Your word is a lamp to my feet
Volume 02, Number 23
In this issue:
DO WE LOVE THE LORD MORE?
John 21:15 says, “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs”. Scholars debate the identity of the “these” of which Jesus spoke, and I’m not going to broach that discussion in this space. But there are some important people and principles that will really test our resolve for loving the Lord. Think carefully about these four.
First, do we love the Lord more than our family? If we do, we will not let them keep us from obeying the gospel. We will be willing to leave the religion they have accepted if it’s proven wrong. We will not let them keep us from attending the services of the Lord’s church. Remember, Jesus said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
Second, do we love the Lord more than money? If we do, we will not make the heaping of riches the chief object of our living. We will give liberally of our means to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). Remember, the Lord said, “For the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Third, do we love the Lord more than pleasure? If we do, we won’t engage in what’s forbidden, that which will hurt our influence for Christ. Remember, the Lord, in speaking of perilous times, said men shall be “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4).
Fourth, do we love the Lord more than the praise of men? If we do, we’ll be willing to stand for the Lord and the right, though we must stand alone (2 Timothy 4:16-17). The chief rulers “did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43).The Lord should be the supreme object of our affection (Matthew 22:37). And that means we’ll have to make some serious adjustments in our lives. May we learn to sing, and mean it: “More love to thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!”
How important it is to select the right friends. Solomon said: "Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go" (Proverbs 22:24). In the very next verse, he gives us the reason for such a command. He says: "Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul." There have been many young men that has started down the road to drinking, adultery, hopelessness, drugs, and prison because he picked the wrong friends. Young lady, young man, select your companions on the basis, not of money or fame, but on the solid rock of character, religious convictions, and moral judgments.
Money and fame are fleeting; but godliness and truth will last forever. Paul wrote to Titus: "teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:12-13). A true friend will stand by us when money is gone. Witness the story of the prodigal son. When his money was gone, his friends were gone. These were some friends, weren't they? A true friend will be there and stick by us even in the very worst of circumstances. We must be sure to choose our friends wisely.
Did you ever think about what it takes to have friends? For one to have friends, one must make himself friendly. In Proverbs 18:24 the wise Solomon wrote: "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Friendliness is a characteristic of Christianity. In adversity one must be helpful; in distress, we must be warm and consoling. Solomon said: "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17). Indeed, if I am at all times helpful and useful to others, I can not only serve my God, but I can make friends at the same time. Also, when choosing our friends, we must make sure that they have our best interests at heart. As a Christian we want friends that will help us get to heaven and we also must strive to help them reach heaven.
Did you know that one of the most admired characteristics of friendship is loyalty? Let us look at two examples of this which show the opposites. First, Onesiphorus, a friend of the apostle Paul was loyal and devoted. Paul said of him: "The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain" (2 Timothy 1:16). Here was a man that this beloved apostle knew that he could count on. Do you have friends like this that you just know that you can count on to be there for you when you really need them? But on the other hand, one of the most disappointing things in the life of Job must have been that his friends turned against him in time of need. They said he was evil because he was suffering so much. It was bad enough that Job was being tried with the loss of his family, friends and the terrible physical problems. But now his so-called friends turn against him. He said: "He has removed my brothers far from me, and my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. My relatives have failed, and my close friends have forgotten me. Those who dwell in my house, and my maidservants, count me as a stranger; I am an alien in their sight" (Job 19:13-15). Yet through all of this he remained faithful to God. A friend is not one who deserts his brother in time of need. Jesus did not turn away from his friends but comforted and helped them in time of need. Would you do the same for your friends? Often, we say we will but when the situation arises where we must take a stand to show our loyalty will we really come through? I would hope that I would, and I would hope that those that I call my friend would do the same for me. If we are loyal to Jesus, calling Jesus our friend then we must show Him our love. How? By doing what Jesus asks of us. He said: "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14). It is very important to choose our friends wisely and then be there for them when needed
IS YOUR HEART BIG ENOUGH?
Steve Klein So much of what it means to live for Jesus is summed up in the word love. Among other things, love is an essential ingredient in the recipe for unity among believers. The body of Christ builds itself up “in love” (Ephesians 4:16). Love is “the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:14). The love which binds us together is more than mere feeling or sentiment. It is a powerful force which inspires us to behave in specific ways (cp. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8). Because love “does not rejoice in iniquity”, one thing it compels us to do is to correct the errors of those whom we love. Galatians 6:1-2 commands, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
In Galatians we are shown that “the law of Christ” is a law rooted in love. Paul asserts that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything “but faith working through love” (5:6). “Through love” we “serve one another” (5:13). “All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (5:14). And, “the fruit of the Spirit is love …” (5:22). The point is that the law of Christ is a law of love and we fulfill it by bearing one another’s burdens, including helping one another overcome sin.
Paul exemplified this spirit of love in his dealings with the Corinthians. In his first letter to them, he severely rebuked the Corinthians for their errors. In his second letter, he explained that “out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you” (2 Corinthians 2:4). He spoke so openly to them because his heart was “enlarged” (2 Corinthians 6:11). His heart was swelling with love for the Corinthians, and he could not bear to see them lose their souls.
More than anything else, we need hearts enlarged with such love — love that refuses to sit idly by and watch as brothers and sisters in Christ are overcome with sin. “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). It should be noted that this passage does not say that love covers sins by ignoring them. Love “covers a multitude of sins” by encouraging the sinner to repent, and by readily forgiving him when he does. “Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). Is your heart big enough to restore your fallen brother or sister?
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 06/04/2023
The Mount Baker Beacon is a
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA.