Posts Tagged ‘deeds’

Of possessions and need

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Scripture

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:17-18

Observation

  • “If anyone has material possessions”, the author makes no exclusions in this message since everyone has some sort of material possession (v17)
  • “sees his brother in need but has no pity on him”, here brother is better translated as “fellow Christian” (NET) as a general term for any genuine Christian who is in the community (v17)
    • The use of the word “pity” isn’t quite correct, I find other translations more helpful – “closes his heart” (ESV) or “shuts off his compassion” (NET); that paints a much stronger picture of what goes on in our hearts, it is an intentional deadening of our compassion
  • “how can the love of God be in him?”, an obviously rhetorical question to which the answer is clear to the author – the love of God simply cannot be in such a person (v17)
  • “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” an exaltation for all his disciples whom he calls “children” (v18)
    • “actions” or “deeds” (ESV/NET) gives the idea of actual work; the direct opposite of not working or simply speaking
    • “in truth” seems like a strange thing to say here, but if you connect the sentence together, it makes sense to “love… in truth”; the author exalts us to love with a genuine love (Romans 12:9)

The implications here are extremely strong. John says that the love of God cannot be in a person who does not love with his actions by sharing / giving of his own material possession to a fellow Christian who has a need. Such a person is described in v15 as a “murderer” who “hates his brother” and has “no… eternal life in him.” That makes it absolutely impossible for us to receive the love of God and not give of ourselves to love others. Love that doesn’t move a person to action is not genuine love at all, it is non-committal, false, superficial love.

In context, the author says that if God has loved you to the extent of giving His own life, you should also give your own life to others. This is done practically by filling a fellow Christian’s lack with your much. It is impossible for a person who has the love of God to not do so. It requires an intentional shutting off of our heart to do so.

Application

My father always told me “talk is cheap”. This is exactly what my father meant. Love that does not act on a fellow Christian’s need it is not love at all.

Prayer

Father, give me a heart like yours. Let me look at how you gave and how much you gave and follow your lead. I admit that it is easy to cling on to possessions, help me to hold on tightly to you and loosely to the blessings you abundantly pour on us.

Amen.

Of evidence and belief

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Scripture

Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
John 10:37-39

Observation

Context

  • Jesus was being challenged in the Temple courts by the Jewish authorities to publicly state His position about His divinity
  • This is Jesus’ final extension of grace towards His opposition before the cross, to help them understand that He is the Messiah
  • The tension is high and Jesus has been charged with blasphemy and they had wanted to stone Him there and then
  • Jesus even at the risk of being stoned to death isn’t afraid to extend grace to them and defend His case

Passage

  • “Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it”, Jesus seems to identify with the Jewish leaders for a short time and says “if i don’t do what the Father does, then don’t believe me”
  • “But if I do, even though you do not believe me, believe the works” Jesus is not asking them to believe in Him, He is going for a smaller ask Jesus says at least believe the evidence and see if those are from the Father
    • Jesus points to the His deeds and miracles as evidence
    • You would think that the Jewish leaders would have at least considered His miracles after interviewing the blind man in John 9
  • “that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” His deeds undeniably point to the Father
    • Jesus’ end goal of saying all this is that they would “know and understand”; knowledge was not sufficient, they had to understand (and in some translations: believe)
    • Jesus wasn’t a sales man of any sort, He didn’t try to confuse or con them; when they didn’t understand, He clarified and explained. When the Jews had the wrong idea of Him as a political Messiah, He corrected them. He stuck to the straight and narrow – to convince them. That was His goal the whole time.
  • “Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.” this wasn’t the first time they tried to seize Him (John 7:30, 44)

Even with His opponents holding stones in their hands and ready to pounce in Him, Jesus is still calm and graceful. He exerts His grace upon them by allowing them to consider His works, in a hope that they would believe. Yet, the Pharisees’ hearts were stubborn.

Application

Our actions speak where our words don’t. When we are faced with opposition and our words mean little, our actions mean much.

What is the end goal of our deeds? Is it that others may know and believe? Is it God glorifying?

Prayer

Father, I want hands that show your glory. I want hands that cause people to believe. I want hands that silence the opposition. But so often I am selfish in my ways, I repent of that today and ask for your forgiveness. I lean on your Word to transform my heart and hands.

Amen.

Of works and judgement

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Scripture

Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
John 10:31-33

Observation

Context

  • Jesus is giving His final speech to sway the Pharisees to believe in Him
  • In this final discourse, He has spoken unreservedly about His divine identity as God and Messiah
  • The tension between the Jewish leaders and Jesus is at the critical point, Jesus has done all He could to show and tell them about Himself and His mission, they however simply could not see and understand the truth

Passage

  • “Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him”, this isn’t the first time they’ve tried that (John 8:59) (v31)
    • Even after Jesus has taught them something about themselves and the Law – that in the eyes of the Law they have all been guilty of sin and deserve it’s wages (John 8:7), they are stubbornly quick to judge
  • “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”, the fact remains that Jesus is faultless in word and deed (v32)
    • His works are no doubt good! He has healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, made the lame walk, multiplied food and raised the dead. These are not normal charitable deeds, these are morally excellent and miraculous deeds
    • Jesus as always is trying to get the Pharisees to see how their own logic does not make sense. In essense, Jesus says, “Look at my good works and hear my words, since you say that a sinner and demon-possessed cannot perform these things then consider what is the only last reasonable explanation?”
    • At this critical point, Jesus is still trying to save the Pharisees!
    • If someone is to be stoned, there was to be a charge, a trial (with testimonies from witnesses) and a sentencing, however at this point, there was none of that! So Jesus ask, what has He done to deserve stoning?
  • “We are not stoning you for any good work”, the Pharisees do not fault His work (v33)
    • It would seem that they acknowledge His work, in all that Jesus has done, He is faultless
  • “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God” the Pharisees finally lay down their charge (v33)
    • They were somehow not able to connect Jesus’ deeds with His words, and it is a shame because His deeds prove His words
    • Blasphemy is a serious charge and punishable by stoning (Leviticus 24:13-23), the way the Pharisees it, Jesus has made a fool of God by bringing God down to His level as a man
    • Little do they know (or believe) that the truth is right before their eyes! What they think to be blasphemy is God’s redemption plan for the world
    • In the end, the Pharisees stubbornly judged no different from what they began with even after seeing His works and hearing His authoritative teaching (John 7:47-48, they didn’t even entertain the possibility that he could be a prophet); in all of Jesus’ efforts, they (John 7:50, all but one) have not moved an inch to even consider otherwise

Application

If the charge of being a Christian is put before me, what “good works” have I got as evidence of my faith? Are they just simply charitable deeds or undoubtably “from the Father”? If anyone charges me as a follower of Jesus Christ, I want to be undeniably guilty in both word and deed!

Has my idea of Jesus Christ changed over the years or have I stagnated like the Pharisees have? Do I now see a more glorious, more powerful, more loving God than when I was first saved? Perhaps it is time to evaluate my mindset about God in the light of all the “good works” that He has done in my life.  

Prayer

Father, I want to be good in both word and deed. I want that quality of yours so that the world can see and know that I too am “from the Father”. I know that you do not change, but my small mind cannot conceive how good are and how glorious you are. Open my eyes to the work that you do in my life. Help me to see more of you everyday. Help me to have a bigger picture of you everyday.

Amen.