Thought for the Week.07-31-16. Be Realistic in Self-Assessment
“But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth” (James 3:14).
Many times in scripture, the word bitter is associated with food or taste, but at other times it is used as a metaphor describing a harsh or hateful attitude as it is used in James 3:14 in describing envy. James actually is talking about harsh, extreme jealousy in contrast to one who is wise.
While James is talking about controlling the tongue in the context of those who teach, the lesson applies to every child of God. James is saying that we should never possess an overactive jealousy of others nor seek to promote ourselves above others. To “lie against the truth” refers to one who would even deceive himself in self-aggrandizement.
This powerful lesson hits at the heart of humanity. It is somewhat natural to want the respect of others, but we should be realistic in our self-assessment: we should never deceive ourselves into thinking our way is the only way nor that we are superior to everyone else—such a conclusion is usually not the “truth.”
Thought for the Week.07-24-16. Source of Wisdom
“And to man He said,
Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
And to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).
In the middle of a lengthy discourse, Job answers one of his own questions, which he poses in verse 20: “From where then does wisdom come?” And the answer he gives is quite unexpected. Some confuse wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is information gathered, and wisdom is the ability to use that knowledge in the most effective way.
Job has already pointed out where wisdom is not found: not “in the land of the living” (among human ideas), not “in the deep” (that is, in the sea), and not in the vast riches of the earth. Rather than giving a highly philosophical answer to his profound question, he poignantly directs our minds to the ultimate source of wisdom: to the fear of God.
The one who truly becomes wise will have such a healthy respect for and fear of God that he will be diligent in following God’s direction in all aspects of his life. Such a decision will cause him to turn from doing evil to doing good, showing he has come to a full understanding of God.
Thought for the Week.07-17-16. No Strange Fire in Worship
“Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1).
God is always clear in His instructions about what He expects from His subjects. And this passage is no exception to that pattern. Back in Exodus 30, he had explained that they could use no strange fire in their sacrifices.
Evidently, Nadab and Abihu didn’t take God seriously because they offered profane (or strange) fire. God not only rejected the fire but also he had the fire consume them and they died. Notice it wasn’t that they did something God told them not to do. It was that they did something He didn’t authorize—that was the problem.
This lesson couldn’t be more appropriate for us today when many are crying that we can do anything God has not said not to do. Our cry should be positive: Did God tell us to do it? In other words, when it comes to our relationship with God, don’t give Him something He hasn’t asked for in His word.
Thought for the Week.07-10-16. A Shield Against Temptation
“Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).
Whatever we value the most we put into the storehouse of our memory so that we can call it up when we need it. That is the point David is making in this verse.
David knew the demands of life would, at times, tug against his heart and perhaps entice him to be tempted to sin. To fortress himself against those times, he dedicated himself to stay close to the word of God so that he could overcome the temptation.
If King David needed such a fortress, surely we today need it too. Temptations come to all of us, and we need strength to overcome. Hiding God’s word within our hearts will provide us with that strength and will help us in overcoming when we are enticed to sin.
“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
“But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
“And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:16-18).
The Apostle Paul here describes an action the Romans have taken so that they could move from one state to another: they moved from being a slave of sin to a slave of righteousness.
To accomplish this move, the Romans have sincerely obeyed what Paul calls “the form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” That form is a reenactment of Jesus’ death on the cross, His burial in the tomb, and His resurrection from the tomb. Baptism is the reenactment to which he is referring.
We become dead to our past sins when we are immersed in the watery grave and then are brought up out of the watery grave. This action completes our obedience to the gospel, and we are now a servant of righteousness, which is the same as being a servant of Jesus.