You know, often when we ourselves or someone else is not living right, the first thing we start thinking is, I need to start telling myself what to do, let me find a book on ten steps to a better you name it, let me listen to preacher X so that he can get me fired up again. I need to start telling myself what to do or how to live, in order that God will be more pleased with me and love me more. If only I will do this or that, follow this law, be more obedient, my life will be better and there will not be as much suffering. Well, there might be some truth to that last one?.
All men and women are interested in making a name for themselves. All are passionate about their own self-promotion. However, when one encounters Jesus Christ and his Gospel, the desire for self-praise diminishes and the desire for Savior-praise increases. When our eyes are opened and we see the magnificence of our Glorious Lover, our natural tendency to promote self decreases, and we find ourselves more like John the Baptist who uttered the famous statement, “He must increase, I must decrease.”
There is certainly a time for us to sacrifice, labor, toil, work, serve, or minister. God gives all of us spiritual and temporal gifts, and he expects us to steward and spend them for his glory and our neighbor’s good. Yes, it is good for us to work as did Moses, labor as did disciples, minister as did Paul, and serve as did Mary. There are certainly benefits when we do serve. As the Father witnesses our obedience, worship, and selfless service, he smiles. It thrills him to see what he does through the hearts and hands of his redeemed children. He loves to see us loving and looking like his Beloved Son. Yes, when we labor, God grins, brothers and sisters are benefited, the Gospel is promoted, and our own souls are encouraged and made glad. However, despite the duty and benefits of service, something better is before us. According to Jesus, it is better for us when we sabbath than when we serve.
There are leaders who sacrifice, and then there are leaders who sacrifice. What sort of leader are you? David Mathis?wrote the following, “Mark this, husbands and dads, pastors and presidents, the very essence and heart of leadership is taking initiative we otherwise wouldn’t take and making sacrifices we otherwise wouldn’t make, to guide our people somewhere good they otherwise would not have gone. We embrace short-term personal difficulties for long-term corporate gains. We are among those who are learning that life’s greatest joys come not in private comfort and ease, but in choosing what is uncomfortable and hard for the sake of others’ joy. We are learning to find our joy not in the ease of attending to self, but in the toughness of attending to others.” Let us be leaders who sacrifice ourselves in order to promote the interests of God and his friends
In the bible, there is Law and there is Gospel. One has to do with our duty to perform, and the other has to do with God’s promise to perform. In order to properly understand theology, one must clearly define these two concepts. In doing theology and thinking biblically, one must always distinguish between the two, and they must never be divorced.
Sinclair Ferguson writes, “In the New Testament, every Christian is a saint, a holy one. This does not express the idea of a progressive development towards a condition of holiness, but rather suggests a present enjoyed status of holiness.” (Sinclair Ferguson, The Christian Life, 133) That being the case, ought not we who are called saints endeavor to live saintly?
Paul writes, “If there be any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy ….” (Philippians 2:1) Paul wants to remind his readers of that which they have in Christ Jesus, and this is the goal of this podcast as well. Listen, learn, and be encouraged. Jesus loves you such much!
Which comes first, confession or forgiveness? This might surprise you, but I believe we are forgiven long before we confess. Listen to this blog. Listen to the proofs presented, and see if you too come to the same conclusion. Recognizing we are already forgiven, we eagerly confess our sin. Then we pass along the same grace to our brothers and sisters. We forgive them, whether or not they come and request pardon, then we look forward to the day of reconciliation when they do confess their sins and we express aloud the forgiveness we have already granted them.