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Home Responsibility

March 30th, 2017

Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God… Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:3-4,8, NIV)

The church’s obligation to care for the neglected widows was not greater than the family’s obligation. We have responsibility to our parents and our grandparents, to provide for them.

There are some people in this world – and so far as I can tell they exist in every nation on earth – who are always looking for a way to make others pay for what they should pay for. They are users, manipulators, stingy, and greedy. When there is something that they should pay they first try to find a way for someone else to pay for it. They look for a way out of every responsibility and obligation.

They may appear simply as being careful with money, but something else is going on in their hearts. Many people are careful with money while remaining honest and responsible. There is nothing morally wrong with driving a hard bargain, with seeking to get the most for your money. But there is something wrong in shirking responsibility, of being blatantly dishonest and selfish.

Our attitude toward all that we spend – whether it is money or energy or any commodity – should be marked by faith in God and obedience to His command.

Faith in God motivates us to give to the things of God. It is marked by gratitude and expectation of God’s future blessings. We work and we give and we spend in faith that all of this comes from God. In faith we do not need to live in fear or insecurity. We can trust God in all things. While not being foolishly optimistic, or blatantly irresponsible, we can live and share and enjoy life.

Obedience is also an expression of our faith, and it should be heart-felt and not done begrudgingly. We should be grateful for our parents, recognizing the sacrifices they made for us and repay them in kind. We should be happy to do so.

We should also give to the support of the Lord’s work, the church, in gratitude, “For the Lord loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Our fears should not dominate our thoughts, rather we should exercise faith in God in all circumstances.

Suppose the whole economy collapsed and every investment you made was lost. What would your faith be in? What or who would you turn to for help? First, the Christian would turn to God and pray, looking for His hand. Secondly, we would look to see what we could do with our own resources that remained – our abilities, opportunities, etc. Thirdly, we would look to our family and perhaps to our friends.

So if that terrible day would come, how would you rather face it? With a God who rewards faithfulness? With a heart that is confidence in its own ability? With family and friends with whom we have shared life’s blessings? Or do you think you would be better to face this all alone?

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. We will trust in Him and give Him the first fruit of our earnings. We will look for His provision and believe that He can enable us to work and support ourselves. We will be generous with family and friends and trust that, as the Scripture says, “A generous man will prosper, whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Prov. 11:25).

1 Timothy, Christian Giving , , , ,

Discipline of Sonship

July 15th, 2016

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves… (Hebrews 12:6)

The discipline of a child is an expression of love.

Many parents today have a distorted perspective of this, thinking that the only expression of love is tolerance and indulgence. In a bizarre twist of misrepresentation we have confused the issues of one’s personhood, or their humanity, and one’s function in society. Every human being is equal in terms of his humanity – young, old, educated, poor, wealthy, sick, healthy. Each human has the same human dignity, but this does not mean that each person is thereby in the same position of leadership and authority.

A parent has an obligation to protect and nurture his child, as well as to teach, instruct, and to discipline him. And some discipline is essential for a child, for each child must learn that his actions bring reactions and consequences. Each child must be taught to be responsible, to do right, to be kind and helpful to others. They must learn that evil actions bring unpleasant consequences.The parent who does not discipline his child does not love that child, for responsibility leads to happiness and success in life.

This is also true with God as our heavenly Father. He cares for us and looks out for our best – not only that we may be fruitful as Christians, but that we may be happy as Christians as well. The disciplined child of God is taught by the discipline to be a responsible child of God, and that leads to effectiveness, fruitfulness, consideration of others, and the awareness of being used of God.

Discipline that is unhealthy shames us more than teaches us, it makes us fearful more than repentant, it leads to resentment rather than to contrition. It places the emphasis on the punishment alone, the anger of the punisher, the shame of the failure, and results in not a correction but a demotion of sorts.

Discipline that is healthy convicts hearts, wins hearts to God, results in true sorrow, and restores the person to God. Healthy discipline teaches responsibility while instructs as to the pain our disobedience has done to others. True godly discipline shows us how high our calling is, reminds us of it and inspires us to return to God and get back on the right track. Godly discipline reproves us, corrects us, and instructs us in the paths of righteousness, that we may move on in our calling and responsibilities (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Discipline is not pleasant, but it yields a pleasant outcome, both in our lives and in the lives of others. As the scripture says:

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb. 12:11).

How is God disciplining you? God’s most common form of discipline is simply the withdrawal of his presence when we are unwilling to repent and confess our sins (1 John 1:9-10). When God feels far from us, quite often, pride has stolen its way into our hearts in some way or another. We have begun to judge others, to be critical of them and arrogant in our hearts. God’s loving voice will not be heard in our hearts when we think like this. He withdraws the awareness of his presence through his silence. (See Psalm 73:21-24)

Discipline can be strict and hard, allowing our hidden sins to be found out. I suppose each of us has something in our lives we would be ashamed of it others knew about. But even that can be an expression of God’s love. “The sins of some men are conspicuous, going before then to judgment, but the sins of others appear later” (1 Tim. 5:24). Everything shall be exposed in judgement and nothing shall be hidden, so even a shameful exposure can lead to a more thorough and genuine repentance.

How is God disciplining you? As we walk daily in fellowship with God, he gently will teach us and lead us, reminding us regularly of the evils of pride and lust. He will lead us to understand the connection between what we do and how it impacts the world. He will lead us to a useful and happy life – filled with meaning and purpose.

The expression of repentance in Proverbs 5 is about the subject of adultery, but yet it speaks to us about all sins and the importance discipline plays. Let this be a reminder to us of the importance of living responsibly and of choosing the right path each day. Remember, discipline is given not to make us be miserable, but to lead us to repentance, restoration, responsible living, and a joyous life.

And at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation. (Proverbs 5:11-14)

Daily Devotions, discipleship , , ,