By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
A trait unique to God is His ability to accurately judge the heart. There is good reason, as judging the heart is a difficult task for any of us to accomplish. We may even find it difficult to understand our own actions, let alone what is encouraging the actions of others.
Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV): The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Our heart may have us believing we are being considerate of others, when the reality is we are only considering ourselves. Our heart may have us believing we are not disappointed by the actions of some, but the reality is we are truly hurting from the betrayal.
Proverbs 21:2 (ESV): Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.
Our inability to understand the motive to the action is why we misunderstand each other on a regular basis. Consider someone purchasing another person a cup of coffee: did they have extra money that day, are they in a good mood and wanted to share the joy, or are they interested in getting to know the person on an intimate level? While the action has value, it alone is not enough for us to confidently discern the implications of the action.
Jeremiah 17:10 (ESV): “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
This is part of the reason we consistently see the Bible equating sins that many believe to be “capital offenses” to the sins that many believe are a shortcoming of being “only human”.
Revelation 21:8 (ESV): But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Even among believers, not everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21). Some believers will be separated with the sheep while other believers will be placed with the goats (Matthew 25). Even though they both sin every day, God found some acceptable and others unworthy. Could the judgment of the heart be the difference? We look at Paul and understand he played a vital role in the murder of Christians; yet God thought him worthy to be an Apostle. Could it be that while his actions were evil, his heart was not? In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14), could the Tax Collector have been the one who left justified; not because he lived the better life, but because he had the better heart? I encourage all Christians to live a life of spirit and truth, but remember, nothing is greater than love (1 Corinthians 13:13) and love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8).
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
One of the more shameful traits of humans that we underestimate is making excuses. There are numerous reasons why we may make excuses, but none of them are reasons we should have a part in.
We find excuses come from fear and a lack of trust,
Exodus 4:10-12 (NKJV): Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”
We find excuses come from selfishness and laziness,
Luke 14:18-20 (NIV): “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
We also see excuses form when we do something we know we should not be doing,
Genesis 3:12-13 (ESV): The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Avoiding excuses may be challenging because we may not recognize when we are making them. Often times, we truly believe the explanation we provided for our shortcoming. We really were tired when we decided not to attend worship service; and we definitely were busy when we did not follow through on a commitment or meet a deadline. To recognize an excuse is to understand we had an opportunity to do right, yet chose to ignore it and/or do wrong. We chose to do whatever we did the night before that contributed to us being tired the next morning. The same explanation is applicable when we say we are “too busy” to complete a task. We frequently find ourselves able to make time for the things that matter to us, so we should be able to make time for things that matter to others. While a life without excuses may not be easy, there is no doubt it will be rewarding to those who can achieve it.
Galatians 6:9 (ESV): And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
There are multiple reasons why it is a good idea for any institution to be united in mission. For instance, it will provide direction to its members and the ability for everyone to take a part in creating the success. When we have decisions to make, we can reference the values outlined in the mission. We also have the tool necessary to resolve conflicts when two or more people have differing opinions. One of the most important reasons for any institution to be united in mission is because a divided institution cannot sustain itself.
Luke 11:17 (ESV): But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.
Without a mission, conflicts will go unresolved and factions will be created within the institution. New mission statements will be created by each faction, outlining a new focus and direction. That is part of the reason the church is expected to avoid such controversies.
Titus 3:9-11 (NIV): But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.
As outlined above, arguing and having controversies are not an issue within themselves; it is foolish arguments and matters of opinion that should be avoided. The mission statement is created to resolve conflicts and provide direction. Therefore, when the parties are arguing about matters the Bible cannot resolve; it is going to lead to trouble. Likewise, if an institution is not willing to defend the mission statement (no matter the result), that institution is not going to last either. We cannot compromise on values and principles for the sake of peace and unity, but we should be humble enough to allow the mission statement to be our guide.
Mark 8:34 (ESV): And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
To stay united in Christ, we must agree to defer to scripture before opinion, and we must be willing to deny ourselves for the kingdom of God.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Jesus has a way with words that few (if any) can duplicate. Even though His statements can appear simple on the surface; the more we meditate on His words, the more meaning we can attain.
John 14:6 (ESV): Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Initially, we may contemplate the fact that Jesus is our Lord and Savior; remembering that He died on the cross for our sins. Understanding His sacrifice helps us to understand why the only way to “Come to the Father” is by confessing Jesus is the son of God; accompanied with the baptism for the remission of sin (Acts 2:38).
Romans 10:9 (ESV): Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
We may also consider the fact that Jesus is our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16); speaking to God on our behalf. He is the mediator and the reason we make our requests in the name of Jesus Christ.
John 16:23 (ESV): In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.
1 Timothy 2:5 (NIV): For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus
There is also the more literal approach of our ability to enter heaven. Jesus will be the judge on the Final Day and He will decide whether we will enter the Kingdom.
Matthew 25:31-32 (NIV): “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
In addition, the words that will be used to judge us on the Last Day are the words of Jesus Christ.
John 12:48 (NKJV): He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
Without going through Jesus, there is truly no way to “Come to the Father”. May we always be humble and recall that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light of our salvation.