God

Are You Engaged? 2 (Philippians 1:27-30).

Are you engaged in your Christianity? Are you fully-committed and involved in your walk with the King of kings? Are you an active part of a local congregation of holy ones who work in the kingdom and worship the King together? Almost a month ago we considered the correspondence and the cooperation of our engagement in the life of a disciple of the Messiah. Let us continue to explore this question with the apostle Paul...

Courage....

After exhorting the Philippian Christians to stand “side by side” for the good news of Jesus, Paul writes the following:

“Not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of the Messiah you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have” (Philippians 1:28-30).

To even count the number of times the word of our God tells us, “Do not be afraid”, is quite the undertaking. Paul first tells us in this section of the text to not be intimated by those who stand in opposition to us and our cause in the Messiah. He was writing then to people living in the midst of a pagan world, but our current world is ever becoming more and more like the world of First Century Christianity. Even the Western-religious world of roughly a century ago is ultimately dead and gone today. Living in a pagan world helps to make the distinction(s) between godly living and sinful living even clearer, and it actually increases the faith of the faithful. Ultimately, it should not scare us or cause us to be alarmed... 

But this outside aggression is just another reason why we must strive for close unity with our fellow slaves of King Jesus. The presence of our unity under the storm of persecution is a sign that we are heading to the time when God makes all things right,...and to the time when God brings about His final punishment upon the wicked of this world.

Have you ever looked at persecution that way? Paul informs us that it is a sign of our deliverance from sin and death. It is a reminder that we are following in the footsteps of our Master...for as they scornfully attacked and brutally murdered Him, so they also antagonize us for obeying Him.

Paul then goes so far as to say that suffering for being a child of God is something God grants to us...as if it is a kind of gift. When we suffer for being Christians, we are partaking in the suffering of Jesus. Our suffering due to our faithful Christianity is a testimony that we are unified with the Master of the universe (see Romans 8:17; Luke 9:26; and Philippians 3:10). Remember: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Jesus the Messiah will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Yes, our world is becoming increasingly hostile toward God and all uncompromising Christians, but let us not be ashamed or afraid, for our Savior reigns on high and we are suffering to and for His immense glory. Instead of caving and compromising to the demands of a godless society, may we all give attention to being “engaged in the same conflict” that we see in the life of the apostle to the Gentiles (Philippians 1:30). It is upon this context of unity in the face of persecution from a secular world that Paul writes,

“So if there is any encouragement in the Messiah, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Jesus the Messiah...” (Philippians 2:1-5).

 

For His infinite worth,

Gantt

Forgiveness

Have you received forgiveness? Are you currently forgiven? Would you consider yourself to be a forgiving kind of person? Forgiveness is valuable and powerful...

Some in our culture give little (if any) thought to how they are treating others, and as to the nature of their influence on the people around them. Our Master says, “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” (Matthew 18:7). Hurting others in this manner is certainly a very serious matter (see Luke 17:1-2), and we should give special attention to how our words/actions affect the spiritual vitality of others. As Christians, we must be extra careful about the influence we have upon other holy ones (1 Corinthians 8:7-13). Let us always remember that we are dealing with a brother or a sister “for whom the Messiah died” (1 Corinthians 8:11), and that sinning against our Christian family is ultimately sinning against our loving Savior (1 Corinthians 8:12). Our influence ought to be carefully guarded, protected, and intentionally used for the spiritual growth of others.

But what happens when someone commits a sin against me (read Matthew 18:15-20)? Jesus tells us to take it first to that person privately. If they will not listen to us, then we are to take along two or three others to serve as witnesses as we bring this matter to their attention. “If they will not listen to them, tell it to the congregation. If he or she refuses to listen to even the congregation, let them be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:17). We need to realize that not everyone is going to be willing to make amends, that not everyone will choose to do what is needed to bring about reconciliation.

But should we forgive someone even if they do not change their behavior? Some think we are to forgive everyone who sins against us, whether they repent or not. Does repentance matter in this discussion? Do people need to ask for our forgiveness before we actually forgive them? What does God reveal about this question in His words to us? Jesus says, “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). Repentance is the proper prerequisite for actual forgiveness to take place.

Let us think about God for a moment... God is willing and eager to forgive all of humanity (see John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4). The Psalmist says to God, “For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You” (Psalm 86:5). He offers forgiveness to all (unconditional), but He only gives forgiveness to those who penitently respond to Him (conditional). God only forgives those who are willing to seek His forgiveness, and to faithfully follow His loving will.

We are to shape the way we forgive others from the way God forgives us in Jesus our Messiah (Ephesians 4:32). If we are unwilling to forgive others, then God will not forgive us (Matthew 6:12-15). We must be willing to forgive anyone, and for any amount of time (Matthew 18:21-22). It can be quite difficult, but we are to always forgive others from our heart (Matthew 18:35). However, we must not forgive actual sin against us, if the person is not willing to repent (turn away) from their sin. Now this does not mean we hold a grudge against the person if they are relentless and will not repent, and seek our forgiveness. If they will not repent, then let us let God take care of that, and let us never hold vengeance or ill will toward them in our hearts (see Romans 12:14-21).

Forgiving apart from repentance is not dealing with the issues, and can even be facilitating sinful behavior(s) (cf. Luke 17:1-2). Let us face it...there are some in this world who will not allow reconciliation to take place between them and Deity nor between them and us. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). May we all plant our knees before the cross and the throne of the Lamb, and live each day with the kindness of a tender, broken heart. 

For His infinite worth,

Gantt