See also ‘Discipleship’.
B265 - Be compassionate (merciful) before judgment
Throughout the Gospel, you will find Jesus demonstrating compassion above all else. The only people that Jesus was tough on were the religious people, namely the Pharisees and Sadducees.
When Jesus saw the crowds, as in Matt 9:36,
‘he had compassion for them … (seeing them) like sheep without a shepherd.’
In Matt 15:32, Jesus let it be known to his disciples when he looked at the crowd and exclaimed,
‘I have compassion on the crowd ….’
When Jesus healed, he healed out of compassion too. Mark 1:41 says,
‘Moved with pity (compassion), he stretched out his hand and touched him (a leper) and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’’
When he was at a town called Nain, he saw a funeral procession. Again, he showed compassion and resurrected the son of a widow right there and then, sending shockwaves to everyone who saw the incident (Luke 7:11-17).
Joseph demonstrated compassion towards Mary. After discovering Mary’s unplanned pregnancy, Joseph considered putting ‘her away secretly’ (Matt 1:19) rather than doing the ‘right’ thing by reporting her to the Pharisees (NB: According to the customs of the day, a woman with a child out of wedlock would have been stoned). He chose compassion before judgment.
In James 2:13, James explained that
‘mercy (always) triumphs over judgment.’
The Greek word for ‘compassion’ is splagchnizomai or ‘I feel compassion and I am moved in the inward parts.’
In everything that we do, believers are reminded to show compassion before judgement or a task. We are thankfully saved by God because of his grace and mercy and not that we deserve it. See B276, Show our emotions.
Jesus’ teaching is not about judgment but one of compassion to sinners with words like, ‘Go, (and from now on), sin no more.’
Believers must not forget to be compassionate before judgment, sacrifice and work. Otherwise, we might end up inadvertently elevating ourselves to the role of Pharisees and Sadducees, mere religious policemen.
B266 - Do practical social works
‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me’ – Matt 25:35-36.
During the early church, one of those things that they did was not to neglect the poor. In Acts 6:1, the disciples made it a point that food was distributed to all. When the Greek-speaking Jewish widows were neglected, they acted by putting in place a group of seven men to assist.
There is a constant reminder to the early churches to do good.
The writer of Hebrews said in Heb 13:16,
‘Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.’
In the Book of Acts, Cornelius was commended by the angel because of his ‘prayers and gifts to the poor’ (Acts 10:4).
Christianity is always practical. Doing good work is a natural outflow of who we are – feeding the poor, welcoming the stranger, and visiting the sick and imprisoned.
One of the world’s most recognized organizations for good work is the Salvation Army. Its founder, William Booth, knew the importance of good works and salvation and he said,
‘You cannot warm the hearts of people with God’s love if they have an empty stomach and cold feet.’
Read also B265, Be compassionate.
The two, Compassion, and B266, Good Works, go hand-in-hand.
B267 - Don't listen to fables and genealogies
In 1 Tim 1:4, Paul reminded his audience not to spend time discussing myths (legends) and genealogies (long lists of ancestors).
In other words, do not engage in non-essential conversations. Instead, be proactive in doing good works. See B266, Do practical social works.
Please see B243, Do not argue over non essential doctrines, for more information.
B268 - May dress unconventionally (grooming)
How should one dress in church? Matt 3:4 relates what John the Baptist worn – His clothes were ‘made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.’
It is a good reminder for us not to judge Christians who wear unusual clothing.
Of course, it is important for believers not to dress provocatively or clothing that serves to demonstrate one’s wealth or status.
B269 - Consider the length of our hair
Paul’s counsel to members of the Corinth church involved a man ‘not to cover his head’ and for a woman not to ‘have her hair cut or shaved off’ (1 Cor 11:6-7). It confronts current trends and fashion where the opposite might apply – that is, men having long hair and women keeping crew cut.
Is the issue of hair discussed here a historical reference or is it still relevant in our current age? Is it a guideline or a command?
Is it like a non-essential as in B243, Do not argue over non-essential doctrines?
Does it upset many if we ask women to have long(er) hair and men to keep theirs short? We hope not.
B270 - Look after our body because it is not our own (Exercise)
1 Cor 3:17 says,
‘Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy and you are that temple.’
And again in 1 Cor 6:15, Paul reminded us that ‘our bodies are members of Christ.’
If Paul argued that the person who destroys God’s temple (and we are God’s temple) should be destroyed’, then the counter-argument probably holds true; that is, we are under godly obligation to keep our body in good condition as much as is possible without being narcissistic (that is, an excessive preoccupation with or admiration of oneself).
Look after our body and do not abuse it either with a lack of exercise or subject it to destruction via drugs or alcohol.
See also B285 – Love Ourselves.
B271 - Cast our cares to God in the face of worries and concerns
1 Peter 5:7 says,
‘Casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.’
Jesus encouraged us not to worry about everyday life – like whether we have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear’ but to put our faith in God (Luke 12:22-31).
He explained that it was natural for people to be anxious about these things but as believers, we are different – we have God. And we have the assurance to know that God already knows what we need. Instead, he encouraged believers to seek God’s kingdom first and all these things (clothes, food) would be returned to us in sufficient amount.
The opposite of faith is not necessarily fear but anxieties or worries.
The influential 1800s’ preacher, Charles Spurgeon, said,
‘Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its trials but empties today of its joy.’
See also S25, Choke by the worries and cares of the world as well as B197, Pray unceasingly.
B272 - Be humble and have poverty in spirit
How do we know God? The first verse in the Beatitudes reads,
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt 5:3).
It is about poverty of spirit. A proud person does not see a need for God. Nor does someone who lives life flippantly.
Matt 5:3 is best amplified in the story of the Canaanite woman’s encounter with Jesus. The woman had a daughter who was oppressed by a demon and she was desperately seeking help. When she came to Jesus, Jesus threw her a curveball with a rather racist remark when he said,
‘It is not right to take the children’s bread (Israelites) and throw it to the dogs (Canaanites)’ (Matt 15:26).
Yet, she chose humility over pride when she replied, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Because of her humility, Jesus healed her daughter instantly.
Humility was what brought Jesus to earth because Jesus was determined to ‘empty himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.’ (Phil 2:7,8).
Because of the humility of Christ, God exalted him so that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil 2:9-11). In the same way, James 4:10 says, ‘Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will exalt you.’
Humility is a hallmark of believers.
B273 - Be sober-minded
1 Peter 4:7 says,
‘Be sober minded for the sake of your prayers’
while Mark 13:33 says, ‘Be on guard, keep awake.’
1 Thes 5:6 summarizes it well when it said,
‘Let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.’
The Greek word, ‘sober’, is nepho and is the same as one that abstains from wine or not intoxicated (even from the influence of sin). A sober person has self-control and clear judgment and does not live flippant lives.
Please see S83, Unprepared and sleeping believers for additional information.
Be sober minded.
B274 - Be disciplined
2 Tim 3:3-4 says,
‘They will have no self-control …. And they will love pleasure rather than God.’
while 1 Cor 9:27 talks about the need to discipline our body and keep it under control.
2 Tim talks about a lack of self control and pleasure loving as a sin and it obviously contrasts with 1 Cor 9:27 which is about disciplining our body. There is always a balance being a Christian but the issue of self-control obviously requires ‘discipline’.
In any sport, ‘discipline’ is the key to maintaining peak performance. Talent can only get us that far. Beyond that, it is training and discipline.
The key thing with a Christian is not to love pleasure and self (hedonism) but to
‘lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal’ (Matt 6:20).’
It is also about the discipline to hear and act on what the Holy Spirit has told us to do.
B275 - Go beyond our expected tasks
Matt 5:41-42 says,
‘If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.’
In customer-service training, we are often taught to surprise our customers; that is, to go beyond their expectations to do something special. It is the same with being a Christian – to always do beyond what is expected of us.
How can we surprise someone who is in need? How can we do extraordinary good works?
B276 - Show our emotions
The shortest verse in the Bible is found in John 11:35. It reads, ‘Jesus wept.’
When Jesus was with his disciples, he did not show himself to be a stoic person. Instead, he was open with his emotions. He spoke of his impending death candidly (Matt 17:22); not once but several times.
When his teachings became ‘too tough’,
‘many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him (John 6:67).
And he was distressed enough to exclaim to his twelve,
‘Do you want to go away as well?’
He revealed his own personal struggle; he knew the cross was before him but he still sought his Father and cried out,
‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine’ (Matt 26:39).
In that one sentence, it presented his humanity despite his divinity; he knew the goal but Jesus was struggling with the process.
Here is a thought –
If Jesus was open about his emotions, should we bottled up ours? After all, bottled-up emotions can oftentimes be dangerous.
It was emotion, a sense of being in awe, that brought Simon Peter to the feet of Jesus when he exclaimed, following the miracle of the catch,
‘Go away from me , Lord, for I am a sinful man’ (Luke 5:8).
And we know that ‘love’ also is a powerful emotion.
Believers should never encourage the bottling up of their own or their children’s emotions. Of course, this must be balanced with self-control –
See B294, Exercise self-control.
B277 - Hunger and thirst after righteousness
Matt 5:6 says,
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied’
and 1 Tim 6:11 reiterates with the same thing, ‘O man of God, ….. Pursue righteousness ….’
The initiative to pursue righteousness has to be ours; it is self-generated. Why do we want to do that? Because in 1 Peter 3:12, it promises us that
‘the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his (the Lord’s) ears are open to their prayer.’
Of course, who could forget Cornelius whose prayer was heard because of his gifts to the poor? (Acts 10:31).
God answers the prayers of righteous people. Hunger and thirst after righteousness.
B278 - Be prepared to be killed to fulfill God's will (martyrdom)
Luke 9:23 says,
‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’
and Rom 12:1 asks us to ‘present (our) bodies as a living sacrifice.’
We are made for self-preservation. Most of us would rather watch a movie about self-sacrifice than be in an actual real-life scenario.
Perhaps even Jesus struggled through that when he cried out just before his journey to the crucifix,
‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine’ (Matt 26:39) –
It maybe because for him, it was more than an issue of death but the separation of fellowship with his Father.
At Capernaum, Jesus said,
‘For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.’
So it should be the same with us. We are here to do the will of the Father. We must be prepared to lay down our lives (more than just the physical death) in order to fulfill the will of the Lord.
Please see D145, Believers must be ready to lay down their lives.
B280 - Be patient and don't rush God's timing
‘And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.’
2 Tim 4:2 says,
‘Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with COMPLETE PATIENCE and teaching.’
We live in a microwave-era world. We have instant noodles, instant coffee and of course fastfood. If we want hot air, we turn on our heat pump to receive instant heat.
Character building, on the other hand, is far from instant. It is a marathon rather than a sprint. We have to be patient with ourselves and with other people. As long as we are alive, we are still learning.
Patience must be supplemented with prayer. We grow as a person in character just like a small plant grows quietly and without fanfare to be a great tree.
Some things just cannot be rushed as God shows up at different defining moments in our lives to recalibrate who we are – as long as our hearts are soft and tender to allow him to do his work in us.
B281 - Pursue (agape) love
This next few ‘values’ are devoted to love.
1 Cor 14:1 says it explicitly,
‘Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts’
and 1 Cor 16:14 reiterates,
‘Let all that you do be done in love.’
Christians are known for their love of people.
‘If I have all faith so as to remove mountains (Now, that is really something), but have not love, I am nothing.’
The Greeks have four words for ‘love’ and ‘agape love’ relates to the highest form of love. Agape love is ‘divine love’ and it is not a romantic or sexual sort of love nor is it a brotherly love. Agape love is an act of the will and not a feeling. It is faithful, and committed. Agape love is sacrificial. It is prepared to suffer inconvenience, discomfort and possibly death for the benefit of another without expecting anything in return.
We are called to pursue this sort of love. Agape love was what compelled Jesus to the cross as in John 3:16.
Agape love was what brought missionary Graham Staines to rural India as a missionary among leprosy patients, forsaking the comfort of his home in Australia. It was the same love that led American Jim Elliot to the unreached Huaorani Indians of Ecuador and ultimately to his martyrdom in the jungles of South America.
Jim Elliot wrote these beautiful words:
‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.’
The call of the Lord is to pursue agape love, the sort that may involve inconveniencing our routine, like the Samaritan who decided to help the injured man despite the fact that he was not part of his intended chores; there was a need and so the Samaritan decided to solve that problem.
Read also B117, Love our neighbors as ourselves.
B282 - Love in purity (no agenda, good conscience and sincere faith)
‘Let love be genuine.’
Many times, people become our friends because we can benefit them. But love that is genuine and pure does not have an agenda. It is a love that is prepared for a person to sacrifice much – Eph 5:2,
‘As Christ loved us and gave himself up for us’ –
our time, money, and possibly lives.
A parent never feels inconvenienced by the needs of their child especially when they are babies – like waking up in the middle of the night in order to feed a hungry baby or changing a soiled diaper.
1 Tim 1:5 describes it best, calling this love to be one that comes from ‘a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.’ this is genuine agape love.
B283 - Love in deeds
B284 - Love sacrificially
In the letter from the Apostle John to the church of Ephesus in Rev 2:4, he said,
‘But I have this against you: You have abandoned (lost) your first love).’
The word for love is agape.
That is, you are not prepared for inconvenience, discomfort, and sacrifice in order to demonstrate your love to your ‘neighbors’.
Read Eph 5:2 and understand that ‘Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.’
Our idea of ‘love’ will be tested; how prepared are we for sacrificial love?
Be very mindful of how we love by looking at what we are not ready to do as well as what we are prepared to do for the cause of Christ.
B285 - Love ourselves
When Jesus was approached by someone to ask which was the greatest commandment in the Bible, he mentioned two instead of one. The first is obvious – to love our God with our everything. But he quickly continued on to the second which is to love our neighbors.
Matthew 22:37-39 reads,
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Within this second commandment, there are actually two elements – loving our neighbor and LOVING OURSELVES. In fact, you could imply that we cannot love our neighbor unless we know how to love ourselves. Most of us forget the element of ‘ourselves’.
The question: Do we love ourselves? And how do we know we love ourselves?
We are, of course, not talking about a narcissistic form of love – a love that is excessive and egotistical.
But do we, for example, take care of our bodies? Does it also not mean that we should not look at ourselves with disdain?
Many issues arise out of the fact that we do not love ourselves and how God has created us. We know for sure that we are our only copy; if you are unsure, just check your thumbprint and DNA. Here are three important points:
- We ought to love God.
- We must love others.
- But must not forget to love ourselves and be content with how God has made us.
Of course, we may have a most imperfect body and that is where our faith in him has to come in. If we have an issue with our bodies, let’s bring it to God in prayer and supplication.
If we learn to love ourselves, we will have less issues relating to mental struggles like trying to be another person that we are not.
But let’s not beat ourselves up or be who we are not meant to be.
See also B270, Look after our body.
B286 - Stay strong in the Lord
‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.’
The Greek word for ‘strong’ is the word endunamoo or fill with power, strengthen, and make strong. It indicates ‘being empowered’ or increase in strength.
Paul said these words as an encouragement and it could possibly be a prayer itself.
Who wouldn’t need to be prayed for to be strong in the Lord?
B287 - Put on the whole armor of God
Eph 6:11-17 talks about the need to put on the whole armor of God in order to withstand the evil days – Belt of truth/ Breastplate of righteousness/ Shoes for the gospel of peace/ Shield of faith/ Helmet of salvation/ Sword of the Spirit (Word of God).
It is a necessary defensive strategy for all Christians. It is total defense and it tells you how a perfect Christian life can be lived out.
- The belt is the first piece of equipment and it secures all other pieces. We remove our belt when we are not working. We need to know God’s truth in order to fend off the devil’s lies.
- The next item is the breastplate of righteousness. If we remove righteousness from ourselves and engage in sins or live a life without repentance, we open ourselves up to be attacked by the devil.
- Shoes indicate the geographical distance that we cover. It shows that everywhere we go, we carry the gospel with us.
- Our faith is a shield and it protects us; our firm belief helps us to stay focused on doing God’s work. If we have watched movies on the Roman soldiers, you will realize that the soldiers defend themselves from arrows by joining their shields together.
- The helmet protects another vulnerable human part – the head/ brain. Our conviction about our salvation protects us from our minds being weakened through discouragement.
- With the sword of the Spirit and the Word of God, we can confront the enemy just as Jesus did by using the Word of God to defeat the devil; each time, Christ quoted the Bible. To stay sharp for our own protection, we have to input the Word of God into our spirit.
Put on the whole armor of God.
B288 - Always rejoice and count our blessings
Ph 3:1 says,
‘Finally, my brothers (and sisters), rejoice in the Lord.’
The Greek word for ‘rejoice’ is chairo or make glad, be glad, hail. The GNT uses the term, ‘be joyful’. Others use ‘be glad’. Could it also be happy?
Gal 5:22 says that the Holy Spirit produces ‘joy’ within our lives.
Amazingly, we don’t need comedians or movies to make us happy or joyful. We need the Holy Spirit. Every time we count our blessings, we bring joy to our spirit.
Believers do not just react to feeling but respond to truths and possess inner joy; just like the inner peace that the Lord assured us even when the world is in turmoil (John 16:33).
Believers ought to count our blessings and rejoice in the Lord.
B289 - Be kind to people
Kindness is identified as part of the fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5:22. The Greek word for ‘kindness’ is chrestotes or goodness, uprightness, kindness and gentleness.
Kindness is a behavior and is associated with someone who is pleasant and who shows genuine concern and consideration for other people.
Kindness does not mean that we give in to the request of a person in need all the time. For example, if a person is a drug addict and wants money, it might sometimes be kinder not to provide money but to seek for alternatives to resolve the issue of drug.
Kindness is a universal virtue understood by all humankind. Even basic things like please and thank you, giving a hug, sharing a laugh or just telling someone your appreciation of them, are acts of kindness.
Hence, be kind to people.
See also B260 – Engage in graceful conversation.
B290 - Be upright (intrinsic goodness)
‘Goodness’ is another virtue relating to the fruit of the Spirit. The Greek word is agathosune or intrinsically good with a stress on the kindly side of goodness. Goodness is a virtue.
Goodness includes acts like
- visiting the sick,
- volunteering in the community,
- praying for an enemy, and
- helping the homeless.
It reflects our selfless act (agape love) on behalf of others, especially if they cannot help themselves. It might even involve confronting a friend out of concern relating to his/ her sin.
B291 - Be patient with everyone and make allowance for each other's faults
The word ‘longsuffering’ may also be translated into ‘patience’. The Greek word is makrothumia or patience/ forbearance/ longsuffering. It talks about embracing steadfastness and staying-power. When used against our temperament, it is ‘long tempered’ as against ‘short tempered’ and considered a quality of God.
Eph 4:2 speaks about the need to be
‘humble, gentle, and patient, bearing with one another in love.’
It is about how we deal with other people and why we should be patient with everyone – ‘long tempered’. NLT translates it as being ‘patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of (our) your love.’
If you realize, it is not ‘no temper’. We should be glad that our God is a longsuffering one.
Be patient with everyone and ‘make allowance for each other’s faults’ because we are far from perfect. Have a long temper.
B292 - Be faithful and trustworthy
In Matt 23:23, the Lord reminded the Pharisees that they are not to disregard these three things: Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness. In Gal 5:22, faithfulness is described as part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
The Greek word for ‘faithfulness’ is pistis or faith, belief, trust, confidence, faithfulness, and fidelity. The NLT translates it to ‘faith’ which is accurate.
In Matt 24:45-46, Jesus described a ‘faithful and wise servant’ as ‘someone whom his master will find so doing when he comes.’ In other words, somebody who is carrying out his/ her task and using his/ her talents for doing that which he/ she is called to do.
What then is faithfulness?
‘Faithfulness’ is the willingness and perseverance to do what we have been called to do despite the fact that the order is invisible.
John Calvin, a French reformist during the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, described it this way:
‘Faith is knowing what is His will toward us.’
Maybe not just ‘knowing’ but it should also include ‘doing’.
B293 - Be meek
In Matt 5:5, Jesus said,
‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’
The Greek word is praus or mild, and gentle. It is not the strong and confident that inherits the earth but the very opposite; the meek.
‘Meekness’ followed after ‘poor in spirit’ for without the former, there could be not latter.
D Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a renowned Bible teacher who taught the Beatitudes, said,
‘The meek man is not proud of himself, he does not in any sense glory in himself. He feels that there is nothing in himself of which he can boast. It also means that he does not assert himself …. He does not make demands for his position, his privileges, his possessions, his status in life. (Just like Chris), Christ did not assert that right to equality with God; he deliberately did not. A man who is meek is not even sensitive about himself. He is not always watching himself and his own interests. To be meek, in other words, means that you have finished with yourself altogether and you come to see you have no rights.’
Don’t follow the world but be meek. Jesus is our example. Despite his fame, he mingled with the crowd and treated his disciples as almost a co-equal.
B294 - Exercise self-control
Self control is a value expounded in Gal 5:23. It is one of the nine fruit of the Spirit.
The Greek word in Gal 5:23 is egkrateia and it means self-mastery, and self-restraint.
It takes self-control to keep our speech in check. It is almost the opposite of releasing our emotions as in B276, Show our emotions.
It is about disciplining ourselves to do what is right when we could have given in to do wrong. It is about being able to control our own reactions and interactions (that is, ourselves) even though we have no control over the circumstances around us.
Someone said that the greatest destructive emotion is anger since it can cause strife in our human interaction, resulting in feuds, murders, violence, and revenge.
To be in self-control means we are in control of our anger, our intake of wine and food, and our sexual appetite. It is to be in control of ourselves.
A man without self-control is a wild man.
Having said that, self-control is not about being stoic. There will be times when we can share our compassionate emotions. It is those negative emotions that we need to keep in check.
Self-control is a daily discipline. It may take us awhile to master ourselves but each time we fail, we must return and start again. Scripture promises us that ‘the righteous falls seven times and rises again’ (Prov 24:16). Hence, do not beat ourselves up just because we have failed. The important thing is to get up and start again.
The first step to exercising self-control is understanding who we are as well as the elements of what self-control is.
Also look at B326 – Get rid of that which causes us to sin (ringfence).
B295 - Don't lose heart but stay in faith
Heb 12:1 explains,
‘Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us’
and Paul said in 2 Cor 4:16 that while our bodies are dying, ‘our spirits are being renewed every day …. So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.’
In order to persevere, we have to remind our spirit to stay focused on the prize ahead. Rev 21:7 says,
‘The one who conquers will have this heritage and I will be his God and he will be my son.’
A Christian journey is not a sprint but a marathon. We must not lose heart. Hence, we must encourage one another.
We must persevere and look to the eternal while staying in faith. See B28, Meet regularly with fellow believers.
B296 - Teach and be teachable
The Lord, in Matt 28:19 said,
‘Go therefore and make disciples.’
Part of making disciples also involved teaching someone and Jesus taught his disciples both theories (through parables) as well as real-life practical skills of healing and casting out of demons. In fact, he modeled these practical skills himself.
In Acts 8, we saw how Philip went up to the Ethiopian eunuch and taught him the word through the writings of Isaiah. Of course, it was a supernatural event as Philip was directed to go to the road heading south from Jerusalem to Gaza. It might have been a lonely stretch but the obedience of Philip led to this encounter. Philip showed him the good news about Jesus through the Scripture.
In 2 Tim 2:2, Paul asked Timothy to entrust the teachings of Jesus to ‘faithful men who will also be qualified to teach others.’
In Acts 18:24-26, it showed how Apollos, a follower of John the Baptist, was prepared to learn from Priscilla and Aquila, even though he himself was already an eloquent speaker of Scriptures. It showed his humility and his preparedness to change.
A good teacher does not allow pride to get in the way so much so that he/ she is beyond correction. Any teacher who is beyond correction is a danger to the kingdom of God.
Good teachers of the word are invaluable in the kingdom of God. Jesus commended them in Matt 13:52 likening them to ‘a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’ It is a unique talent.
If you are a good teacher of the word, and the opportunity allows for it, then teach. But regardless, all of us must remain teachable and there may even be occasions when we have to unlearn in order to relearn.
The day we stop learning is the day we start aging. It is also the day we stop living and start existing. It is the day when the salt loses its saltiness.
B297 - Teach (but know that it is a heavy responsibility with high accountability)
Teachers have great recognition. Matt 5:19 (NLT) says,
‘Anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven’ – NB: Obey and teach.
Equally, if a teacher misleads his/ her students through wrongful teaching, Jesus said, ‘whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea’ (Matt 18:6).
Hence, it is appropriate that James 3:1 says, ‘not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.’
In 2 Peter 2:15, the Apostle Peter used the example of Balaam as a bad teacher and one who loved to earn money through wrongdoing.
It is perfectly good to teach but be aware of the heavy responsibility with high accountability.
It is vital for teachers to thoroughly research the topics that they are covering and to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
A good teacher is one that walks close to God, who hears God and shares the appropriate messages. A good teacher is also one who repents quickly if he/she discovers that the lessons taught were incorrect and informs his/ her audience immediately.
See B296, Teach and be teachable for other information.
B298 - Be organized and tidy
Whenever Jesus performed his miracles to feed the multitude, he would always finish the event by organizing his disciples to pick up the leftovers. Once, when he fed five thousand, they collected twelve baskets of leftovers (Matt 14:20).
Another time when it involved four thousand people, they gathered seven large baskets of leftover food (Mark 8:8).
Why do you think Jesus did that?
Now, consider what happened immediately after his resurrection? When Simon Peter arrived at the tomb, he noticed that the cloth which covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings (John 20:7).
We serve a God of order. Does it not show that God loves tidiness and order? There is little excuse for us to be slack and messy.
God is a God of tidiness and order. See also D57, Jesus loved order.
B299 - Be a good role model
Titus 2:7 uses the word ‘dignity’. It is the Greek word semnotes or honor/ gravity. Or someone whose word has ‘real weight’, someone who is worthy of respect.
The Apostle Paul was such a person. When he spoke, the sea captain and his crew listened (Acts 27:33-38). His words borne authority.
He said, ‘You should imitate me just as I imitate Christ’ (1 Cor 11:1). Again, in Phil 3:17 he said, ‘Join in imitating me and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.’
He role modeled that of a good disciple and teacher.
B300 - Sow right to reap right
‘Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.’
Paul wanted to use a farming analogy to share the importance of sowing the right stuff in order to reap the good stuff. He carried on in v8 by saying that if we sow to our own flesh, then we will reap corruption.
That is, if we spend time and effort in ungodly things, we will obviously reap ungodly outcomes. It is a powerful analogy. We have to be careful on what we sow.
As in the natural, so it is with the spiritual. And if we want to sow in order to reap the right stuff, there is also the element of patience to wait out for it to grow.
Be careful of what we sow. There are causes and effects.
B301 - Learn to take rest
Why was the Sabbath created?
Jesus answered it in Mark 2:27,
‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’
Jesus knew the significance of rest. When God created the world, he rested on the seventh day, from sunset to sunset. Rest is required for all of us. Some people, because of the nature of work, may choose not to rest. That is not God’s principle.
Rest also demonstrates our trust in God. During the exodus journey, the children of Israel were told specifically to gather twice the amount of manna on the sixth day and to take a complete rest on the seventh. Yet, some of them went out anyway on the seventh day and found no food.
Then the Lord said, ‘How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions? They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you. On the Sabbath day, you must each stay in your place. Do not go out to pick up food on the seventh day’ (Ex 16:28-29).
In other words, ‘Don’t worry about your provision on Day 7, trust me (God) because it has already been provided.’
Jesus also rested when he heard sad news, like when John the Baptist was beheaded. In Mark 6. Jesus told his disciples, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’
Then, Mark explained, ‘For many were coming and going and they had no leisure even to eat.’ (sound familiar?)
If Jesus needed rest despite his tight schedule (Everyone wanted a piece of him), then so do we. Rest when we need to (but definitely one day out of seven) and rest when our bodies tell us to.
Remember, even God rested on the seventh day. How much more do we need to learn this principle?
B302 - Renew our mind
Rom 12:2 tells us to
‘be transformed by the renewing of our minds.’
The Greek word for ‘renew’ is anakainosis or a renewal or change of heart and life or make fresh while the word for ‘mind’ is nous or mind/ reason/ intellect.
It is the capacity of each person to think and reason in reflective thinking.
How do we ‘renew our minds’?
The word of God, the Bible, is a powerful renewal weapon. We can renew our mind by reading and reflecting on what we read while allowing the Holy Spirit to minister to us. In fact, we should read and reflect on the word of God daily.
We can also renew our minds through gleaning from good teachers of the word who may be able to offer us different angles in understanding a verse or passage of the Bible. Of course, discernment of the spirit is equally important.
Share with us if you have other ideas.
B303 - Hate all forms of evil
Rom 12:9 reads,
S1, Being evil minded, explains well what evil means. The Greek word for ‘evil’ is poneros and it is the same as evil, wicked, malicious and even slothful. God’s concept of evil appears to encompass more than what the world understands ‘evil’ to be and it is beyond ‘malicious intent.’
It is important that as believers we abstain from all forms of evil. The segment on ‘Godlessness’ covered under ‘Sins’ explains it well. It includes S13, Invent evil things.
Also, read B116, Expose the works of darkness.
B304 - Rejoice in truth
1 Cor 13:6 says that
‘Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.’
In other words, true love (agape) hates evil but rejoices with truth.
It was Pontius Pilate who asked Jesus the question, ‘What is truth?’ when Jesus said that ‘everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My (Jesus’) voice.’
Why so? Because Jesus is truth personified (John 14:6).
The Greek word for ‘truth’ is aletheia and can mean truth of idea, reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere or divine truth revealed to man. It is the same as ‘reality’ as compared to an ‘illusion’. It can also mean ‘hiding nothing’ and that it is always there.
In our liberal society, the concept of truth has been replaced by the era of relativism. It argues that all truth is relative and there is no such thing as absolute truth. Hence, our society finds the Bible (and fundamentalist Christians) to be abhorrent as the Bible abides by a strict definition of absolute truth.
The new world order believes and practices pluralism which says that all truth claims are equally valid. Hence, they accept that all roads lead to Rome and all religions teach good fundamentally and that should be good enough.
Believers must rejoice in truth – one truth – and not multiple definitions of truths.
For further information, you might like to follow this link on an excellent article written by Art Lindsley.
B305 - Be slow to anger
Eph 4:26 says,
‘Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.’
In other words, settle the issue around your anger quickly or on the same day. Also, see how believers should handle offences in B359 to B370.
Can Christians get angry?
Jesus was not exactly a placid pushover. He showed his greatest anger with the Pharisees.
The guideline to believers is that it is fine to get angry but just have a ‘long temper.’
See also B294, Exercise self-control over one’s own desires and B116, Expose the works of darkness.
B306 - Seek support if we feel emotionally drained (even depressed)
Matt 4:11 says,
‘Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him’.
This verse came immediately after the great temptation of Jesus.
Just before Jesus went to the cross, he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. While there, he brought along Peter, James and John and ‘he began to be sorrowful and troubled’ (Matt 26:37).
He verbalized it to them,
‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch’ (Mark 14:34).
He did not hide his grief. He even appealed to the Father to ‘Remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done’ (Luke 22:42).
It was the Son of God going to the cross and it was the one single moment when God the Father had to forsake his Son because the latter was bearing the sins of the world on himself.
Jesus went through some very tough times. What did we see him do? He surrounded himself with his closest disciples. And before that, his Father brought angels to minister to him.
What does it tell us about ourselves?
That there will be times when we ourselves will go through tough situations. The important thing is to seek support. Jesus did. It is for Christians to voice their burdens to close brothers/ sisters and for Christians to support each other. And that is why we NEED A FEW CLOSE BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST.
Christians are not to be stoic (someone who is indifferent or unaffected by pain or pleasure); it is not scriptural. It is not for us to bottle up our problems and emotions.
See also B34, Share one another’s burdens and B276, Show our emotions.
B307 - Hope in God
‘And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.’
Christians have hope; we have hope in our Lord Jesus and God. We are pure in the eyes of God because of Jesus’ substitutional sacrifice for our sins.
In view of B306, Seek support if we feel emotionally charged, believers must remember whom they have believed in.
2 Tim 1:12 says it well,
‘For I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.’
In the Psalms, King David always reiterated his hope in God.
Ps 25:3 (NLT) –
‘No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced.’
There is always hope in God.
B308 - Choose friends wisely
1 Cor 15:33 says,
‘Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’
NLT says, ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’
The Book of Proverbs is full of verses that talk about the importance of having the right friends. Prov 13:20 says, ‘Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.’
Prov 17:17 reads,
‘A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.’
Prov 25:19 (NLT) equates a bad friend with a bad tooth … ‘Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot.’ Ouch.
Hence, choose your friends wisely because your friends make you who you are and they can encourage you during tough times.
B309 - Sing to the Lord
The Bible is filled with his people singing to him. The Book of Psalms is full of them.
Ps 30:4 says,
‘Sing praise to the Lord, you his godly ones. And give thanks to his holy name’
and it goes on and on. Ps 98:1 says, ‘O sing to the Lord a new song. For he has done wonderful things.’
The New Testament has a few too.
Just before Jesus went to the cross, Matt 26:30 says, ‘After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.’
So did his disciples. Both Paul and Silas were mentioned as ‘praying and singing hymns of praise to God’ while in prison (Acts 16:25).
James 5:13 says, ‘Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.’
And heaven is full of singing. Rev 14:3 reads, ‘And they sang a new song before the throne.’
Hence, by all means, sing to the Lord a new song. And do not neglect the use of musical instruments. They are found all over in the Psalms.
Ps 81:2 reads, ‘Raise a song, strike the tambourine, play the sweet-sounding harp and lyre.’