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Gaurding Your Heart

As we continue through Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, we see that he has been very transparent about himself and his ministry.  His desire is that those he’s writing to feel the same affection towards him.

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.  We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.  As a fair exchange — I speak as to my children — open wide your hearts also.
2 Corinthians 6:11-13

He’s telling them this because it’s very important to guard our hearts.  We have to be asking; who do we open our hearts to?  Sometimes we set ourselves up for problems and setbacks in this area.

Look at how Paul warns the church.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
2 Corinthians 6:14-15

Most of the teaching that I hear about this passage has to do with marriage.  They teach that a Christian should never marry a non-Christian.

While I believe that this is true.  There’s more to it than just the marriage issue.  It refers to any contractual partnership arrangement.  We have to be careful with how closely we attach ourselves to the world system.

Of course, we can have non-Christian friends.  How else will they see the Gospel message lived out?  That’s not a problem.

To understand this we need to look at the words Paul uses to describe this attachment.

The word, yoked, is a Greek word that actually means yoked differently.  It’s like yoking a bull and a horse together.  No work will get done.  They’re too different.

Also, you can’t yoke two animals together that are facing opposite directions.  I’ve seen the spiritual equivalent of this in a marriage.

There were two Christian individuals.  They were both at about the same level in their Christian walk.  They, unfortunately, didn’t do any pre-marital counseling.

If they had they would have discovered that even though they were at the same spiritual level, she was heading toward Christ while he was heading away from Him.  The marriage ended in divorce.

We have to be careful who we attach ourselves to, either in romantic relationships or business partnerships.  They can either drag us down or lift us up to our full potential.

In my next post, I’ll look at the other words in this passage that Paul uses to describe these relationships.  It’s important that we guard ourselves against this spiritual minefield.

Question: How have you seen this concept of unequal yoking played out?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2020 in Spiritual Walk

 

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Friendship with Christ

As Paul closes his first letter to the Corinthian church, he makes a number of concluding remarks.  Most of them are private greetings.

The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings.  Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.  All the brothers here send you greetings.  Greet one another with a holy kiss.
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.
If anyone does not love the Lord — a curse be on him.  Come, O Lord!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.  Amen.
1 Corinthians 16:19-24

As I read through these statements, there’s one that grabs my attention.  Is Paul really pronouncing a curse on someone?  What’s that all about?

It’s important that we understand what the apostle is saying here.  To start with, the love that he’s speaking about is not the normal word, agape, that’s usually translated as such.

Paul uses a word that speaks of the emotional feelings of affection that two friends have toward one another.  He’s talking about being a friend of Christ.

As believers, we should have a deeper level of love for Christ than just a choice to love Him.  There should be an emotional component as well.  Just thinking of all He’s done for us should cause us to desire to be with Jesus.

This goes right along with something that James said.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?  Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

In this verse, James uses the same word that Paul used.  It’s an emotional desire for friendship.

We know that the Lord wants to be your friend.  But what He reveals about Himself is that you can’t be both His friend and the world’s friend.

Understand – you can have friends in the world.  But the Spirit of God doesn’t want you to be a friend of the world system.  We can’t be chasing after the same things that the world does.

What is Paul trying to tell us by cursing someone who befriends the world system?  Actually, he doesn’t use the normal word for a curse.

He uses the Greek word, anathema.  In that society, this word meant a religious ban.  Paul is talking about someone who claims to be a Christian, yet shows no emotional attachment to Christ.  In other words, if you know someone like that, then don’t hang around with them.

You don’t want to have an intimate friendship with someone who doesn’t have an affection for Christ.  A love for the world will rub off on you.  Your walk with the Lord will suffer for it.

We need to be wise in our choice of intimate relationships.  They’ll affect our devotion to Christ – either for good or bad.

Don’t just choose to love Christ.  Cultivate an emotional friendship with Him as well.

Question: What does friendship with Christ look like in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2019 in Fellowship, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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