“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” 1 Peter 4:1
Christ suffered in the flesh for doing good and for being the Messiah. He had a mindset that went against what was common at the time. Since Christ suffered, Paul tells us to arm ourselves with the same way of thinking, think the same way that Christ thought. As His followers we will suffer in the flesh, since those who think like Christ have ceased from sin. Think like Christ. Do what’s right, even if it leads to suffering.
Since we are in Christ we focus on what’s truly important. Christ focused on the bigger picture. Instead of listening to the mindset of the day, He stuck to His purpose. Because of this, He went through with the plan and now we have forgiveness of sins. The world will tempt us to desert Christ. We don’t join in because we have developed a new mindset. We are reborn and no longer live like the world.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2). Paul’s reasoning is that if we have died to sin, why would we continue to live in it? We say no to the world because we have died to sin. The old life, the way we used to think, the way we used to act, the way we used to talk, is dead. We have a new mindset that is focused on God and eternal life.
Galatians 5:24 says, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Do you belong to Christ? If the answer is yes, then you no longer own yourself. God owns you and He expects us to have a mindset that mirrors His own. Self control is essential if we are to live Christ-like lives. To do this we must develop a new mindset. A mind that thinks differently from the majority. Making this choice won’t always be easy, but it’s what our Father desires of us as His children.
Most historians agree that Andrew the Apostle was born between 5 and 10 AD in Bethsaida, Galilee. If correct, he would have been about the same age as Jesus. Andrew is a Greek name that means “manly” or “brave.” Among Jews, it appears to have been a popular choice as early as the second or third century BC. Interestingly, there is no proof that Andrew had a Hebrew or Aramaic name like his more well-known sibling. So, Andrew’s name is the very first thing that stands out. His family was willing to accept Hellenism, which is clear from the fact that his name is not Hebrew, as you might expect, but Greek. Andrew was born and raised in Galilee, a region in the first century that was historically and culturally as much Greek as Jewish.
Both Andrew and Simon (Peter) made their living as fishermen. This occupational choice seems to be why Jesus called them “fishers of men” in the gospels of Matthew and Mark. According to these narratives, Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee shore when he saw Simon and Andrew fishing and asked them to become his disciples. Jesus even stayed with these brothers in Capernaum after beginning his public ministry (Mark 1.29). It’s interesting that Luke, the physician, and the meticulous gospel author, doesn’t immediately mention Andrew’s presence or that he and Simon are brothers. According to Luke, Jesus used Simon’s boat twice: once to preach to the crowds on the shore and again to pull in a massive fish catch on a previously fruitless night. Even though Luke doesn’t name Andrew, he says that Simon (Peter) had help while trawling the waters when he caught the big fish Jesus told him to. Simon (Peter) called for backup and assistance from his friends in another boat after the massive fish trawl so that they could help him haul the fish ashore. Luke reveals that Andrew is Simon’s brother in the subsequent chapter. So, it’s safe to assume that Andrew was out fishing with Simon (Peter) at the time of the incident, which Luke records accurately. Luke shows that Andrew is often given less attention in the Bible than his better-known brother Simon (Peter). This is an interesting fact.
John devotes the most attention to Andrew. The Gospel of John states that Andrew followed the teachings of John the Baptist. Having been moved by the words of John the Baptist, Andrew and another of John the Baptist’s disciples decided to follow Jesus. When Andrew saw Jesus, he knew he was the Messiah and told his brother. Thus, the Eastern Orthodox Church reveres him as Protokletos, meaning “the first called.” Andrew wasn’t one of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples and apostles (i.e., Peter, James, and John). Still, he probably had more access to Jesus than other disciples and apostles because Peter was his brother. Andrew was with the other disciples on the Mount of Olives when Jesus made one of his rare appearances with “the four.” Andrew asked Jesus to explain what he meant when he said the temple would be destroyed and the world would end.
Most people think that Andrew is the one who sets up meetings between other people and Jesus. For example, Andrew introduced Peter to Jesus (John 1.40–42). Andrew also brought the boy with the bread and fish to Jesus (John 6.8–9). Finally, when some Greeks wanted to see Jesus, they went to Philip, who went to Andrew, knowing that the latter could arrange their introduction (John 12.21–23). In Acts 1.13, Luke mentions that Andrew is in the upper room with the 120. Unfortunately, this verse is the last time we hear about him in the New Testament. As a result, tradition is our only source of information about Andrew’s evangelistic career.
Both Origen and Eusebius credit Andrew with preaching in Scythia. Nestor’s Chronicle says that he also went from the Black Sea to the Dnieper River and then to Kyiv to preach. Afterward, he went to Novgorod (Russia). Consequently, the countries of Russia, Romania, and Ukraine revere Andrew as a patron saint. According to Hippolytus of Rome, Andrew preached in Thrace. The apocryphal Acts of Andrew connect Andrew to Byzantium or Constantinople. Basil of Seleucia claims that Andrew traveled to Thrace, Scythia, and Achaea to spread the gospel. Tradition says that Andrew died a martyr’s death in Greece, in the city of Patras, in 60 AD.
Gregory of Tours, a theologian who lived in the sixth century, read old texts that said Andrew died on a Latin cross like the one used to kill Jesus. But later, it became a tradition that Andrew asked that he be crucified on an X-shaped cross, which is now called a “Saint Andrew’s Cross.” However, we cannot date this explanation for Andrew’s martyrdom before the late Middle Ages. Whether the X-shaped cross is correct, the symbol lives on in many flags worldwide. For example, Alabama and Florida use it in their standards in the United States. Also, The Disciples of Christ and the Episcopals, among other groups, use the St. Andrews Cross in their logos.
What do we have to gain from observing Andrew? First, Andrew emphasizes the significance of personal evangelism. We typically think of preachers, elders, and those who teach Bible classes as winning souls for Christ from the lectern or podium. However, people are often led to Jesus by people they already know, as we see with Andrew. Even better than a good sermon is bringing about change on the inside and strengthening relationships with others. And yet, that doesn’t mean preaching and sharing your faith in public aren’t necessary. They are. Andrew, on the other hand, is not shown in the Bible giving speeches to big crowds, writing letters, or doing anything else to draw attention to himself. That was irrelevant. Andrew was humble in his service to God’s kingdom. And it seems that Andrew had already figured this out before Jesus gave the Great Commission.
Similar to what we learned in the first lesson on evangelism, Andrews demonstrates that some things are too good to keep to yourself. As the first disciple to meet Jesus, Andrew couldn’t keep quiet about the Messiah’s arrival on Earth. Instead, he had to share the good news of Jesus with his family and friends, including his older brother. Andrew engaged in “word-of-mouth” advertising through his enthusiasm. As statistics show, word-of-mouth marketing is effective. The opinions of others who have made that purchase sway most consumers to buy something, not the commercial or sales pitch. According to Nielsen, word-of-mouth is more effective than advertising at getting people to try new products. It never ceases to amaze me that we can have a perfectly reasonable conversation about anything from pop culture to sports with a stranger, but we’ll never bring up the subject of Jesus Christ. Just think of everything we could achieve if we did! Like Andrew, we must conclude that the treasure we have found in Christ is too precious to squirrel away.
Finally, faithfulness is more valuable than fame. Put Andrew in context with the other two apostles, Peter and Paul. This second group would go on to have highly visible and influential ministries. They would address massive audiences, winning many souls for Christ. They encouraged Christians with their letters, which we still read and cherish today. Yet many more gospel ministers have done their work in relative obscurity and seen fruit for it. Andrew was a follower who participated in this latter group. His name may be less familiar to you. Not many people have heard of him. Still, Andrew showed humility, compassion, and faith in Christ that modern Christians would do well to imitate by serving without seeking praise, leading individuals (not crowds) to Christ, and letting God use his gifts as He saw fit. The Andrews of the world can save more lives than the Peters and Pauls.
In southern Peru, there is a massive area of geoglyphs carved into the ground and rock. They are named for the area, called the Nazca Lines. There are humongous carvings of people and animals, National Geographic reporting that “in total, there are over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures and 70 animal and plant designs, also called biomorphs. Some of the straight lines run up to 30 miles, while the biomorphs range from 50 to 1200 feet in length (as large as the Empire State Building)” (NAT GEO). There are so many theories about the meaning and purpose of these etchings, made by a people who could not have seen the entirety of figures that require aerial view to take in. It is suggested that these geoglyphs were formed between 500 BC and 500 AD by people from at least two distinct cultures. Overall, they have been well-preserved (aided by lowest annual rainfall rates in the world) and their authenticity is indisputable.
While this massive ancient project raises more questions than answers, it points to an effort that was done by a people whose work could not be appreciated in their own lifetime. The time, calculation, effort, and plotting required to draw these figures in the ground is awe-inspiring. We could argue that their work did not have the significance of medical breakthroughs, ingenious inventions, and literary brilliance, but they are still impressive. They could not see the fruits of their own labor, yet they continued to diligently work.
When it comes to matters of faith, how hard it is to labor with such foresight. The decisions we make every day, the priorities we map out for ourselves and our families, even the seemingly insignificant choices definitely impact ourselves. But, we are also building for the future in ways that we may never see in our lifetime. They will eat the fruit of the trees we are planting today.
Asaph urged an investment in the faith of one’s descendants. He says, “For He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children, That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children, That they should put their confidence in God And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments, and not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart And whose spirit was not faithful to God” (Ps. 78:5-8).
When we write God’s love and His will on the hearts of our children, it increases the likelihood that generations yet unborn will trust, remember, and obey God (cf. 2 Cor. 3:2-3)! That’s profound! New Testament Christianity extends back several generations on my mother’s side. The same is true of Kathy’s father’s side of the family. We pray daily for our children’s faith and their children’s faith. Won’t it be wonderful to spend eternity with descendants, maybe many generations removed from us, who “saw” our faith and imitated it? That is a wonder that far exceeds any archaeological find!
Live your faith! Not only will it save you, but may contribute to the salvation of many generations yet to come. Keep writing on tablets of human hearts. The future will see it and marvel!
Acts 20:22-24 says, “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
From these verses we understand that the local preacher must learn to trust in the Lord to take care of them no matter what happens in their ministry. We read here of Paul and the affliction and imprisonment he faced in every city. Paul had his priorities in order, he did not wish to save his life, but to lose it for Christ (Matthew 10:39; Galatians 2:20). As a local preacher we may face trials in our ministries, but if there is a trust in the Lord to get you through, then there is always hope.
Notice that Paul says, “Not knowing what will happen to me there…” Another quality we must have as preachers is that we must fully rely on God. Even when we don’t know what will happen to us. Applying this practically, we should rely on God even when we don’t know where our next paycheck is coming from. We must rely on God when we travel overseas to foreign countries. Many in the world react harshly to Christianity and we may not know how they will receive us. Do we trust in God when the world hates us? How will the members of the congregation act when they see a man who puts that much trust in God? It will inspire them to do the same thing. Their trust in God will grow through our example.
There were times in Paul’s life when he had no idea what the outcome would be. Sometimes he did not even know whether or not he would die, but he kept on in the service of the Lord regardless of his circumstances. That is faith, and that is the kind of faith we need as ministers for the church in the 21st century. We serve a God that promises a great reward if we live a faithful life, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t trust in Him the way Paul did.
We also learn from verse 24 that the local preacher must put the Word of God first in life. By doing this, the most important piece of life is given the attention that it needs. Many ministries fail because of a lack of putting God’s Word first. We could never help a local church the way it should be helped without God’s Word. Also, ministers must not fret over the physical. Being so focused on what could happen, or what has happened could cause a train wreck for both the preacher and the congregation. Many ministers are focused on what people want to hear rather than what they need to hear. From reading the writings of Paul we can see that he preached and taught some very difficult topics. As preachers today we need to preach an unadulterated gospel. We should teach those hard topics. We should teach even when we may be the only one willing to stand by the scriptures.
A congregation must feel some growing pains in order to be strengthened. They need to hear the hard lessons and as preachers we need to be preaching to ourselves as well. When we study the Bible, we should be applying the lessons to our lives first. People will not listen to a preacher who is not living what he is preaching.
At the 1993 annual meeting of The American Heart Association, 300,000 doctors, nurses, and researchers met in Atlanta to discuss, among other things, the importance a low fat diet plays in keeping our hearts healthy. Yet during meal times, they consumed fat-filled fast foods such as bacon cheeseburgers and fries at about the same rate as people from other conventions. When one cardiologist was asked whether or not his partaking in high fat meals set a bad example, he replied, “Not me, because I took my name tag off.”
Seeing hypocrisy in the church has caused many people to fall away. Sadly there are some who claim to be Christians, and it’s in name only. These people often give the church a bad reputation. Many in the world look at the church and say that it runs rampant with hypocritical people.
Being a Christian means following Christ all the time. No natter the circumstances. We can’t just “take our name tag off” so to speak. People are always watching. They’re looking to us on how to act. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 reads, “For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.”
Paul and the other apostles showed the Christians at Thessalonica, by example, how to act. Notice what Paul says: “For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship.” The Thessalonians could look back and remember the example that the Apostles gave for them to follow. Are we like this? Or are we all talk? People will follow the examples that our actions portray.
The example that our actions set are powerful.
So the question is, “what kind of example are we setting?” We can have only two types of example–good or bad. Our example, whether good or bad, can decide the eternal fate of those that see our actions. Paul and the apostles set a great example for the church at Thessalonica.
Paul writes in Philippians 4:9, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” We see from this how Paul’s example was so good that he tells the Philippians to practice it and God would be with them. Are we confident enough to say this to another Christian? We must be careful that we show by the way we live that we truly believe what we preach to others.
Having a friend that we can confide in and rely on for sound advice is invaluable, but we should be picky about who we choose as friends. Solomon says, “The righteous person is a guide to his neighbor, But the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12.26 NASB).
Thus, we will begin with those negative characteristics Solomon says one should avoid when befriending people. Do not befriend:
A gossip (Proverbs 20.19).
The short-tempered (Proverbs 22.24-25).
Drunks and gluttons (Proverbs 23.20-21).
The “unsteady” (Proverbs 24.21-22). [To fully understand this, you may need to check the Hebrew. For example, in one translation, a person “given to change” may join “rebellious officials” in another. This difference is because the Hebrew “shanah” implies repetition (“to repeat, do again”). So, Solomon speaks of those not willing to grow from their mistakes or have fickle loyalties. Hence, such people are unstable in their ways.]
Liars (Proverbs 25.18).
The untrustworthy (Proverbs 25.19).
The inconsiderate (Proverbs 25.20).
The violent (Proverbs 1.10-19).
Those whom Solomon says to befriend comprise a shorter list. Befriend those:
Who display wisdom (Proverbs 13.20).
Who will point you in the right direction (Proverbs 13.14).
In addition to telling us who to befriend and who to shun, Solomon gives us wisdom about how we can be better friends with others. This wisdom begins with telling us to avoid certain disruptive practices.
Don’t repeat everything you hear (Proverbs 17.9).
Avoid senseless arguments (Proverbs 14.14).
Don’t overstay your welcome (Proverbs 25.17).
Don’t intrude on others’ arguments (Proverbs 26.17). [Solomon likens this to yanking a dog’s ears.]
Don’t call mistakes and misdeeds a failed attempt at humor (Proverbs 26.18-19). [“I was joking!”]
Don’t gossip (Proverbs 26.20). [Look up Socrates’ three filters: Is it true? Is it good? Is it useful?.]
Don’t be cranky (Proverbs 26.21).
Don’t be inconsiderate (Proverbs 27.14).
According to Solomon, then, these are the causes of discord among friends. It may be difficult to recover a friend’s trust if they have lost faith in us. Solomon warns, “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars” (Proverbs 18.19 NLT). Solomon, though, advises those of us who have harmed our relationships. If we need to repair a friendship, we must:
Get our relationship right with God, and then others will change their perspective of us (Proverbs 16.7).
Be slow to anger (Proverbs 15.18, cf. James 1.19).
Not speculate (Proverbs 18.13).
Not quarrel (Proverbs 20.3).
Speak gently (Proverbs 15.1).
Speak less (Proverbs 10.19).
Be loving (Proverbs 10.12).
Offer honest criticism instead of flattery (Proverbs 28.23).
Yes, correctly applying God’s wisdom can ensure that we enjoy the blessings of good friends in this life. And there is a blessing in a friendship that Solomon reminds us of in Ecclesiastes 4.9-12:
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” (Ecclesiastes 4.9-12 NASB1995)
“But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.” (Ecclesiastes 12.12 NASB1995)
As Solomon reaches the end of his treatise as “The Preacher,” he expresses his feelings, using his life as an example. During his life, as today, people wrote on many topics. If there is a difference between our two eras, it must be that more people today have access to education and can read all of the books that people write. Otherwise, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1.9). Yet, with education comes self-reflection. And self-reflection often prompts men to take pen to page and write in poetry and prose. Even so, that self-reflection brings melancholy, as with men like Edgar Allen Poe.
And this is where we find Solomon. But even though cynical at this point, Solomon still sounds as if he could have found a home among the other literary figures of the Romantic era, like Alfred Lord Tennyson or Henry David Thoreau. When it is fashionable for men to be scholarly, one notes more men willing to put thoughts and feelings into words. Whatever the rationale, whether to be praised, make money or achieve catharsis, it spawns one of the hallmarks of culture: literature.
Generally speaking, literature and its study are positive. From those writers in the past, concepts have been communicated through time, influencing future generations. Before the Romantic era, the West went through the Age of Enlightenment. Academics and thinkers drew ideas from the classical thought of ancient Greece. Some thinkers in this epoch penned literature the American Founding Fathers read and sparked a revolution. Others, like Sir Isaac Newton, were inspired to unlock the secrets of the cosmos.
But then there is another class of literature written by men with a deleterious effect on the reader. No, I am not just talking of the smut peddler, though that is terrible. Instead, I am referring to those like Karl Marx or Adolph Hitler, who took to pen to write dangerous, subversive ideas that upset the course of civilization. Although World War 2 effectively destroyed Hitler’s brand of fascism, Marxism still flourishes in the ivy-covered walls of U.S. colleges and universities. And we have not even mentioned those like Friedrich Nietzsche, who was desirous of taking away his reader’s hope in God.
Even so, the written word remains one of man’s greatest inventions. And it is apropos that the first book produced by a printing press was a copy of God’s Word. That book, the Bible, is itself a compilation of 66 books. And think of the diverse and storied men who wrote those books’ words through the Holy Spirit’s influence: shepherds, kings, tax collectors, tent makers, doctors, et al. So the final product is something we can even enjoy as literature, despite being written for our moral guidance.
In this Information Age, as some have dubbed it, we still have our writers. They may write as I do for a blog, a funny-sounding word that didn’t even exist a half-century ago. It is short for “weblog.” Or they may write for journals, newsletters, and books. But men still write. You may have never guessed that it is a tiresome task, especially when dealing with the denizens of the interwebs. These readers crave new content, not unlike the way the ancient Athenians daily gathered on Mars’ Hill to hear some new thing (Acts 17.21). And if you don’t keep your content fresh, you lose readers. So even if you do not monetize your blog, as this is a non-monetized blog, one still wants to have readers to make the endeavor worthwhile. It is not necessarily a numbers thing, but more eyes ensure that more seed-casting and watering can occur so that God brings an increase (1 Corinthians 3.5-7).
Hence, there is wisdom in distributing this chore to five men, each bringing their perspective to the task. As one who has repeatedly tried and failed at blogging because of physical infirmity and ADHD, one article a week is a fantastic achievement. However, I get tired at even the thought of multiplying that effort by five weekdays. But Solomon pointed out that writing is tiring. Yes, this is not a book, per se. But it is still wearisome. Some may mock how something like preaching, teaching, or writing devotional content could be tiring since it is not blue-collar work. The answer lies within physiology since even the brain of a resting person requires about 20% of the body’s energy.1
There are also emotional highs and lows. Sometimes you become sad like Solomon. When you realize, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10.31 NASB1995), you want to figure out how to convince the most stubborn person of their need to obey God. Sometimes you must surmount cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic, and generational differences to do this. So how do I tailor a message to convince this man or woman I desire to win for Christ?
At other times you encounter a gold nugget, something that had never caught your attention in your prior readings through the Scriptures. So, naturally, you want to drop everything and research it, plumbing its depths. But maybe your search leads nowhere. And you end up tossing it upon that humongous pile of things that are the secret things known only to God (cf. Deuteronomy 29.29). Then again, you might hit the Comstock Lode. In this case, not only do you learn something new, but it may even be something that corrects you from the error you ignorantly embraced and taught. At the end of the day, one realizes that he will never exhaust his capacity to learn something from God’s Word. And that should be something that humbles you.
No wonder Solomon ends his message by saying one should not try to tackle the wisdom that we see residing beyond God’s Word. If it can be wearisome to study the Bible, imagine trying to wrap your head around fields of study that are contingent on theories since no one can prove what they believe. For example, just recently, the James Webb Space Telescope showed no signs that the universe is expanding, something necessary if the big bang occurred. There is also no red shift in those galaxies farthest away, indicating no cosmic expansion. So now cosmologists and physicists will go back and have to come up with a new explanation for the universe’s origin. How frustrating, even panic-inducing.2
Solomon sums everything up after the “wearied Preacher’s” last admonition against too much study and “excessive devotion” to books of no eternal value. Our purpose is to fear God and keep His commandments because He will be judging us (12.13-14). If you know enough to save your soul from hell, you are indeed a wise man or woman.
Most of you have heard 1 Timothy 4:12, “let no one look down on your youthfulness,” at some point in your lives. But what about the second half of the verse? In I Timothy Paul has been instructing Timothy on how to deal with men like Alexander and Hymenaeus. These men had been blaspheming and teaching false doctrine. Paul clearly states that the goal of their instruction should be love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith (1:5).
Skipping down to chapter four, Paul tells Timothy that no one should look down on him because of his age. Timothy is charged to teach the gospel and handle the men that have been teaching false doctrine. To do so, he can’t let others’ view of him cause him to stop doing his job. When Paul says “youthfulness,” the original text uses a word that could be ascribed to someone as old as 30. Paul’s main point is that in “speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” This is what Timothy should have been doing. Forget the age, forget what other men are saying, and LIVE as an example. Paul wanted Timothy to be a “tupos” or “type” that men can follow. Timothy could do nothing about his age, so his effectiveness was to be rooted in his example.
So, young Christians today, what can we do to be an example? There are five things we can do. First involves our speech. This is external. People can hear the way you talk in your everyday life. Make sure it is blameless and pure. Don’t give someone a reason to reject you because of how you speak in your private life. Second involves our conduct. Once again this is external. Having proper conduct is vital if people are to see you as something more than just a youth. Be a man/woman of God whether you’re being watched or not. Third involves love. This is more internal than external. This love is an agape love. Sacrifice for others at the expense of your own good. This also goes back to 1:5 “love from a pure heart.” Fourth involves faith. This is also internal. Work on your own faith. Build your own relationship with God. Last involves purity. Be pure in your relationships and in your life when no one else is around. Do these things as “an example (type) to those who believe.”
Paul continues on in verses 4:13ff to discuss other ways he can be an example: giving attention to the public reading of scripture, exhorting and teaching, and using his spiritual gift he had been given by the Holy Spirit.
Paul wanted Timothy to be a living example. When these men were looking down on him for his age, Paul didn’t tell him to focus on his experience, but on the source. Focus on your own spiritual life, your own personal reading of God’s Word, your own prayer life. Don’t blame them or use them as an excuse. Be an example they can respect and follow. Show them what a true Christian looks like.
Timothy had a hard job on his hands, since he was facing false teachers and blasphemers that were tearing apart the church. He had to work and be the proper influence for the Christians there at Ephesus. As teens today, you also have a hard task ahead of you. Many in the church think that you don’t need to be working yet. God says otherwise. You can and should be an example for others to see. Each one of you has your own group of friends that only you can influence. So be the example. In your speech, in your conduct, in your love, your faith and your purity. Show them the truth, and never neglect your own Christianity.
There are plenty of great examples of godly parenting in the Bible, but there are just as many (if not more) examples of poor parenting. Tompkinsville, where I preach, is blessed to have several parents who are taking Proverbs 22.6 seriously and that’s something we shouldn’t take for granted. Perhaps no other Christian responsibility has the potential to build His kingdom and make the kind of impact like our responsibility to train and teach the next generation to love Jesus.
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.”
There’s an unlimited amount of opinions and advice out there on the subject of parenting, but there’s something more meaningful about receiving it from faithful parents who have been successful.
Here Are 3 Pieces of Advice From Godly Parents
1. Children Need To Know That Marriage Isn’t Your Number One Goal In Life
“Our goal in life is to praise the God of glory. Too many young people become so enamored with the thought of getting married that they neglect to devote themselves to the service of God. They miss out on the joys of mission work and service because they are too concerned with finding their next date. Focus on God and (to utilize Jesus’ words) “all these things will be added to you,” because you will be surrounded by the kind of people who are worth marrying.”
2. Our Commitment To Christ Isn’t A Part Time Job
“An excuse is a skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. While under the Old Law Moses allowed a year off from marriage (Deut. 24.5) Jesus made it clear that all Christian parents can’t make Him their part time Lord (Lk. 9.57-62). Replace any excuse with an exertion of effort to glorify God, because excuses ring hollow in the ears of the divine.”
3. Model The Kind Of Person You Want Your Children To Be
“Being a parent should make you think about your every move. Your immature inclinations should take a backseat when the what you model before your children can have eternal ramifications. Just be godly.
Stand up for God.
Talk about God.
Have the courage you’d like your children to have.
Show them how it’s done.”
A sincere thanks to,
– Brett Petrillo – Hiram Kemp & – Ben Shafer
For their continual example of faithfulness, work in His kingdom, and their helpful insights on godly parenting.
TODAY’S ARTICLE IS REPRODUCED FROM YESTERDAY’S LEHMAN LEARNER. I EMAIL AN EXPOSITORY STUDY OF A SECTION OF A BIBLE BOOK EACH MORNING. YOU CAN SUBSCRIBE AT “LEHMANOFFICECOC@GMAIL.COM.”
S.J. Friesen, in a book edited by Susan R. Holman entitled Wealth and Poverty in Early Church and Society. Holy Cross Studies in Patristic Theology and History (2008), reveals at least seven categories or classes in imperial Rome. This would have certainly applied to Jesus’ day. From top to bottom, they were:
Imperial elites (0.04% of society)
Regional or provincial elites (1%)
Municipal elites (1.76%)
Moderate surplus resources (7% estimated)
Stable near subsistence level with reasonable hope of remaining above the minimum level to sustain life (22% estimated)
At subsistence level and often below minimum level to sustain life (40%)
Below subsistence level (28%) (p. 19-20)
In that lowest category were included beggars, the disabled, unskilled day laborers, prisoners, and unattached widows.
So the woman we meet in Mark 12:41-44 was on the bottom rung of society. Typically, every day was a fight for survival and full of uncertainty about meeting the basic needs of life. She had no advocates, champions, and could have been the target of unscrupulous men if she had a house or anything her husband had left her. Just before Jesus calls attention to the widow in our text, He had condemned the scribes for at least five offenses. The fourth was that they “devour widows’ houses” (40), for which “they will receive the greater condemnation” (40). Was the widow in these verses one of their victims?
What we know is that she enters the alms area of the temple in the court of women carrying “two small copper coins, which make a penny” (42). He makes no judgment on the contributions made by the wealthy, but holds up the woman as a contrast to the scribes and any who practiced pretentious religion.
She gives unpretentiously. She does not draw attention to herself. She quietly slips in the two coins. It is because Jesus is omniscient and observant that He is aware of her gift. She did not make any announcements or ask for any prayer requests, that God help her since she was giving everything to God. It was an assuming moment in time that might have passed unnoticed but for Jesus.
She gives sacrificially. Many rich people put in large sums (41), yet Jesus says they contributed out of their abundance (44). However much they gave, they could continue their lifestyle at the same rate and pace as before their gift. But she “put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (44). The Macedonians were great givers, who “according to their ability, and beyond their ability gave of their own accord” (2 Cor. 8:3). As incredible as that is, this poor widow gave more. Only Jesus could exceed her gift (cf. 2 Cor. 8:9).
She gives abundantly. Jesus signifies this by saying she gave more than the rich that day (43). It was not a competition to her, a cause for swelling pride. We will suggest her motive in a moment, but the consequence of her gift was that it was unmatched generosity. Those whose giving cost them something know the fulness of heart and the favor of God this woman must have felt. What a challenge!
She gives trustingly. Mark does not tell us this. In fact, neither does Luke (21:1-4). But what other conclusion can we draw? She gave God all she had to live on. Do we suppose that she left the temple, curled up in a ball, and died of starvation and exposure? Is that how God has ever responded to those who give in faith? Has anyone ever out-given God? That does not mean that God moved her up a rung or two in society because of her gift. That is a very materialistic way to view this account. Instead, the way she gave was inseparably joined to the way she lived. She gave with reckless abandon, left only with a confidence that God would be her protector. Had she heard that day or at some point the words of the psalmist, “How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever; Who executes justice for the oppressed; Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises up those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous; The Lord protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, But He thwarts the way of the wicked” (146:5-9)? She seemed to know the source of her help and hope, her administrator of justice, provisions, and support. She gave accordingly.
Next Sunday, we will make an offering as part of our worship. Across 2,000 years, Jesus holds up this widow to challenge us. Will we give like her, unpretentiously, sacrificially, abundantly, and trustingly? If we do, will He cause us to suffer? That is the mental battleground upon which we all stand. May He help us successfully fight that battle.