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Category Archives: The Church

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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Differences

Differences

In my last post we started talking about our relationship with young believers. We looked at the first verse in Romans chapter 14.

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

Romans 14:1

Those who are young in Christ, also called weak in the faith, don’t have the experience of maturity. We shouldn’t be passing judgment on them because of their limited faith.

Paul had a similar teaching for the Corinthian church. He explains to them that idols are nothing. So, food sacrificed to them is nothing bad.

But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

1 Corinthians 8:7-8

That’s one of the problems that weak believers have. They feel that in order to please God, there are certain rules they must adhere to. Sometimes they get down on themselves, thinking that they failed God by breaking one of these rules.

Please understand that I’m not talking about self-righteous, Pharisaical believers. These are people who come up with a list of man-made rules which they try to impose on all those around them.

These legalistic Christians are still categorized as weak believers. The difference is that they should be further along, yet choose to be stuck in legalism.

The verse in Romans, above tells us to receive the weak, young believers to ourselves. Literally, we are to show them hospitality and share fellowship with them.

But, the purpose of this fellowship is not for judgmental debating over things that are not black and white in Scripture. In Paul’s day, this included food sacrificed to idols, observing special days, washings, ceremonies, etc.

To us, this might include, drinking alcohol (not drunkenness), dancing, gambling, and other things not covered by the Scripture. This does not include things that Scripture clearly calls out as sinful, such as murder, porn, racism, etc.

One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.

Romans 14:2-4

To Paul, it’s all a matter of faith. No matter what your choice in things not covered by Scripture, we don’t look down on those who choose differently. The apostle is actually talking to both groups in this section.

It literally says that if you eat everything, don’t despise or consider him worthless if your brother or sister takes a different viewpoint. If you have placed yourself under a set of rules, don’t judge or condemn those who haven’t.

The reason for this is clear. It’s God who receives people into His kingdom. He hasn’t placed you as the gatekeeper to allow or deny entrance into the family of Christ.

Because we’re all in the same body, it’s not up to you to reject those whom God has accepted in Christ. This is the key; you’re not the judge. It’s God who makes the final decision. And, it’s God who’s able to establish all believers.

The bottom line is that on black and white issues of sin, there’s a proper way to handle it outlined in Scripture. But, on debatable things, let the Holy Spirit do His work in the hearts of individuals.

Question: What’s your attitude towards those who think differently than you do?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2021 in Legalism, Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

Revenge is Mine, Or Not

Revenge is Mine, Or Not

As we continue through Romans, Paul is encouraging us to live peacefully with those around us. This even includes our enemies.

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Romans 12:19-20

This verse clearly tells us not to take it upon ourselves to punish or retaliate against someone who has wronged us. That’s a hard instruction to live out.

Instead, we’re told to leave an opening for the passion, wrath, of God. This goes against our very human nature. We want to feel like we’ve vindicated ourselves. We have a need to prove that we are right and they are wrong.

Paul brought out an example of this in his dealings with the Corinthian church. If you remember, the people of Corinth had a pastime of going to court. It was great entertainment for them.

This even spilled over into the church. Fellow believers were taking each other to court and suing each other for the smallest of problems.

Paul had some strong words for them.

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.

1 Corinthians 6:7-8

Paul makes it clear that when we pursue our own vindication, in our own power, we’ve completely failed right from the start. We’re defeated before we even start to fight the battle. Instead, we should seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes this may involve legal means. But there are many times that it will be something less confrontational.

But, as I read the verses from Romans, it seems that it’s more about attitude than anything else. It takes a complete change of perspective to do good to those we consider our enemies. Of course there are those who deceive themselves and say, “I don’t have any enemies.” It’s an attempt to get around God’s command.

I get it. You don’t have any “enemies”. You just have people that you avoid being around, or speaking to, because you don’t like them. These are the very people that you need to go out of your way to show the kindness of Christ to.

According to Paul, we don’t do what’s expected. Our good actions will cause a pain in their head. The more our enemies think about it, the more confused they become. The Holy Spirit will use that to draw them to Christ.

We want to be vindicated. The big question for us is; what’s our goal? Are we after our vindication or a soul that’s saved and in the kingdom of Heaven?

We think that if we’re not vindicated, then we’ve lost. Actually, the real victory is a changed life. That’s a sign of the power of God at work through you.

Let God have His way in the lives of those around you. Walk in the love of Christ and don’t seek your own agenda. See the victory that can only come from the power of the Holy Spirit.

Question: How have you seen the power of these principles at work in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2021 in Fellowship, Relationships, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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One With the Body of Christ

One With the Body of Christ

We’re continuing our walk through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. In this section of the epistle, he’s talking about the walk of maturity.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Romans 12:16

This next verse deals with how we see ourselves in God’s kingdom. That first sentence literally says, be the same toward one another. We need to realize that in Christ, none of us are any different from one another.

According to our human way of thinking, little things make big differences to us. However, these petty differences mean nothing to God.

Things like where we’re from, what we look like, money, position, and education are all immaterial to God and should be to us. We’re all the same in His eyes.

This means that bigotry and self-interest have no place in the church. That includes race and gender, as well as political preferences. We’re here to serve one another, no matter what.

Then, Paul tells us not to place our focus on high things. Instead, focus on the humble, and get carried away with them. Humility is an important part of the Christian walk. Paul isn’t the only one who talks about it.

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

1 Peter 5:5-6

I like the way Peter explains this. We’re to put on humility like a piece of clothing. It can cover over all the junk that may be going on inside of us.

But more than that, it comes with a blessing. Humility brings a covering of God’s grace with it. As we humble ourselves, we open our lives up to a release of God’s power. One of the best ways to walk in God’s grace is to live humbly with others.

Getting back to the verse in Romans, Paul’s last statement is very interesting. The original Greek reads, do not become skillful at revolving everything around yourself.

Sometimes it seems that this is how we view the Scripture and our walk with God. “God and the Bible exist simply to bless me.” Absolutely not!! God’s highest goal is to make me a blessing to others. That includes those who do not act kindly toward me.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

Romans 12:17

This is another exhortation that needs the power of God to fulfill. Don’t give back evil for evil.

Instead, we’re told to be careful. That means to consider in advance. In other words, we must prepare ourselves to do what’s good in the sight of all men – even those who hate us.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18

Wow! This is a big “if”. It literally says that if you have the power to bring it out of yourself, have peace around all men.

Remember, this is the fruit of the spirit of peace. It grows in you as you plant the seed of the Word and let it mature in the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

This is the peace we must live in. It’s an attitude that must be cultivated in God’s presence. This is one of the surest ways of judging maturity. It’s about how well we live with those around us.

Question: How well does your life reflect these qualities?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Sincere Love

Sincere Love

As we continue to study through the book of Romans, we’ll begin to see a shift in Paul’s focus. Up until this section, the apostle was writing about our personal growth. Now he begins to show how the church grows as a body.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:9-10

As he begins to talk about life in the body of Christ, it’s no wonder that Paul starts with love. It’s the Greek word, agape. This is the choice to show love to others. It has nothing to do with any emotions.

He tells us that this agape-love must be sincere. It literally means to be given without falsehood or hypocrisy.

This brings up a very important point that needs to be discussed when reading this section of Scripture. Peter does a good job of explaining it.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Peter 1:22

Notice how Peter begins talking about this subject. He makes it clear that he’s writing to mature believers who have purified themselves in the truth. When we’re cleaned up by the Word, brotherly love is born.

Brotherly love is the first word for love that Peter uses in this verse. It involves the emotions of friendship and camaraderie.

Then he goes on to the second word for love, which is agape – just like Paul did. Peter also uses the same word for sincerity. Why is all of this important?

We must understand this because, according to Peter, this type of love is only possible after the purifying process has begun in your life. This is written to those who are pursuing a mature walk in Christ.

What we have to realize is that from Romans, chapter 12 on, Paul is writing to the mature believers. It’s those Christians who can understand and follow these guidelines.

Both Peter and Paul make it clear that our agape-love must be mature and sincere – not faked (like baby agape). That’s because your heart has been changed by your submission to the Holy Spirit’s work in you.

Getting back to the passage in Romans, we’re told to utterly abhor, hate, be disgusted by evil. How do you do this if you haven’t gone through God’s maturing process?

Some people look at the second half of Romans as a rule book to be enforced. That’s not the case. The only way you can fulfill the message from Romans 12 on is to go through the work described in chapters 8-10. Otherwise, you’ll only end up feeling frustrated and guilty.

Paul tells us that you’re not only to hate evil, but to glue yourself to the good. Please remember that this is good by God’s standards, not ours. We have a very low opinion of good compared to God. That’s why we must be transformed to think like God thinks.

Then, Paul talks about the emotional brotherly love. The word, devoted, is interesting. It means to have an emotional affection like that of a natural, immediate family. That’s how we should feel about each other in God’s kingdom.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…

Ephesians 2:19

Of course, if you see others as part of your immediate family, then you’ll honor one another before yourself. In other words, don’t wait to be honored before you give honor.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Galatians 6:10

Question: What areas of growth have you seen in your personal walk with God?

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2021 in Fellowship, The Church

 

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Do You Have a Heart of Mercy?

Do You Have a Heart of Mercy?

In today’s post, I’m talking about the last of the Motivational Gifts found in Romans, chapter 12. It’s the heart of mercy.

…if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:8c

This is probably the most misunderstood of the gifts. That’s because, in our generation, we have no concept of the biblical meaning of this word, mercy. It’s actually a very involved concept.

Let me try to explain it briefly.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites…you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness.”

Matthew 23:23

This is actually a poor translation of what Jesus said. In the Greek, this literally says judgment, mercy, and faith. According to Jesus, these are the most important aspects of the law.

We understand faith and judgment. Faith is the basis for pleasing God – we need to trust Him. Judgment is what you get if you displease Him by breaking His law. In a nutshell, mercy is God’s reward for your faithfulness.

A few years back I wrote a series on mercy. If you want a more detailed explanation of mercy, click here.

Getting back to the heart of mercy, someone with this gift finds their joy in rewarding faithfulness in others. They want to see that people who put forth an effort receive a blessing.

Like I said, they’re sometimes misunderstood, and they’re accused of being too compassionate and forgiving. Sometimes it seems like they’re blessing those who don’t deserve it.

But, this is because of their unique perspective. They have a God-given ability to see the potential in a person who others reject. As they do this, someone with a merciful heart will sometimes bless this person based upon what they see as future faithfulness in Christ.

The Apostle Paul saw this aspect of God’s mercy in his own life. God looked ahead to what Paul would become in Christ.

Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.

1 Timothy 1:13

Someone with a heart of mercy will see what people could become and reward that. However, this could lead to problems. That’s why Paul exhorts a person with this gift to exercise it with cheerfulness.

The challenge is that unlike God, we can’t see the future. Sometimes a merciful heart is wrong about where the other person is headed. They’re told to be cheerful, because many times they can be disappointed by the outcome.

We need this perspective in the body of Christ. We need to be reminded that what people look and act like now doesn’t always reflect what they could become in Christ.

As a matter of fact, all of these gifts that I’ve talked about over the last few posts, are important in God’s kingdom. All of them are necessary to fulfill God’s calling on the church.

We are all created unique and different. That’s a good thing. Yes, sometimes our differences bring challenges. Sometimes we don’t understand the thinking of those with a different heart-gift.

Some find others gifts annoying. Sometimes we’ll envy the gifts of others. But, simply put, we need each other. And, we need to be what God created us to be.

I believe that’s why Paul opened this section by explaining that we are all the parts of a body (Romans 12:4-5). We were made to work together as a unit.

Be the blessing to others that you were meant to be.

Questions: Do you have a heart of mercy? Who do you know with this gift?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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