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Category Archives: Relationships

My Neighbor

My Neighbor

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re coming to a familiar parable of Jesus. You may want to read Luke 10:25-37 before reading this post.

In this section of Scripture, we see an expert in the Law approaching the Lord with some questions. His goal was probably to test Jesus, to find a basis for accusation against Him.

His first question was a simple one. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” At that point, under the Old Covenant, Jesus answered with a question of His own.

“What is written in the Law?” he [Jesus] replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Luke 10:26-27 NIV

This expert in the Law gave the expected answer. This is what was commonly accepted as the summation of all the Law and the prophets. However, this lawyer couldn’t just stop there.

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Luke 10:28-29 NIV

Here’s where it starts to get interesting. You usually don’t feel the need to justify yourself unless you’re feeling guilty about something. In talking with Jesus, there must have been some conviction about how he had treated people in the past. He wanted to clarify that he was okay.

According to Old Testament thinking, a neighbor was a fellow countryman. Any Jewish person would qualify. Someone who was not a Jew would not be treated as a neighbor in terms of the Scripture.

Jesus went on to tell this man a parable. Someone was on a trip and was attacked by bandits along the road. He was robbed, beaten, and left for dead.

Soon, a priest came by that way. But, he ignored the man in need. A Levite also came by, but ignored him as well. These were both men who knew the Law and would have given Jesus the same answer to His question.

Then, a Samaritan came along the same road. These people were considered outsiders by the Jews. They had no dealings with each other and made sure that they kept their distance.

But, when the Samaritan saw the man in need, it didn’t matter to him whether or not the man was a Jew. He stopped and helped. He treated the man’s wounds and carried him on his donkey.

He was then taken to an inn where he could stay for the night. In the morning, the Samaritan prepaid so that the injured man could stay long enough to heal. He also promised that if there were any further expenses, he would come back and cover them.

Now it was time for the most important question.

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

Luke 10:36 NIV

In the literal Greek, Jesus asks, “Which of these three became a neighbor to the man…?” The two who were neighbors according to Jewish tradition, failed to help. The one who was not expected to help, did what was needed even though he was not a fellow countryman.

The answer was clear.

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:37 NIV

Who is my neighbor? It’s anyone that I have opportunity and ability to help. It’s not necessarily someone who lives next door. It could be anyone I meet during my day.

That’s why I need to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading. He can show me who to bring a blessing to. Then, as a result, I’ll reap a blessing from what I’ve planted in someone’s life.

Question: How have you been a neighbor lately?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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It All Comes Back Around

It All Comes Back Around

I’m continuing, now, with my study of the Gospel of Luke. We’re looking at the Sermon on the Mount. The Lord now gives us four things that return to us as we give them out.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Luke 6:37-38

The first is judgment. That speaks of a decision between right and wrong. It seems that we’re always so quick to judge the words and actions of others.

Of course, we don’t like it when others give us their verdict. Judging is something that hurts when it’s used improperly.

It always amazes me how our judgment differs depending on the object. From my perspective, when you do something I think is wrong, you have no excuse. When I do something wrong, however, I have a good reason why I did it!

We need to learn to stop being so judgmental. Or, at least we need to keep our judgments to ourselves. In this way we’ll not be judged as much.

The next thing the Lord talks about is condemnation. This is the actual punishment for what we think is a self-evident wrong.

This punishment can take on many forms. Sometimes it’s avoiding someone we think has wronged us. Other times it may take the form of gossip and slander. We want others to know the damage that was caused to us.

This type of behavior has no place in the body of Christ. If you’re quick to pass out condemnation, then it will come back upon you. Others will scrutinize your life more closely. This is a position I wouldn’t want to find myself in.

These are two negatives that we need to avoid. Now the Lord gets to the positive things to give out.

The first is forgiveness. This is a very important concept in the Scripture. It literally means to release and free fully.

It’s the opposite of judgment and condemnation. When we judge and condemn someone, it’s as if we’ve locked them away in our mind. We attach them to what they’ve done and constantly remember it.

Forgiveness, on the other hand, releases them from this internal prison cell. We no longer associate them with what they may have done.

Forgiveness is more than simply saying the words, “I forgive you.” It’s a choice to forget, or act like you forget, what they’ve done in the past. It’s giving someone a fresh start. After all, isn’t that what Christ has done for us?

Then, Jesus uses the generic word, give. This applies to all of our giving. It doesn’t matter if it’s money, resources, encouragement, or any other thing. When we give, it opens the door for us to receive.

The thing we have to realize is that the blessing comes in many forms. Just because I give someone money, doesn’t mean I’m going to get money in return. There are many times that God blessed me with things that are worth much more than simply cash.

The important thing is that we understand, the return is always more than the initial giving. That’s true in all of these areas. When we give judgment, condemnation, forgiveness, and resources, the return is “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”

We must make sure that we’re careful in what we give out. All of us want good things flowing into our lives. If that’s the case, then we should strive to be a conduit of God’s blessings flowing out to those around us.

Question: How have you seen this principle at work in your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2022 in Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Looking to 2022

Looking to 2022

As we stand on the brink of a new year, we should take the time to meditate on where we’re headed. I want to take this post give you some thoughts to pray on.

For many years, I’ve had a tradition when it comes to the New Year. I’ve only posted about it a few times.

A long time ago, I noticed that since 1901, the Psalms have pretty much lined up with what was happening in world events. For at least 20 years, I’ve been using them to prepare me, and those under my ministry, for the year ahead.

I just noticed something that I find very interesting. With the global pandemic that started in 2019, a majority of Christians stopped attending church in-person. Coinciding with that, Psalm 120 on, are what’s known as the Psalms of ascent. That means they are Psalms calling God’s people to meet together. Hmmmm!

That makes 122 the Psalm of Ascent for 2022. That’s what I want to talk about in this post. It’s up to you whether or not you see it as a prep for the coming year.

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.

Psalm 122:1-2

This verse is a clear call for God’s people to physically meet together. There’s a joy in the Holy Spirit that only comes from the in-person fellowship.

As I listen to the news regularly, I’m struck by the fact that again and again, they’re discovering new strains of the Covid virus. I feel like that’s going to go on indefinitely. It’s time for God’s people to stop fearing what the world fears. Let’s get back to what we’ve been called to do.

Please understand that I realize some people have a compromised immune system. They do need to use wisdom in where they go. But, that’s not the condition of most believers.

Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel.

Psalm 122:3-4

I believe that Jerusalem is symbol of the church. The word, city, in this verse literally means a place that’s guarded and protected. So, this verse tells us that when we’re closely joined together, we’re in the place of protection.

It also reminds us that our meeting together is commanded by God. That’s even found in the New Testament. Hebrews 10:25 actually makes it sound like the closer we get to the Lord’s return, the harder it will be to meet together.

There the thrones for judgment stand, the thrones of the house of David.

Psalm 122:5

The word for throne, in this verse, means a covered place. When we meet together, we’re covered under the authority of Christ – the final King of the house of David.

The rest of the Psalm speaks of the blessings that are a part of our fellowship. Praise God for Zoom meetings when necessary, but there’s a special anointing when we come together physically.

In verses 6-9, we’re told that we receive peace, security, and prosperity in the place of meeting. It’s time to return to our calling. Make it a goal to return to in-person meetings this coming year.

I believe that you will be abundantly blessed if you do.

Question: What do you believe about meeting together?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Meeting Together

Meeting Together

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. I think it’s interesting that it comes as we’re entering into the holiday season. I didn’t plan it that way, but it worked out great.

Today’s post will deal with Luke 1:39-45. You may want to read that passage before continuing with this article.

Soon after the angel met with her, Mary journeyed to Elizabeth and Zechariah’s house. They were her relatives.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:41

Mary probably felt the need to get away from her village and the questions that would certainly come up about her pregnancy. Elizabeth and Zechariah provided her with a safe place.

When Mary arrived at their home, it’s obvious that God showed up as well.

In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Luke 1:42-43

In the spirit, she recognized the mother of Messiah, even though she had no way of knowing it in the natural. But, it was in this moment that she asked a question. “WHY?” We miss this sometimes.

In our fellowship, the “why” is important. That’s a question we rarely ask. Why do we meet together?

We have a few stock answers: Because Jesus told us to. Because that’s what the early church did.

These are true, but not the right answers. There’s an epidemic of believers who stay away from church these days. The pandemic has become an excuse for many to forsake in-person meetings.

I think that in many cases we get the wrong idea of what church meetings are for. “Because we learn the Bible. Because we need ministry. Because we like each other. Because we agree with everything. Because the church meets my needs.” All of these reasons set you up to stay home.

Look at what happened when Mary arrived at the house. This is how Elizabeth described it.

As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

Luke 1:44

Why did she say this?

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:41

Think about the excuses we use. Could the Holy Spirit fill Elizabeth without Mary being present? Yes.

Could John have leapt for joy in the womb without Mary? Yes.

Would those things have happened without their meeting? No.

That’s what we have to learn. God does unique things in our fellowship. There’s a special move of God that He reserves only for those times that we are together. That’s probably because there’s a greater focus on what God is doing when we meet in-person.

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

Luke 1:45

Mary was blessed because she believed. This verse literally says that there will be a performance of what was told her. We have to see that the private and the public work together.

Mary was told something by the angel in private. Now she gets public encouragement. That’s because we’re encouraged in our fellowship.

Zechariah was told something in private. He shared it with his wife. Now she’s in her sixth month of seeing the “performance.” Elizabeth is in the perfect position to encourage Mary to continue trusting God.

We have to learn that the private can never replace the public. Just like the public can never replace the private.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

God has a work for us to do. We may hear His call to us in private, but we need the public to spur us on. It gives us the boldness we need, to do what God has called us to.

Don’t let the times we live in rob you of the blessings that can only come from our in-person fellowship.

Question: How often do you meet in-person with other believers?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Paul’s Conclusions

Paul’s Conclusions

In my last post, I started going through the greetings at the end of the book of Romans. I talked about some issues with women in leadership. There’s another that I’ll hit quickly today.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house.

Romans 16:3-5a

You may remember these people if you’ve read through the book of Acts. Priscilla and Aquila were a Jewish couple, who Paul met in Corinth. (Acts 18) They were tent-makers, like Paul, so he stayed with them and joined their business.

They began to minister with Paul, and moved to Ephesus where they planted a church in their home. Now they’ve moved to Rome where they again have a house-church.

In the book of Acts, Luke refers to the woman as Priscilla. That’s the informal, friendly name used for the name, Priska. In this verse in Romans, Paul uses her more formal name, Priska, even though the translators chose to use Priscilla so we’d know who was being talked about.

Why is that important?

The fact that Paul listed her first, along with her husband is significant. On top of that, he used her formal name out of respect. That tells me that she was the senior pastor of their home-church. Like I said in my last post, God can call whoever He desires to do His work.

Then, in verses 5b through 16, Paul sends his greetings to a number of people in the church. That tells me a lot about who the apostle was. He was a man who loved people.

Of those listed in this group, half of them were either women or slaves. In that society, they were treated like property or pets. Yet Paul saw them all as important, and he appreciated them.

We need to learn this lesson. We need to let others know that they’re loved. I recently heard a speaker give us this principal: “People love people who love people.”

We like to be around others who we think can uplift us. We need to learn to appreciate people who can do nothing for us. The church, more than any other group, should be a place where everyone gets love and affirmation.

That’s why Paul gives his next instruction.

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

Romans 16:17-19

Our human nature wants to constantly feed itself. We look for others who will stroke our egos. We need to constantly guard against this.

Part of winning this mind battle, is to keep away from those who obviously are after their own agendas. We need to choose our friends wisely. Attitudes have a way of rubbing off on those around them.

After sending greetings from his companions, Paul makes a closing statement.

Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him – to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Romans 16:25-27

This is the summation for everything he’s written in this letter. I think it’s appropriate that he calls this letter his Gospel. It does contain everything we need to know to establish our lives in Christ Jesus.

Question: How has the book of Romans affected your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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One Passion, One Mouth

One Passion, One Mouth

It seems like in this final part of the book of Romans, I’ve been posting a lot about relationships in the body of Christ. It’s all about understanding those who are serving Christ around me. I need to see and accept their differences, and work with them for God’s glory.

In my last post we saw that Paul showed how we can receive endurance and encouragement from the Scripture. He now continues that thought.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Romans 15:5-7

His prayer is that the same God who gives endurance and encouragement will now give them a spirit of unity. But that phrase, spirit of unity, is interesting in the original Greek. It’s literally asking God to give us a mind toward one another.

This goes right along with what we’ve been saying about our spiritual relationships thus far. I should be thinking about you. You’re on my mind so that I can understand your calling. In that way I can see how we fit together in the body of Christ.

Truly, we’re not called to be an organization, but an organism. We should be functioning seamlessly together because of the Holy Spirit within us. As we hear the voice of the Spirit and watch over each other, we are now equipped to fulfill the next part of this passage.

Only in unity can we glorify God with one heart and one mouth. Especially since the word translated heart is really the word passion. As I spend time in the Spirit, I pick up God’s passion.

It’s not about me convincing you what you need to be passionate about. If we could all be synced to God’s heartbeat, then we’ll operate in one passion. Time with the Spirit brings true unity.

This is an important combination. He’s saying we need one passion and one mouth. That means that we’re operating in agreement and unity. Some churches seem to operate in one or the other, but the power is in both together.

The goal is for us to function together in these qualities. It’s not up to you to change in order to please me. That’s not what Christ did. He paid the price for me to enter His kingdom. Sometimes it will cost me something to overlook the faults and differences that you bring with you.

I must receive you just as Christ received me. Just as you are. I’m not the Holy Spirit. I have to leave room for God’s grace to work in you. None of us are perfect yet. The Lord receives us just the way we are and we need to do the same.

Unity is a choice. It’s unfortunate that when some people pray for the unity of the church, what they’re really praying is, “God, please making everyone else think like me.” That’s not true unity. It’s us choosing to work together as the Holy Spirit makes us begin to think like God.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 1:10

This is what we’re to strive for. To be perfectly united in mind and thought requires more than just good teaching. It means that I’m spending time in the presence of the Holy Spirit. As I allow the mind of Christ to take over my life, I’m setting the stage for the unity of the Spirit.

The more you and I begin to think like Christ, the more unity we’ll walk in. This is how the fellowship and unity of Christ can be manifest in His people. Make that your goal as we minister together for the Lord.

Question: What must I do to yield to the Holy Spirit?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2021 in Fellowship, Ministry, Relationships, The Church

 

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Online Christians

Online Christians

We’re continuing our study through the book of Romans. In this section, he’s dealing with the way believers who think differently should relate to each other.

We like to think that our opinion is right about questionable issues. That’s especially true if we grew up in a church where we heard the same thing preached for our whole life. We get pretty ingrained in our ways.

Paul makes it clear in Romans that it’s more about love, and less about what I think is right. Here’s the verses that we looked at over the last couple of posts. It’s a good review.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

Romans 14:19-21

We need to be careful to look out for each other. We can’t trample others down with our opinions. As a matter of fact, Paul makes a bold statement. We really need to take it to heart in this generation. Especially when it comes to what we say on social media.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

Romans 14:22

Wow! If ever anybody needed to hear this, it’s us. The way a lot of believers act on social media is an embarrassment to the body of Christ.

Remember, Paul is speaking here about those gray areas of life. Yes, I know that you think that your way is the best, but love has to be the bottom line.

Do you believe something? That’s wonderful. But in a spiritual setting, keep your politics to yourself. That is, unless you were asked about it.

There are some real “hot button” issues out there today. I know it.

“You should wear a mask.” “You shouldn’t wear a mask.”

“You should get a vaccine.” “Don’t get a vaccine.”

I have seen these issues turn into belligerent shouting matches between Christians. We resort to belittling and name-calling. All for what? Because we think we’re right.

Remember, I’m not saying this, the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, did. “Whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.”

It’s time for us to stop attacking each other and focus on the work of the kingdom. Stop preaching your brand of politics, and start preaching Jesus.

Paul literally says, don’t allow yourself to be condemned by what you approve. This is condemnation from an outside source. The world is watching us and thinks that there’s no change when you come to Christ. We act just like them.

But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Romans 14:23

Here’s the other side of the coin. Don’t put yourself in a position to be condemned. If you don’t feel you should be doing something, and you do it because you saw someone else do it, for you it’s sin. This person is condemned because of a lack of faith.

Paul is telling us that everything that does not originate from our faith, misses the mark. Paul concludes this with the following statement.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

Romans 15:1-3

Simply put, it’s not about pleasing ourselves. It’s about edifying, building up, the body of Christ. This verse tells us that Christ took all of our insults. How much worse is it, if I ridicule a brother in Christ and Christ has to bear it?

Question: How should a believer act when they’re online?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2021 in Faith, Relationships, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Building Up the Body of Christ

Building Up the Body of Christ

We’re continuing to go through the book of Romans. Paul is dealing with how we treat one another, especially those who are weaker in the faith. We must be careful not to bring hurt into their lives.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Romans 14:19

This should be the goal of all that we do and say. The word, peace, in this verse is one of the Fruit of the Spirit. It comes from a root which means to join. We need to concentrate on things which bring us together.

Paul also tells us to strive for mutual edification. This word speaks of things that build up one-another. Too often we’re guilty of tearing down God’s work over minor, insignificant issues.

Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

Romans 14:20-21

This is the other side of the coin. The verse tells us not to destroy, or literally, don’t loosen the joints, in God’s temple. That’s especially true for the sake of temporary things.

It’s important to note here that Paul makes a very broad statement. “All food is clean.” For a former Pharisee to say this is monumental.

At one point, recorded in the book of Acts, there was a controversy. They were questioning if Gentiles should become Jews in order to be saved. They had a huge meeting in Jerusalem, with all the apostles present, including Paul and Peter.

After hearing all the arguments, James stands up and gives his judgment. It’s important to see what he says and why. Remember, he was surrounded by some apostles and Christian Pharisees who believed you must become a Jew to be saved.

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

Acts 15:19-21

First, we see that it was his judgment, but, based on what? The fact that Moses has been preached all over the Jewish world. The fact is that James didn’t want to cause a split.

Look at the letter that was sent around after the meeting.

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.

Acts 15:28-29

I think it’s interesting that they blamed the Holy Spirit for this, even though there’s no mention of prayer, prophecy, or the Word of God. They did, however, admit that this decision was a burden to the churches.

By saying that all food is clean, in Romans, Paul is totally rejecting this “judgment” of James. He did that under the actual inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

After all this, we realize that the issue is not whether something is right or wrong. There’s a higher principle involved. It’s about the effect our actions have on fellow believers. There’s also the issue of how we’ll be looked at by the world.

The bottom line – it’s sinful to knowingly cause someone to stumble.

Question: How do you handle questionable things that aren’t specifically mentioned in Scripture?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Who are You Trying to Please?

Who are You Trying to Please?

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, the apostle is teaching about the relationship between weak and strong believers. The weak ones need rules to help them follow Christ. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as they continue their growth.

It’s the stronger ones who need to watch their attitudes in dealing with the weaker ones. Paul continues talking about those things that the Bible does not label as sin, yet some people have a problem with.

If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.

Romans 14:15-16

The bottom line is, that if what you do in front of your brother is distressing to him, then you’re not acting in love. For instance, there are churches that feel very strongly that women must only wear dresses. If you decide to wear your pantsuit, and cause an uproar, you’re not acting in love.

According to Paul, we’re not to destroy their conscience over things. That’s because in response, they might do something God doesn’t want them to do. And, in areas of addictions, they may get trapped all over again.

There’s also the possibility that they may put up a wall and break fellowship with you. You really don’t want to be tearing down the kingdom of God over side issues.

You might argue that what you’re doing isn’t even wrong. That’s not the issue. Paul says that even though what you’re doing can be considered good, don’t let it be spoken of as evil.

We should seek to be blameless. We don’t want to open the door to the accuser – Satan – in order for him to accuse through a brother or sister.

When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

1 Corinthians 8:12-13

This is a very important point and we need to pay careful attention to it. When we sin against a brother or sister, we’re also sinning against Christ. That’s a bad place to be in.

Paul said that if it meant not hurting others, he would actually choose to stop eating meat. The big question is; do we love others to this degree?

“I’ll become a vegetarian before I knowingly cause a brother to sin.”

I praise God that this isn’t a choice I have to make in this generation! But, here’s the bottom line.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Romans 14:17-18

The kingdom of God is not about what pleases you. It’s not about what your flesh wants. The kingdom of God was not established for your personal enjoyment.

I need to learn the simple truth that it’s not all about me. Instead, there are three things that should take precedence in my life.

First, there’s righteousness, my standing with God. Then, there’s peace. This Greek word speaks of the peace that’s the opposite of war. That means I cause no division between me and other believers.

Finally, it’s about joy. Joy is in understanding my life in Christ. It’s the result of the knowledge of what it means to be in Christ.

This is what the kingdom is all about. That’s the goal; I want to be pleasing to God, and approved by others. We should want to have both sides of the coin. That’s how the kingdom of God increases.

Question: How do you see the work of righteousness, peace and joy in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Stumbling Blocks and Obstacles

Stumbling Blocks and Obstacles

As we continue through Paul’s letter to the Romans, he’s explaining the relationship between strong and weak believers. We mustn’t fall prey to the temptation to judge one another. In my last post, I left off on this verse.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

Romans 14:13

I want to take the time to explain what these stumbling blocks and obstacles mean. It’s important for us to make it as easy as possible for growth to take place in the lives of fellow Christians.

The Greek word translated stumbling block, means a stub. It’s something sticking up from the ground, that will cause a person to trip. What does this mean in relation to weaker believers?

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.

1 Corinthians 8:9-11

When Paul wrote this, idol temples were the restaurants of his day. Selling the food that had been sacrificed was a way that these temples made money.

Paul taught that since these idols were nothing, you could eat this food without guilt. However, a Christian that might have worshiped at this temple before they were saved, would have a problem with it. In that case, the stronger Christian should be mindful of this issue.

What does that mean to us now? If you know that someone has rules in an area, then don’t rub your freedom in his face. If you know someone has an issue with scratch tickets, don’t wave your winning ticket in front of them.

“It’s not my fault they’re too weak to deal with it.”

But it is your fault if you don’t walk in love towards your fellow believers. That brings me to the word, obstacle. This word literally means a stick-trap. It’s what you see in the cartoons when a rope is hung from a bent tree.

This is a trap that will spring when you step in it. That’s what we’re doing when we don’t operate in love with a weaker Christian.

Maybe they had an issue with something before Christ. Maybe they were addicted to video games (Yes, that is an addiction) and the Lord had set them free from that. If you force them to play a game with you, the devil might use that to trap them all over again.

Do you really want to be the source of guilt and pain for a brother or sister in Christ? We must walk in love with each other.

As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.

Romans 14:14

In this verse, Paul literally says that I have seen and I have been convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean in and of itself. This is totally opposite what he was taught as a Pharisee. God must have done an incredible work in him.

But, Paul adds a footnote to this. If someone assigns the label of “unclean” to something, then to that person it is unclean.

It’s all about your attitude. If it reminds you of your sin and tempts you to return, then it’s unclean to you. Since you won’t be operating in faith, that would make it a sin for you to do it.

That’s why our overall outlook must be that of love, especially to those of us with a weak conscience. We mustn’t ridicule or judge each other for what someone feels strongly about. In that way we can all grow together as the body of Christ, fulfilling His call.

Question: What is an area of weakness for you?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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