“God doesn’t say, ‘Relax, you were born this way.’ But he does say, ‘Good news, you were reborn another way’” (Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, 100).
Enjoying God Blog
I’ve always found it interesting that Peter warns Elders in the local church never to pastor or lead the flock of God “under compulsion, but willingly” (1 Peter 5:2).
Why would anyone ever submit to pressure to serve as an Elder? What could possibly motivate a man to serve under compulsion? Here are some possibilities.his love or desire for the praise and approval of others his desire to avoid the disdain and rejection of those whose approval and respect he craves he sees ministry as an opportunity to become famous and well-known and acknowledged in public he yields to pressure put upon him by parents, educators, mega-church leaders he feels incompetent to do anything else in life he mistakenly believes that a life of ministry merits favor with God
No one should ever be pressured into serving as an Elder. God wants our ungrudging service. Note well the use of the cognate noun translated “under compulsion” in 2 Corinthians 9:7 with regard to giving – “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Thus, just as with financial generosity, Elders are to serve “willingly” or “cheerfully” (cf. Heb. 13:17). How can you determine if you are acting under “constraint” rather than “willingly”? Here are some possibilities.
First, you have yielded to the pressure of unrighteous constraint rather than the impulse of joy when you serve in order to vicariously satisfy someone else’s goal for life and ministry rather than your own.
Second, you have yielded to the pressure of unrighteous constraint rather than the impulse of joy when you pursue the pastorate because you think God will be angry and disappointed if you don’t.
Third, you have yielded to the pressure of unrighteous constraints rather than the impulse of joy when
“Beloved brethren and sisters in Christ, I think that you and I can say, that to us the surest fact in all the world is that there is a God. No God? I live in him. Tell a fish in the sea there is no water. No God? Tell a man who is breathing that there is no air. No God? I dare not come downstairs without speaking to him. No God? I would not think of closing my eyes in sleep unless I had some sense of his love shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost. ‘Oh!’ says one, ‘I have lived fifty years, and I have never felt anything of God.’ Say that you had been dead fifty years; that is nearer to the mark. But if you had been quickened by the Holy Spirit fifty minutes, this would have been the first fact in the front rank of all fact, God is, and he is my Father, and I am his child. Now you become sentient to his frown, his smile, his threat, or his promise. You feel him; his presence is photographed upon your spirit; your very heart trembles with awe of him, and you say with Jacob, ‘Surely God is in this place.’ That is one result of spiritual life” (C. H. Spurgeon, Sermon No. 2267, “Life from the Dead,” delivered March 13, 1890 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington; http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/2267.htm).
At the close of 2012 quite a few surveys were taken, some of which are rather bothersome. For example, did you know that now more than 50% of all Americans own a smart phone? Of that group, 58% check it at least once an hour. I think this next statistic needs adjustment. We are told that 30% have used their phones during a meal with others. My observation in restaurants today is that it has to be far more than merely 1/3. Nearly 10% have gone on-line during a religious service, and my guess is that it wasn’t to fact-check the pastor or to access an on-line version of the Bible! The most shocking of all is that 21% said they would rather give up sex than their cell phones. Go figure! (The complete polling statistics can be found in The Week, December 28, 2012, p. 20).
We’ve been looking closely at Paul’s prayer in Philippians 1:9-11. We now see that learning how to love with knowledge and discernment is absolutely essential if we are to “approve what is excellent and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (v. 10).
Paul refuses to let Christians settle for mediocrity. He prays that our love would grow in knowledge and discernment so we can identify what is above average, what is superior, what is of moral and spiritual excellence, what really counts, and pursue it (see Phil. 4:8).
I find it fascinating that when Paul finally gets around to how we should prepare ourselves for the end of the world, for the coming of Christ, he says nothing about stockpiling of food or guns or digging an underground shelter or quitting our jobs or rushing off to the mountain tops. He says we need to be diligent to cultivate a more discerning and knowledgeable love! He tells us that we need to develop greater moral purity and blamelessness.
Learning how to love with knowledge and discernment is absolutely essential if we are to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ” (v. 11a).
It’s unclear from Paul’s language whether this is the fruit that consists of righteousness or the fruit that comes out of righteousness. It may be both. What’s important to note is that this fruit comes not as a result of our efforts unaided, but through Jesus Christ, which is to say through the empowering that he supplies by his Spirit.
Of this we may be sure: it has nothing to do with “religion” or self-made efforts to impress others with our spirituality.
There are many in the professing Christian church who give mere lip service to the importance of cultivating a spiritual culture and family affection in which love that is characterized by knowledge and discernment
“Sanctification is not by surrender, but by divinely enabled toil and effort” (Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, 90).
I’m continually shocked by the way in which secular theorists and so-called “experts” seek to account for or explain why people commit heinous acts of violence. The most recent example appeared in Wednesday’s edition of USA Today (April 24, 2013). The article was titled, “Tsarnaevs’ Deadly Brotherhood.” The sub-heading reads: “Understanding motivation requires examination of human need for belonging.” The author of the article is James Alan Fox, the Lipman Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy at Northeastern University in Boston.
Now, I’m quite certain Dr. Fox is considerably more intelligent and widely read than I am, especially in the area of criminology and public policy. And I’m not here to throw doubts upon the role that the “human need for belonging” might have played in the motivation of the two young men who allegedly perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombings. However, may I be so bold to suggest that another explanation is more realistic and true to the case?
Fox begins by reminding us how the younger of these two brothers was perceived by most to be a “good kid.” He even argues that despite Tamerlan’s growing “anti-American ideology” he “showed little indication of having the potential or the desire to commit an extreme act of mass violence.” Fox then wonders “why” would the Tsarnaev brothers have “allegedly engaged in such diabolical crimes?”
He suggests that “the key to motivation could lie not just in some anti-American sentiment but also in the brotherly bond itself.” This bond may have reinforced their negative beliefs about America. It is unlikely, suggests Fox, that these crimes would have been committed “were it not for the close brotherly connection.” Fox then proceeds to cite some of the most heinous and gruesome mass murders in America
“Defeatist Christians who do not fight against sins because they figure they were ‘born this way’ or ‘will never change’ or ‘don’t have enough faith’ are not being humble. They dishonor the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with supernatural power” (Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, 82).
April 24, 2013 2 Comments
In a previous post we saw that one of the two primary characteristics of Christian love is that it is governed by knowledge. We now see as well that true love, the sort of love that will accomplish good in the life of the beloved, must be characterized by discernment. What Paul has in mind with this word is the spiritual ability to make difficult moral decisions in the midst of a vast array of competing and confusing choices. Gullible and naïve love is worse than bad. It is destructive. So what kind of discernment does Paul have in mind?
Love must be the sort that is able to discern when it is appropriate and when it is not appropriate to be generous and supportive. Consider the challenge we all face when confronted with the panhandlers that fill our cities. When is compassion justified? When does giving money to those who beg for it actually hurt them and reinforce their lack of responsibility? When does an act of what feels like kindness actually compound a person’s problem rather than alleviate it?
A love that accomplishes much should be keenly aware of the circumstances and people and timing and consists largely in discretion in speech. We need to be wise and discerning regarding the objects of our love. Although we are to love our enemies, we don’t love them in the same way we love our friends and brothers/sisters in Christ.
We must remember that no matter how passionate we feel, no matter how extensive our sacrifice may be, we have not loved someone well if we fail to awaken them to the perilous condition in which their sin has placed them. If you think loving someone well means you keep silent about both the temporal and the eternal consequences of their beliefs and their behavior, you are sadly mistaken. You are loving in the absence of discernment. If you love someone without speaking the truth to them for fear that it might hurt th
“What sort of parent rolls his eyes when his child falls off the bike on the first try? There is no righteousness that makes us right with God except for the righteousness of Christ. But for those who have been made right with God by grace alone through faith alone and therefore have been adopted into God’s family, many of our righteous deeds are not only not filthy in God’s eyes, they are exceedingly sweet, precious, and pleasing to him” (Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, 70).