James said that the tongue is “a world of iniquity” (James 3:6). Indeed, there are numerous sins that can be committed by or aided with the misuse of the tongue. When one thinks of the sins that are committed with the tongue, he often thinks of things such as lying, speaking blasphemies, using profanity, and gossip. However, we rarely consider complaining to be a sin.
Americans are granted the freedom of speech, and many of us exercise this right with pride and passion. We think very little of voicing a criticism or complaint about another’s driving on the highway or service at a restaurant. We see it as our civic duty to complain about our elected officials. We feel that the price we paid for admission to a sporting event gives us the right to let the players, coaches, and umpires know if they are doing a lousy job. We even have careers that are based upon the practice of criticism (restaurant critic, movie critic, etc.). Our society abounds with criticism. For this reason, some Christians have a difficult time viewing complaining and criticizing as a sin.
Continue reading » The Sin of Complaining
Paul tells us that Jesus “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8, emphasis mine, HR). We understand that Jesus came to this world to die for our sins because no one else could accomplish this task. He was our only hope. However, someone might ask, “Why did Jesus have to die on a cross?”
Death by crucifixion was the most painful manner in which a person could be put to death. Suspended from the ground, the weight of the victim’s entire body pulled against metal spikes which were driven through the hands (wrists) and the feet. The victim would writhe in pain as he slowly died of asphyxiation. Continue reading » Why the Cross?
In 1 John 4, the apostle instructed his readers to “test the spirits, whether they are of God.” This testing was necessary because, “many false prophets have gone out into the world.” One of the false doctrines that was deceiving brethren at that time was the claim that Jesus had not really come in the flesh. John said that the denial of Jesus’ humanity was “the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (vs. 3).
In writing to his brethren, John said, “You are of God” (vs. 4), and “We are of God” (vs. 6). These statements were in contrast to those who “are of the world.” They “speak as of the world, and the world hears them” (vs. 5). In contrast, John commended his readers as those who know God and who would as a result heed John’s writings, “He who knows God hears us” (vs. 6). This willingness to heed John’s writings was evidence that his readers, (in contrast to the worldly), possessed the “spirit of truth” (vs. 6).
It is in this context that John instructed his readers on the importance of love. As did the acceptance of Jesus’ humanity, the presence of love set the true believer apart from the world. “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (vs. 8).
Continue reading » Editorial: Love (Motivation, Obligation & Reciprocation)
1 Kings 18 records a conversation between the great prophet Elijah, and Obadiah, the steward over the house of King Ahab. Despite his close association with the evil king, scripture describes Obadiah as a man who “feared the Lord greatly” (18:3).
Elijah gave Obadiah instructions to set up a meeting between him and the king. The two were mortal enemies, and Ahab had been searching for him ever since Elijah had instigated a drought in the land in response to Ahab’s evil practices. As Obadiah told him, “As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you; and when they said, ‘He is not here,”’ he took an oath from the kingdom or nation that they could not find you” (18:10). Elijah was now ready to reveal himself to the king, and recruited Obadiah to set up the meeting.
A number of lessons can be learned by becoming familiar with these two men, and examining the conversation they had on that eventful day.
Continue reading » Lessons to Learn from Elijah and Obadiah
If you were to describe the purpose of the bible in one word, what might that be? To one who has read the least bit of scripture, the answer is plain. It is love. God made it possible for us to know His will through the scriptures because He loves us. He wants us to know about Him and what He expects of us to be pleasing to Him. The greatest sacrifice ever made was when Jesus came and died by hanging on a tree, that He might be the “ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). God sent His Son and Jesus gave His life willingly because He loved us.
While He was teaching here on this earth, He taught His disciples about love. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). The words that Jesus spoke here are more than just words. They are a commandment that requires dedication, courage, and most of all, action! The grammatical structure of the word “love” here is an active verb. This means that is requires performing action to fulfill the suggested command. We cannot only love in word, and have it be pleasing to Christ. (1 John 3:18)
Continue reading » Christian Love
The third and final item in the list of three things that “abide”, given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:13, is love. “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” You may note that Paul additionally asserts that the “greatest” is love.
The context of Paul’s statement is a chapter where love is defined through personification. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Continue reading » Love
Southern Baptists, at their 1998 convention in Salt Lake City, adopted an addition to their statement of faith, which states:
“…A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect and to lead his family. A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.”
Those who are familiar with the fifth chapter of Ephesians recognize this statement as a simple paraphrase of the Apostle’s words. Paul wrote, “Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (vs. 24-25). What is amazing is the response of many to the adoption of the phrase. It indicates how distorted a view our world has to the concept of submission, and to the marriage relationship as designed by God. Note the following:
Continue reading » Love and Submission: Ephesians 5
Foot-washing: Pro or con?
I for one am all for foot washing, daily, vigorous and lathery. Yet we know that some practice foot-washing as a religious ritual in this age and we are made to wonder what the New Testament requires. In the dusty first century, foot-washing was a matter of hospitality and hygiene, but today, when practiced religiously, it has naught to do with either. What was Jesus trying to teach when he washed his apostles’ feet?
The major text on foot washing, of course, is found in John 13:1-20. In this intimate gathering of Jesus and his closest friends, we see the Lord just hours prior to his arrest and execution. It is a time of bittersweet reflection, anxious anticipation and painful resignation. Never doubting his deity or earthly fate, Jesus finishes the preparation of the apostles for the momentous event to come.
Continue reading » Walking Worthy: Foot Washing
Love is a many faceted thing. The Greeks used specific words to communicate the various aspects of “love”. The Greek word eros conveyed merely sexual or “erotic love”. The word storge was limited to the “natural affection” in “family love”. Phileo focused one upon the intimate, warm, and tender relationship in “friendly love”. We see such tenderness in the love the Father has for the Son in showing Him all things that He does (John 5:20). This is also the tender love the younger women were taught to manifest towards their husbands and children (Titus 2:4). Then, there is agape, listed as one facet of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. This is the “love” we manifest by actively seeking the well being of others.
While eros and storge never occur in the New Testament, agape hardly ever occurs in secular Greek. William Barclay quotes Richard C. Trench as saying it was “born within the bosom of revealed religion”(Flesh and Spirit, page 64). The verb and noun forms of this Greek word are found more than 250 times in the New Testament. While phileo does occur in the New Testament, and was the highest form of love among the ancient Greeks, it cannot sufficiently describe the love God demands of those who follow the teachings of the Spirit. The glowing feeling of love (phileo) one has by his or her attachment to a friend is not the feeling one has in interacting with a persecuting enemy. But God demands that we love (agapao) our enemies (Matthew 5:44). This love transcends what we are naturally “attracted to” or what we emotionally “fall into”. This is love we determine to manifest because of our attachment to God and the Spirit’s revelation. Continue reading » Fruit of the Spirit: Love
Searching the Scriptures, Vol. VIII, No. 7, July 1967
(The following article is a reprint from Searching The Scriptures, May, 1962 in explaining the scriptural view of love as it applies to those in error.)
Denominational views are generally known by the subjects that are discussed in pulpits and papers, and the subject of love occupies a top place in nearly all religious groups. I would like to search the scriptures with you on the Bible meaning of love in an efforts to see if this subject is any more accurately represented by denominational teachers than many other subjects with which they deal.
Love is one of the key words in the word of God. The fact that God loves man is again and again stressed by every inspired man who was used by the Spirit to reveal the will of God. 1 John 4:7-21 is an example of the importance placed upon love by the word of God. Several facts are given in these verses which show that love is indispensable to fellowship with God. John says that “God is love” and that “love is of God.” Since God loves us, we are instructed to “love one another”. “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” This is the theme of John in this section of his epistle, and he concludes the chapter by saying: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:20,21). Continue reading » Voices from the Past: The Real Meaning of Love (H.E. Phillips)
The beginning point of the gospel for many people is the famous statement which Jesus made to Nicodemus, a Bible student who came to him by night lest his colleagues discover his interest in the Christ. Jesus said to him, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The love of God then is the genesis of the scheme of salvation and his intentions toward men. The reciprocal love of men for God is also the foundation of our discipleship, our service to our Maker and to all his creation, especially those of a like, precious faith, our brotherhood (1 Peter 2:17, 2 Peter 1:1). But the devil has succeeded in clouding the world’s understanding of love, diminishing the Bible definition. Since the world at large has submitted to the deadly disease, the devil has at last turned his full attention upon the church of Jesus Christ. How shall the disciples of Christ define and practice love?
We are regularly told that law and love are antithetical, but when we allow our Bibles to comment, we learn differently. Paul said, “I delight in the law of God according to the inward man” (Romans 7:22). In the same book, he said that “love is the fulfillment of the law” (13:10). True love can only be known and expressed within a genuine comprehension of reverence for God’s law. Continue reading » Solid Food: Love
There is a beautiful and rich word in the Hebrew language that powerfully describes the faithful mercy and steadfast lovingkindness of our Lord. This meaning filled Hebrew word is transliterated into English as hesed.
Why Study About Hesed?
There are several compelling reasons to engage in a study of the word hesed:
- To be wise. The Scriptures proclaim that if we desire to be truly wise, we will understand what hesed is. “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness (hesed) of the Lord” (Psa. 107:43, take note that hesed will be in parentheses immediately following its English translation throughout the rest of this article, kdm).
- To be obedient. The Bible also explains that if we are to be truly obedient to God, then we will love hesed. “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy (hesed), and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6:8). The Lord commands us to “observe mercy (hesed)” (Hos. 12:6).
- To learn from the O.T. We frequently, and rightfully so, preach about the use and abuse of God’s grace from the New Testament perspective. However, there is a tremendous wealth of often overlooked information about the loving favor of our Lord from an Old Testament standpoint (Rom. 15:4). A study of the Hebrew word hesed will firmly reinforce many substantial truths about God’s gracious relationship with man.
- To refute error. Some affirm that the God of the New Testament is different than the God of the Old Testament. They claim that the God of the New Testament is a God of grace while implying that the God of the Old Testament was not. Others also teach that God’s grace provides an unconditional umbrella of safety that overlooks ongoing sins of immorality and doctrinal error. This study of hesed will prove such teaching to be false (Jer. 16:5, 10-13).
- To know God. Most importantly, the more we understand hesed, the more fervently we will endeavor to remain under Jehovah’s strong wings of protection and love. “How precious is your lovingkindness (hesed), O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings . . . Oh, continue Your lovingkindness (hesed) to those who know You” (Psa. 36:7-10). Continue reading » Solid Food: HESED – God’s Faithful Lovingkindness
1. Text (Matthew 22:34-40) shows great value Lord put on love.
- A. Why the greatest?
- 1) Can go no higher in attitude toward God—full consecration! Cf. Mk. 12:30.
- 2) Can do no more for fellow-man than to love as self- Cf. Matt. 7:12.
- B. Love certainly not less important under gospel dispensation: