Chapter 19: Problems and Resolutions
“For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness (Hebrews 5:1-2, NAS).”
I have narrowed it down to four main problematic areas within the body of Christ concerning love:
- Lacking love for God which would provide surrender
- Lacking love for self which would produce growth
- Lacking love for the brethren which would produce unity
- Lacking love for unbelievers which would produce transformation
The thing which stands out the most about Hebrews 5 is love. Where there are priests, they are for the sake of and help for the people. These appointed priests are to deal gently with those who don’t yet fully understand God’s Word. The priests, post-resurrection, are anyone who is hidden in Christ, not just those with a title. We, men and women of God, are a priest because the Priest lives within each of us.
As for problem #1, above all else, those who make a profession of faith fail to understand surrender, total submission to the King. Loving God is not merely hating Satan. Surrender can only come from total immersion into another being. We can’t truly submit ourselves to someone until we love them through and through. Falling in love with God eludes most. This is primarily due to insufficient teaching from the elders surrounding us. One generation after another, we become weakened in the area of loving God. As a result, each new generation wanes in their love and devotion to God. We first must comprehend we are to fear God. Through such fear, love blossoms. No fear, no love, no surrender.
Problems number 2 & 3 go hand in hand. If God’s people would become aware of the fact we are priests under the headship of the High Priest, Christ, then we would begin an entirely different journey. We would allow ourselves to yield spirit, soul and body to the One True God. That would spring forth being able to more readily love ourselves because we would know we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Once we recognize we are not to loathe ourselves, our appreciation for the life God has granted would allow room to love others as we love ourselves; not with a vain love, but a brotherly, unconditional love. With such love, unity would prosper.
Once we resolved issues 1-3, we would not be so short with the ignorant as so many of us are. We would not be quick to pass judgment on others who don’t comprehend things as do we. We would be far less prone to gossip about sister-grumpy-pants or brother-too-slow and much more apt to function in patience, kindness, longsuffering, and more. Once we achieve the first three hurdles, we will then be positioned so as to love the unbelievers who mock, scorn and hate people of God. In this, problem #4 is also resolved. We would witness more transformations from the world into the Kingdom of God.
To hate a fellow servant of God is to hate ourselves. We desperately need to fall in love with God so as to cease the self-loathing which will stem into falling in love with the Body of Christ and the human race at large. Love, not as the world views “falling in love” as it relates to sex, but rather a falling in love with mankind as God loves us.
Fitted and Held Together:
Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all…as a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Ephesians 4:1-6, 14-16).
How strong is your curtain rod of love? How deep is your Philadelphia? How earnestly are you in love with your fellow bondservant of the Most High? How far are you willing to “give whenever asked” as Christ directs? How forgiving, merciful, kind, magnanimous, gentle, benevolent, and selfless are you?
This is not for me to judge but to cause you to judge yourself. 1 Corinthians 11:31 says, “if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” I encourage you to judge yourself with righteous judgment, not with pride or self-abasement. Be honest, repent if necessary and go and sin no more. Be a cheerful giver; one who desires to be so driven by the supernatural love of God you can’t help but give.
Philadelphia will cause you to stop caring about being used by people. It will stir in you such a giving spirit you can’t be used, per se; you’ll be too busy giving freely. After all, if you’re giving your all, there’s no opportunity to be “used” by anyone. In the Kingdom of God, Philadelphia is a pre-requisite – it is not an option. May the Lord bless you with such profound love you will go out making disciples of many nations through the love of Yahweh.
Chapter 18: The Curtain Rod of Love
In 1 John 2:18-19 which closed chapter seventeen, many professed to be of Christ, yet they were liars. Remember I John 3:11-12: “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.” Also, recall I John 4:8 which proclaims emphatically, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
Let me try to explain this simply. Many profess Christ, yet do not love. We witness this often, but not exclusively or in every case, in people who can quote Scripture, go knocking on doors, preach, pray, teach, and proclaim loudly they are followers of Christ. In these scenarios, their actions do not back their testimony. This ilk is contradictory in nature as they are quickly angered when someone disagrees with them, they walk away from people who don’t align the moment they believe they should and they are impatient, unkind, mocking of others they deem “less than” themselves, gossips, slanderers, faithless and even murders.
I mention murderers because clearly the Word reads that he who hates his brother is a murderer. All these are characteristics of a person lacking God’s supernatural love. Every good thing of God hangs on love, just as curtains hang from a rod: without the rod, the curtains cannot stand. With the rod, on the other hand, the curtains, shades and attachments hang effortlessly in harmony. Without love, peace, patience, kindness, and so on, we have no base of operation; no stabilizing rod which manages its offshoots. Without the rod of love, all else falls to the ground as waste.
When a person is in Christ, love will manifest; it’s inevitable. If it does not, God is not present (I John 4:9). “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another,” I John 4:11 states with great assurance. I remember having a conversation with my husband years ago where I made the comment, “I am so in love with people.” He laughed and replied, “How ironic since you used to hate people!” He was so right. Even when I began to really walk with God, I still had disdain for the human race, namely Christians who thought themselves better than everyone else.
For example, at the time of that conversation, I had been in prison ministry quite some time; I loved those women and was very patient with them. Then I had the opportunity to teach in a Sunday school class. The people who had been Christians a long time didn’t seem to want to grow. I, to my surprise, became very impatient with them. In my heart, I wanted them to be set free from the baggage of life, but I displayed impatience and a ‘holier than thou’ attitude.
Holy Spirit revealed to me that, though I had come a long way in love, I still had prejudice (hatred) of which I needed to shed myself. And so I did. Because of love, when sin is revealed to me, I immediately deal with the issue. I don’t ever want to be like Satan; I want to be like Christ. That may sound extreme but, when we get down to the brass tacks, this is what is ‘of God’ and what is ‘of Satan.’ With that insight, life is simplified and it becomes much easier to rid self of the things not of God. By “things,” I am referring to attitudes of the heart as well as physical items which distract from a Kingdom mindset.
The more I mature in Christ, and it is an endless process, the more I see humans as does Christ. I see them as someone who has been hurt and damaged somewhere, someway, by someone or something. By seeing them through God’s eye (single vision), I now find it difficult to criticize or ignore them. Where there was a time when my flesh would thoroughly enjoy criticizing someone in my mind, now I can’t even begin to do it. Even with fellow Christians who reject this way of thinking, I still love them. Because of the love of Christ, I find it strangely simple to disagree with my fellow brethren and still be unified. That’s what all of this is about: learning to be unified despite our differences. The love of God exclusively can accomplish this otherwise daunting task.
It should go without needing to be said, but we do not unify with those of the world; rather we are still to love them. I cannot stress enough that it is the love factor which will change a heart, not how many Scriptures we quote or by walking away from them in condemnation. Shaming someone does not draw them to Christ; it merely pushes them further and further into darkness.
My mom has a friend who read my first book, What was God Thinking: Why Adam had to Die. The woman, a professing Christian, told my mom that she so disagreed with my thinking that, if she knew me, she would stop speaking to me. Oddly, this same woman’s life is in shambles. It’s devastating to the body of Christ as well as the lost how the most staunch, religious people seem to have the most problems absent of resolve or peace. Again, it was the devoutly religious that hung Jesus to the cross. Be wary of the religious; they generally do not have an ear or heart for truth.
Chapter 17: Falling in Love with the Human Race
So, those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity (Colossians 3:12-14).
Whatever we as Christ-followers do, whether good or bad, we represent Christ; unfortunately we do not always present God in our actions. When we do not conduct ourselves in love, we are conveying to people that God is unloving. When we operate with impatience, we are saying God is not patient. We need to become very aware of how we come across to others so that we do not give Christ a bad name. Perception is reality and it is, indeed, God’s name on the line, not our own.
I was speaking the other day to a dear friend who is not a Christian. He commented to me that he has been tossed aside by many “Christians” when they felt like he was a waste of their time; meaning, when he did not convert to Christianity, they walked away from him. That is one of the saddest things I have ever heard, yet I hear and see it all the time. In my past, I too have been guilty of this as well. It is unfortunate that Christians, unknowingly, push people away from Christ. That is not their intention, I’m certain, but it happens all the same.
We need to begin to fall in love with the human race just as Christ Himself is in love with us. Once we begin this process, ministry and witnessing will come with much greater ease. We will realize that the work of getting people to come to Christ is not our burden, it is God’s. Only God can change a heart; it is His completed work extended through His people.
Our part, contrarily, is to walk in a genuine love for people no matter from whence they come or their external appearance; no matter if they come into the Kingdom of Christ or not. Our job, as it were, is to walk in supernatural love. It is love which will woo them to Christ, not browbeating them and condemning them for not believing when and how we think they should. We never know when the moment will come where someone will admit that Jesus is real, valid and vital. Who are we to say, “You’re taking too long. I’m done with you”? In fact, if we are in tune with Holy Spirit as we ought, God will instruct us as to when and if we are to part ways with someone.
We Christians seem to be on a mission to convert people instead of on a mission to love people. Love will usher conversion, not our attempts to persuade them by force. I recognize most mainstream Christians have not been taught how to love with the supernatural love of Christ. Love is certainly a choice and it is something that must be taught through the discipline, instruction of and surrender to Holy Spirit. Children love naturally and automatically, they do not need to be taught. Nevertheless, as children begin to grow, love does not come so readily.
We become a people wounded and bruised by the world in which we live. Because of this, even though we become a born-again believer, we must learn how love looks through the perspective of God instead of the eyes of the world. The world’s love is conditional and superficial; it’s the kind we see in movies and hear in songs. It comes and goes like the wind. The world’s love is fluid, God’s is concrete.
I John 2:6 (NAS) states, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” That is a powerful statement! Jesus walked in love whether He was correcting, healing, encouraging, serving, teaching or being crucified for sins He did not commit. Jesus walked in supernatural love from Heaven. As mentioned earlier, even Jesus’ correction was filled with love, for He purposed to help someone come out of sin, not to make them feel guilty and condemned.
God’s supreme supernatural love is forever, enduring, unconditional, steadfast – it never changes. “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us: but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us,” 1 John 2:18-19 tells us. Without Philadelphia, brotherly love, we have nothing and are nothing in God’s sight. We will all be known by our love.
Question #3: Financially, having a chronically ill child is a burden and, when I have so many appointments and need to be with my child, I leave my job to care for a child. How do I deal with feeling like I am not contributing to the financial need as I struggle?
This is a tough one for anyone dealing with the financial burden of a chronically ill child. Personally, we would have gone bankrupt many times over had it not been for the grace of God moving through family and friends. Not only was Sophia ill ten years, I too had to deal with my own physical illnesses centering around autoimmune disease, which of course compounded the financial dilemma. Even when I wanted to work (and I love working!), it was out of the question. For one thing, I could not leave Sophia, and the second thing, I could not have done the work even if I had someone to care for her needs and get her to and from doctors’ appointments. It is a huge strain feeling as though you have nothing to contribute.
My solace and resolve with the matter came when I finally released the burden to the Lord. It sounds like a trite thing to say as though “Oh, just give it to God” is an easy thing to do. It is, in fact, not. It isn’t a matter of faith, or at least it wasn’t for me. Rather, it was feeling like I was utterly useless in the arena of contributing to the welfare of the family. Michael was left working ridiculous hours in the attempt to make ends meet. I would be embarrassed that family and friends, of necessity, would have to pitch in to help financially. That alone was disturbing to me, not that we had to accept charity as I’m all for charity, but that we had to receive so much of it. Once I looked at things differently, I was at peace.
I had to stop looking at things as, “Poor Michael, he’s so put upon with the burden of a sickly child and wife who cannot contribute.” I began to see through the single vision of God. I allowed Him to help me get over myself and recognize His grace and mercy through it all. Michael didn’t feel the way I did, so why should I? I could finally see that Michael was appreciative that I would give my time to properly nurture our daughter, to forfeit making more money for the purpose of meeting our child’s needs. When people would give to us, it wasn’t because they felt obligated, but because they love us so much that they willingly gave of their own so that we would not do without. This is biblical! I had to completely alter my fleshly way of seeing so as to become awakened to a heavenly perspective. God’s hand has been upon us since the beginning. I had to learn to value my role in taking care of our family. Michael was fine with dealing with the financial end while I stayed home taking care of everything else.
A mother, or in some cases, a father, grandparent, or other caregiver, must allow themselves to see their own worth and value their contribution to the family unit instead of feeling “less than” simply because they do not directly contribute financially. It’s all about our vision. It’s all about perspective and perception. Just because we see it one way does not make us accurate in our limited assessment. We must get over ourselves, get over feeling sorry for ourselves as though we don’t matter or that we are not as valuable to the family as the financial contributor. It’s actually very self-centered, prideful in fact, to feel sorry for ourselves and feel less than worthy. If we are doing what we need for our child, we are doing our part. In fact, we are freeing the non-primary-caregiver to go and make money so that they are not burdened with what we do.
Hebrews 13:3-6 reads, “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them. And those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body…make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” Look at it this way in accordance to Hebrews 13: your child is, in a sense, the prisoner in his or her own body. They are ill-treated by their illness. In this, we must be free from the love of money so that we can join them in their imprisonment so as to aid them. It is more important to help than to make money. “Do not be afraid,” is our direct instruction, because the Lord has not abandoned us. Our rest and our peace is in the hand of the Lord.
Chapter 15: Stop Challenging One Another
When, oh when, will God’s body understand the power of unity? With all the verses (listed below) on unity and the many others that accompany, why are those who are called by Christ’s name still in constant discord? We are called to unity, to the same mind of Christ, the same judgment of Christ, and the same operating procedures of Jesus and His holy Kingdom. There is power in unity and we sit back bewildered that we have no power – it’s baffling we haven’t figured out the problem which is in plain sight. And, for those who’ve discovered the problem, why haven’t they taken steps of correction?
God’s dictum is for mankind to abide His instruction so as to save us and glorify His name. We must stop the quarreling, which will insist we stop being offended around every turn and bend of life. Scriptures definitely speak for themselves. What more can I add to convey the message of unity?
The Power of Unity:
They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them (Genesis 11:4-6).
With unity, anything is possible, anything. The Trinity said that nothing was impossible for the people who positioned themselves in unity against Him. The Tower of Babel was for the purpose to overthrowing God to make their names exalted above God’s. Why else would They (Trinity) have responded as They did by dividing the peoples’ ability to communicate via speech? It’s because, when in unity, they could accomplish anything. The quarreling, fighting, bickering, and all-out war among the brethren has to come to an abrupt end so as to dismantle the grip of Satan within us.
I earlier quoted, “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” Why does the professing body of Christ quote this, yet misuse the very nature in which it was written? I have seen bodies of believers use it against other denominations and even against similar denominations which are deemed to be a threat against them. People abuse this word so as to annihilate their brethren and people outside their communal circle.
The body of Christ needs to come off her high horse, so to speak, humble themselves, and pray repenting of their discord and division. We need to cry out to our holy God so as to realign our frivolous, divisive ways. Let us unify. A great more can be accomplished if only we’d unify. There is power in unity whether among believers or non-believers. Non-believers actually understand this fact far more than those in Christ, no fault of Jesus who has given us every leeway to unite.
“Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:26, NAS).”
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will (II Timothy 2:24-26).
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3).
“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren…that there are quarrels among you (I Corinthians 1:10-11).”
“For you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men (I Corinthians 3:3)?”
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source of your pleasures that wage war in your members (James 4:1)?”
Chapter 14: Give Unrelentingly
I could write an entire book on giving but, for sake of time, I’ll attempt to give a brief overview on how the Lord calls us to give. I’ve added a list of texts at the end of the chapter. “Giving” is not what we see in churches across denominations where we robotically take our 10% or whatever amount and place it in the offering plate Sunday after Sunday. If we are called of God to do that, fine, but giving as Christ calls His people is far beyond that. I hear all the time, “I saw a beggar and I didn’t give him anything because…”
- They should get a job
- They’ll use the money for booze or drugs
- I have my money set aside to give to my local church
- I don’t want to
- I hate beggars
- They’re lazy
- They’re undeserving
- They won’t pay it back
- They’ll rob me
- I prayed for them already
- They’re ungrateful
- I don’t like them
- They smell badly
- They look scary
There are many other reasons, but these seem to be the most frequently used. Luke 6:30 begins with the words, “Give to everyone who asks you…” That alone debunks all excuses pertaining to not giving. It further states, “If they steal from you, give more.” That dethrones the remaining excuses used to not give. If we want to go further, read James 2 where we see praying, alone, is insufficient. Faith has legs and hands and feet and money. Faith in Christ will cause us to give, not just prayer, but physically meeting the needs of others.
If we’re still wondering when, how much, and to whom we should give, I John 3:17 clarifies with, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” If we have the means and someone is in need, give. It’s that simple. In the early church, those who had plenty sold their goods so that no one was without. Selfishness was not an option. When they sold their possessions so as to give, it didn’t leave them penniless, it merely allowed everyone to have and no one was in need.
Why aren’t God’s people giving in such a fashion? It’s because we’ve become calloused, greedy, and hard-hearted. It is time to thaw our frozen, stingy hearts and begin to love one another with prayer, time, energy, and money.
“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him (I John 3:17, NAS)?”
“If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that (James 2:15-16, NAS)?”
“Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back…Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you give, it will be measured back to you (Luke 6:30, 38, NIV).”
Additional texts: Deuteronomy 15:10, 16:17; Proverbs 21:26, 3:27, 11:24-25, 22:9, 28:27; I Chronicles 29:9; Matthew 6:3-4; Mark 12:41-44; Luke 3:11, 6:30, 38; II Corinthians 9:6-10; John 3:16; Acts 20:35; Romans 12:8
Chapter 12: Unselfish Release
Many Scriptures reveal unselfish release for the greater good of God’s Kingdom. Brotherly love, or any authentic godly love for that matter, is always unselfish. It is giving and kind, generous, wanting the best for those whom we love. In the Scriptures below, we read where such selfless love is granted. They released those they loved and needed the most so as to help others in their spiritual or physical crisis.
Brotherly love will allow us to give up the ones we love so that they are free to do the will of God even when that means never seeing them again. In biblical days, there was no modern technology as we know it, e.g. cell phones, email, Facebook, Twitter, or any other form of quick communication. When they released someone to another group of people far away who needed them more, they would hear nothing from them for extended periods of time. Notwithstanding, they allowed them and even encouraged them to go, even though it was often at personal sacrifice. This is the way God loves. This is the way we all should love.
I Corinthians 13:4-7 reads, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Although nearly everyone claiming to be a Christian knows this text by heart, they have not taken it into their hearts.
God’s love will not allow one to be self-seeking, arrogant, untoward, unrighteous, false, faithless, hopeless, or to abandon someone in their time of crisis. As much as we say, “I love you,” unless our actions are aligned with I Corinthians 13, we do not love. It’s like saying, “I love God,” yet will not love their fellow man. We cannot love God and hate our brother, our neighbor, stranger, or foe. We cannot love our brother and selfishly use them or keep them from their God-calling because we want them all to ourselves. Selfishness and selflessness cannot simultaneously abide in an entity.
“But concerning Apollos our brother, I encouraged him greatly to come to you with the brethren; and it was not at all his desire to come now, but he will come when he has opportunity (I Corinthians 16:12, NAS).”
“We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches (II Corinthians 8:18, NAS).”
“We have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things, but now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you (II Corinthians 8:22, NAS).”
Chapter 11: Devotion, Consideration, and Honor
Devotion, consideration, and honor are greatly lacking among us, the body of Christ. We are not called simply to love, but to devote ourselves to loving one another continuously. This is the difference between limited human love and limitless eternal love. To “give preference to one another” isn’t favoritism as in preferring one person over another, but to favor everyone so as to honor one another. We must think more of others than we do ourselves. Selfishness is a characteristic of the father of lies.
I love the Scriptures above in both Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8. Both lead us to understand that, even though something in particular is not a sin to us, if someone perceives it as a sin, we must refrain from partaking so as not to cause them to stumble. This is putting others above ourselves; their needs above our own. It’s a matter of being so attuned to the needs of others that we quickly give up something so as to not cause them to falter.
I hear time, and time, and time again, “God knows my heart. He knows I’m not sinning,” in reference to living with their boyfriend or girlfriend. They state, “We’re Christians and we’re abstaining from sex before marriage so it doesn’t matter what someone else thinks.” My response: “Oh, but indeed it does.”
What we do matters. It matters to God, it matters to onlookers, and it must matter to us. We are to do nothing selfishly such as, “I don’t care what so and so thinks.” If we as followers of Christ do something knowing it could cause someone to fall spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially, we are in sin. Living with a person we are dating, though not engaging in sex, still has the appearance of evil (I Thessalonians 5:22); in this, it becomes evil. Instead of justifying whatever we’re doing that is wrong, we need to ask ourselves how our actions will affect others for the positive or negative. We must be so devoted to one another that we think of the effects on people prior to taking a step. This is brotherly love, consideration and devotion. This is honoring others and it pleases the Lord.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor (Romans 12:10, NAS).”
“Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves (Philippians 2:3, NAS).”
“It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles (Romans 14:21, NAS).”
“Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble (I Corinthians 8:13, NAS).”
Chapter 10: As Unto Yahweh
There are countless good deeds done within the world whether by those in Christ or out. Hollywood is known for splashing about their good deeds helping the needy as much as the church, if not more so. The problem lies not in the giving, but in the heart of their giving. We can’t expect the world to give as unto God but, within the body, we should always expect such giving. Giving should be effortless when it is coming from the direction of Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, and I’ve written this numerous times, the majority of people with good intentions give for all the wrong reasons:
- begrudgingly out of duty
- because it makes self or others feel good
- it’s expected
- social advancement
- religious advancement
- relational advancement
These are just a few, but do we recognize what’s missing? The “as unto the Lord” element is missing, the most vital of reasons to do good toward others. The body of Christ is never to do anything as “unto anyone” but always as “unto God.” Of course, when God is leading, it may cause us or the recipient feelings of personal satisfaction, but that should not be the driving force. Here’s the problem: when we do something kind as unto a person and they don’t respond as well as we’d like or expect, we get mad and/or sad. When our actions are based on emotion or selfish reasons, it will produce an emotional response, good or bad, depending on the outcome.
Nothing we do for the Kingdom of God should be based on emotions but on obedience to the One who gave us life out of death. When we do, we place no expectation on the recipient but on God who returns good for good. For instance, I know a fellow who is a recovering addict. I allowed him to come into my home so as to lay tile and some other odd jobs. As it so happened, he was on drugs while working in my home and he made an enormous mess of most projects. Before I could confront him, he was arrested.
While incarcerated at our local jail, I reached out to him. I helped him with various needs upon the prompting of Holy Spirit. He promised that, once he was released from rehab, he would within two weeks come repair my floor he incorrectly laid. Upon his release, he called begging me to pick him up at the bus station because he had no one else; I obliged. Weeks rolled by and I heard nothing. A friend said, “After all you did for him, that’s what you get?” I replied, “What I did for him, I did as unto God; therefore, he owes me nothing. All I expect of him is to fix that for which I paid him.” When I did “extra” for him, I did it as unto God, not in expectation of him doing something in return. This kept the anger and resentment at bay, though I felt the initial pangs of it. This is how one can effectively accomplish God’s command to “be angry but sin not.”
He never fixed my floor. In fact, he hasn’t spoken a word to me, yet I choose to forgive him. That’s how the Kingdom of God works and I must function under the umbrella of the Kingdom Constitution, which are the Bible and the Spirit thereof.
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; (Colossians 3:23, KJV).”
“With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, (Ephesians 6:7, NAS).”
“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism (James 2:1, NAS).”
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me (Matthew 25:40, NAS).’”
Chapter 9: Strangers and Prisoners
“If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same (Matthew 5:47, NAS)?”
“Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body…(Hebrews 13:1-3).”
Do you remember the question, “who is my neighbor?” Well, here it is again. Not only are we cautioned to love our brothers (which can often feel virtually impossible), but here we are encouraged to do the same with those outside our brethren. Are we who are extending love to those within the body only doing so at the least possible level, or are we pushing ourselves to go beyond our borders and love those without? We never know to whom we are showing kindness or hostility; we don’t know who may be an angel among us.
And more than that, what if they’re not an angel? What if they’re just some random person who needs kindness, a comforting word, or God’s love expressed to them? We are not to choose whether or not we love our brothers or love our neighbors or strangers or prisoners; we are to love all people at all times, even when admonishing someone.
I love the line in Hebrews 13: “…since you yourselves also are in the body.” Prisoners are a passion of mine because I recognize the undisputed fact I too could be behind physical bars if I had remained married to my first ex-husband. Someone was going to get hurt somewhere along the line! I could have been pushed to do something untoward given the demonic nature in which he operated. Any number of things and circumstances could have led me down the wrong path and caused me to do something prison-worthy. No one knows of what we are capable until a situation arises.
Furthermore, there are people not behind physical bars but behind internal bars, chains, and other barriers. “Remember the prisoners as though in prison with them” states Hebrews 13. We are in the body therefore we could do something stupid at any moment should the flesh get the better of us. In this, we must all be compassionate toward those who most folks deem unsavory. We would be wise to remember how our flesh acted prior to surrendering to Christ. I am painfully aware I must surrender the nature of my flesh daily. Just because I live in a fleshly shell doesn’t mean I need to be driven by it, though it genuinely wants to take the wheel of my life.
Those who are externally or internally imprisoned are so because, somewhere along the line, the flesh got the better of them. Neither you nor I are exempt. Have compassion. Have mercy. Lend prayer. We never know what stranger or prisoner may be an angel in disguise, but don’t be motivated to kindness because of that as if to think, “I don’t want to mess with an angel!” Perceive everyone as someone in need of the same love Christ extended to us in our time of need.