The Respect of Love

March 29th, 2017

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2 ESV)

Paul was not speaking of the elder of the church but older people in the church. He went on to speak about younger men, as well as older women and younger women, so it is clear from the context he speaking about generational differences, not leadership.

One of the realities of the church is the multi-generational spread of its members. Most of the time we are with people our own age, but church, like family, involves all ages, and this reality is a significant factor in understanding and serving within a church. The principle he taught is respect for one another born out of love. The ones older than us we should treat like our parents, or perhaps our older brother and sister. The ones younger, like our younger brothers and sisters, or perhaps even like our children if we are old enough.

Why do we respect each other in the Christian family? Why do we care for one another? Several reasons can be given. First, because we have all been purchased by the blood of Christ. Each one of us is precious in that sense. Each one of us is redeemed through His death on the cross and as such are of inestimable worth and value.

How do we love Christ? How do we love anyone? By loving and respecting those things that they love.

If we came into someone’s house and saw precious and expensive items there, we would be careful not to bump into them, to knock them off their shelves, or to break them. We would recognize that this was something very important to the owner, bought at a high price. Surely we should think the same way about one another in the church. Each Christian has been purchased by the same blood, and is enveloped by the same eternal love. Each is of inestimable value. Regardless of how much we might like or dislike one another (based on our flesh, of course), we should love and value one another based on the love of Christ and the payment of His life for each soul.

Second, we should love and respect one another because we also desire love and respect from them. If we disrespect them they will return it in kind. Christ said, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:2 ESV). If we respect them, they will also respect us.

If you think about it, not only are we to love everyone else in the family of God, but they are to love us as well. They are commanded as much as we are commanded. So it would be our obligation to make our selves more lovable, easier to deal with, more gracious, more approachable, more endearing. We should do this not in an insincere or manipulative way, not for our sake alone, but in the spirit of unity and for the sake of the transformation of life. We should be as nice as the Holy Spirit seeks to make us to be.

Third, we should respect one another because this enables us to work together more effectively. When there is division and hurt feelings in the church it is difficult to bring people together. So, we must be considerate to one another for the sake of God’s mission.

Finally, we should respect one another because the church is meant to be a family and not merely an organization. Every family has more than a mere functional connection. Family means relationships, fellowship, love, compassion, sharing together of life’s great and sometimes difficult moments. The church of Jesus Christ is like this - a family that does not merely function but one that loves in the name and by the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Do you have a problem with someone at the church? Ask God to give you the grace to see them through His eyes. Develop His love and compassion for them. Let Him take the burden of dislike off of your heart. Love them as a precious soul that Christ died to save. Treat them with respect and consideration. And you will find that they will treat you with the same respect.

There certainly is a time and a place for discipline when someone persists in sinning, unrepentant of his or her actions. (See Matt. 18:15-20 and 1 Tim. 5:20.) But that is a discussion for another time. Our first obligation when a brother or sister fails is to pray, and then to seek in gentleness and love to win them back to Christ by love (Gal. 6:1-2).

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Spiritual Beings

March 28th, 2017

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 NIV)

Teilhard de Chardin said of the Christian life, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.” He correctly described our true condition in Christ.

It is a common but incorrect view of the Christian life that we are placed in slippery positions, attempting tenaciously to hold on to our salvation, all the while knowing our unworthiness, fearing that we might lose our grip at any time. This is the idea that we are really mere earthlings but we hope for something better, something eternal and spiritual.

This idea creates many doubts, increases our insecurity, diminishes our assurance, and contributes to inconsistency and unsteadiness in our Christian walk. We do not please God when we live like this because we are not living in faith that is based on His promises. We are not believing that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6). We often despair and succumb to temptation feeling that all we will really ever truly have is of this earth, so we indulge our senses and ambitions.

The other idea is biblical. We are not merely on a journey to heaven, rather we are already its citizens (Phil. 3:20), and our life is now “hidden with Christ in God.” We have already “crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24). We are the children of God (John 1:12), born again into His image (Eph. 4:24). We are not dying on this earth in order to enter into a kingdom that is foreign and strange, rather we are entering our home, where already a place is prepared for us (John 14:1-4).

When this is our constant thought, when we understand our spiritual condition from the perspective of eternity, we act in accordance with its values and ethics. We love the Lord because He has first loved us. We live each day in the anticipation of eternity.”Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16 NIV).

The you of eternity already exists. When you trusted Christ as your Savior, you became a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10 NIV). Live in this reality - it is new and eternal, fresh every day - and you will live in hope, in victory, and in peace.

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