Confronting an Evil World

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. – 1 Peter 4:14

No one can live for God’s glory and be entirely comfortable in this world. You shouldn’t be obnoxious or try to be a misfit, but if your life is Christlike, then you will bear some of the reproach He bore.

We live in a day when many are want to make Christianity easy, but the Bible says it is hard. Many want to make Christians lovable, but God says they’ll be reproachable. Christianity must confront the system by being distinct from it. It must expose sin before it can disclose the remedy.

Be sure your life reflects your commitment to Christ. That’s what will make you distinct from the world.

– John MacArthur, Truth for Today

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The Daily and Quiet Virtues of Life

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; – Ephesians 4:2

With longsuffering

Bearing patiently with the foibles, faults, and infirmities of others. The virtue here required is that which is to be manifested in our manner of receiving the provocations which we meet with from our brethren. No virtue, perhaps, is more frequently demanded in our intercourse with others.

We do not go far with any fellow-traveler on the journey of life before we find there is great occasion for its exercise. He has a temperament different from our own. He may be sanguine, or choleric, or melancholy; while we may be just the reverse, he has peculiarities of taste, and habits, and disposition, which differ much from ours. He has his own plans and purposes of life, and his own way and time of doing things. He may be naturally irritable, or he may have been so trained that his modes of speech and conduct differ much from ours. Neighbors have occasion to remark this in their neighbors; friends in their friends; kindred in their kindred; one church-member in another. A husband and wife — such is the imperfection of human nature-can find enough in each other to embitter life if they choose to magnify imperfections and to become irritated at trifles; and there is no friendship that may not be marred in this way, if we will allow it.

Hence, if we would have life move on smoothly, we must learn to bear and forbear. We must indulge the friend that we love in the little peculiarities of saying and doing things which may be important to him, but which may be of little moment to us. Like children, we must suffer each one to build his playhouse in his own way, and not quarrel with him because he does not think our way the best. All usefulness, and all comfort, may be prevented by an unkind, a sour, a crabbed temper of mind — a mind that can bear with no difference of opinion or temperament.

A spirit of fault-finding; all unsatisfied temper; a constant irritability; little inequalities in the look, the temper, or the manner; a brow cloudy and dissatisfied — your husband or your wife cannot tell why — will more than neutralize all the good you can do, and render life anything but a blessing. It is in such gentle and quiet virtues as meekness and forbearance that the happiness and usefulness of life consist, far more than in brilliant eloquence, in splendid talent, or illustrious deeds that shall send the name to future times. It is the bubbling spring which flows gently; the little rivulet which glides through the meadow, and which runs along day and night by the farm-house, that is useful, rather than the swollen flood or the roaring cataract. Niagara excites our wonder; and we stand amazed at the power and greatness of God there, as he “pours it from his hollow hand.” But one Niagara is enough for a continent or a world; while that same world needs thousands and tens of thousands of silver fountains, and gently-flowing rivulets, that shall water every farm, and every meadow, and every garden, and that shall flow on, every day and every night, with their gentle and quiet beauty.

So with the acts of our lives. It is not by great deeds only, not by great sufferings only, like those of the martyrs — that good is to be done; it is by the daily and quiet virtues of life — the Christian temper, the meek forbearance, the spirit of forgiveness in the husband, the wife, the father, the mother, the brother, the sister, the friend, the neighbor — that good is to be done; and in this all may be useful.

– Albert Barnes, 1798-1870

 

Vainglory

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. – Philippians 2:3‭‭

“Let nothing be done through vainglory‭.” The word here used —‭κενοδοζια‭ ‭kenodoxia‭, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, though the adjective—‭κενοδοξος‭ ‭kenedoxos‭, occurs once in ‭Galations 5:26‭.  It means, properly, empty pride, or glory, and is descriptive of vain and hollow parade and show. The idea seems to be that of mere self–esteem; a mere desire to honor ourselves, to attract attention, to win praise, to make ourselves uppermost, or foremost, or the main object.

The command here solemnly forbids our doing ‭anything‭ with such an aim—no matter whether it be in intellectual attainments, in physical strength, in skill in music, in eloquence or song, in dress, furniture, or religion. ‭Self‭ is not to be foremost; selfishness is not to be the motive. Probably there is no command of the Bible which would have a wider sweep than this, or would touch on more points of human conduct, if fairly applied.

Who is there who passes a single day without, in some respect, desiring to display himself? What minister of the gospel preaches, who never has any wish to exhibit his talents, eloquence, or learning? How few make a gesture, but with some wish to display the grace or power witch which it is done! Who, in conversation, is always free from a desire to show his wit, or his power in argumentation, or his skill in repartee? Who plays at the piano without the desire of commendation? Who thunders in the senate, or goes to the field of battle; who builds a house, or purchases an article of apparel; who writes a book, or performs a deed of benevolence, altogether uninfluenced by this desire? If all could be taken out of human conduct which is performed merely from “strife,” or from “vain–glory,” how small a portion would be left!‭

– Albert Barnes, 1798-1870, Barnes Notes

Do Nothing Through Strife

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. – Philippians 2:3

Let nothing be done through strife‭. With a spirit of contention. This command forbids us to do anything, or attempt anything, as ‭the mere result of strife‭. This is not the principle from which we are to act, or by which we are to be governed. We are to form no plan, and aim at no object, which is to be secured in this way. The command prohibits all attempts to secure anything over others by mere physical strength, or by superiority of intellect or numbers, or as the result of dark schemes and plans formed by rivalry, or by the indulgence of angry passions, or with the spirit of ambition. We are not to attempt to do anything ‭merely‭ by outstripping others, or by showing that we have more talent, courage, or zeal. What we do is to be by principle, and with a desire to maintain the truth, and to glorify God. And yet how often is this rule violated! How often do Christian denominations attempt to outstrip each other, and to see which shall be the greatest! How often do ministers preach with no better aim! How often do we attempt to outdo others in dress, and in the splendor of furniture and equipage! How often, even in plans of benevolence, and in the cause of virtue and religion, is the secret aim to ‭outdo others‭. This is all wrong. There is no holiness in such efforts. Never once did the Redeemer act from such a motive, and never once should this motive be allowed to influence us.

– Albert Barnes, 1798-1870, Barnes Notes

You are the Bible

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16

The worldling’s Bible is the Christian. He never reads the Book–but he reads the disciple of Christ, and he judges the Christian religion by the lives of its professors!

The world does not read the Bible–the world reads Christians!

Charles Spurgeon, 1834-1892

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:1-2

Published in: on August 25, 2017 at 1:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Place of Humiliation

If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. —Mark 9:22

After every time of exaltation, we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they really are, where it is neither beautiful, poetic, nor thrilling. The height of the mountaintop is measured by the dismal drudgery of the valley, but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. We see His glory on the mountain, but we never live for His glory there. It is in the place of humiliation that we find our true worth to God— that is where our faithfulness is revealed. Most of us can do things if we are always at some heroic level of intensity, simply because of the natural selfishness of our own hearts. But God wants us to be at the drab everyday level, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship with Him. Peter thought it would be a wonderful thing for them to remain on the mountain, but Jesus Christ took the disciples down from the mountain and into the valley, where the true meaning of the vision was explained (see Mark 9:5-6, Mark 9:14-23).

“If you can do anything….” It takes the valley of humiliation to remove the skepticism from us. Look back at your own experience and you will find that until you learned who Jesus really was, you were a skillful skeptic about His power. When you were on the mountaintop you could believe anything, but what about when you were faced with the facts of the valley? You may be able to give a testimony regarding your sanctification, but what about the thing that is a humiliation to you right now? The last time you were on the mountain with God, you saw that all the power in heaven and on earth belonged to Jesus— will you be skeptical now, simply because you are in the valley of humiliation?

– Oswald Chambers, 1874-1917, My Utmost for His Highest (October 2)

The fruits and effects He produces

“When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.” (John 16:8)

Where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be deep conviction of sin–and true repentance for it. It is His special office to convict of sin.

He shows the exceeding holiness of God.

He teaches the exceeding corruption and infirmity of our nature.

He strips us of our blind self-righteousness.

He opens our eyes to our awful guilt, folly and danger.

He fills the heart with sorrow, contrition, and abhorrence for sin–as the abominable thing which God hates.

He who knows nothing of all this, and saunters carelessly through life, thoughtless about sin, and indifferent and unconcerned about his soul–is a dead man before God! He has not the Holy Spirit.

The presence of the Holy Spirit in a man’s heart can only be known by the fruits and effects He produces. Mysterious and invisible to mortal eye as His operations are–they always lead to certain visible and tangible results.

Just as you know there is life in a tree by its sap, buds, leaves and fruits–just so you may know the Spirit to be in a man’s heart by the influence He exercises over his thoughts, affections, opinions, habits, and life. I lay this down broadly and unhesitatingly. I see it clearly marked out in our Lord Jesus Christ’s words, “Every tree is known by his own fruit.” Luke 6:44

– J.C. Ryle, 1816-1900, The Holy Spirit

Character

Character is the product of daily, hourly actions, words and thoughts:
daily forgiveness,
daily unselfishness,
daily kindnesses,
daily sympathies,
daily charities,
daily sacrifices for the good of others,
daily struggles against temptation,
daily submissiveness under trial.
It is these, like the blending of colors in a picture–which constitute a person’s character.

– John MacDuff, 1818-1895

Blessed are the meek

“Blessed are the meek.” Matthew 5:5

The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his inferiority.

The meek man has accepted God’s estimate of himself. In himself — he is nothing. In God — he has everything. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him, and he has stopped caring!

The meek man will attain a place of soul rest. As he walks on in meekness, he will let God defend him. The old struggle to defend himself is over. He has found the peace which meekness brings.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble in heart — and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

– A.W. Tozer, 1897-1963

The true recipe for a miserable existence

The first law of true religion is submission to God’s will. Where it does not exist, there is no piety–and just as truly there is no tranquility of soul.

What a hideous sight to see a human creature in full rebellion against God’s providence . . .
repining at His allotments;
fighting against His dispensations;
and cursing His judgments!

The true recipe for miserable existence is this: Quarrel with Providence!

When God means to make us happy, He teaches us submission–a resignation of everything into His hands, and an acknowledgment that whatever He does is wisest and best.

O how sweetly even afflictions fall, when there is such a temper to receive them! “Shall we accept good from God–and not trouble?” Job 2:10. Such a disposition tends to tranquility of soul; and even amidst chastisement, there is internal quiet.

“The Lord gave–and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

“He is the Lord–let Him do what is good in His eyes.” 1 Samuel 3:18 

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

– James W. Alexander, Consolation 1852