pastoral theology

How To Use the Cell Phone.

Last Sunday evening at church, we reviewed some considerations for using the cell phone (assuming a cell phone with data and text messaging functionality). Some might say that this is not a spiritual issue and is outside the bounds of pastoral ministry. However, I believe it is a pastoral concern because:

1) Relationships are suffering.

2) The world and its ideologies are pumped in through the cell phone/social media.

3) Digital dialogue is taking over the church’s communication.

4) More and more children have them, thus affecting their ability to hear their parents.

Matthew 18:1-10 indicates that the way that we treat those who follow Christ is the way that we treat Jesus Christ Himself. Therefore, it would be better to drown yourself than to cause a “little one” to stumble into sin. Jesus also instructed us to “love one another” (John 13:34). The NT goes on to instruct as to how to love one another in the world so that we might demonstrate to the world that we are disciples of Christ, both for their conviction and drawing work of God.

The fact that both of these teachings come down to conversations, how we speak, is clear in the NT. Our conversations with one another must be well thought-out, purposefully edifying, and meant to provoke one another to love and obedience (see Ephesians 4:29-32; Colossians 3:16-17; Hebrews 10:25). If Proverbs teaches anything, it certainly instructs us in the wisdom of useful conversation. For example:

Proverbs 16:13
Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And he who speaks right is loved.

 

Proverbs 16:21
The wise in heart will be called understanding,
And sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

 

Proverbs 16:23–24
The heart of the wise instructs his mouth
And adds persuasiveness to his lips.
Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Learning how to speak to one another with righteousness, wisdom, and pleasant words will take time, effort, and practice. In fact, so much so, that it takes a lifetime of effort to produce words “fitly spoken” (see James 3).

However, what seems to be the case, is that the product of having all kinds of data, stories, and pictures at instant disposal, has produced in people a failure to communicate face to face. The ability to look someone in the eye and learn what they need to hear at that very moment is precious and valuable in the church (it is at the very heart of ministry!). But, the lack of interest in the concerns of others is evident in the superficial and careless communication that exudes the church. In short, personal, verbal, communication is unclear. And, when communication is unclear, the mind is muddy. And, when the mind is muddy, the glory of God suffers, and we cannot look at one another in the church in love.

Why make that assertion? Consider:

Philippians 2:3–4
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

How much of what we do on our cell phones is for personal interest? News stories (so-called), rumors, trends, shopping, music, latest scores… In fact, there are very few things that can be done on our cell phones (or other personal digital devices) that are for others. Sure, you can send a text message of encouragement, email an important letter, look up something for someone. But, don’t let the little things like that, give permission for the greater problems that are created by the wasted, selfish, time spent. The fact is, it is a phone. Phones were created to communicate with someone else. The new technology that allows deep self-interest is actually working against the commands to love others before yourself.

A mature believer uses things the way they are meant to be used. When he is done, he puts it away until useful again. In that way, the phone becomes a tool, not a worker. It remains a slave and not a master. Many conversations are lost due to untold hours surfing Facebook, “checking” text messages, reading useless weather reports and articles. And that, beloved, is leading the church to superficiality at best, and sinful self-indulgence at worst (compare the wisdom of Paul in Acts 20:24).

Quite simply, put it away. Use the technology to alert you when your spouse, children, or other important people, are trying to get contact you. Limit your business calls to regular work hours, where appropriate. Otherwise, put it down and do the dishes, wash the car, visit someone in the church, read Scripture, pray, etc.. Channel surfing, whether on T.V., or the cell phone (including iPads etc…), is a complete waste of precious time. Time must be redeemed, not wasted:

Ephesians 5:15–17
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,
making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

What Does a Pastor Do?

Among the many different considerations that occupy the current needs of the church, this one topic must head the list. The simple question, “What does a pastor do?”, is a monumental question to ask. It is crucial for the needs of the church in so many ways. It is also a need for the pastor to “check in” once in a while to make sure he is being faithful to his calling.

Let’s start by stating what a pastor is NOT to do. This little series will predominantly be taken from a perusal through the Pastoral Epistles of the New Testament (1, 2 Timothy, and Titus). All three letters were written by Paul, the old apostle at the time of writing. He bore the task of carrying the gospel of the kingdom of God to the greater areas of the known world of that time. He was the man who, although not single-handedly as he had many co-laborers, took the gospel to the “uttermost parts of the world” (Acts 1: 8). He suffered much and had tremendous disappointment and hardship during his years as an apostle. He writes of himself, reluctantly,

2 Corinthians 11:23–29

23  Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.

24  Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.

25  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.

26  I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;

27  I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

28  Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.

29  Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?

How many pastors can say this? Not me. However, his task is my task. His responsibility is my responsibility. Therefore, if our work is the same, the proclamation of the gospel, the results will likely be the same as well.

Let’s consider what a pastor is not to do from the Pastoral Epistles, taken predominantly from the portions that begin with “Do not…” (NASB):

1) Do not give your time to learning false doctrines:

1 Timothy 1:3–4

3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,

4  nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.

As an elder, Timothy must resist doing what Paul here is telling Timothy to rebuke in the other erring elders. Timothy must not teach heterodoxy. He must not teach “other doctrines” (ἑτεροδιδασκαλέω, same word as in 1 Timothy 6:3). A “strange doctrine” is one not taught by Jesus Christ. The church seems pummeled by “strange doctrines.” May none of the them come from pastors!

2) Do not neglect your giftedness and calling:

1 Timothy 4:14

14  Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.

It is assumed that a pastor has some kind of internal and external validation of his ministry. A pastor cannot appoint himself (cf. Matthew 23:1). He must be recognized and drawn into the work by his own righteous desires and the approval of other godly men/elders (1 Timothy 3:1). Once verified, he cannot look back. To neglect, here, means to “be unconcerned for; care nothing about.” It is basically apathy towards the reality of the work and need. There is nothing more important than the task of oversight of God’s people. There is no work that matches the work of the preaching and teaching of God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:1-4). What can possibly do what the Word can do? What lasts into eternity like this work? To neglect this calling is to be apathetic towards God Himself as He is not apathetic toward this work. Jesus Christ spent His ministry simply preaching and teaching, of course accompanied by proofs of His ministry. Our only proof is the written Word. When we are in accord with that, our ministry is validated. Our ministries can be neglected in a number of ways:

  • treating it like a job, and not a life-work.
  • pursuing hobbies with greater interest.
  • failing to receive appropriate education/equipping in order to dispense your task with precision.
  • the love of sleep.
  • the love of luxury.
  • the disdain of hardship.

3) Do not wrongfully address others in the church:

1 Timothy 5:1–2

Honor Widows

1 Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers,

2  the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.

A pastor has to rebuke at times, well…often. However, to “sharply” rebuke someone else who demands honor is wrong. That is not to say that they should not be rebuked. It is to say that in doing so, a pastor, especially a younger one, must remember to whom he is speaking. An older man demands, by mere age, respect. He is to be honored. He is to be listened to. He is to be given place as one made in God’s image. However, when he is wrong, or headed the wrong direction, he must be rebuked by one with spiritual authority via the Word of God, the pastor. But, to speak to an older man like he might a younger, inexperienced, foolish, man, is deplorable.

4) Do not listen to hearsay:

1 Timothy 5:19

19  Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.

A pastor must protect and guard his fellow pastors. He must not listen to the complaint of others in the church toward another pastor without examination. That is not to say that they cannot be listened to. It is to say that to formally charge a pastor for wrong-doing on the basis of one complaint is wrong. Look for others who might agree with the complaint by means of factual data. If none exists, do not receive that complaint. It is simply an accusation.

5) Do not place men into leadership too quickly:

1 Timothy 5:22

22  Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.

Over the years, I have heard from other men this recurring comment: “I put a man into leadership way too soon, and it has devastated this ministry. Removing him from ministry has split the church, or is about to.” I never want to be in that position. Take the time to examine a man first (see 1 Timothy 3:10). What kind of man are you looking for to assist in leadership? Here is a short list:

  • Regenerate – he must demonstrate evidence of regeneration.
  • Faithful – the one characteristic that evidences eldership raw material. He is faithful in his home, his work, and with doctrine.
  • Godly – don’t use the leadership position to make a man godly. He must have a level of godliness before entering. Of course, being in leadership sanctifies you, but not from ungodly to godly. Rather, from godly to more godly.
  • Submissive – he is willing to himself submit to other leadership and especially the Word of God.
  • Supportive – he willingly, wholeheartedly, supports the teaching pastor’s doctrine and preaching. To chafe against the public teaching of the Word of God is to evidence disunity and possible hostility/jealousy toward the teaching pastor.

If Timothy were to place a man into that position who was not ready, then Timothy himself would be guilty of the sins that that man may commit while in leadership; sins of pride, laziness, false teaching, or abuse of authority.

If a man simply builds his ministry starting with these preventative admonitions, he will be on his way toward faithfulness to the One who called him into that ministry. I am convinced that Paul knew exactly what he was saying in these letters. And, when followed, these instructions will direct, guide, and commend a pastor in his service to Jesus Christ no matter his location.

The Pastor’s Home-pt.4

Last time…

we considered the fact that Paul left Timothy in Ephesus, and Titus in Crete, in order to deal with teaching that contradicts sound doctrine. Part of that work is to confront leadership in the church and call them to repentance. That is quite a work for a man to do, but the church is a precious thing and needs to be cared for by godly leadership. If a man in leadership is teaching error, he needs to be removed. However, that will create a gap. So, what are Timothy and Titus to do? They are to appoint new leadership. That is why Paul gave these instructions in these chapters (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 respectively). Both of these men must appoint leadership. The assumption is that this activity is a priority because God has appointed men to lead the sheep and tend the flock of God. If a church has no leadership, or has unqualified leadership, they are not being cared for.

In 1 Timothy 3:4-5, and Titus 1:6, Paul makes sweeping statements that are determinative of whether a man should be a pastor or not. Paul wrote,

1 Timothy 3:4–5

4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity

5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),

And in Titus,

Titus 1:6

6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.

These passages instruct us in the necessary qualification of a man to leadership in the household of God, the church (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 2:19). The point of this series is to attempt to bring to light that the condition of a man’s home is a qualification for service in pastoral ministry. This is not negotiable, any more than being able to teach is negotiable. A man’s efforts, heart, abilities, failures, repentance, and overall righteousness through the obedience of faith (Romans 1:5; Philippians 2:12-13) are all on display in the home and those things affect everyone else in the home.

We have seen that Paul says that if a man cannot lead his home, he cannot lead the church. This is because both the church and the home are essentially made of the same categories of people. In the church, there is a Father (Ephesians 4:6) and there are children. Where does the wife and mother fit in? She is one with the father of the children (Ephesians 5:28-33). Men and women who obey Christ are made children of God, and He becomes their Father. The collection of these children all under the care and instruction of God the Father is what Paul refers to as a “household.” Jesus Christ is to have preeminence in that household (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:18). Therefore, that body of people, in Christ, is as precious as any household. In fact, given the One who is Head of the household, the church is even more precious. These are great realities and, unfortunately, very little is being written about them (although this was a refreshing reminder of these things).

Now…

we come to the similar phrases found in 1 Timothy and Titus involving the children. As with many passages of Scripture, there are a number of disagreements over what Paul wrote here. The reasons for these disagreements are varied. But the disagreements are not caused by the lack of clarity in the text itself. It does not appear to be vague, nor meant to be. I will work through these things here and delineate some conclusions.

Paul wrote that Timothy (and Titus) are to look for men for leadership who are appropriately raising their children. That much is clear. In fact, in 1 Timothy, the indication is that the condition of the children is the litmus test for the ability of the man to lead his home. In other words, to see if a man can lead his home, look at the fruit of that leadership, the hearts and lives of the children (this is evident by the participles “manages” and “keeping” which would modify the main verb, “to be”). Interestingly, there is nothing explicitly written here about the condition of his wife. The assumption is that she would fall into the category of his household. Everything that the man is head over, wife, children, and resources, are his “household.” However, if you want to see the fruit of that man’s know-how of raising children, and managing his home, look to the quality and condition of his children.

His children should be “under control” (the phrase “with all dignity” refer to the man and his quality of training his children to be under control). The phrase “under control” is the Greek prepositional phrase, ἐν ὑποταγῇ. The preposition “ἐν” is usually translated “in.” That is not possible here because Paul is not insisting that the children be “in control” of the household. The next word “ὑποταγῇ” also has a preposition on the front of it, hupo, which is usually translated, “under” as in spatially, or logically, under something or someone else. It makes sense with this particular word “ὑποταγῇ” because the other half of the word is the word for obedience, or submission. In fact, it would, together, indicate a willing, voluntary submission under the authority of another (Jesus, of course, exemplifies this precious and powerful truth in Luke 2:51). Coupled with the preposition “ἐν,” Paul is driving home this reality. The fact is, a father and mother have authority in the home, with the husband as the head, or leader, of the two. He has the right from God to instruct, and care for, all the others. Children should be in such a condition of heart to choose to submit to that authority.

This kind of humbling is not natural to a child (Proverbs 22:15; Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 3:9-18) and is only produced through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The will of a child despises God’s authority. They welcome the care and benefits of God (Acts 17:25b; cf. Matthew 5:43-45). But, they naturally reject His righteousness. Essentially, the man of God should know how to bring his children to the point of obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This cannot mean to simply control the children externally, without any repentance and submission in the heart. God expects more than that out of His children (Mark 7:6-7). God’s expectation of His children is as much submission and obedience from a pure heart as Jesus Himself has (Matthew 5:48). Otherwise, the New Covenant would be unnecessary since the target of that covenant is the heart and the product of that new heart is obedience to God’s instructions (Ezekiel 36:26-27). If the good news of Jesus Christ is that God’s eternal plan of making sinners into sons (Revelation 21:7) has come to earth, then that should be most evident in the homes of the leaders of God’s church (Romans 8:28-30; cf. Ephesians 3:8-11). Paul reiterates this in Titus as well.

Paul wrote to Titus that an elder should "[have] children who believe.” Again, since Paul taught that the condition of the home determines whether or not a man knows how to lead, it would be basic to assume that Paul expects the children of the elder/pastor to believe in Christ. The adjective “πιστά” describes the children. This description coincides with 1 Timothy 3:4 that the children are obedient and voluntarily submissive to their father. This kind of faithfulness to their father is demonstrated by their behavior. And just as there is a list of behaviors for elders, here is a little list for his children as well. In other words, the behavior of the children (as well as the elders and deacons/deaconesses listed in 1 Timothy 3) demonstrates their hearts.

The question for many is whether or not this demands that the children of the pastor need to be believers. Is it Paul’s intention to instruct Timothy and Titus to only approve men whose children are following Jesus Christ? I believe that Paul is instructing just that. Whether the children are simply faithful or believers, the point is the same. A faithful person is one who adheres to a kind of expectation. That expectation for a Christian is contained in the Scripture. If a man is teaching these instructions of Scripture to his children, the assumption is that the children are faithful to those instructions. To rebel against those instructions demonstrates an unbelieving heart. To obey and submit to those instructions demonstrates a believing heart. James would say that faith in Christ necessarily evidences itself in “works” (James 2:14-26). The works of faith are ultimately evidenced in submission to teaching. If you believe something, you obey it (Romans 6:16-18).

The assumption is that the man’s aptitude in teaching shows itself primarily in his home. This teaching, with wisdom and skill, will accomplish what God intended. Paul told Timothy later in his second letter,

         14      You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
         15      and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. –2 Timothy 3:14-15

According to Paul, the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, as well as the entirety of Scripture (3:16), is able to produce the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Men, do you understand Scripture well enough to train your children in this wisdom (cf. Deuteronomy 4:5-6; Job 32:7–9; Psalm 119:100)? Do you understand the eternal gospel well enough to expose their hearts by the appropriate wielding of the Word of God?

Some would object to this understanding insisting that to expect this is to limit God’s election. That is absurd. First, nothing limits God’s election, whether entire cities (Jonah 3:5-10; cf. Matthew 12:41; Luke 11:32), households (cf. Acts 16:31-34; cf. Acts 11:14), or individuals. This argument is a philosophical one, not an exegetical one.

Second, some object because they know of a pastor who was faithful for many years over a church and when a child left home and that child renounced Christ, or lives in such a way that denies Christ (Titus 1:16). The question then is, was the father truly faithful? Remember, an elder needs to be one who manages his household well. Did he really do that? To say that we have no control over or children when they are out of the home is a sad thing to say. Of course, as parents, we don’t have control over them (Genesis 2:24-25). However, do you not expect a child to continue in the things that you taught when you taught them? What were you training them for? Solomon wrote,

            6      Train up a child in the way he should go,
      Even when he is old he will not depart from it.-Proverbs 22:6

 

Some would say that is not a promise. Some would even say this is a warning against allowing the child to continue in “his own way.” However, this is a command (Ephesians 6:4). Solomon is instructing his son to train up his child in the way that he is expected to live when he is old. If you do that, even when he has grey hair, he will not depart from that teaching. The failure, then, is not the children necessarily. It is the training they received. That is the heart of the issue.

I believe that the situation in the leadership of the church is dire. Judging by the number of unqualified and disqualified men in leadership over God’s household, I would say that there needs to be a serious examination in this area. I would also assert that the goal is not a witch-hunt. It is to equip where there apparently isn’t any, or at least very, very little. I hope to at least introduce some teaching from the Word of God along these lines.

The Pastor’s Home-pt.2

Last post, we introduced the requirement, mandate really, of the pastor being proven and qualified by the condition of his home. We considered that the godliness of the people in the household qualifies a man for ministry because it is in the home wherein all the other qualifications play out and are demonstrated. If a man is above reproach, truly, it will be first and foremost demonstrated in the home. His wife and children will be able to testify and validate the temperance, faithfulness, and soundness of theology in the private times of the household. Again, a man can “flip the switch” and turn on godliness in public. But what he is in private is really him. His passions, his desires, his direction, his interests, all testify of the singular focus of that man’s leadership.

The impetus for this series was my observation of a number of situations over the years that were made known to me concerning the household’s of pastors. I have either observed, or heard of, a number of situations in which a pastor’s home had completely fallen apart. However, this is not simply in a divorce, or wayward child, or the like. This is also in a wife who is bitter about the ministry her husband is in. Or, a child who, although when younger appeared well-trained and on the right path, once older has decided that the world had more to offer than the church, or Christ. Or, a man who privately, repeatedly, committed adultery while in the pulpit. These are all stories that are far too common in the church, in pastor’s homes.

My intent in this series is not to point out all the failures of pastors. My real intention is: 1) to establish the fact that if a man cannot lead his household, he cannot lead God’s household. 2) to admonish that if a man is not leading his household properly, according to the instructions of the Word of God, he must either be taking steps to remedy the situation immediately, or step away from his ministry so that another man can take the leadership of the church. 3) to call churches to realize that they must hold their pastor or pastors to the standard that God has laid out in Scripture. This is not to beat him up, or seek to destroy his effectiveness. It is to increase it. The bottom line in this discussion is simply that man is not the head of the church. Jesus Christ is. As such, the Lord, who is glorious, holy, and exalted, is to be served by those whom He has qualified for that position. It is not a matter of making a man like that as it is identifying him. God makes the man.

I also want to add that I don’t have a wide readership. However, I do hope that those who do read these blogs will not be offended, or simply scoff at what is written. Rather, I am held to this same standard as will be outlined in this series and I would ask that the Word of God be taken seriously. I realize that it is hard to shepherd God’s people and raise a family and maintain a marriage all at the same time. There are so many pitfalls, temptations, lack of information, as well as the sin in our children, wives, and ourselves that keep us busy. However, men, that is exactly what God is calling us to. We must take up the challenge of leading in all these areas with holiness, godliness, righteousness, and capability. That is why I say that a man needs to be willing to humble himself and learn what is required of him, where he is not meeting those requirements, and be willing to admit that maybe God did not qualify him for ministry.

Given that, let’s review some basics about pastoral leadership.

First, our responsibility is a calling from Jesus Christ. When I use the word “calling,” I am using it in the sense of stewardship for which a person will be held accountable for faithfulness to the One calling him. Jesus taught this fact of stewardship in Matthew 25:14-30. In that parable, the emphasis is that the man who went away, after depositing varying amounts of money with his three slaves, will return and expect something for His investments. Two of the three slaves were faithful to make the most of the money and gain the praise of their master. The assumption is that the master expected that to happen and the slaves were faithful to do what they would expect their master to do. The third slave did nothing with his share, and received the punishment of the master. After all, he was a hard man (v.24). Essentially, the two slaves were faithful, the third, lazy. The two, as slaves, did their jobs according to their own ability (v.15). The third, had no ability by virtue of the fact that he did not do what his master would have expected with the money.

This really is a picture of many things which God has given to people. It does not mean to limit the parable to only one kind of work or person. The point is that God expects something from His slaves, and those who refuse to obey will be punished. Pastoral ministry was not created by man. It is a position of slavery to God created by Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ Himself said, "

Matthew 23:34–35

“Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

Paul taught us that when Christ ascended, sent the Holy Spirit, He assigned certain men to positions of work by reason of their gifting.

Ephesians 4:7–8

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

“When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.”

When we talk of pastoral ministry, very often it is full of the trappings that accompany the office in our day. We immediately think about counseling, preaching, taxes, conferences, and the like. However, for a faithful slave, there is only one thing on the forefront of his mind: “What does my Master expect? What does it take to get it done?” It is very common for pastors of our day to never have that kind of thought even enter their minds. Afterall, there are so many pressing needs in the church. Yet, according to the parable, those men who did not take what they were given and use it accordingly, all the while concerned about the Master’s will, are the unfaithful slaves who will never know the praise of the Master.

Second, since we are given our task by Christ, we represent Him. This truth is crucial. As a slave, your will is no longer in existence. You are subject to a Master. He determines where you go, what you do, and how you do it. And, in the end, he will reward you or not. His expectations, His instructions, and His “money” all express His person. It is to be used wisely.

I am afraid that many pastors think that they are the church. I was watching a man preach the other day in a typical Baptist church. This man makes his rounds in Evangelical, Bible-believing churches and is a big name in the one of a thousand movements in modern Christianity. As I watched this man, who said he was about 50 years old, and yet was obviously physically fit and spends a fair amount of time in the gym, I watched him “pose” as he was preaching. Flinging his arms, exposing his physique, and simply in general, drawing all attention to himself. It was deplorable. On top of that, what he was preaching was not worthy of “preaching” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). The slave does not exist, except to serve his master. For a slave to replace his master is treason.

Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, were offering “strange fire” one day and God killed both of them on the spot. Why? Because they were not performing their “service” according to the instructions of the Master (v.1). Therefore, God punished them. The statement from Moses reminding their father, Aaron, is important to hear. He said,

Leviticus 10:3

Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.’ ” So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.

Aaron’s response was apt-he kept silent. What could he say? His sons were disobedient, and may have even been drinking (v.9). Aaron could say nothing. Men, realize that every Sunday, or under any other venue, when you ascend the lectern to preach God’s holy Word, you represent God, the same God who incinerated Nadab and Abihu and could do the same to you for offering “strange fire…which [God has] not commanded.” If for no other reason than that, take the money from the Master and use it accordingly.

Third, your homes represent the Lord as well. The condition of our homes, marriages, children and their submission to Christ, as well as finances, home orderliness, and a myriad of other things, are all meant to reflect the glory and beauty of God. As I mentioned before, most men can “flip the switch” in the pulpit and no one would ever know that he just had a knock-down, drag-out fight with his wife before church. However, that man who has done that really should not even “open the book” until he repents. Personally speaking, preaching is a very good way for me to not hang on to sin. I cannot preach unless I know that I have repented from any sins of that time prior to entering the pulpit. Sometimes, it is just a matter of confessing it in my heart and turning from it. Sometimes, it involves speaking with someone before service, or at home, asking for forgiveness. Whatever it is, I cannot preach in good conscience knowing that I have sinned against the God whom I am supposed to represent in the pulpit.

As we will see in our next post, the purity, wholesomeness, righteousness of our households, or the lack thereof, are the proofs of able-bodied, godly leadership in the home, or not. That is the man who has been qualified by God for leadership in His church.

The Pastor’s Home: A Prerequisite For Service-pt.1

A man cannot enter war without first being trained. We would not allow a doctor to perform surgery without extensive experience and training. We would not want a man to lead our nation who is not fully capable to do so. However, for most, the thought of having a pastor without adequate training, equipping, and qualification is okay. Some see training in preparation for ministry as negligible and nonessential. Some even deride those who pursue training in preparation for pastoral ministry saying that they are not filled with the Spirit (insinuating that they are). In the day of the pride of ignorance, many consider learning and exerting mental discipline almost a waste of time. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a person praise his pastor because he doesn’t prepare for his sermons. He simply gets up and lets the spirit speak through him. They say this to me with a very proud grin full of adoration for such a display of godliness. However, in my mind, I know that that man ought to be ashamed of himself. The Apostle Paul wrote,

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15

It is a shameful thing to enter into anything unprepared. It is not unlike the proverb that says, “Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool displays folly” (Proverbs 13:16). That is to say, the prudent man learns how to do that for which he is accountable. The fool does not and simply displays to everyone what little he knows.

An often overlooked (and undervalued) side of preparation for ministry is a man’s home. By “home” I think the Scripture primarily means the people who are under his care, and then, secondarily, the house in which they live. His home is the determining factor in his qualification for ministry. Why do I say that? As we will see in 1 Timothy 3, it is the place where the reality of his righteousness is displayed, and verified. It is easy for a man to “flip the switch” in public and act as if everything is fine at home, when in fact it is not. We fear the public disgrace of looking like we do not have control. But, it is altogether different when no one is looking. It is altogether different in the day-in and day-out realities of raising children and our relationship with our wives. Men in general have to learn how to faithfully lead his home. Unfortunately, some men never realize that. They often go from one distraction to another until the children are gone and then wipe their brow and think to themselves, “Whew, I am glad they are gone.” At that point, typically, they rationalize to themselves that the decisions their children make in the lives as they are on their own are not the parent’s responsibility. However, that is not true. The lives our children live in their own marriages and in their own homes demonstrate the capability of our leadership in the home. Or, to say it another way, the fruit of godly leadership in the home does not bear itself out until our children are no longer under our care. We may be able to suppress the rebellion of our children while they are in the home, and get by. But, the real question is, “What do our children do when they are one their own? What decisions do they make? Where is their heart?”

To begin this series, we need to establish the fact that raising children in a godly manner is crucial, necessary, for the qualification of a man to ministry. However, the condition of our home is only the fruit of the man’s leadership, not the definition of it. The sanctification of his wife, the godliness (not worldliness) of his children, his own level of holiness (especially when no one else is looking) all demonstrate the Lord’s qualification of that man.

A New Covenant ministry is unlike anything else that has gone before. One day, Jesus was speaking with the people and some disciples of John came to Jesus and asked Him if He truly was the Messiah (Luke 7:18-23). Jesus gave them instructions as to the proof of His ministry, as outlined in Isaiah 35 and 61. The messengers went back to John. Jesus took the opportunity to commend John before the people (vv.24-30). He spoke of John as the greatest of the prophets (v.28). He was the messenger in the vein of Malachi 3:1 (v.27). However, the Pharisees rejected John’s baptism of repentance and thus demonstrated that they were not interested in God’s purpose for them.

The Lord then gives a parable, that is apropos to us at this point. There were children in the marketplace and one group was calling out to the rest of the children. The first group of children played a flute, but the rest did not dance. They then proceeded to sing a funeral song, and the other children did not mourn. The point is, Jesus and John did not perform their ministries according to the expectations of the Pharisees and lawyers, and they did not like it. But the Lord makes a profound statement that we all need to consider. He said,

"Yet, wisdom is vindicated by all her children” – Luke 7:35

Jesus is speaking of the comparison of wisdom-His and John’s (ultimately, God’s) versus the Pharisees and the lawyers. In order to determine the quality of wisdom, look at what is being produced and compare that against righteousness. Then you will be able to comprehend wisdom. Or, to quote another teaching,

“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:18–20

The “offspring” of God’s work are those submissive to God’s purposes. Those who reject those purposes, like the Pharisees and lawyers, are not wise. Therefore, look at what people produce in order to determine the quality, or qualification, of the wisdom used. Thus, it is a basic fact of like, a principle for everything-if you want to know the quality of a teaching, ideal, or leader, look at what is produced.

Paul takes that truism and establishes it in the life of the church. In the next post, we will begin to examine 1 Timothy 3:4-5. In the meantime, consider what the author of Hebrews 13:7 wrote,

“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”

If you want to know the viability of a ministry, elder, pastor, or church, do not look at what it boasts, teaches, or claims. Look at what that ministry, elder, pastor, or church produces. Consider (examine, scrutinize) the result of their conduct, and then imitate their faith.

Pastor or elder, how are you doing? What are you producing? What does your home life look like? My attempt here is not to set up an impossible standard built upon a contrived self-righteousness which only I can meet. My goal here is to understand what pleases God in the homes of the men called to lead God’s flock, and expect that from them. As with any job, there are standards, whether it is a sales quota, production quota, or some other standard of qualification for the work. How much more, then, the standards of representing the Lord Jesus Christ before His people (Leviticus 10:3; cf. Exodus 19:22).

Biblical (and Unbiblical) Teaching on the History of Head Coverings-pt.2

My previous post on the teaching of head-coverings generated a few responses. At the outset, I want to say that I realize that there are many dear, faithful, Christians who believe wholeheartedly in a woman wearing a head-covering during worship. They are dear people and faithful to the Lord. I am thankful for them. These posts are not directed to any one person, but are meant to clarify, what I believe to be, an erroneous understanding of this passage to such an extent that it is defrauding some of their prize of knowing Christ (Colossians 2:16-23). In an effort to attempting to correct an incorrect teaching, I have written these posts. And, judging by the statistics of the last post, I was right. Of all the blog posts I have written, the last one was, by far, the most read. I have received almost no responses, but that is okay. One response was made by a brother whom I know and I want to address that, because I believe it might help others.

This brother’s statement was that church history contradicted my conclusion that a head covering was not commended by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. I want to respond to that comment in a full post because I believe it demonstrates a major problem in the thinking of many. The statement that was made was, “I am not dogmatic on head coverings, however, church history would run counter to your conclusion. Traditionally, women have always worn head coverings until very recently — and that really only in the western world.”

THE ROLE OF CHURCH HISTORY

First, I want to address the fact that women have always worn head coverings until very recently. It is true, as you read through some historical information, that head-coverings were common. However, going about your life without a head-covering was common also. Michael Marlowe has a decent summary of Greek, Roman, and Jewish practices concerning these things here. It would appear that head-coverings were worn by both men and women in public, private, and religious processions. It would also appear that head coverings were also not worn by both men and women in public, private, and religious processions. However, that is pagan life. That does not determine the meaning of Scripture. Best to say that the customs, traditions, of the town of Corinth, at least of many, was to be covered from the head down to below the shoulders, and in some cases, more. They also wore headbands, hats, and scarfs as well, just like today. Many women wore their hair in a braid and “bun.” They often adorned their hair with items such as coins, jewels, and other valuable items (see 1 Timothy 2:9). So, just like today, you have a mixture of practices that come together in the church at Corinth.

Second, as far as church history is concerned, it appears that the confusion over head-coverings also continued. One of the more direct writings on this is Tertullian’s On The Veiling of Virgins. This long letter written around 200 A.D. addresses the practice, and reason, for women to wear a veil (which was not a doily, but an actual veil that included covering everywhere long hair would go). His conclusions are that every woman, married, widowed, unmarried, should have a veil. He wrote,

“It remains likewise that we turn to (the virgins) themselves, to induce them to accept these (suggestions) the more willingly. I pray you, be you mother, or sister, or virgin-daughter—-let me address you according to the names proper to your years—-veil your head: if a mother, for your sons’ sakes; if a sister, for your brethren’s sakes; if a daughter for your fathers’ sakes. All ages are perilled in your person.” Chapter XVI

His conclusions, then, are that a veil aids in modesty for every woman, married or single, during worship and out of worship. It is to be worn at all times, and the more it covers the better. He wrote,

“The region of the veil is co-extensive with the space covered by the hair when unbound; in order that the necks too may be encircled. For it is they which must be subjected, for the sake of which “power” ought to be “had on the head: “the veil is their yoke. [4] Arabia’s heathen females will be your judges, who cover not only the head, but the face also, so entirely, that they are content, with one eye free, to enjoy rather half the light than to prostitute the entire face. A female would rather see than be seen.” Chapter XVII

Thus, according to Tertullian, the veil should reach as far as the hair would go when “unbound.” In fact, he invokes Arabian women as the judges over Christian women in this practice thereby saying that the Arabian women are more modest in their dress than the women in the church.

Therefore, to be consistent, women who believe that they are required to wear a veil, or doily, or something, should, according to the authority of Tertullian, extend that veil to her shoulders and even over portions of the face all day long. To Tertullian, to have your face visible (this is not during worship, mind you) is to “prostitute the entire face.”

If a person were to look at the practice of head coverings through the ages, you certainly would see murals, pictures, and reliefs from the early days of the church to around even the 1700’s with women whose heads were covered. However, as mentioned before, many were also uncovered. It was certainly a practice, custom, expectation, of many through the ages for women to cover their heads (but that was also for men as well). But, this was not just during worship. It was all the time. Further, there was much discussion for the kind and thickness of the veil as well. The assumption from all of this was that Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11, teaches that a woman should cover herself with a physical covering, i.e. a hat, shawl, or linen of some sort, while praying or prophesying. So, even with church history with us, we still come down to, “What does the text mean?”

This brings me to my next point, which is far more important. I can summarize it this way:

Church history is not our hermeneutic.

That is, we cannot interpret the Scripture’s meaning by the practice of the early church, nor the latter church, or any church. We cannot interpret Scripture’s meaning by looking at the habits and practices of the church throughout the ages. The meaning of Scripture is determined by the Scripture. And, Scripture judges church history. What I have found is, unfortunately, some would rather rest in the works and teachings of the fathers and reformers (and excel in the knowledge of their writings), rather than wholeheartedly understand and believe the Scripture…and they do not realize it. They unwittingly act as if the Scripture is unclear and to be doubted and that we need extra-biblical revelation to understand it. I am not saying that we should not learn from the faithful teachers throughout the ages. However, no godly teacher would ever suggest that what he says/writes is on the same level as Scripture.

For example, many times when Paul wanted to teach on the responsibilities of man and woman he did not appeal to customs or practices for authority. He went back to God’s created design. He does this in 1 Corinthians 11:6-9. His appeal is to creation. He did not appeal to a custom for authority. He was actually trying to correct a custom, as a response to the Corinthians’ writing to him (1 Corinthians 7:1). There were some in the church carrying over the practice of the day of head-coverings. And, like today, many women find their entire sense of righteousness and propriety in her head-covering. Some also find it in their church membership, prayers, or singing in the choir. Paul is addressing the fact that some in the church were being factious over the head coverings and, head-coverings, along with other topics, were causing divisive confusion. A woman’s hat is not her true head, her husband, and man in general, is. So, the real question for a godly woman is not, “Where is your head-covering?” The real question is, “How is your heart?”

 

BIBLICAL EVIDENCE

Just glancing through the Bible looking for a statement about “head-covering” you will find very little. There are references to “turbans” (Exodus 28:39, 40, 42; 39:27-29), “veils” (Genesis 24:65-a better translation is “shawl”; Song of Solomon 4:1; 6:7-used in marriage settings), and in Isaiah 3:19-20 there is a reference to “veils” and “headdresses.” These were, no doubt, customary and not commendable as God says that He will, in the day of judgment, remove them along with other items of ornamentation that the women of Judah were coveting (see vv.22-26). Interestingly, in Genesis 38:12-19 the story of Tamar’s treachery contains the fact that since she sat by the road with her face covered, Judah thought she was a prostitute (v.15). Leviticus 13 contains teaching concerning those with skin disorders to be covered and uncovered accordingly. In Deuteronomy 22:5, a man is told to never wear a woman’s clothing thereby making clear distinctions between men and women (which I believe has some bearing upon 1 Corinthians 11). But, I have found no Old Testament instruction for women to veil themselves as a direction from God for worship. To be sure, a woman should have a designation of the fact that she recognizes authority over her (1 Corinthians 11:13-15). However, that is the desire of the heart and will of a godly woman (1 Peter 3:3-6; cf. 1 Timothy 2:9-15). Her submissive heart is demonstrated, not in her hat, but by her “chaste and respectful behavior” (1 Peter 3:2). As King Lemuel wrote, “Let her works praise her…” (Proverbs 31:31).

What does all of this mean? It means that Tertullian’s letter giving directions to virgins, widows, and married women in the churches, does not help us one way or another to interpret the passage. The practice may have been popular, but instructions for the practice of head-covering by the apostles for the women in the church is lacking. Further, as mentioned the other day, the more important issue is not the linen on the head or the upper body. The issue is whether or not a woman loves, submits to, and appreciates the authority (and responsibility) she is under.

Again, Clement, Tertullian, and others may have simply elevated a custom or opinion (Romans 14:1f.) not based upon a clear understanding of Paul’s writings (thereby perpetuating confusion and unnecessary/ineffective restraint of the flesh (Colossians 2:20-23) which was not unusual for the day). It is obvious, as you read Tertullian, that his thinking is flavored with a spiritualistic hermeneutic, not a sound, historical/grammatical one. For example, to verify his hermeneutic, He wrote,

“Herein consists the defence of our opinion, in accordance with Scripture, in accordance with Nature, in accordance with Discipline. Scripture founds the law; Nature joins to attest it; Discipline exacts it. Which of these (three) does a custom rounded on (mere) opinion appear in behalf of? or what is the colour of the opposite view? [2] God’s is Scripture; God’s is Nature; God’s is Discipline. Whatever is contrary to these is not God’s. If Scripture is uncertain, Nature is manifest; and concerning Nature’s testimony Scripture cannot be uncertain.56 If there is a doubt about Nature, Discipline points out what is more sanctioned by God. [3] For nothing is to Him dearer than humility; nothing more acceptable than modesty; nothing more offensive than “glory” and the study of men-pleasing. Chatper XVI

CLOSING THOUGHTS

It is interesting that Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 follows a flow of thought. It appears that Paul is addressing a question that the Corinthian church had about women praying to God. We know this because Paul repeats their question in v.13. He writes, “Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?” Paul’s letter is a response to questions the Corinthians had for him (1 Corinthians 7:1). Thus, it appears that they wrote about a confusion concerning women praying with their head uncovered (He also, just as much, answers the question about men covering their heads during prayer and preaching). The answer is, no. A woman praying or prophesying should not do so without her head covered. He deals with their custom of wearing a head-covering, probably much like the Romans who did so in their pagan rituals, men and women alike [“Archaeological evidence from Rome itself to the Roman East is unambiguous, Oster urges, in depicting the “liturgical head covering” of men when they pray or use prophetic speech: “the practice of men covering their heads in the context of prayer and prophecy was a common pattern of Roman piety and widespread during the late Republic and early Empire. Since Corinth was a Roman colony, there should be little doubt that this aspect of Roman religious practice deserves greater attention by commentators than it was received.” [Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 823]. But, the fact that they had these coverings is superfluous to Paul. Why? Because nature itself, God’s design, certainly teaches us that a man with long hair is disgraceful toward Christ, his Head (and, all things originate from God-v.12). And, a woman without it is disgraceful toward her head, man. Please remember, Paul had to correct sexual sins in the church in Corinth, as well as sexual responsibilities and distinctions. This teaching is no different. That is why he is doing it here.

Finally, I need to make one plea. I realize that even Peter had a hard time understanding some of what Paul wrote (2 Peter 3:14-16). This is a more difficult passage. However, it is not difficult because Paul was unclear, since we know that his main thought was to verify that a man is the head of a woman, thus she should have a recognition of that authority over her by maintaining her long hair since that is why God gave it at creation in the first place. The lack of clarity comes in when we believe other sources of information with the faith that we are supposed to give to Scripture (1 Corinthians 1:2-5). We must not approach the Scripture

  • With the thought that other writings are equal to Scripture.
  • With doubt about its veracity.
  • With a sense of judgment over it.
  • With the idea that we can mold it however we want.

We must approach the Scripture with it as our authority-final authority; sufficient authority. It alone determines how we interpret it. It was given as a collection of books written by real men, in real time, with actual revelation from God, written in words on a page, and with absolute truthfulness in all that it contains. When we allow the teaching of men, however godly they might have been (or might be), to merge with the text, we end up clouding the issue. The confusion of inserting the thoughts of men into the pristine text of Scripture is a travesty and we must commit ourselves to the study of the text, and the text alone, for our understanding.

“Thus says the Lord, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:1–2, NASB95)

Where Do Quarrels and Fights Come From?

Fights and arguments are inevitable. Everything from slight disagreements to all out national and international wars are commonplace in our world. Most, if honest, thrive on that. We are entertained by violence on the television or will spend the Lord’s money at the movie theaters just to be entertained by it. Some get paid to fight-professional sports, military, radio talk show hosts. They all have this in common-they make a living at fighting someone…anyone.

But, think about God’s perspective on this. What does God think of the violence of fighting? It was violence that incited God to destroy the earth with a flood (Genesis 6:11-13). It was contention that caused Moses to be dismissed from entering the land promised to Abraham (Numbers 20:12). It was because of the love of war that David was not allowed to build a house in which God would dwell (1 Chronicles 28:2-3). It was violence that characterized the beloved city Jerusalem in the days of Jesus and which subsequently led to His rejection of her (Luke 13:34-35). And it was the desire to fight that Jesus had to address periodically in the hearts of His disciples (Luke 9:54-56; Matthew 26:51-56).

Violence and fighting is not from God. The thought of the desire to hurt or destroy anything God has created, let alone another human being made in the image of God, should provoke us to sadness at the condition of our hearts. But it is normal to us. Jesus told Peter in the garden the night He was betrayed that if you are going to live by violence, you will die by violence (Matthew 26:51f). No thank you. I don’t want my life to be characterized by conflict, anger, hatred and violence. In fact, being angry is enough to categorize my motives as violent (Matthew 5:21-26).

Jesus’ half-brother James teaches us the real reason we fight. In James chapter 4 verses 1-12, he diagnoses this bloodlust in our hearts. Once diagnosed, he introduces the cure.

         1      What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?
         2      You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.
         3      You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
         4      You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
         5      Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?
         6      But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”
         7      Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
         8      Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
         9      Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.
         10      Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
         11      Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.
         12      There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

Much can be said about this passage. But notice how James addresses the sin of fighting. First, he gives the diagnosis, then he gives the cure.

DIAGNOSIS:

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?

  • You love pleasure
  • You lust
  • You commit murder
  • You are envious
  • You have wrong motives
  • You are a friend of the world
  • You are proud
  • You have dirty hands and hearts
  • You speak against the brethren

 

Quite a list. It is difficult to know the exact conditions in the churches in Asia Minor to whom this is addressed. Apparently, it was quite a difficult bunch, which demanded godly leadership from this man of God. This was no time for dialogue and counseling sessions. There were no twelve steps here and I don’t see any love languages being spoken. This is a time for decisive action and, in following the pattern of His Master, a time to call for repentance. These people should have been ashamed of themselves, and so should we. Remember, this list of sins is the source of quarrels and conflicts. What does that tell you? When there are quarrels and conflicts, at any level at any time, these are the culprits. The bottom line is that when we fight, argue, or contend, we offend God. The love of pleasure, lust, anger, hunger for the world, and a dirty life all wind us up in arguments all the time with everyone. Why? Because “You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:2–3, NASB95). Angry people are frustrated people since they do not get what they want. That is the issue. Mark it down and consider, the last time you argued with your wife, was it not because you did not get something you wanted? You wanted respect, attention, affection, to be heard, or a million other things and you did not get it. So, husband, you take it out on your wife and children. True? Wives, you did not get something you wanted from your husband, love, affection, understanding, that new car etc. and you did not get it. So he bears the brunt of your fury. How sad we are. Children in the home are fighting because they did not get their toy car, their doll, or, when they are older, their IPOD, or to be with their friends etc. and they argue with their parents. Clearly, the source of our fighting is ourselves. There is nothing good in fighting, conflicts, or arguments. They are murderous, ungodly, worldly, and even demonic (James 3:14-16).

 

CURE:

“GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

  • Submit to God
  • Resist the devil (and his ways)
  • Draw near to God
  • Cleanse your hands
  • Purify your hearts
  • Be miserable and weep for the sin in you
  • Humble yourselves in God’s eyes
  • Refuse to speak against a brother or sister

 

What kind of a home, church, or organization would you have if everyone submitted to God? Think about it. If we all were more concerned for God and His glory than our own? What if we demanded of ourselves to despise the very things we love and think we can’t live without? Remember, you can’t serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). What would it be like if, instead of spending money on our ‘pleasures’, we spent money on missionaries? What would it be like if instead of looking at a pastor with suspicion for the instruction he gives, we looked upon him with desperation for the Word that he is proclaiming? What would it be like if children feared for their spiritual lives every time they transgressed a parent’s instruction? And what would it be like if a husband broke down in tears at the repetitive transgression against God of his failure to love his wife?  I would think things would be different. I would think that quarrels and fights would be less frequent.

I know that this is why Jesus instructed us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). It is not because our enemies (real and imagined) are somehow less evil than they are. It is because the real issue is that you and I are responsible for bearing God’s image, and God does not hate like we do. God is love. Granted God hates the wicked (Psalm 7), and even hated Esau (Malachi 1:2-3). But if you think that somehow your hatred is on par with God’s then you are really mistaken. The predominate character of God is love (see 1 Corinthians 13). Therefore, to protect your own holiness before God, love your enemies. Don’t allow anger and hatred to have its way in your heart. Instead, be characterized by love. Let love be your predominate character, even as your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:48).

Repent from violence. Repent from hostility. Repent from the love of anger. It is sin.

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