What Do You Have When the Gifts Go Away?

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:8-13)

Love never ends, but the gifts will go away. Paul was seeking to show them a better and more excellent way, the way of love (1 Corinthians 12:31). The miraculous spiritual gifts that these brethren possessed would one day fade away. They were all in part, but the perfect word of God when completed would bring their gifts to fulfillment and would pass away. As we have the perfect completed word of God, we have no need of prophecy, tongues and miraculous knowledge. Those gifts all were part of bringing the whole revealed word to completion.

Paul’s illustration of the transition of a child into manhood helps explain the usefulness of those miraculous spiritual gifts during the infancy of the church. They didn’t have Matthew through Revelation, but now we do, and now every person can look into the perfect law of liberty (James 1:23-25). We can look into the mirror of the word and see plainly face to face the image of Christ and with the power of the Holy Spirit that word can transform us into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18).

So, the things that these brethren in Corinth were so focused on were temporary and were going to fade away. What they were not focused on was the love that never ends. They are not any different than you and me are they?

What do you have when the gifts and talents go away? If the things that you have that you really hold dear are taken away, what do you have left? Some have great looks, others have charm. Some are really financially savvy, and others are great working with their hands. There are those who are super intelligent and can solve really complex problems. Some guys are great with words, while others have incredible physical and athletic abilities. Again, what happens when those gifts and talents go away?

What do you have left? Do you have love? If all your gifts, talents and abilities are gone, what are you left with?

Go back to the earlier section of 1 Corinthians 13. Are you patient and kind, or are you arrogant and rude? Do you hope for the best or look for the worst in people? Are you irritable and resentful or do you bear, believe, hope and endure all things? Would you be described as someone who always has to be right and insists on his or her own way? Or would you be described as someone who rejoices with the truth, and does so without envying or boasting?

When the abilities go away, do you have love?

“Pursue love…” (1 Corinthians 14:1)

What Love Is and What Love Isn’t

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Please meditate upon this section of Scripture today. Below are some simple questions and commonly used approaches to this text, but they are helpful to ask ourselves. We all need to reconnect with this passage occasionally.  I know I do. It certainly would help to read it everyday.

  • What is love? What are some things love is NOT? It certainly is not a feeling, is it? This is about rising above your feelings and doing what is right regardless of how you feel.
  • How does Jesus/God demonstrate these qualities? Look throughout Scripture and consider your own relationship with God as well. How do you see God being kind? Was Jesus arrogant and rude? Aren’t you glad that He doesn’t keep a score on you? Your record of sins has been washed away by the blood of Jesus because of His great unfailing love for you.
  • Do I have these qualities of love in my heart? Am I patient? Am I kind or am I rude? Do I insist on my own way? Am I irritable or resentful? Is my goal to be right or to be reconciled with my loved ones? Do I keep score in relationships? Am I happy when someone messes up so I can have an, “Aha! Gotcha!” moment? Do I look for the good in people or do I work up the worst possible motives about them in my mind? Am I hopeful for the best outcome in relationships?
  • Can I visualize how these qualities of love would look in my relationships? How do I specifically live out these qualities? What about when my wife gets snippy because she’s under a lot of stress? How do I talk to that person at work who is always self-centered, worldly and rude? What about the person under my authority who questions my decisions and approaches? How do I respond? How would I begin a conversation with someone that I am odds with if I had this kind of love working in my heart and soul?

Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old (Psalm 25:6).

Though I…But Have Not Love

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

5 times (if I counted right) in this section of Scripture Paul used the phrase, “Though I.” Though I possess and did all of these wonderful, spiritual and godly things, but did not have love, what are they worth?

If you saw someone speak with the all the languages of the world miraculously, what would you think? What if he or she spoke with the language of angels? Would you be impressed? How about if the person was so gifted that he or she understood all mysteries of the Bible and had perfect knowledge of it? Would it get your attention? What if their faith was stronger than anyone you had ever seen? Would you think, wow that person is so close to God? Would you be impressed if that person gave everything he or she owned including the body to be sacrificed for Jesus? How would we see that person?

Paul gives us some insight into this much needed discussion. He tells us that we could be incredibly gifted and our words just come out as noise if we don’t have love. We could be so full of knowledge and understanding that people are constantly coming to us for advice and perspective. But we are absolutely “nothing” Paul wrote if we don’t have love. Our mountain-moving faith is made of no value if it is not joined with the love of God in our hearts. We could list a thousand things that we did for Jesus and for others, but if we are not loving to others, then that list isn’t worth the paper it is written on.

But have not love – 3 times Paul used this phrase and when he used it, he followed it with:

  • I am noise – My gifted words for Jesus are just noise.
  • I am nothing – My gifts, including my mountain-moving faith that I may hold in such high esteem are of no value at all.
  •  All my sacrifice and works are nothing. I can heap up acts of service and godly deeds to the sky, but if I am not loving, then it amounts to a pile of dung. In fact, the pile of dung is of more value because it can at least be spread out for fertilizer.

Doesn’t that impress upon you and me how important and valuable love is?

We are going to look further into 1 Corinthians 13 over the next few days and seek with God’s help to glean as much as we can from this timeless and priceless passage on love.

Fathers Teach not Provoke

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

This verse comes on the heels of Paul’s teaching to children to obey their parents in everything. The standard is clearly set for children in our homes just as the standard is clearly set for each of in the family of God…obey! Guess what…just like us…our children don’t always get it right and disobey and sin. The result…grief. With this in mind, what is Paul teaching us fathers?

Notice first that “fathers” are directed in this command. Paul knows how to say parents because he did so in verse 1. Why are fathers singled out? Ephesians 5:23 tells us that husbands are declared by God to be the head of the family and therefore responsible and accountable for what happens in the family. Fathers are to have an active role in the family, particularly in raising the children. Additionally, fathers are going to be challenged to not act in anger toward the children. There is a reason God says this to the men. The intention seems clear that this is an issue that we must be aware of. Fathers are going to have the temptation to provoke the children to anger.

Children test our patience, our will, and our authority as fathers. They grieve us, however, the command rules out excessively severe discipline/consequences, unreasonably harsh demands, abuse of authority, being unfair, nagging, being humiliating, etc. Children are persons in their own right and are not be manipulated, exploited, or crushed. Our Father is loving, graceful, merciful and long suffering…we must be the same with our children. With that said, this does not mean we allow our children to run the household. Children are not the head of the family.

The answer to the challenge of parenting…to fathering…is not to let the children do what they want. Verse 4 tells us fathers to raise our children and to not provoke them…both are required. So how might we do this? We might start with saying “no” with a reason. It is easy to just say “no”. But think about the frustration, confusion, and disappointment our child might experience if we do not explain the reason or make the “no” inconsistent with how we live. This is especially important with our children who are old enough to reason with and to make every effort with each “teachable” moment. Our Father teaches us with “no” and His consistent and Holy will gives us confidence “no” is right and best.

Please don’t misunderstand me…there are times as Godly fathers when our rule or word must simply be enforced. What I emphasizing here is we cannot let our attitude always be “my way or the highway”. The word “discipline” speaks to the activity of the education. Some translations rightly read, “training.” This is active and it is a partnership with our children. “Our way or the highway” all the time is not “parenting” or “teaching” or “leading”…that is simply “bossing”…and our God does not love us or raise us that way.

I know we all want our children to safe and in the loving care of our Heavenly Father because that is what they choose to be. I know we want our children to have the life skills to be independent of us when they leave our home. Fathers, we have a job to raise our children so that when they turn 18 they can live life independent of us but are especially dependent on our Heavenly Father! We must show them that we desire God and find our joy in God. What we are doing is not an activity as if God is something to do. We desire these things because this is the whole life and joy.

(NOTE: These thoughts were amplified by a sermon by Brent Kercheville from West Palm Beach CoC; 2014.)

Video by Simon Sinek about Success in the Workplace

This is a video by Simon Sinek that a friend, Andy, sent me awhile back. He addresses the millennial generation, and covers some topics that are worth considering. These things he discusses do not apply only to the millennial generation, they apply to all of us, especially when he talks about addiction to cell phones, technology and social media.

This is something that parents should consider and keep in mind when raising their sons and daughters who are surrounding with social media and technology.

Remember that just like anything, including these articles I send out, check them with the Word of God.

Before Honor Is Humility

The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise. He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility (Proverbs 15:31-33).

Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honor is humility (Proverbs 18:12).

A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor (Proverbs 29:23).

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 14:11).

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up (James 4:10).

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time… (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Before Honor Is Humility:

  • Before I will be honored, I must first have humility. If I’m going around looking to be respected and honored, I have the wrong starting point, don’t I? These passages above show us where our mindset should be, and that is on humbling ourselves before God and others.
  • Before I can truly honor others, I must first have humility. Only when we have humility can we show others the proper respect and honor God calls us to have. Otherwise it is just fake and superficial.

What is humility?

  1. Seeing the Lord in the right perspective
  2. Seeing myself in relationship to the Lord accurately.
  3. Seeing others properly in relationship to 1 and 2.

I want to illustrate this simple definition of humility with a parable of Jesus:

Luke 18:9-17 – Jesus’ parable about the two men who went up to pray.

  1. How did each man see God?
  2. How did each man see his relationship to God?
  3. How did the Pharisee see his relationship to the sinner based upon 1 and 2? Do we see how arrogant and condescending the Pharisee was toward the sinner because of his lack of humility before God?

Philippians 2:1-11 – Paul Let this mind be in you…

  1. How did Jesus see the Father?
  2. How did Jesus see His relationship to the Father?
  3. How did Jesus see us in connection to #1 and #2? Jesus looked out for our interests, not His own, because of His humility. The Father honored Jesus and highly exalted Him because of that humility.

Before honor comes humility. 

Sowing and Reaping: Simple, Difficult, Complex

Let’s continue our discussion from yesterday regarding “choices” and “consequences”. We are in control of our choices and we understand that our actions (based on those choices) have consequences. Wrong actions have negative consequences and right actions have positive consequences. This is biblical pattern and the foundation of the discussion in Galatians 6:6-10.

I have to sow to reap.

“The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.” (Proverbs 20:4; NKJV); Matt 25

I will reap the same kind as I sowed.

“He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow, and the rod of his anger will fail.” (Proverbs 22:8; NKJV); Job 4:8

I will reap more than I sow.

“They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7; NKJV); Mark 10:29-30

 I will reap in proportion to what I sow.

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38; NKJV); 2 Corinthians 9:6

I will reap in a different season than when I sow.

“Be patient…the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.” (James 5:7; NKJV); Matt 5:12

These principles are simple and easy to understand and we know that we are to sow Godly choices, thoughts, and behaviors in order to reap everlasting life. If we sow to the flesh, we will reap corruption and a whole lot of trouble. This is where it can become difficult…in the application.

 We are all living a lifetime of mistakes and so we don’t always sow what we should and find ourselves in trouble. This could be a momentary lapse in judgement or a prolonged choice to seek after pleasures, activities, or interests that are contrary to what God has called us to. Application of this principle is where the rubber meets the road and we don’t always get it right.

This becomes even more complex if we consider the fact we are not living in a bubble and we live each day in the context of our relationships. It is bad enough we hurt ourselves with our bad choices and negative consequences, but we also are in danger of hurting those closest to us. Further, even if we are right where we are supposed to be and making good choices; it might be that those who we have the most interaction with or care about the most are making (or have made) bad choices and their consequences/circumstances impact our lives negatively.

What if someone sows anger into their life and our relationship…do we get to be angry back? What if someone sows judgment, do we get to withhold mercy? No, we don’t. And I am not talking about tolerating sinful behavior, we cannot do that. What I am talking about is not allowing the consequences of that behavior to change how we see our God, His blessings, His peace, or the freedom He provides to love like He loves. If we hold firm and stay close to Him, we will have the reassurance, love, joy, etc. we need regardless of how the consequences of others impacts us. Further, if we are able to reflect the fruit of the Spirit, even if someone is full of the fruit of the flesh, we are right where God wants to us to be in order to be an influence for good. It doesn’t always feel good and it isn’t always easy, but if we are sowing love…we will reap love either today or in eternity. We control our choices…not the choices of others or the consequences associated with those choices. Choose God.

God has chosen us and He has given us a leadership role to fill at home and in the relationships we share with the women in our lives.  Some of us might be the only Godly man some women know and we certainly are the most important to our wives, daughters, and sisters in Christ.  He chose us, He has chosen to redeem us and He has left us here so that we will be blessing to those in our lives.  He is working and He will work for us and with us for the benefit of everyone…He doesn’t want anyone to end up anywhere other than at home with Him.

Expectations

Thanks to Jason Salyers for this article on Expectations!

Paul wrote to Titus and told him, “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled (Titus 1:15).” In context, this is referencing individuals who are “insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision… (1:10);” however, I hope we realize, the importance of our mindset, or what we often refer to as expectation, is represented to us as well. The question to ask ourselves; in our day-to-day mentality, what is our approach to life and for this article, our family?

Consider our approach to life – Paul directs Titus to look at the actions of the individuals in question, “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” Our approach or expectation in this life will affect our regular, routine interactions – do you have a “trusting” nature, or an “un-trusting” nature. Do you think everyone in this world is attempting to exploit or extort you? Do you expect to be cheated during all interactions? Do you seek to always be dominant in every interaction? Is there always a question of “who’s-in-charge” prevalent in your psyche? What do you think about or dwell on the most, each-and-every-day? The Bible does call for us to be discerning – to test, prove, scrutinize to verify genuineness. Discernment, scrutiny, or examination must be used correctly though, in the context of Scripture (not to give us unfair or unrighteous bias). The Scripture states in Rm. 12:2 – “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” The word prove is our word meaning to examine or discern. We ourselves must authenticate our own actions, becoming a living sacrifice (giving up ourselves), holy and pleasing to God (our expected focus and correct mindset), and recognize this is our spiritual service of worship (daily service – cf. Rm. 12:1).

Approaching life, from the moment we wake until we rest again – do we approach the world with a cleaned, pure conscience and recognize people, individuals do have the ability to have pure motives, good intentions, and are capable to be good to one another. We see men and women being assisted on the side of the road – do you think every one of those is a Christian? I wish they were. We must remember – Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Rm. 1:20). God created in mankind, a being that is fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14), with eternity set in their heart (Eccl. 13:11). Men and women do know how to be good to one another.

It was the criticism Jesus directed towards the Pharisees that stated, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (Matt. 23:23).” When we instruct or guide our families, what are the expectations we lay before them? Do we have the expectation of success and prosperity? Are we the encouraging force in their lives allowing them to recognize their beauty and purpose before God? We certainly can be the hypercritical individual destroying confidence and questioning every action or motive among our spouses and children. The understanding and acknowledgment of discernment must be present. Also, the recognition and belief in purity must guide our own mindset or expectations. Do we live up to what God expects of us? A prayer we should all being forth every day, “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him (Ps. 62:5).”

Chesed

Yesterday we considered several passages of Scripture that demonstrate the faithfulness of God and His unfailing love and presence in our lives. Today I would like for you to consider the word “chesed” which is often translated as lovingkindness.

Here are some notes from A Theological Word Book of the Bible on the word “chesed.”

It is important to realize that though the Hebrew chesed can be translated by loving-kindness and mercy without doing violence to the context, yet we must always beware lest we think that God is content with less than righteousness. There is no reference to any sentimental kindness, and no suggestion of mercy apart from repentance, in any case where the Hebrew original is chesed. His demand for righteousness is insistent, and it is always at the maximum intensity. The loving-kindness of God means that his mercy is greater even than that. The word chesed stands for the wonder of his unfailing love for the people of his choice, and the solving of the problem of the relation between his righteousness and his loving-kindness passes beyond human comprehension.

The word is used to contrast man and God.

  • Isaiah 40:6 – Isaiah used chesed (“loveliness”) in the context of man’s lack of steadfastness or strength. The prophet is contrasting man’s frailty with God’s steadfast reliability.
  • Hosea 6:4 – Israel’s chesed was like the morning cloud which goes away. ‘as the morning cloud, and as the dew that goeth early away,’ a regular feature of the Palestinian climate when once the spring rains are past.

God’s loving-kindness is that sure love which will not let Israel go. Not all Israel’s persistent waywardness could ever destroy it. Though Israel be faithless, yet God remains faithful still. This steady, persistent refusal of God to wash his hands of wayward Israel is the essential meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated loving-kindness.

In light of these thoughts about the “chesed,” the unfailing lovingkindness God, let us pray for God’s “chesed” to be a part of our marriages. May we as men love our wives “just as” Jesus loved us, and may that unfailing lovingkindness flow from our hearts and souls toward our wives.

Interesting thought, when I type “lovingkindness,” it gets underlined in red because it is not part of the dictionary on this program. This term lovingkindness is not familiar to it, but may that not be the case for us in our marriages. Hopefully lovingkindness is part of our “program,” deeply embedded within our souls.

5 Love Languages: Acts of Service

I’m currently reading the 5 Love Languages for Men by Dr. Gary Chapman. Click here if you want to purchase the book for yourself.

Dr. Gary Chapman’s famous approach is that we all speak different love languages, and he categorizes them as:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Gift Giving
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

Today is about Acts of Service

First of all, let’s demonstrate that this “love language” is most certainly Bible-based. Listen to the words of the apostle Paul:

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13).

Dr. Chapman mentions three parts to become truly fluent in acts of service.

  1. Impact. Its the idea of working harder, not smarter. Are you listening to what she really needs? Do you hear her talk as to where she really needs the help? You could work all day doing all kinds of chores, and not add a drop to her love tank, Dr. Chapman points out. However, if you make dinner, clean up the kitchen and put the kids to bed, you might overflow her love tank. It comes down to listening to her needs and wants, not serving where you feel the most comfortable serving.
  2. Initiative. Making a list of things you can do for you wife really means nothing until you start DOING things on the list, particularly the things that mean the most to her. This requires drive, discipline and dedication, Dr. Chapman adds. Don’to let this very important to do list get lost under your mountain of paperwork. Think of what that says to your wife and how she will perceive your love and commitment. So, get busy!
  3. Attitude. Have you ever had someone do something for you, but you ended up feeling bad and guilty because of how that person behaved through the whole task? Motive and attitude are everything, aren’t they (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)? We are neither heroes nor martyrs, Dr. Chapman writes. Jesus says we are servants who have merely done our duty (Luke 17:10). So that means we are not trumpeting our good works before others, especially our wives. This is very hard for some of us! When we do that good deed, we want to make sure our wives really know we did the dishes and cleaned the bathroom, but that is contrary to the heart and attitude Jesus wants us to have.

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly (Matthew 6:1-4).

Pages 80-81 have some great practical tips for acts of service that you can do for your wife. If you have not already purchased this book, please do. It will be a helpful guide in your relationship with your wife. The Bible is of course always the first and best guide, but we also have great help and advice in many other resources like the 5 Love Languages.