For some, our value is often based on what we can provide. If we are seen as valuable, we have likely done something or will do something in the near future. When God looks at us, he does not see our value the same way. God sees us as valuable from the day we are conceived in our mother’s womb. From that moment he is fully invested in us, our life and our soul. It is an amazing feeling to know God is devoted to us and is going to keep track of our maturation.
Matthew 18:10-11 (ESV): “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
We can take for granted the impact we have on those around us. There are kids who need encouragement and a little accountability to succeed, but we don’t give it to them. There are others who need to know they are appreciated and missed so they can attend church more often, but we didn’t notice they were absent. We are all partially influenced by our environment, so we must be mindful of the environment we are creating.
Matthew 18:12-14 (ESV): What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
We tend to make the mistake of weighing a person’s value by some personal measurement. We may weigh their attendance or participation at church, their grades in school, or their overall attitude when we interact with them. God sees each of us as valuable, independent of whether we deserve it or not. He is willing to go beyond expectation and do whatever it takes to save us. If that means leaving the other ninety-nine sheep for a moment, He is willing to take that risk. Are we willing to be as indiscriminate in who we are willing to extend ourselves for? Of all the ways we can show someone we love them, putting our ninety-nine at risk for one is one of the best. Jesus left His glory in heaven and came to earth to be born in the flesh. He left all He knew to save us and we recognize His love for us is limitless as a result. Are we willing to love and care about others to the point we leave our comfort zone to save them? Could the limits we put on love be a hindrance to some from joining the body of Christ? Let us live in a Christ-like manner where we be can be certain our love is an encouragement to all.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Jesus wants to ensure we focus on the kingdom of God above all else. Whenever we find ourselves focusing on things that perish, we know we are focused on the wrong thing. In the Old and New Testament, covetousness was a something we should abstain from. Primarily because we are devaluing the life and blessings God gave us every time we believe we are entitled to what others have.
Luke 12:13-15 (ESV): Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
There are many reasons to avoid coveting what others have, but Jesus focuses on two things. He discusses the significance of having all the riches in the world and the final Judgement. In the grand scheme of life, would having more possessions insure our happiness? We often find the answer is no. When looking at the divorce and suicide rate among the wealthiest among us, it increases drastically compared to those who own less.
Luke 12:16-21 (ESV): And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Jesus also wants us to consider whether being rich can help us please God. Scripture shows being rich can be a hindrance for many because rich people tend to rely on their own abilities instead of God (Matthew 19:23-24). We need to continually remind ourselves all good things we receive are a blessing from God (James 1:17). If we don’t have it, we must not need it is the conclusion Jesus appears to confirm. Notice Jesus says, He was “not the judge or arbitrator” over these matters. Jehovah gave Jesus reign over all the earth, so He could arbitrate this matter if it was significant enough (Matthew 28:18). Jesus is the High Priest who intercedes on our behalf and He is also going to preside over the final Judgement of the entire world (Hebrews 7:25-26; Matthew 25:31-46). With His statement, Jesus is reaffirming the amount of things we have do not bring us salvation or happiness; so He is not concerned and neither should we.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
There was a point in time when we all spoke the same language and had the ability to accomplish great things together. It is interesting to think of a time when communication was clear and everyone was able to understand what the other desired. While speaking the same language helped, their cohesiveness was more than that; they had agreement in language, desire, and aspiration.
Genesis 11:4 (ESV): Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
They were all interesting in making a name for themselves. This desire remains true for many of us today; we want to make a better name for ourselves more than we want to further God’s name. It is God that blesses each of us to accomplish great things, but he is not going to bless us at the risk of losing our soul. Throughout Scripture, we see God will do whatever is necessary to preserve our soul from damnation. Humans have a natural ability to take credit for God’s blessing, so God tries to help us by keeping us humble.
Genesis 11:6-7 (ESV): And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.”
We see another example of this in the battle between Israel and the Midianites (Judges 7:2-8). Midian started with 22,000 soldiers, but God knew there were too many. Jehovah said if He gave them victory with 22,000 soldiers, Israel would boast and say, “my own hand has saved me” (Judges 7:2). God knew he had to create an environment where everyone attributed their success to God. That is why God only allowed Midian to take 300 Israelite soldiers into battle with him. Similar to the Tower of Babel, God did not want to allow success at the expense of their soul. Sometimes our life isn’t exactly as we wanted, but it always exactly as we need. We go through tough times, not because God doesn’t like us, but because He loves. God has turned what our enemies have created for our demise into sometime used for our blessing. In a world full of evil, God has tuned the sufferings caused by sin into blessing of hope (Romans 5:3-4). With a focus on salvation, Jesus put it best; what benefit is it to gain the whole world and lose our soul (Mark 8:36)?
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
The Old Testament (OT) is an excellent source to better understand God and His relationship with man. We can see His holiness exhibited throughout Scripture, while seeing the desires of man drawing them away from God. We can see God is a righteous God who keeps His promises, and we can see the confirmed prophesies in the OT showing its inspiration. The OT provides immense value to Christians in a variety of ways, but should it be used today to make rules for the Christian church?
Hebrews 10:1-4 (ESV): For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
For many, it depends on the rule being discussed. There are Christian churches today who believe tithing is a part of worship, without advocating for the sacrifice of animals on an alter. They recite Malachi 3:8-10, which speaks on robbing God by not giving tithes and contributions. But they ignore the OT passages that command burnt offerings be offered to God (Leviticus 1:1-3). How do we reconcile bringing in some laws of the OT, while leaving others out?
Hebrews 8:3-5 (ESV): For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”
Jesus Christ came to create a new covenant, and in doing so, He would make the old convent “obsolete and ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13). Jesus brought many laws from the OT into His church, but it is not our place to bring anymore. Jesus is the perfect one-time sacrifice that removes the requirement of us needing to continually deliver burnt offerings. Likewise, since God instructs Christians to give cheerfully and as they feel compelled in their heart (2 Corinthians 9:7), there no longer remains a requirement to tithe. We will be judged by heart; if we give $10 but wanted to give $5, our judgement will be based on $5. As Paul put it, “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3).