This program aired on KIUN 1400 AM in Pecos, TX on August 21, 2017.
If we were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that much of the drumbeat of animosity and vitriol in our public discourse is due to the raging egos of the people involved. From the office of the President, to the halls of Congress, to the playing fields of sports, to the talking heads of media, our nation is awash with arrogant and condescending people. Politicians decry election results if they lose, because their egos will not allow them to accept defeat. Athletes and actors, who make millions of dollars for playing kids’ games or playing make-believe, think their feelings and opinions are better than anyone else’s. Even professed believers get caught up in this madness.
When we open the pages of scripture, we quickly discover that this is not the way God intends for us to act. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, God’s word clearly teaches that we should be humble. We should be humble before God, and we should be humble with each other. However, we struggle with the concept of humility because we equate it with weakness. We assume that the humble man will get run over in life, and none of us wants to be a doormat.
The scriptures, however, show us that humility has nothing to do with weakness. In fact, the humble man is actually the stronger man. The chief example of this is Moses. No one would accuse Moses of being a weakling. No one would suggest that Moses let people walk all over him. Moses stands as a man of great strength, yet the scriptures say of him, “Now Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth” (Nu. 12:3).
The secret to being humble is trusting God. Moses understood and believed that God would take care of him as he did God’s will. Because Moses trusted God, he didn’t have to promote himself and beat down his opponents in order to show his strength. Because Moses trusted God, he simply did what he was commanded to do. He didn’t have to worry about personal glory. God exalted him for his faithfulness and no other exaltation was necessary.
In the New Testament Paul spoke of humility in Eph. 4:1-3. He said, “Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This is the heart of being what God wants His people to be. In order to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, we must do so with humility and gentleness and patience. This is how we preserve the bond of peace that is created by the Spirit of God when we obey the gospel.
The ongoing drama being played out in the public eye demonstrates the pettiness of human ego. There is no semblance of humility among the participants, no matter what place they occupy on the political spectrum. It is shameful and disgusting. It demeans all the participants, and hurts all of us.
This kind of drama among God’s people is even more distasteful and destructive. When professed believers let their egos run rampant, they are going contrary to everything God’s word teaches us. We would all do well to heed the admonition of James, who said, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:6-7).
In Jn. 8:1-11 John tells us of an incident, recorded nowhere else in the New Testament, in which the Jews brought a woman to Jesus for judgment. They told the Lord that she had been caught in the act of adultery. They said that the Law of Moses required them to stone her, but they wanted to know what the Lord thought. Their goal was to use His response against Him. If He agreed that she should be stoned, they would turn Him over to the Romans, who did not allow occupied nations to exercise capital punishment. If He said to let her go, they would denounce Him to the people for violating the Law of Moses.
The Lord’s response was amazing. First, He ignored them by stooping down and writing with His finger on the ground. When they persisted in asking Him, He stood up and said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn. 8:7). The effect was complete and immediate. One by one, from the oldest to the youngest, the men quietly walked away. When they were gone, the Lord stood up and spoke to the woman. In v. 11 He said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
The primary lesson from this incident is the gracious forgiveness that the Lord offers mankind. This woman was no doubt a grievous sinner, but the Lord forgave her and set her back on the straight and narrow path. Surely if the Lord could forgive such a woman, He can forgive each of us. There is no more beautiful truth in all of scripture.
Unfortunately, some have taken the Lord’s statement to the Jews and twisted it to mean something far different than He intended. Many today now use these words to rebuff any criticism of their actions or lifestyle. If we suggest that someone’s conduct is ungodly, they may reply that unless we are sinless ourselves we have no right to correct them. This is not what the Lord meant at all. His remark to the Jews was based upon His knowledge of their hearts. They were not concerned about this woman’s soul. They were only looking for a way to attack the Lord. This is why He spoke to them as He did.
When we are sincerely concerned for another person’s soul, however, we must try to turn them away from their sins, no matter what our own sins might be. In Gal. 6:1 Paul said, “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 himself, so that you too will not be tempted.” When one Christian corrects another, it is not to be done as though the one correcting the other has no sins, but rather, in recognition of his own sins, and in the hope of helping a brother or sister remain in the fold of God.
This is the goal, as stated by James in Jas. 5:19-20. He said, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” If we may take this action only if we are sinless, then no one would ever be turned back from sin. Therefore, we must correct one another, but we must do so in a spirit of gentleness, as Paul commanded.
The only one who is without sin is our Lord Jesus. None of us will ever attain this by our own power. However, correcting one another in accordance with God’s word is one of the highest forms of love we may show. If we truly care for one another, we will correct each other when we need it, and we will receive such correction with grace and humility. This, after all, is how we can help each other get to our heavenly reward.
There is no more beautiful human relationship than that of family. These are the people who are the closest to us and who are most dear in our hearts. We sometimes speak of them as being our blood relations. By this we mean that they share the same essence as ourselves. Biologically we share the same DNA and many of the same physical characteristics. Emotionally and psychologically we think and react similarly, if not exactly the same as each other.
In some circumstances a disparate group of people may come together in a relationship that is nearly as close as that of a physical family. The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team is an example of this phenomenon. They were an especially tight-knit team, even though they were composed of men of various ages, ethnicities, social, and educational backgrounds. They thought of themselves as a family and even adopted a popular song of the time as their theme song. That song was We Are Family by Sister Sledge. The unique chemistry of this team, along with their family-like devotion to each other resulted in them winning the World Series that year.
The benefits of being a family are easily seen and greatly to be desired. It is no wonder, then, that this is one of the images used to portray the body of Christ, which is His church. God, the Father, is the patriarch of the family. Jesus, the Son, is the older brother and heir of the family. Those who are Christians are the adopted children in the family. In Eph. 1:5 Paul spoke of this adoption. He said of God, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.”
As members of the family of God, Christians share certain things in common. These things are our spiritual DNA, as it were. The most important of these is redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. When we obey the gospel our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16), and we are clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:27). Because our sins have been forgiven, we become heirs in the family of God. In Gal. 3:29 Paul said, “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” As heirs of the promise, we share the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit, who is the pledge of our inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14). As members of the family of God, we share the same destiny, which is a place being prepared for us in heaven (Jn. 14:1-3).
In the same manner as in a physical family, there are certain expectations for how we should conduct ourselves. In Col. 3:1-17 Paul spoke in some detail about these expectations. Members of the family of God are expected to refrain from every kind of ungodly word or deed. At the same time they are expected to exhibit certain qualities such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness. The bottom line is that whatever we do in word or deed must be done in the name of our Lord Jesus; that is, by His authority and in accordance with His will (Col. 1:17).
Because we are adopted into the family of God, we are in many senses different from each other. However, these differences should no longer apply in our relationships with each other. Like the Pittsburgh Pirates of 1979, we should be tight-knit and devoted to each other in the family of God. No one should be more important to us than our brothers and sisters in Christ. There should be no length to which we wouldn’t go for one of our spiritual family. God the Father and Jesus His Son have done much more for us than we can ever do for each other. Therefore, we must love and support each other all the way to heaven, because we are family.
One of the facts of life is what we call disappointment. This is a state of mind in which a person feels let down or frustrated or dismayed about something. This feeling can come about because of actions one takes, or fails to take. It can also arise due to the actions of another. In other cases, disappointment may occur when events beyond one’s control result in the loss of some highly anticipated opportunity.
Disappointment is an ever-present part of our existence because we are human beings. In spite of our best intentions, we are going to let others down in one way or another. Children disappoint parents when they act up in a public place, or get in trouble at school. Husbands and wives disappoint one another when they forget important anniversaries, or when they say or do things that hurt each other. Employees disappoint their employers when they fail to give their best on the job, or when they violate a trust.
Every one of us has caused disappointment in another. Every one of us has been disappointed by another. Every one of us wishes this were not the case, but we can’t escape it. It is human nature to let others down, to disappoint. This doesn’t justify it, though, or make it more palatable.
We may sometimes wonder, “What if there were a means to never disappoint, or to never be disappointed?” We need not wonder about such a possibility, for it exists. Long before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah recorded the words of God the Father, who declared this truth. In Isa. 28:16 the scripture says, “Therefore thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly corner stone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.” (NASB)
This declaration is a prophecy about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We know this because both Peter and Paul quoted it in their letters. In 1 Pet. 2:6, as Peter exhorted his readers to come to Christ as living stones, he said, “For this is contained in scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (NASB) Paul uses the same words, again with reference to Christ, in Rom. 9:33 and Rom. 10:11. Peter and Paul both confidently assert that Christ will never disappoint those who believe in Him.
This assertion is simple, but it requires a degree of maturity on our part to fully understand it. Some will say that they have indeed been disappointed by the Lord. They make this statement primarily because they didn’t receive the answer to prayer that they desired. Thus, they believe the Lord let them down. In extreme cases, such disappointed people have even renounced their faith in the Lord.
The reason for their disappointment is not because of a failure by the Lord, but because they have failed to understand the context in which Peter and Paul spoke. The Lord is the foundation of the church and the precious corner stone of it as well. If we believe in Him, obey His will, and live faithfully for Him all the days of our lives, we will not be disappointed at judgment. We will indeed receive the home being prepared for the faithful. No one who truly believes in Him will be disappointed in this regard.
What about when bad things happen? In Rom. 8:18 Paul said that such things are not worthy to be compared to the glory that awaits us. Bad things happen in life, but these things are not the most important things. The most important thing is to believe on the Lord. Those who believe in Him will not be disappointed.