Love and knowledge

Sometimes living as a Christian can seem confusing. Unlike the Law of Moses given to Israel, there isn’t a list of “do’s and don’ts” detailing how we should live. Instead we find principles we can use and examples we can see that help us determine how we should live.

One of the big ‘issues’ that the Christians in the first century had to face was in eating. Although this might seem strange to us, we need to realise the problem was not necessarily in the food itself, but in people’s perception of who we were, based on what we were eating. In particular this had to do with food that had been sacrificed to idols. Continue reading “Love and knowledge”

Hate and love

Hatred stirreth up strifes; But love covereth all transgressions (Proverbs 10:12, ASV).

By Ron Thomas — I have come to understand we live in a society that hardly knows the meaning of the word racism, just like they hardly know the meaning of the word hate. Without giving attention to the first word, let us give attention to the second.

The word hate has broad application in Scripture; it can be associated with intense dislike, coupled with animosity to something not so intense. Continue reading “Hate and love”

Follow the example of love

Jesus never forced anyone to accept him or his teaching. In Matthew chapter 8, when Jesus healed two possessed men in the Gadarenes and people asked him to leave, he left.

After crossing the Sea of Galilee and arriving in Capernaum, Jesus saw a paralyzed man. The paralysis was so severe  the man was carried. The scripture tells us Jesus saw their faith, and the Master said the man’s sins were forgiven (Matthew 9:2). The scribes watching this accused Jesus of blasphemy.

There is a contrast here that we should understand. Continue reading “Follow the example of love”

Keep his commandments

Commandment-keeping gets a bad reputation in the religious world.

There are those whose theology forces them to promote belief without obedience to Christ’s commands. There is a fly in this ointment. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

F.F. Bruce wrote, “Hitherto, Jesus has spoken of his love for his disciples and of their obligation to love one another; now for the first time in this Gospel he speaks of their love for him.”/1 Continue reading “Keep his commandments”

That neighbor?

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 NKJV).

A group of us were driving out of the city of Khulna when a large truck met us, driving the wrong way on our side of the divided highway. This is a frequent occurrence in Bangladesh where traffic laws are seldom enforced and many drivers are poorly trained. As we carefully steered around the truck I asked the other passengers in our van, “When Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors, did he know there would be truck drivers?”

Similar thoughts occur frequently as we are confronted with hostility, rudeness, and dishonesty in our interactions with others. There are many people in this world who are pretty much unlovable, at least in our opinions. Must we really open up to all of them and show compassion, mercy, and kindness? Does their bad behavior not excuse us from such obligations? Continue reading “That neighbor?”

Wonderful differences

After God completed his creation having made humanity both male and female, God saw it was very good. The differences between men and women range from our psychological make up down to our physiology.

When comedians highlight the stark contrasts in how we think, perceive and interact with our world, audiences break forth in hearty laughter. Why? Because they recognize the truth in these stereotypes. We are different.

Expressions like, “Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them,” give voice to spousal tension and frustrations. Yet, God saw all these differences as being very good! In fact, it is because of these differences that marriage can be a tool promoting spiritual development.    Continue reading “Wonderful differences”

With all your mind

What is the most important commandment of God in the Bible?

The lawyers of Jesus day, men trained in the text of the Old Testament, sent one of their own to ask the Lord that very question. Opinions differed. Some thought sacrifice was the most important of God’s commandments. Others thought there were so many commandments it was impossible to determine which was most important.

Jesus said, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:30). Continue reading “With all your mind”

Shattered dreams … yet joy lives?

As young people we might have envisioned how our lives would unfold. We looked forward to achieving a college education followed by a successful career. Or maybe as adults we anticipated how the potential we saw within our children or grandchildren would blossom in marvelous ways as they reached adulthood. Still yet, there might have been the expectation for just a normal healthy life filled with a long marriage and children.

Then the unexpected occurred. The dream was ripped from our hands. Neither the specific details how this happened nor the details of our dreams matter. What is significant is that a hammer shattered our aspirations and hope for what would be. Perhaps disbelief turned into bitterness. Can joy ever thrive again? Continue reading “Shattered dreams … yet joy lives?”

For love’s sake

Love is the most powerful force known to man. Nothing is stronger. It should not surprise us then, that love is the key motivating factor in scripture.

The apostle Paul wrote to a friend and brother from whom he had received much joy and comfort (Philemon 1:7). This letter was written concerning a new brother in Christ, a slave named Onesimus, who had left the household of Philemon. Paul wanted Philemon to forgive Onesimus, and to receive him not as a bondservant but as a beloved brother (Philemon 1:15, 16). As an apostle, Paul had the power to command (Philemon 1:8). Yet, that is not the way Paul approached this situation.

Continue reading “For love’s sake”

To bear the unbearable burden

Have you ever despaired of life itself? Has grief ever weighed so heavily upon you that to even rise from your bed seemed impossible? Have you ever been overwhelmed by the stress and strain of sin that to continue on would take more strength than you have?

When those unbearable loads seem to pin us to the floor, God has blessed us with burden bearers.

Continue reading “To bear the unbearable burden”