God.
Only the regenerate, reborn, remade, redeemed heart can be pricked by the blade of the Holy Spirit; capturing and dragging the motivation in chains to the cross. This is where Christ puts it to death and renews a man’s spirit with His Grace and love.
The rebellious unregenerate heart will be ruled by passions and motivations.
In the final analysis, a man has a choice. He can remain in bondage to a cycle of base impulses like sex and self. Alternatively, he can capture his thoughts and put them to death and freedom is achieved.
What are the characteristics of the thoughts running through your mind?
The answer will reveal whether you are in bondage or freedom.
While you may be able to hide from the NSA, the ways of man cannot be hidden from God. ALL is known by God.
When someone says, ‘I’m a Christian’ the first thing I look for is evidence of love. Let’s talk about what we mean when we use the word ‘Love’.
‘Love’ is a blanket term describing a variety of things spanning from sexual love to commitment to pleasure in someone or something. I ‘love’ ice cream and I also ‘love’ my wife… What’s the difference?
In Greek, there are four words used to describe what we call ‘love’. I appreciate the Greek because the words are rich in meaning and contain dimensions our English word ‘love’ simply does not contain.
Love rendered in Greek… simply.
- Storge means the love or affection of family (parent and children)
- Philia means affection between friends or equals. Think brotherly love (Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love)
- Eros means sexual or romantic love. This is where we get the word, ‘erotic.’
‘Agape’ love is the highest form of love. Agape love is a sacrificial love and is an act of the will. Meaning, this love is a choice and has a cost. This love delights in its object and is sacrificial in its essence. Let me clarify. Agape love does not mean total acceptance of acceptance of bad behavior or choices. I can love you and absolutely disagree with you at the same time.
So how do we recognize ‘agape’ love?
Look for the sacrifice. Which means humility and an act of the will will be involved. It will be an abiding affection, delight and commitment by the one expressing it. The value I place on the object of my love is directly linked to what I’m willing to sacrifice. The higher the cost, the greater the love. How can I find delight in sacrificing ourselves? Great question!
Here is the hard part of understanding ‘agape’ love. Agape love must come from outside one’s self. Other affections are self-manufactured and may have self-gratification undergirding them. Meaning that other ‘lower’ forms of love can have selfish motivations driving them. Only agape is completely SELFLESS.
The Evidence of abiding faith in Jesus Christ is love ‘in deed and in truth.”
This love is the pinnacle of love expressed as ‘agape’ love – sacrificial love.
With this love there is a cost involved.
With this love there is a choice – an act of the will.
This ‘agape’ love must come from outside ourselves.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down out lives for the brothers.” (1 John 3:16).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” (John 3:16).
There will be a cost…. there will be a sacrifice with this love.
If you could listen to others describe you, do you think they would say that you are ‘humble’?
I’m certain people would not describe me as ‘humble’. I’m a lot of things but ‘humble’ is not on of them. However, that does not mean I give up on humility. By no means! Humility is something we can strive for and cultivate.
We live in a culture that places a higher value on personality over humility. As a whole, the leaders we look to demonstrate strong personality traits over strong character traits like humility. I think we’ve lost our way. Perhaps its time for us to recalibrate and course correct as a people.
Humility matters because it truly puts others before one’s self. True humility crosses all dividing lines of race, sex, nationality, etc.
Where do we find this model of humility? Who is the humble hero of our age? We’ve fallen for the lure of big personalities and they let us down. Jim Collins describes humility as a major factor in successful leadership in his book ‘Good to Great’. Conversely, Collins describes ‘Hubris’ (pride) as a major factor in failure in his book, ‘How the Mighty Fall.’
Like most things in life, we learn through the demonstration of others. I learned to open doors for others by seeing my dad open doors for others. I learned how to add and subtract by watching my teacher. At some point we must take what we have learned and apply it.
In his book, ‘Humility: True Greatness’, C.L. Mahaney describes humility “as an honest assessment of ourselves in light of God’s Holiness and our sinfulness”. We must have a point of reference on which to base and measure humility. God is the reference point. Jesus Christ is the map that shows us the way to humility.
What does true humility look like?
It looks like Jesus.
Read the passage below.
“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. 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 emptied himself, by 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)
Read it again and focus on the bold.
Humility Matters because true humility stands champion over personality and other ‘character’ traits! If you and I are constantly putting our own interests and rights aside for one another there is no room for hatred or divisiveness. How can I hate someone who I’m willing to set my life aside for or who has set their life aside for me?
We’ve tried following personality. It doesn’t work! Maybe its time to follow humility.
Let’s look at the my original question but one month down the road.
ONE month from now, If you could listen to others describe you, do you think they would say that you are ‘humble’?
The truth is, #HumilityMatters and deep in your heart you know it.
The devotional below was distilled from Psalm 148:1 and Proverbs 16.
You alone are worthy of praise. I commit my work to you today, Lord, that my plans will be established. May my ways be pleasing to you, so that my enemies will be at peace with me. As my heart plans my way today, Lord please establish my steps.
I prefer your wisdom over wealth. Guide my path toward righteousness and away from evil. May I guard my words and path to preserve my life and witness.
Guard me from pride that leads to destruction. I trust in you alone Lord and humbly ask for blessing. I know that apart from your grace, I am dead. Amen
For those called into Gospel Ministry:
You received The Call to serve the Lord in ministry. That Call came from the same voice who called Abram (Abraham) our of the Ur of the Chaldeans. This is the same voice who Called Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, the Prophets, the Twelve Apostles and Paul. It is the same voice. What a blessing and honor….. What a fearful privilege and responsibility.
Called into His glorious Light!
This message is for those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; aka believers, Christ-followers, (authentic Christians), those who make up the body of Christ, the Church.
If you are not in this group, what I’m going to say does not apply to you. By all means, continue reading as you may find what I have to say interesting, who knows? This message is for those who call themselves ‘Christians’.
There are two kinds of Christians.
The first kind are those who are sold out for the cause of Christ. These folks are yielded to the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives and are committed to putting their faith into action. Their lives are marked by obedience, love and sacrifice. They see this life and the world around them through the lens of eternity. The Lord has done such a work in their lives that they can’t help but serve others. These people have a hunger to help others and share the hope they have in Christ. Their fruitfulness manifests itself in a variety of ways.
What these first kind of Christians have in common is their personal relationship with Jesus Christ and their faith in His atoning sacrifice translates into other-centered actions. Whether it is feeding the homeless, providing a home for an orphan or visiting prisoners or widows, these Christians go to where the need is and meet it. This kind of Christian lives out their theology. You can see it. Their faith is active, vibrant and fruitful. Be encouraged!
The second kind of Christians are those who are self-focused. They go to church every Sunday. They participate in Bible studies. They can discuss theology on the highest levels. This group is quite adept at feeding themselves and talking about what is on the menu. Their lives are marked by routines of religious activity based on personal desires, preferences and convenience.
For this second group, the message of the Gospel is intellectually understood and (possibly) accepted in the heart. However, the Gospel has not made it to their hands and feet. The result, is they don’t feel the need to serve others. When a need arises, they squash it with excuses like, “I’m not called to that.” or “I’m not equipped to do that.” or a dozen other excuses. Slowly but surely, the embers of their faith die and the radical transformation of Christ in their life becomes a distant memory. Before long, people around them don’t even know they are a Christian except when they see them leaving for Church on Sunday morning. Be challenged!
One of the marks of a healthy spiritual life is serving others. It is like breathing in that it comes naturally.
I’ll boil it down for you Christian. If you are not serving, there is something wrong with your walk with God.
Before you run out there and overcommit out of compulsion or guilt. Have a discussion with God first. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what is wrong in your heart. If you need to ask forgiveness or repent, do it. Then, get up and walk!
Our lives are to reflect the life of Christ. Read your Bible and discover again what Christ did. He served the father with obedience. In Jesus’s march to the cross, He did many things along the way. He met people in their moment of need with love and compassion. Ultimately, he served our biggest need. He saved us from our sin (John 3:16).
Back to the question. Why we serve or don’t serve is directly related to what we believe.
Does your faith manifest itself in action? If not, why not?
The blessing is not in the knowing…. the blessing is in the doing.
The spiritually maturing Christian engages in service in doing so he/she will participate in the blessing while bringing glory to God. In John 13, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. When he is done serving them, he says; “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:17 ESV).
In Matthew 20:28, Jesus says, “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Read Philippians 2:1-11. From the pen of Paul, we see a model of Christlikeness, “…rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…”
James 2 points out that faith and works (service) are two sides of the same coin. “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
What about you?