By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Throughout Scripture, there is several common themes that continue to reappear. One of them is the need to be obedient to God in spirit and in truth.
I Timothy 4:11-16 (ESV): Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
You can see from the passage, the apostle Paul is telling Timothy what he needs to do to progress in the faith. On the truth side, there is the need to read and understand scripture. As you grow in understanding, you need to teach. On the spirit side, you need to conduct yourself with love and purity. Growth cannot occur unless you are working on spirit and truth. It is not enough to understand scripture if you do not care about living the values they portray. It is also true it is not enough to love others, if you are not interested making sure your advice is scriptural. There is the need to be consistent in word and deed.
Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV): And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
As God's children, our goal is to please Him. Even though we may have the best intentions, it is not our place to set the standard. We have to be humble enough to accept the fact we do not always have the best ideas. Choosing to focus on spirit is to devalue the need to understand scripture. On the other hand, choosing to focus on truth is to devalue the need to do all things in love and purity. There is a balance Christians need if they want to be effective when encouraging and bringing others to the faith. It is God's desire for all to be saved and to come to repentance. As Christians, it is our mission to bring His desire to fruition; and the only way to accomplish our goal is to live as the Father commands.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
When attempting to build unity, it is important to remember your actions will speak as loud as your words. The apostle Paul encourages us to make sure our actions are aligned with our words.
If we want to understand God and His will, there is only one way to accomplish this. Reading His inspired word found in the Bible will enable you to know God on an intimate level. You will be able to see His passion, creativity, love and wrath. You will also see where His focus has been from the beginning.
2 Peter 1:20-21 (ESV): Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
One of the things you will notice throughout Scripture is God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. This is important because that means no one should come with new a new revelation God “just told them.” The apostle Paul said, when that is which is perfect is complete (the Bible), that which is done in part (prophecies and other spiritual gifts) will be done away with (1 Corinthians 13:10).
So how does God talk to us today? I went to a barbeque and there was a person there who was dressed to impress. He was wearing a suit, with designer sunglasses and loafers. Someone asked him about being overdressed for the occasions and he said that God told Him to wear those clothes. He said God wanted him to look good. He even went as far as to say God woke him up at 5:00am and told him to buy designer socks. As awesome as not having to decide what to wear each morning could be, God is not concerned about our fashion.
Joshua 1:8 (ESV): This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
You will see throughout Scripture, the emphasis of God and His Spirit is on the Word. Most of the time you see the Holy Spirit being quoted in the New Testament, he is quoting God’s word in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit was working through the apostles in a similar manner. The apostles were writing and quoting the revelation of the Holy Spirit in their writings. When the apostles were not quoting God, they were speaking from their own mind and conscious. This is why each writer in the Bible has a different and distinct writing style, without contradicting another. For matters outside of the word of God, the apostles spoke from their own thoughts and experiences. For matters pertaining to the word of God, the apostles spoke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If you cannot find a verse in the Bible telling you what socks to buy, then you should not expect the Spirit of God to share a personal revelation.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Do your words match your beliefs? I love how James asks for the wise and understanding to be identified. First, he is not necessarily asking for people to self-identify as “wise and understanding”. The way it is worded, it makes me think of the way the apostles told the early church to identify “seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3). In both cases, the responsibility appears to be on the congregation to make the proper judgment.
James 3:13-14 (ESV): Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.
The reason is given in the next sentence. James, inspired by the Holy Spirit wants Christians to judge situations based on the evidence. If you want to know who the smartest person at your job is, you would not ask the employees what they thought about themselves - you would ask them to name others. As you keep hearing the same name, you can be confident you found your person.
Romans 12:9-13 (ESV): Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
If someone believes he or she is a follower of Christ, how should you go about confirming this? The apostle Paul tells their love should be genuine. He then helps us understand what it means to have a genuine love. He tells us to abhor evil and cling to what is good. When someone identifies himself or herself as a follower of Christ, we should find out if they possess these traits. When we are asking others about the person, we should be trying to understand if they love others with brotherly affection, are zealous for the Lord, and show honor to others. Do they rejoice in the hope of salvation, are they patient when times get tough, and do they pray constantly? They also need to be supporting the church and looking for opportunities to be hospitable to the household of faith. To understand someone properly takes time and we should avoid making snap judgments. If we have the time to get to know someone, great; but if not, we are to see what those who know him or her say about him or her.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
As we begin a new year, it is always fun to imagine the changes we are going to create in our life. We may want to get that gym membership, call our parents more, or be nicer to others. Whatever it is that we want to change in our life, it requires a complete commitment to that change. Buying the gym membership is nice, but maybe you need the extra accountability of a personal trainer. Wanting to speak to your parents more is thoughtful, but maybe you need to set time aside to visit them as well. Sometimes it requires a little more than what we intended to accomplish our goals; but if we truly want to succeed, we have to be willing to do what it takes.
Romans 12:2 (ESV): Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
As Christians, our commitment to God is no different. We are to live a life where we are separate from the world in many ways. We should not feel the need to retaliate, and we should be willing to be kind to the “wicked and ungrateful” (Luke 6:36). For us to achieve this goal, we need to put all of our energy into learning the word of God. This will provide us the clarity to make decisions that are aligned with His will.
Philippians 4:8 (ESV): Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Like most aspirations, we often know what it takes and are simply not doing it. If we asked someone the process of losing weight, he or she would likely say: eat less and work out more. If we asked someone the process of becoming a better Christian, they would likewise say: go to church and read the Bible. Now both cases are more complex than what I laid out, but you get the picture. If you want to be a better Christian, you need to focus on things that will give you a Christian frame of mind. Pessimism is the choice of the world, but optimism is the preference is Christians. If you want to read your Bible more, try watching TV less. Television is full of programming that is riddled with pessimism. If you only focus on things that honorable, just, pure, and lovely; I can all but guarantee you will have the mindset to be a better Christian. Just remember, all good things come from above (James 1:17) and if you want to show God your appreciation for what He has given you; be obedient. Like any good parent, they give everything they have to the well-being of their children. The only thing they expect in return is for the child to show their love by listening to their parents (1 John 5:3).
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
James 5:3 (ESV): Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.
The thought-provoking element about this verse is the fact that gold and silver do not actually corrode. The alloys or impure materials mixed with gold are what corrodes and are susceptible to rust. That is why rusted or corroded gold will be evidence used against us. Christians are to remain pure and unblemished from the world; so if our gold can rust, it must be impure and mixed with some tainted minerals.
Ephesians 5:27 (NKJV): that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
On the last day, our judgment will be based on the word of God found in the Bible.
John 12:48 (NIV): There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.
There is nothing more pure than God’s word, yet we find Christians frequently speaking where the Bible does not speak. With the best intentions we change concepts from the Bible to become less confrontational and more acceptable to the masses. In actuality, the road to destruction is the wide road that many will walk, while the narrow road is the path that leads to salvation. When we are entertaining to the masses, we are likely mixing what is pure with what is impure. Our focus should not be on the treasures of luxury found on earth, but on the treasures of righteousness found in heaven. Remember, those who store their treasures on earth will be susceptible to rust and corrosion, while those who store their treasures in heaven will remain pure and incorruptible.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV): “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We cannot please both man and God. Every time we focus on the word of God, our treasures are being stored in heaven; every time we focus on the traditions of man, our treasures are being stored here on earth. Rusting is a slow process that happens over time – be ever vigilant and aware of where your treasures are being stored.