Some believe that prayer is seeking to pray what God has already determined for you, but the Scripture is clear that while God has predetermined many things, He sovereignly chose to predetermine not to predetermine everything, but to incorporate the prayers of His people into the outcome.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
Anyone can rebuke a Christian for his or her sin, but it takes a mature spiritual Christian to give godly rebuke with a heart for restoration. A true heart for the restoration of a brother includes a willingness to be intimately involved in the process and a keen awareness of one’s own propensity to be overtaken by sin.
“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
Putting splinters before logs is the recipe for Pharisaism.
Religious pride causes us to miss our own glaring failures and turn others’ splinters into logs. Permitting God to reveal ourselves to us as He sees us is the first step in helping others in godly splinter removal. If we fail to do so, our help will be characterized by hypocrisy and harshness rather than humility and gentleness.
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3).
The familiarity with sin, human need, and tragedies can transform compassion into cold conversations. For example, the forty-year war in this country to end legalized abortion, which has taken the lives of fifty million innocent babies and wounded an inestimable amount of relatives and friends can seem so uncorrectable that Christian compassion, which requires involvement, can degrade into little more than concerned conversations.
Do not everything, but by all means do something!
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35).
Humility rather than confidence is the apparel of security.
In the security of lives going well, we can often envisage ourselves acting supremely in future difficulties or suffering the present peril of others.
We should learn from Peter. Christ told Peter of his future denial of Him, and Peter argued that he would not fail Christ in His hour of need. When Peter was with Jesus (life going well), he was confident of his ability to handle the future.
What Jesus knew, and Peter failed to see, was that the future challenges to Peter’s faith would not happen in the security of the present. Peter’s faith would be challenged when Jesus was forcibly taken from Peter’s side, leaving Peter ever so alone. Also, Peter would be encircled by Christ haters, and the sun would have given way to the darkness of night. In that crucible of temptation, Peter would fail and weep over his pride.
Humility and trust are always more suitable than confident predictions.
“And again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.’…And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ‘Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:72, 75).
Without love, we shall all hang.
Wrong is wrong and sin is sin. Neither love nor anything else can make a wrong right or a sin sinless, but love can hide sins. This Christian love is not blind to the sins and frailty of others, but neither does it require others to measure up before Christians are willing to accept them and sacrifice for their good.
Marriage can be a wonderful example of love’s ability to cover sins. We know our mate’s weaknesses better than anyone, and yet we love them, sacrifice for them, enjoy their companionship, and will quickly come to their defense if others attack their weaknesses.
Without the covering of love, relationships vanish and humans die of loneliness.
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
God forgives sinners based upon the finished work of Christ when sinners repent and ask God to forgive them.
Can Christians do any less regardless how egregiously they believe they have been wronged?
One might seek to escape granting such forgiveness by saying, “Well, I am not God.” While it is certainly and eternally true that Christians are not God, we are to think and act like God (be godly).
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1).
Our worship of God can never surpass our thankfulness to God.
While people would agree that God is most honored by worship from a thankful heart, many times our thankfulness is lessened by our tethered complaints.
People often seek to thank God for a blessing, and then immediately explain their frustrations with God. For example, how often does one say (or hear) something like this, “I am grateful for my job, but I hate the hours, location, boss, etc., etc.” Such cumbered gratefulness may conceal our ungrateful heart to those with whom we opine, but it doesn’t with God; the only one that really matters.
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name,” Psalm 100:4.
If we truly appreciate being forgiven, we will forgive others.
It is ironic indeed, for Christians to extol God for His immeasurable forgiveness of our sins in Christ, and yet shamelessly withhold such forgiveness from those who may have measurably sinned against us.
If we truly appreciate being forgiven, we will forgive others. How could we do otherwise?
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you,” Ephesians 4:32.