Showing posts with label christian character traits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label christian character traits. Show all posts

27 October 2020

A Few Thoughts About Matthew 18

Matthew 18 has been a difficult passage for interpreters. So, I give my few thoughts on this chapter.

The Lord Jesus is speaking to Jews. These Jews are disciples. Matthew 18:1a NIV At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked…

He is teaching them some of the principles, worldview, and lifestyle of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is the same as the King of God. Compare Matthew 4:17 with Mark 1:15, etc. This is a kingdom where God rules. Eventually, Jesus will reign in Jerusalem and the universe will be the Kingdom of God. (You might want to read What is the Kingdom of Heaven?) (I don’t know anything about Bruce Colbert, so be aware).

The first principle the Lord Jesus teaches (verses 1-7) is who is the greatest in the Kingdom of God? Jesus gives no names but a principle. A principle is a law, doctrine, or assumption on which action or behavior is based (Source). Humans tend to ask who is the greatest. Jesus makes it clear that it is not what makes humans great on earth but what God considers great. Some things that make one great in the Kingdom of Heaven:

  • Poor in Spirit, meekness, hunger and thirst for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, suffer for righteousness sake in Matthew 5:3-12

  • Doing and teaching God’s rules and righteousness in Matthew 5:19-20

  • Doing the will of God in Matthew 7:21

  • Humility, trust, and faith in Matthew 18:1, 3-4

  • Not being a hypocrite in Matthew 23:13 also see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:21

  • The highest priority in our life is God’s kingdom and His righteousness in Matthew 6:33

  • Not trusting in money but faith in God in Mark 10:23-25

  • Being faithful and steadfast in faith towards God in Luke 9:62

  • Being born again, the new birth, by God because of faith and trust in Him in John 3:3-5

  • Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit in Romans 14:17

Jesus teaches further that if a person does something to a child causing them to not believe the Gospel, that person will receive a severe penalty. It would be better to have a millstone hung around their neck and thrown into the sea to drown. An example might be someone claiming to be a Christian, be it a pastor, a youth pastor, a church worker, Sunday School teacher or whatever. This person of respect molests that child, which causes them to reject Christ when they are older. Even though that pastor, etc. might think of themselves as being great, even though that pastor, etc. is acclaimed by the congregation, that person is spiritually dead and an evangelist for satan causing someone to NOT believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The next section (verses 8-10) deals with obstacles to believe the gospel. I have read of more than one person who had gifted hands, say a musician or surgeon, who would not believe the gospel. When they had some tragedy and lost a hand, they experienced financial and emotional stress. This brought a situation where their heart was softened to listen to the gospel.

Next in verses 11-14, Jesus teaches His desire, longing, and effort to seek those who are lost. All humans are lost and perishing because of sin except the sinless Jesus. He is the Lamb of God (John 1:29) and the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) who paid the penalty for our sins, suffered for our sins, and taking the punishment for our breaking God’s laws.

In verses 15-20, the Lord Jesus deals with the topic of a sinning believer. The word church indicates that Jesus does not speak of our present-day church, for it didn’t exist until Pentecost. So, it must refer to a group of believers. Jesus is addressing His disciples. He is teaching a principle of the Kingdom of Heaven, so it can be applied to the church today. The church today is believers, not an organization.

Note the word brother which refers to one of common belief, not necessarily common family. Also note the word witness. This is someone who has firsthand knowledge of some offense. The issue is hopefully dealt with when the offended person tells the offender of their sin. If they repent (ask forgiveness and never do it again), then all is well. This repenting person is living as a Christian. If that person does not repent, then bring other witnesses. If the offender repents, all is well. If he/she does not repent still, then bring it before the group. If he/she repents, all is well. If not, then that person must be treated as if they are not a non-Christian. They may be a Christian, but they are acting and living like a non-Christian, so must be treated as such. The non-repenting person is not to be treated with abuse but with the attitude of wanting them to confess their sin and repent. Compare 1 Corinthians chapter 5.

A word of caution. Abusing church leaders like to isolate the one who has been abused from any witnesses of support. These false teachers and their supporters then abuse the abused. This has happened many times. Always have someone with you preferably a lawyer. A child who has been molested must never have to experience this situation. Refer the molestation to law enforcement.

Some things to remember about this passage.

B1 There are false witnesses. Matthew 26:59-61 NLT Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death. 60 But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, they could not use anyone's testimony. Finally, two men came forward 61 who declared, "This man said, 'I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.

B2 There are evil counseling methods where the abused/molested most face the accused alone or in front of “church leaders.” Avoid this at all costs. Always have a witness with you. Don’t be intimidated.

Verses 21-35 are about forgiveness and the one who can forgive. God is the only one who can forgive sin. There is no such thing as forgive and forget. The abused/molested have scars and are unable to forget. Such talk is the counsel of at best ignorant but more likely abusers themselves.

When we ask God to forgive our sins, He does, IF we are repent. Words are cheap. A person’s life speaks louder than words. For an example read about King Manasseh in 2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33. As God has forgiven us, we forgive others. Forgiveness means to not seek revenge. Reporting a crime is not revenge. Only God forgives sins. Sins leave scars on us and on those who were wronged. The devil does much harm by reminding us of our past sins. Compare the Apostle Paul as in Acts 22:4, 1 Corinthians 15:9, Galatians 1:13, and Philippians 3:6. Some interpret Paul’s thorn in the flesh to be satan’s reminding Paul of this.

God’s forgiveness can be revoked as in Matthew 18:32-35 NLT Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, 'You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn't you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?' 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. 35 "That's what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.

The Lord Jesus teaches the principles, and many times gives an illustration of that truth as we read in Matthew 18:21-35.


B1 What does it mean to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven?

B2 How does one achieve that greatness?

B3 Why does God value character traits and attitudes instead of power, authority, prestige, and financial greatness?

B4 Why do people who are molested or abused often reject the Gospel?

B5 What should a person do who is molested or abused? Report it to law enforcement. It is a crime, and you’ll be doing your part to stop this evil person.

B6 Explain forgiveness of sins.

Proverbs 18:12 NLT Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor.

Romans 8:13-14 AFV Because if you are living according to the flesh, you shall die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.

2 Peter 3:9 NRSV The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

Proverbs 21:2 GNB You may think that everything you do is right, but remember that the LORD judges your motives.

Psalms 25:8 GNB Because the LORD is righteous and good, he teaches sinners the path they should follow.

13 October 2019

A Few Thoughts on the Epistle of Titus Part 2

Titus 1:5-9 Church leaders

Titus 1:5-9 WEL I left you in Crete for this reason, that you should finish organizing and appoint elders in every city as I directed you. 6 So, if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of a riotous or unruly life. 7 For an overseer must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not easily angered, not given to wine, not violent, not consumed by money. 8 Instead, [he needs to be] a lover of hospitality, of what is good, reasonable, just, and holy, having self-control, 9 Being committed to the faithful word just as he has been taught, that he may be able with sound doctrine to plead and convince those who actively disagree with [the truth],

B1 Titus was left in Crete to finishing organizing the church and appointing the church leaders.
B2 The 16 qualifications of elders (pastors, overseers, bishops, etc.) Also see 1 Timothy 3:1-7.
C1 Blameless
D1 Blameless does not mean sinless. No one is sinless in this life, except Jesus Christ.
E1 Jesus was, is, and always will be without sin in thoughts, desires, words, or deeds: Hebrews 4:15 CSB For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.
E2 1 Peter 2:22 NLT He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.
D2 Blameless is not committing nor repeatedly committing sin knowingly:
E1 Psalm 19:13 NET Moreover, keep me from committing flagrant sins; do not allow such sins to control me. Then I will be blameless, and innocent of blatant rebellion.
E2 Proverbs 12:2 NLT The LORD approves of those who are good, but he condemns those who plan wickedness.
C2 One wife. Most understand this to be one wife at a time. He is faithful to his wife. This is not referring to marriage after the spouse’s death or someone being disqualified because they are not married. But then, not all agree with this. Some understand this passage to teach that a qualified man must be married, faithfully to one woman, and have at least 2 children (the Greek word for children, τεκνα, is plural). This may have been preferred but hardly correct as Paul was unmarried.
C3 Faithful children
D1 Some understand the word faithful as the word for believing, so they are believers. Others understand the word to be faithful, which is the way I understand it.
D2 Two scenarios
E1 A man becomes a believer at age 12. He studies the Scriptures and doctrine faithfully. He is recognized as having the gift of pastor/teacher when he is 22. He marries at 23. He and his wife have 5 children. One is not a believer. Is this pastor required to resign and never preach again?
E2 A man who is qualified Scripturally as a pastor serves God faithfully, but one on his children leave the faith when they are in the 20’s. Is this pastor required to resign and never pastor again?
E3 There is much disagreement about this. I opt that Paul is speaking that the children be faithful as a character trait, not necessary all being believers.
E4 See a discussion of this here (PDF) and here. One could consult many other places, too.
C4 Does not live a riotous or unruly lifestyle
D1 Most understand this trait as referring to the children.
D2 This would be children who were unrestrained, out of control, having no self-control, doing whatever they please and what they desire, addicted to pleasure, etc. Having children like this would disqualify a man from being a church leader.
C5 Not self-willed
D1 Their attitude is that they are supreme. No one can question them. No one can correct them. They are right, and we are wrong.
D2 We have all met people like this. They are difficult to converse with, teach, show the errors of their thinking. We can appeal to them in mercies of Jesus, and they will not answer our questions. They only make demands.
D3 This is a person who commits pastoral abuse.
D4 Some articles. I do not necessarily endorse these writers but personally feel their points are well founded. Eight Signs of Spiritual Abuse by Rick Thomas. 10 Ways to Spot Spiritual Abuse by Mary DeMuth.
D5 This type of person is a controller, not a leader. They lead by force, power, and threat of pain. God leads by example, love, truth, etc. as I’ve written before on the two styles of leadership.
C6 Not easily angered
D1 Anger is a character trait of God. Anger is not necessarily a sin. The Lord Jesus showed anger.
E1 Mark 3:5 CSB After looking around at them with anger, he was grieved at the hardness of their hearts and told the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
F1 Wilbur Pickering comments: They had no compassion, no agape; their only concern was to preserve their system, their position and authority.
F2 In Robertson’s Word Pictures, Dr. Robertson comments: Mark has a good deal to say about the looks of Jesus with this word (Mar 3:5, Mar 3:34; Mar 5:37; Mar 9:8; Mar 10:23; Mar 11:11) as here. So Luke only once, Luk 6:10. The eyes of Jesus swept the room all round and each rabbinical hypocrite felt the cut of that condemnatory glance. This indignant anger was not inconsistent with the love and pity of Jesus. Murder was in their hearts and Jesus knew it. Anger against wrong as wrong is a sign of moral health (Gould).
E2 God’s anger is righteous, so as humans, we must be careful.
E3 Ephesians 4:26 WEL When you are angry, do not sin. Don’t let the sun set on your anger.
D2 I understand the anger written about in our passage is the anger of abuse. It is an anger used to control, to shame, to manipulate.
D3 An example of this anger is John 9:34 GW The Jews answered him, "You were born full of sin. Do you think you can teach us?" Then they threw him out of the synagogue.
C7 Not given to wine
D1 It is not wine that Paul writes against; he writes against the misuse of wine.
D2 Addiction is evil.
D3 If the wine controls the person, then the person is disqualified.
D4 We, as Christians, are to find our joy, help, comfort God’s way, not the way of alcohol.
D5 Alcohol destroys judgment, discernment, self-control, etc.
D6 Alcohol was forbidden kings and priests.
E1 Isaiah 28:7 NIV And these also stagger from wine and reel from beer: Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine; they reel from beer, they stagger when seeing visions, they stumble when rendering decisions.
E2 Leviticus 10:9-10 NIV You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean,
E3 Proverbs 31:4-5 NLT It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine. Rulers should not crave alcohol. For if they drink, they may forget the law and not give justice to the oppressed.
C8 Not violent
D1 This is the use of force to control whether by words, physical violence, or both.
D2 Psalm 11:5 NIV The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.
C9 Not consumed by money
D1 Consider the number of “teachers” on the conference circuit who promote each others books.
D2 Fleecing the flock in frequent appeals for money, fake promises of God’s blessings for money, or even stealing it.
D3 Psalm 11:5 NIV The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.
C10 Lover of hospitality
D1 This is especially true for traveling church workers.
D2 This is in meeting the needs of believers primarily.
D3 This is if we are able. Some might say they are not able as an excuse even though they are able.
C11 Loves what is good
D1 Good is defined by God.
D2 Mark 10:18 NET Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
D3 We read of God pronouncing His creation as good in Genesis 1:31
D4 The Lord Jesus showed us by example: John 10:32 NET Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many good deeds from the Father. For which one of them are you going to stone me?"
C12 Good as above. The church not only must love good but do and be good, as God defines good, which would be one in compliance with His rules and beliefs.
C13 Sober, reasonable
D1 This has the idea of thinking and living in moderation.
D2 This is an attitude.
D3 He doesn’t go to extremes in eating, drinking, work, etc.
D4 It is translated as sensible, prudent, discreet, temperate, and of a sound mind.
C14 Just
D1 Treats all evenly and without bias or prejudice.
D2 Making decisions without favoritism.
D3 Doesn’t have any “yes” men whose loyalty is to the church leader instead of God.
D4 Being just like this would be in compliance with God’s rules and desires.
C15 Holy
D1 Even though we all are wicked, after salvation we are to be holy as God is holy. This is God’s standard.
D2 Someone who lives their life avoiding or deliberately disobeying God is a failure and are not qualified.
D3 There are leaders who when confronted with error will stonewall, cover-up, or abuse. They have completely failed this command for leaders and failed all of us.
C16 Self-control
D1 We need the grace of God to help, so we can show restraint and control.
D2 An out of control church leader is not favored by anyone.
D3 It is being self-disciplined. Someone like this doesn’t need someone to constantly prod them to do their job, to study, to encourage, etc. Having self-control would include self-discipline in Bible study, prayer, and service to God first, then wife, then children, then believers, then those outside the church.
D4 1 Corinthians 9:24 CSB Don't you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.
D5 Hebrews 12:1 CSB Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us,
C17 Committed to the faith
D1 This is commitment to the Gospel as taught by our Lord Jesus. This is commitment to His teaching. This is commitment to the style of life taught in the New Testament.
D2 It deals with a worldview that is in align with God’s worldview.
C18 Knows apologetics
D1 The church leader must be able to gently defend the faith.
D2 To defend the faith, one must know it. This entails reading and studying the Bible primarily but also theology, philosophy, and other apologists. One doesn’t need to have a doctorate in these areas, just a basic understanding.
D3 Studying the truth is more important than studying error.
D4 The Bible must be interpreted in its plain, normal sense. God is omniscient, omnisapient, and knows how to communicate perfectly. He does not deceive or deliberately have some hidden meaning that only those in the higher class of religion can understand.
D5 All believers need to be taught, so all must defend the faith. We do not defend it physically; we defend it spiritually. 1 Peter 3:15-16 CSB but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame.
D6 We see Apollos doing this: Acts 18:28 CSB For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating through the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.

14 January 2015

Behold the Beauty of the Lord

Psalm 27:4 is a favorite of many. It reads, "One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple." (Psalms 27:4, NKJV)

The phrase "…to behold the beauty of the LORD…" to me sounds like is an egotistical, narcissistic monster who wants everyone to stare at Him and be overawed at His physical characteristics. Most Bibles translate the Hebrew with those same words.

It seems that this passage is not speaking of God's physical form, rather it refers to His character. It is not His physical beauty we are to admire but His character, His personality, and His way of life. It is just comforting and pleasant to be around Him.

Physical beauty is not to be the judge of a person (Proverbs 31:30, Proverbs 6:25, Proverbs 11:22, 2 Samuel 14:25), but their character, personality, is (1 Samuel 16:7, 1 Peter 3:4, John 7:24). A pretentious lifestyle or look is not commended (Isaiah 3:16, Proverbs 30:13).

Some of God's character traits are found in Exodus 34:6, 1 Timothy 1:17 and Jude 25. Some traits worth admiring as love (John 3:16), peace (Philippians 4:7), wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:7), knowledge (Romans 11:33), just (Deuteronomy 32:4), merciful (Ephesians 2:4), strong (1 Corinthians 1:25), helpful (Jude 1:24), compassionate (James 5:11), keeps His promises (Proverbs 30:5), and doesn't lie (Titus 1:2).

These are not only worth admiring but traits we should be developing into our character. This happens by reading/studying the Bible, prayer, fellowship with other, being taught, confession of sin, and humility.