There are, in the end, only two kinds of people: people who do what they say and those who don’t. Do you and I walk our talk? Jesus called the former group of people “hypocrites,” play-actors who wore a mask that hid the true self underneath. God desires that we be genuine, unhypocritical, and real—the same on the inside as we are on the outside.
This is easier said than done. Only by the grace of God can we be the kinds of people God wants us to be. Yet follow-through is of absolutely critical importance, as James, the half-brother of Jesus, told his readers: “But be doers of the... Read More
Interesting, isn’t it, that the apostle of love—the apostle John—is also the one who has several very stern passages warning believers against false teachers. I once went to a church that was going through a nasty split and that was divided into two parties: the “love party” and the “truth party.” Those in the “love party” focused on God’s love and forbearance with sinners, while the “truth party” emphasized God’s righteous demands. Silly, isn’t it? I say “silly” because both are true if held in proper balance. God is a God of love—in fact, as John tells us,... Read More
Many of us can identify with the experience of the psalmist who wrote, “But as for me, my feet almost slipped; my steps nearly went astray. For I envied the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Ps 73:2–3). Indeed, when we look at this world, hard-working teachers (such as the one writing these lines!) command only a basic salary—though they are trying to be content and make ends meet as best as they can!)—while celebrity athletes—and even those hardly known—make millions upon millions. Who can blame the psalmist for being tempted to envy the arrogant when he saw their... Read More
If humility is defined, in Paul’s terms, as “consider[ing] others as more important than” ourselves (Phil 2:3), then, clearly, humility is a uniquely Christian virtue. In this fallen, sinful universe, with its “survival of the fittest” mentality, the prize goes usually to those who are aggressive, assertive, and pursue their own interests, even if this means stepping over others to get ahead. Considering others as more important than ourselves does not come naturally.
But this is exactly what Christians are told to do in Scripture. How can this be so? In short: because humble is... Read More
What was Paul’s goal in ministry? He tells us in Colossians: “We proclaim him [Christ], warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me” (Col 1:28–29). This, of course, is nothing other what Jesus said should be the goal of his followers in the “Great Commission”: “Go, therefore, andmake disciples of all nations, baptizing them … [and] teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19–20). Likewise, John tells us that when some... Read More
When Paul came to Thessalonica and tried to establish a church there, he was faced with vehement opposition, so much so that he had to cut his time there short after a few weeks and leave town by night (read the account in Acts 17:1–10). But a wonderful thing happened: the believers in Thessalonica imitated Paul’s Christlike attitude in persecution, and thus became examples to others in their entire region. This is the way Paul puts it in his first letter to the Thessalonians:
You know what kind of men we were among you for our benefit, and you became imitators of us and of the Lord when,... Read More
Apparently, when Paul wrote his second letter to the Thessalonians, there were those who believed Christ’s second coming was so imminent that all they had to do was quit their jobs and wait around until his arrival. Paul had no sympathy for such teaching. In fact, he commanded believers to “keep away” from those who lived “irresponsibly” (2 Thess 3:6, 11), reminding them of his own example when he was with them: “we did not eat anyone’s bread free of charge; instead we labored and toiled, working night and day, so that we would not be a burden to any of you” (2 Thess 3:8). So...