Posts Tagged ‘morality’

Our Deeds Find Us Out

March 31st, 2017

The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever. (1 Timothy 5:24-25 NIV)

Two principles in the realm of actions and morality are: (1) our thoughts will determine our actions and (2) our actions will eventually be revealed.

The influence of our thoughts: We are drawn away by our lusts and enticed to sin (James 1:14). We who have trusted in Christ for our salvation, and possess both the new nature and the presence of the Spirit in our lives, have the potential to be drawn toward the things of God and toward sacrificial service for Christ (2 Tim. 1:7). Our lives consist to a large degree of what our thoughts will make them. The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace:

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom. 8:5-6 NIV)

If we will set our hearts on Christ, our affections on Him, and if we will live in faith and commune with His Spirit daily, we will find an increasing appetite for the things of God exists and even grows in our hearts. This anonymous little poem says it well:

Two natures beat within my breast
The one is foul, the one is blessed
The one I love, the one I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.

So it begins on the inside of us. An impatient man is first impatient in his inner thoughts, and a patient man is first patient in his inner thoughts. Whether or not our thoughts are placed upon the grace and mercy of God, whether or not we dwell in our minds daily in the assurance of His acceptance of us through Christ, of His love for us, of His call upon our lives, and of His promises to us will determine what we do with our lives.

The revealing of our actions: Eventually, either here on earth or before the Judgment Seat of Christ in heaven (2 Cor. 5:10), our actions will be revealed for what they are – the thoughts and intents of our hearts. All of us live with some degree of pretense, hiding from others the lusts and pride of our hearts. We may take care of these things that are hidden from others by confessing them to God and receiving His cleansing (1 John 1:9).

But eventually, who we really are on the inside is revealed through our actions – our weaknesses, our lack of faith, our anger and fear, the impure things of our life – or the good and righteous work of the Spirit assuring us of God’s love, which will be acted out in graciousness and righteousness.

Our fears can take a verse like this above and produce a sense of dread to stand before Christ and have our lives examined. But God does not give us “a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). And when we stand to be judged by Him, we are before our Savior and our Redeemer who loves us with an eternal love – love of eternity past that stretches out into eternity future. Though there should be a healthy respect for these matters and reverence toward God – the fear of the Lord – God did not give us this teaching to create in us an insecurity about Him. We can trust Him entirely.

Notice that the good is rewarded, and that is the major focus of this passage. Even a cup of cold water given in the name of Christ is not forgotten but is rewarded (Matt. 10:42). The old adage – “Be sure that your sin will find you out” – is only half of the truth. The reality is that our good works done in humility for the sake of Christ also find us out. This is reason for you to rejoice and relax in Christ, and enjoy your Christian life. God calls us to joy.

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Daily Moral Choices

December 5th, 2016

You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God; I am the LORD. You shall do not injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor … you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:14-18 NKJV)

God writes His law upon our hearts in this New Testament age, yet this does not mean that we need no written testimony to its nature. The Word of God is given to us for our edification and moral instruction, as it has in several passages taught us (Psalm 119:9; Romans 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:6; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; James 1:25; 1 Pet. 1:25). Christ taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and presented this as the second chief duty of mankind:

Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40 NET)

Christ was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, uniting the two thoughts to make then inseparable from one another. But the first predominates – love for God, summed up in the ideas of obedience, honor, respect, reverence, worship, and faith toward Him, is the first thing we must do, and upon that basis we then love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Because of God: Too often our sense of obligation toward our fellow man is based merely on the fear of getting caught doing otherwise or being rebuked and thought less of by others. God in this Leviticus passage above commands us to do right by our fellow human being out of reverence for God, not out of fear of what our neighbor will say.

He commands us to “not curse the deaf,” but the deaf cannot hear our curses, so the matter is first a concern in our relationship with God. Should I mutter under my breath angry and disrespectful thoughts towards those who cannot hear me, whether they be deaf or merely out of range? The answer is, “No.” Here is a point of conviction that we must all feel, for we have all railed against others in anger when they were not present.

This is so common among people that we read in Ecclesiastes:

Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you—for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others. (Eccl. 7:21-22)

And the blind cannot see who put the stumbling block in front of them. So we ought to be better than this – not just in public, but also in private and in our own hearts.

In our minds and hearts: Who have you cursed lately? Maybe you did not use so many bad words but you still cursed them, perhaps out of frustration, or because they had hurt you. Confess this to God and seek to be a better person, that while we may be aware of people’s limitations, we should consider them as the blind and the deaf. There is another danger here of thinking too highly of ourselves also. We should not presume to be better than others, but rather see ourselves soberly and clearly (Rom. 12:3).

Do not judge by appearances: Both undue pity toward the poor and unchecked envy or admiration toward the wealthy will pervert justice. Many other scriptures command us to be sensitive to the needs of the poor, in fact, the preceding passage of Leviticus says:

When you gather in the harvest of your land, you must not completely harvest the corner of your field, and you must not gather up the gleanings of your harvest. You must not pick your vineyard bare, and you must not gather up the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You must leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:9-10)

But we should not pervert justice in their favor. It is actually a wonderful example of how to help the poor, to give them the opportunity to earn with their own hands their means of life. In fact, we can imagine that a landowner in leaving a bit of his harvest for the poor would learn of some hardworking people, and it might very well lead to their future employment.

And we may admire the qualities of intelligence, diligence, and discipline that led to someone’s success in life, yet justice should still not be perverted in their favor. Fair should be fair for all. Neither the wealthy nor the poor should be deprived of justice, nor treated with injustice.

If we did pervert justice in either one’s favor we would put forth as a principle that money is more important than justice, but it is justice that leads to the greatest benefit for all, and that gives honor and glory to God through human acts. Let us all be happy in our condition and work hard to better ourselves and not envy or idolize those who seem to have more.

Reverence toward God leads to peaceful hearts and sound minds. The message we take from this passage is that it is our genuine private worship of God that will lead to us dealing with others fairly and equitably. There are several other ethical issues discussed in this passage, all of which we will find are expressions of our love toward our fellow man. Love God and then respect all others whom He has created.

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