A Forgiving Spirit

A Forgiving Spirit

by Gene Taylor

There is no more important characteristic found in the human heart than forgiveness. It’s importance is seen in the home, church, community and nation. Someone has said there are “three kindred spirits in the heart—giving, thanksgiving and forgiving. Usually where one is found, all are found.” A forgiving heart is an essential quality every child of God should have (Eph. 4:32).

Reasons To Be Forgiving

God commands it (Mark 11:25). This should be sufficient reason for any right-thinking person to be forgiving because God’s promises rest upon obedience to His word. But forgiveness on mere obedience to command usually falls short of what it should be. Anything done out of a sense of duty or necessity is usually not from the heart (cf. 2 Cor. 9:5-7). Consider the parent who makes the child say “I’m sorry” when, in reality, he is not sorry at all. He says it but only to appease his parent.

The example of Jesus (I Pet. 2:21; Phil. 2:3-5; Luke 23:34). As our example in all things, He would not require of us that which He would not do Himself. Even when His life was taken from Him, He had a forgiving attitude. It is said of Him, “He gave all, then forgave.”

We have been forgiven. God, in Christ, has forgiven the sins of the Christian (Eph. 4:32). As Christ has forgiven him, he is to forgive others (Col. 3:13). One who is unwilling to forgive after he has been forgiven is viewed disdainfully by the God of heaven (Matt. 18:21-35).

In order to have future forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15).

What It Means To Forgive

Forgiveness is more than just speaking the words. It must be sincere and from the heart. It must be patterned after the forgiveness God has granted to us. It must be accompanied by actions which befit true forgiveness.

Forgiveness involves a kind attitude—abandoning all animosity and hatred. All bitterness, anger, wrath, clamor and evil speaking should be put away (Eph. 4:31). We can hold no grudges. One must deny the impulse to get even and seek to do the forgiven one good.

Forgiveness involves forgetting (Heb. 8:12), but what does it mean to forget? It is impossible for a person to completely obliterate the wrong from his mind. Rather it means to not hold the person accountable for it anymore. When forgiveness is granted that should end the matter. It should never again be dredged up or held against the one who has been forgiven.

Forgiveness should be given by the “golden rule” (Matt. 7:12).

One should always be willing to forgive—even at repeated offenses. Matthew 18:21-22 has the apostle Peter asking, “‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'”

Jesus was willing to forgive those who crucified Him, but they were not forgiven until they acknowledged their wrong and repented of it (Luke 23:34; Acts 2:36-39). When one refuses to repent, he is to be regarded as a “heathen and a tax collector to you” (Matt. 18:15-17).

It Is Absolutely True

I recently watched a video clip from an interview about gender identification. The interviewer asked the female guest, “Is it true that only a female chicken can lay an egg?” After a volley of comments back and forth, the interviewer said, “Isn’t it the truth that female chickens lay eggs?” to which the guest replied with a smile, “Whose truth?” Her response reflects a popular belief in our society that truth is relative to an individual’s point of view. Thus, what may be true to one person may not be true to another. So then, the conclusion to this viewpoint is that there is no absolute truth. However, nothing could be further from the truth!

The fact is that there are absolutes that are true regardless of what an individual may believe or feel in one’s heart. It is the absolute truth that the sun exists and even though I may believe that it isn’t there, hide in a cave and never see it again, the sun is still there. It is an absolute truth that a human must breathe oxygen to survive. Even though one may think that it’s not necessary, or that because you can’t see it that it doesn’t exist, still it is true that without it, a person will suffocate and die. Speaking of dying, all people will die a physical death, even if that is not “true” to me, I will someday breathe my last and die. That’s the absolute truth.

When it comes to matters of faith, there are absolute truths. First and foremost, God is absolute, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect. He is the Creator of all things and it is evident in the marvelously complex and wondrous universe He spoke into being. God’s word is truth as stated by Jesus in John 17:17. The bible is God breathed, inspired and it is good for doctrine, for reprimand, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the people of God may be spiritually mature, thoroughly prepared for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Because the bible narrative is true, Jesus came, lived, died, was resurrected and now resides on the right hand of God. Because one believes in this truth and obeys the gospel plan, they can have eternal life once they pass from this present life. And that my friends, is the absolute truth.

Jay Launius – 2022 Maud church of Christ Maud, Texas

Sardis: Your Works Are Not Perfect

June 25, 2023

Sardis: Your Works Are Not Perfect                                                                                                               

by Jeff Asher

Sardis was one of the oldest and most important cities of Asia Minor. The city was founded in the third century B.C. The Lydian kings revered the Greek gods, were benefactors of Hellenic sanctuaries and consulted the oracle at Delphi. In Roman times Sardis was the center of the imperial cult in the region. Current excavations have brought much to light, including a superb late synagogue. For centuries Sardis had been a principal center of the Jewish Diaspora, and was probably the “Sepharad” of Obadiah 20. Sardis was situated on the east bank of the Pactolus River about 50 miles east of Smyrna. The city stood on the northern slope of Mount Tmolus. Its acropolis occupied one of the spurs of the mountain measuring a height of 950 feet. At the base was a river that served as a moat.

The original city was an almost impregnable fortress, towering above the broad valley of the Hermus, and nearly surrounded by precipitous cliffs of treacherously loose rock. The ruins of the walls are still visible.

The most impressive building of ancient Sardis must have been its magnificent Temple of Artemis, built in the fourth century B.C. The temple was 327 feet long and 163 feet wide and had 78 Ionic columns, each 58 feet high. This massive temple still bears witness in its fragmentary remains to the wealth and architectural skill of the people that raised it.

The ancient city was the residence of the kings of Lydia, among them Croesus, proverbial for his immense wealth. Cyrus is said to have taken $600,000,000 worth of treasure from the city when he captured it in 548 B.C. Sardis was in very early times, both from the extremely fertile character of the neighboring region and from its convenient position, a commercial mart of importance.

Through the failure to watch, the acropolis had been successfully scaled in 549 B.C. by a Median soldier, and in 218 by a Cretan. The Ionians burned the city in 501 B.C., but it was quickly rebuilt and regained its importance. In 334 B.C. it surrendered to Alexander the Great who gave it a brief measure of independence, for 12 years later in 322 B.C. it was taken by Antigonus. In 301 B.C. it fell into the possession of the Seleucidan kings who made it the residence of their governor. It was freed again in 190 B.C. when it formed a part of the empire of Pergamos, and later of the Roman province of Asia. In 17 a.d., when it was destroyed by an earthquake, the Roman emperor Tiberius remitted the taxes of the people and rebuilt the city, and in his honor the citizens of that and of neighboring towns erected a large monument, but Sardis never recovered its former status.

The church of our Lord in Sardis was much like the city itself—they had a reputation but they were in serious decline (Rev. 3:1-6).

Jesus said, “I know thy works… I have not found thy works perfect before God” (Rev. 3:1-2). There was activity in the church, but the activity was not coming to perfection. They were not getting the job done. Nothing they had done from their beginning had succeeded in establishing and grounding them in the faith.

There are churches like this today. Their greatest moment was the fleeting blaze of their momentous beginning. Since then they have not amounted to much. There were several converted at first, they readily put up a meetinghouse and called a preacher. However, soon after that things began to dwindle.

Some were like the stony ground and having no root returned to the world quickly (Matt. 13:20-21; Luke 8:13). Trial and temptation will discourage the weak hearted. They are unwilling to struggle against sin. To change the prior habits of life requires discipline and prayer. The ridicule of former friends is hard to withstand (1 Pet. 4:3-4).

Others are like the thorny ground (Matt. 13:22; Luke 8:14). There are other things that compete for our time and energy. While these things are not wrong in themselves, they must assume a priority lower than the ends and interests of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 6:33). In a life “filled with thorns” there is never time for Bible study, prayer, evangelism or assembling with the saints. Yes, Sardis had a name, a reputation, but it was a thin veneer that hid the immaturity and stagnant condition of this church (cf. Heb. 5:12-14).

The remedy for the problems in this church was the few righteous and spiritual among them (Rev. 3:4). Notice that the Lord does not say give up on the rest, quit, go somewhere else and start another church. Neither does He conclude that the challenge before them is insurmountable and seeing that they “can’t beat ’em,” they had better “join ’em.”

No, Jesus says, “hold fast and repent” (Rev. 3:3). Those that are righteous must do the holding while urging the worldly and apathetic to repent. It is always the faithful few who have the greater burdens to bear. Yet, they are able (1 Cor. 10:13). Now, which are you?

Fervent In Spirit

June 18, 2023

Fervent In Spirit

by Gene Taylor

As Christians we have work to do. We were created in Christ for good works (Eph. 2:10) and to be zealous for them (Titus 2:14). Albert Barnes said, “An idle man and a Christian are names which do not harmonize.”

The above text points out two basic attitudes the Christian can have in relation to the work of the Lord. One can be either “lagging in diligence” or “fervent in spirit.” Of course, if one is going to please the Lord the latter is preferred.

“Lagging in Diligence”

The King James Version translates this phrase as “slothful in business.” To be slothful is to be lazy or indolent. William Barclay stated, “There is a certain intensity in the Christian life. There is no room for lethargy in it.” (The Daily Study Bible Series, Romans, p. 178).

God’s people in the Old Testament were warned against having such an attitude. Amos 6:1 pronounced woe upon those who were “at ease in Zion.” Jeremiah 48:10 says, “A curse on him who is lax in doing the Lord’s work!” (NIV).

Diligence is required of Christians, God’s people today. They are to give diligence to grow in Christ (2 Pet. 1:5); abound in diligence (2 Cor. 8:7); and be diligent and not become sluggish (Heb. 6:9-12).

Diligence is a product of commitment. The Corinthians’ commitment to the Lord was demonstrated by doing what needed to be done in reference to the sinner they had in their midst (1 Cor. 5:9-13). 2 Corinthians 7:11 says, “For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

“Fervent in Spirit”

The word translated “fervent in spirit” means to boil with heat, be hot. It is used of boiling anger, love, and zeal for what is good or bad. As used in our text, it means to have a burning zeal to do the will of God.

An example of this attitude is Jesus Christ. John 2:17, in speaking of Him, says, “Then His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.'” Apollos is also an example of zeal. Acts 18:24-25 states, “Now a certain Jew named Apollos … came to Ephesus … and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord … ” Both Jesus and Apollos were successful in accomplishing their God-given tasks.

Fervor and enthusiasm are the keys to success in the Lord’s work. The church at Laodicea was chastised because of their lukewarmness (Rev. 3:14-16). Barclay says, “The one man whom the Risen Christ could not stand was the man who was neither hot nor cold” (Ibid.). He added, “The Christian may burn out, but he cannot rust out.”

Sadly, though, this spirit is lacking in some who claim to be God’s people. These are those who put off, sidestep, maneuver out of, or procrastinate with respect to that which needs to be done in the kingdom of the Lord. It seems impossible to move some “Christians” into action. The fire and enthusiasm of the first century church is missing among them. They have restored the truth but seem to have forgotten the spirit.

Conclusion

Ephesians 6:6 counsels us to be “doing the will of God from the heart.” May none of us drag our feet but instead give ourselves enthusiastically to doing the work of the Lord. Such a life of service will grant us the best life here and in the hereafter.

Don’t Confuse Me With The Facts

June 11, 2023

Don’t Confuse Me With The Facts

Teaching the Gospel is not always easy. Probably the most difficult problem the Christian faces in trying to teach the Gospel is teaching a person who has a closed mind.

How often do we meet a person with an attitude that shouts “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up!” In other words, “It does not matter whether or not what you say is true, I am going to believe and do what I want.” You could point to many Scriptures; you could provide examples from the New Testament; you could quote the very words of Jesus, yet such a person will remain unmoved. Such an attitude would be almost humorous if it were not so sad. We need to understand the world has always had such people in it and learn not to be discouraged.

For 120 years Noah preached repentance to a wicked world and warned of the impending Flood. For 120 years people slapped their hands over their ears whenever they saw Noah coming down the road. But then came the day when God shut the door of the ark and the rain drops began to fall. The only ones who were saved were those who had spent 120 years with a hammer and saw in their hands, instead of their hands over their ears.

Jeremiah is known as the “weeping prophet” to us today and for good reason. His mission was very similar to Noah’s and his audience was just as stubborn. For about 40 years, Jeremiah preached to the rebellious people of God to repent or face the wrath of God. Jeremiah had good reason to cry because his audience not only refused to listen to him but also, instead of putting their hands over their ears, they made fists and put them in Jeremiah’s face.

Jeremiah was declared a dangerous fanatic; beaten and put in stocks; his writings were burned by a king; he was called a traitor, beaten again and thrown in a dungeon; he was thrown into a cistern where he sank up to his armpits in mud; and finally he was carried off to Egypt. It is amazing what great lengths people went to not hear Jeremiah.

Somehow, there are those who believe Jesus was exempt from prejudiced audiences. Even the Son of God who spoke with all the power and truth of Deity faced people whose attitude expressed, “Don’t confuse me with the facts” There were those who refused to listen to Christ; others mocked Him; one occasion a mob tried to throw Him over a cliff and another time some tried to stone Him. The prejudiced against Christ and His message grew to the point that to silence Him, His critics crucified Him.

After all the “plugged” ears Christians run into, (See, Acts 28:25-27), not only should Christians learn not to become discouraged, but also learn an important lesson on dull ears and closed eyes. Christians should beware of plugging their own ears, shutting their eyes and closing their minds to God’s Truth—the Bible.

Christians can “turn away their ears from the truth” (2 Tim. 4:4) and become just as stubborn and prejudiced and even more so than those in the world (See, 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:1-4; Titus 1:13-16). If there is anything worse than a person of the world with their fingers in their ears, its a professed Christian with their fingers in their ears.

The proper attitude for the Christian is to “Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good,” (1 Thes. 5:21), studying to show thyself approved, (2 Tim. 2:15), and “examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things (are) so” (Acts 17:11). It is an attitude that “thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; bears all things believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:5-7). The Christian with the proper attitude towards other and the truth has his fingers turning the pages of his Bible instead of stuck in his ears!

by Wayne Greeson

Senseless

June 4, 2023

Senseless

“Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:29).

I have decided to quit trying to make sense out of the world’s behavior. A fallen world is just senseless, and no matter how hard I try to make sense of it, the task is impossible. The problem is that the world refuses to recognize its Creator.

I realize that I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the Spirit described a world that ignores its Creator. “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (II Timothy 3:2-4). Sounds like this time and this generation; however, this has been true of every time and every generation.

Why does the Lord allow this to continue? He holds off on executing judgment as Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).

Christians are to be lights in the darkness of a senseless world (Matthew 5:16). We are to tell people about God (I Peter 2:9). We are challenged to love unconditionally like our God (Matthew 5:43-48). We are called to show mercy, just as we have been shown mercy (Luke 6:36). Our mission is exactly the same as our Lord and Savior’s, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Of course we don’t do the saving, but we actively tell people about Jesus. We are even to beg people to be reconciled to God (II Corinthians 5:20).

We are to call people out of a world that is senseless into a God-ruled world that makes sense. –

Ed Wittlif (Denver, CO)

Try as I might I too try to make sense of this world and simply am unable.  This article from Ed helped put things into a better perspective for me.  We don’t have to make sense of this world, our focus shouldn’t be on making sense of this world, our focus needs to be on God’s will and completing his mission, seeking the lost and helping them to find salvation through Christ. – Kevin