Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Young Men and Women, Consider the Meekness of Jesus


I am gentle and humble in heart…
(Matthew 11:29,
NIV)

In these words, Jesus crowned the modest grace of meekness queen of virtues. In the Lord’s time, as in our own, meekness was regarded as feminine and self-abasing. Do we not usually associate the word with someone who is insignificant and labours under an inferiority complex?

The word “meekness” was one of the great ethical words of the Greeks. Aristotle, the philosopher, viewed it as the happy mean between two extremes: between too much anger and too little anger, for example. It was also used of the breaking-in of a horse in which the animal learned to accept control and bow to the will of another. With this background, let us consider its application to the Lord.

It might be said that meekness plus lowliness equals humility. Meekness is humility toward God. Lowliness is humility toward men. Jesus claimed both qualities for Himself. For this it is clear that meekness is not the equivalent of mildness or weakness of character. His activity in cleansing the Temple (John 2; Mark 11) was anything but mild. Meekness is strong, but it is strength held in control. When the glory of God is involved, the meek person can fight with vigour.

In what ways did Jesus display this lowly grace? He demonstrated it in His boyhood when, after His experience in the Temple, He went home and was subject to His parents (Luke 2:41-52). Without complaint He was willing to perform the lowliest duties. He made ploughs and yokes for the farmers of Nazareth. What an occupation for Him who made the world! He meekly accepted the Father’s plan for His life, even though it involved exchanging the freedom of the universe for the restrictions of a village carpenter’s shop.

Jesus was meek in His dealings with fallen humanity – even His own disciples – with doubting Thomas, with traitorous Judas, with denying Peter, and with thunderous James and John. Meekness is essentially the attitude that does not insist on its own rights, but it always ready to let go of privilege in the interests of others. Is this grace prominent in our lives? Meekness is measured by what we can endure without complaint or retaliation or demanding our rights. The meek person is willingly to submit to the will of God.  
How can we learn this grace of meekness?
The fruit of the Spirit is… meekness” (Galatians 5:22-23, ASV).

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Letters to Annie: Don’t Worry about Others’ Opinions


Dear Annie,

            Love, I just want to share with you this story…

            A variation on one of Aesop’s fables tells of a wise man whose son was ashamed to leave the house because he thought other people would think him ugly. The father told him that he shouldn’t worry so much what other people though, and to follow his own mind and heart. To make the point, the father asked his son to join him on his trips to the market over the next few days.

On the first day, the father rode the donkey, and the child walked alongside. As they travelled they could hear passersby criticizing the father for making a small child walk in the heat of the day.

On the second day, the child rode the donkey, while the father walked alongside him. This time people commented about how disrespectful the child was for making an old man walk while he rode in comfort.

On the third day they entered the market, both walking alongside the donkey. They heard the people saying how stupid they were: “Do they not know that donkeys are for riding?”

The following day, both father and son rode on the donkey, and people expressed their indignation about how cruel they were to burden the animal in such a way.

On the fifth day they carried the donkey on their backs. Everyone in the market laughed and ridiculed them.

The wise man then turned to his son and said: “You see, regardless of what you do, there’ll always be people who will disapprove. Therefore, don’t worry about others’ opinions, and do what you think is just and right.

I think you might need this: Annie, if you are constantly worried about what other people think, you will never get to where you need to go in life. You are going to have to do things that don’t always meet people’s standards. You will come into situations where you have to put your pride, and your reputation on the line to get what God wants you to have in life. If you are constantly worried about what people are thinking, you will never have the will to do what’s right. God’s approval matters the most; while people’s approval will expired soon.

I love you,
Rich

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Young Men and Women, Consider the Love of Jesus


[The] love of Christ… this love that surpasses knowledge
(Ephesians 3:18-19,
NIV)

Love expresses itself in a seemingly contradictory way. Parental love expresses itself in a wholesome and loving discipline, not in the indulgence of a child’s every whim. But not every child appreciates this expression of love. It is the same with the Lord’s children. In the gospels, three expressions of Christ’s love are recorded for our instruction. In each case it is stated that the Lord loved the person involved.

We learn first that Christ’s love corrects the one whom He loves. Speaking of the young ruler, Mark says, “Jesus looked at him and loved him” (10:21). And what did His love move Him to do? Jesus saw that the young man had many attractive qualities, but he lacked the greatest essential. He discerned the fatal flaw in the life of the ruler and dealt faithfully with him about it. The young man clinging to his great possessions, he sacrificed the greatest Possession. So will our divine Lord put His unerring finger on our fatal flaw, the thing that will rob us of His highest blessings? Shall we ask him to show us what that thing is?

Next we see that Christ’s love allows suffering by His loved ones. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister [Mary] and Lazarus” (John 11:5). Jesus spent more time in their home than in any other. Was He soft and indulgent with this favoured family? No, He was not. He did not intervene to prevent Lazarus from dying. He did not spare the sisters the heartbreak of seeing him slowly slip away. Rather, He waited two days before responding to their appeal for help. Did He not care? He cared so much that He permitted their suffering.

And what was His purpose? “So that you may believe” (John 11:15). The cultivation of faith was the object of the discipline. After their trail, they had an immeasurably greater Lord, and their suffering has been used to impart comfort and insight to succeeding generations of believers.

Last, Christ’s love cleanses us. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end… [He] began to wash his disciples’ feet” (John 13:1, 5). At that moment, He was on His way to cleanse their defiled souls with His blood, but He paused to give a matchless demonstration of the humility of love. No task is too menial for love. Jesus washed their feet with water, and then with blood from the basin of the cross.
[Edited, modified and modernized from Consider Him (1976) by J. Oswald Sanders]

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