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SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE
The Most Basic Aspect of Christianity
Scripture tells us in Ephesians 4:16 that the Church is to be built up in love. Love is the very Â‘mortarÂ’ that is holding everything together. We must be built up in this love so that we can understand the full magnitude of what God is doing in the earth as well as understanding the love of Christ which is beyond our comprehension (Ephesians 3:17-19). Moreover, Paul tells us Colossians 2:2 that we are to be knit together in love and in Ephesians 3:17 we are to be Â“rooted and grounded in love.Â” The very foundation of our behavior and expression of attitude must be love. This is because God is love and he that does not love does not know God (I John 4:8). The word of God boils down to two commandments: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30). On these two commands rest all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:40). Any expression of our religion that does not contain love and is not motivated in love will not stand the test in the Day of Judgment (Compare I Corinthians 3:13; 13:8). Our ministry must be motivated by love. Some ministry is done out of envy, strife, contention and insincerity, but we must minister in love (Philippians 1:15). The word for love used in these passages is the Greek word agape. Vines describes this word saying Â“Agape and Agapao are used in the NT (a) to describe the attitude of God towards His Son, John 17:26; the human race, generally, John 3:16; Romans 5:8; and to such as believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, particularly, John 14:21; (b) to convey His will to His children concerning their attitude one toward another, John 13:34, and toward all men, I Thessalonians 3:12; I Corinthians 16:14; II Peter 1:7; (c) to express the essential nature of God, I John 4:8.Â” Vine then continues saying Â“This is not a love of complacency, or affection, that is, it was not drawn out by any excellency in its objects, Romans 5:8. It was an exercise of the divine will in deliberate choice, made without assignable cause save that which lies in the nature of God Himself.Â”
The Mandate of Agape Love
As we are the recipients of GodÂ’s sovereign decision to love us apart from any merit, we are then commanded to return that love back to God and then towards our neighbor (John 15:12; I Corinthians 16:22). This commandment is summed up in the passageÂ… beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another (I John 4:11). We are commanded NOT to show this love towards the world or the things of this world (I John 2:15). John describes those who say they love God but hate their brother as murderers without the hope of eternal life (I John 3:15). Moreover, we read in I John 4:20Â… If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? This extends to require that we freely forgive one another (Matthew 18:21,22). Jesus said we must forgive 70 times seven in the run of a day. That number is 7 times the number of members that sat on the court of the Great Sanhedrin (Hebrew, beth-din- Â“House of JudgmentÂ”; See also Numbers 11:16 70+Moses). This is what scripture means when it said where sin abounded grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20). Moses had 70 helpers to judge Israel, but Jesus sent out 70 with the good news. And Jesus, having ushered in the dispensation of grace, symbolically demonstrated how we ought to show mercy and not judgment to one another. Take them before the Sanhedrin to be condemned? Stone the adulterous woman to death? Call fire down from heaven?
The Wisdom of Forgiveness
Matthew Henry comments on this verse in Matthew 18:21-35 sayingÂ… Â“He (Peter) takes it for granted that he must forgive; Christ had before taught his disciples this lesson (Matthew 6:14,14), and Peter has not forgotten it. He knows that he must not only NOT bear a grudge against his brother, or meditate revenge, but be as good a friend as ever, and forget the injury.Â” He continues sayingÂ… Â“He (Peter) thinks it is a great matter to forgive till seven times; he means not seven times a day, as Christ said (Luke 17:4), but seven times in his life; supposing that if a man had any way abused him seven times, though he were ever so desirous to be reconciled, he might then abandon him, and have no more to do with him. Perhaps Peter had an eye to Proverbs 24:16. Â‘A just man falleth seven times.Â’Â” Because God is the primary offended party in ALL offenses, if He is willing to forgive, we are commanded to.
Shall I Come to You with a Rod or in Love and a spirit of Meekness?
In Zephaniah 2:3 we read these wordsÂ… Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD's anger. Meekness is the Greek word prautes (prah-oo'-tace); and it means mildness and humility. But this does not fully describe the word because there is no English equivalent. The word actually means to have an inwrought grace of the soul; especially towards God so that the person does not fight against Him. It extends to our fellow man, even if they act with evil towards us with insults and injuries that they may inflict, especially for the GospelÂ’s sake; believing they are employed or permitted by God for the purpose of chastisement (W. E. Vines Expository Dictionary). It is not a state of being depressed or down cast because of circumstances, but depressed of the desire to exalt ones-self; and that, because it is not preoccupied with self at all. It is not weakness as some would believe; for Jesus was meek and yet had infinite resources at His disposal at all times. Meekness is to act with restraint when it is well within your power to render evil for evil.
The Meekness of GodÂ’s Ministers
Meekness is an essential requirement for every one of GodÂ’s ministers either angelic of human. God cannot long use a person who is not meek. The opposite of meek is arrogance. Arrogance flaunts its abilities as a means to try to intimidate. Meekness restrains a person no matter how sufficient their resources are to do evil or seek vainglory. Moses is the first example I wish to use of meekness. In Numbers 12:3 we readÂ… Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men, which were upon the face of the earth. He had to be. He was the only person qualified for the job that God wanted to use him for. Think of what it would be like to try to use a prideful person to write the first 5 books of the Bible? To tell of the origin of all creation? To tell the great stories of the Patriarchs? To give the Ten Commandments and the written law. To establish the Tabernacle? To go on the mountain to speak to God face to face? To smite Egypt will all manor of plagues? To cross the Red Sea on dry ground? And that, having been raised in PharaohÂ’s house! So great were the acts that God did through Moses that God had to bury his body while Michael contended with the devil. In Jude 9 we readÂ… Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. Here is another case of great meekness. Michael would not make a railing accusation against the devil. Not that he was afraid of the devil; but he was concerned that God may be offended. Michael is the Archangel, but could not be so without a great meekness. This is consistent all throughout scripture. When a person ceases in meekness their pride leads them to destruction (Proverbs 16:18). God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Jesus in all His regal power and authority came riding in to town Â“meekÂ” and riding upon a mule. The meek, God will lead in judgment and teach His ways (Psalms 25:9). He will beautify the meek with salvation (Psalm 149:4) and they shall inherit the earth (Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5).
Precious in the Sight of God
When a person is genuinely meek they will often hold their peace in times of persecution. When this happens God will step in and fight their battle. When Miriam and Aaron spoke out against Moses; God qualifies the situation by reminding us that Moses was the meekest man on the earth. He then called the three of them out with a bath kol (voice from heaven) and pronounced judgment upon Miriam. Why, because Moses was the man in authority and He walked and lived in extreme meekness. In I Peter 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. What a decision to be made that we could decide to walk in love by the Spirit of God in such meekness that God would view us as extremely costly. This is in such direct opposition to the deeds of the flesh that it takes a high amount of submission to the Holy Spirit to bring it about.
The Greatest Man Apart From Christ
When God gets ready to perform a work in the earth- depending on how great of work that needs to be done- He will raise up a man or woman to perform it- that will walk and live in utter humility and meekness. God cannot use a proud person to do his great works unless He uses them in a sense as He did Pharaoh. God has raised up proud men to a place of prominence to do his will as He did Pharaoh. God opened all sorts of doors for that man until He was right in a place to stand opposed to the meekest man on earth at the time-, which was Moses. I would dare say, that Pharaoh was the proudest man alive when He decided to have a stand-off with the God Almighty. As it is writtenÂ… And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? (Exodus 9:16, 17). On the contrary when God got ready to raise up a man to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ- He chose a man that would yield to Him in great meekness. Jesus said that there was not a man born among women greater than John the Baptist. What was they key to his greatness? One passage of scriptureÂ… He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).
The Tongue is a Fire
There is a people that have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2). These are religious people who do great violence thinking they do God a service (John 16:2). It is important to know what spirit we are of. Lest, like Peter, we would desire to rain fire from Heaven upon peoples heads- and wist not that we were yielded to a foul spirit. Some have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. These are those who perchance may even preach Christ out of envy and rivalry or selfish ambition and not of love (Philippians 1:16). And James said that where envy and rivalry is there is confusion and every evil work (James 3:16). Some are just in a contest with other preachers. But the others preach out of love. It is what qualifies us to minister under the anointing of God (Revelation 2). James 3:13-15 readsÂ… Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. It is earthly at best and demonic at worst. Why? Because without GodÂ’s love a person does not rightly handle GodÂ’s word. Anyone can go into GodÂ’s word and mine out the most wrath based scriptures they can find- incorporate them into a message and literally set a person on fire with the fire of hell if GodÂ’s not in it. Is this the wisdom that is from above? Does this sow the fruit of righteousness in peace? Is this the love of God? When we have our own concepts of revival that are not GodÂ’s will- we will err as have most other revival movements. The end of revival is not repentance- nor our concepts of holiness. The ultimate purpose of revival is to bring GodÂ’s people back into conformity with the person of Jesus Christ. Any other purpose will end this revival as every other revival has ended.