We can’t save ourselves. Nor can we lead a totally blameless and holy life without the help of the Holy Spirit. For it reminds us in Philippians 1:6, “That He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” The Holy Spirit is ever at work, confirming in you the goals and objectives set before you…until that day the ultimate plan and purpose of your life is fulfilled in you through Christ Jesus. We can’t do this without the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus spoke of this as He called the first disciples in Matthew 4:19, when He said to them, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The Greek word for “make” here means that Jesus would actually be doing the work…causing and enabling those fishermen to seek and draw out the lost around them. And we now have the Holy Spirit to do that work in us…inspiring, strengthening, and giving us confidence.
“If it’s not broke, why fix it.” Why should Satan have to change his tactics when it’s so easy to entice humans through their senses. Nowadays, we are constantly bombarded by a sensory overload that attempts to seduce us through what we see, hear, and feel emotionally. Temptation is so prevalent on TV, in movies, the Internet, and Social Media, that we can become apathetic and almost indifferent to that still small voice that whispers, “This is wrong.” For temptation will remain only a temptation…as long as you don’t act on it.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul, rephrases this idea in I Corinthians 8:6, when he writes, “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” Even though our feeble human minds have a difficult, almost impossible chance of understanding the sheer magnitude of this Scripture…let’s try. Everything has a starting point. But with God, He’s not only the starting point, He existed before the starting point. And so out of Him and only by Him all things were created…both in heaven and here on earth. And the last time I checked, “all” meant everything! So everything you see, hear, feel, smell, or taste came from your Heavenly Father. Why then, wouldn’t we want to give Him honor, praise, and adoration for what He’s done for us?
We have become so accustomed to hearing half-truths, falsehoods, and the spinning of the account to serve ones self…it’s hard to identify truth from lies now a days. Selfish love deliberately mixes truth with falsehoods to best serve the present situation. They conveniently leave out details that might incriminate or point the finger to them…having no regard for others. Selfish love is only interested in its own welfare…not caring how it may impact another person. The love of Christ is glad to tell the truth…the correct and accurate rendition…not the sugar-coated half-truth that might get us out of trouble. Also, unselfish love doesn’t have to remember what story was told to who…if it’s the truth from the beginning.
If you want to see what a person is truly made of…put them in a long line, in the hot sun, waiting for something that may or may not arrive on time. That’s when frustration and impatience boils over into selfish love. This verse is interesting in that all it speaks of are examples of selfish love…of self-centered, looking out for #1 love that only thinks of itself. We all have the opportunity daily to choose what type of love we’ll portray to the world…the love of Christ or the selfish love of the world. And as Believers, we are to be an example of Christ’s love to others…unfortunately, whether we’re a good example or a bad one.
For the next few days I’m going to writing on the familiar verses in the 13th Chapter of I Corinthians, also known as the Love Chapter. These verses tell us what Christian love should look like. But even more importantly, they tell us what selfish self-centered love looks like. The love Jesus taught of was an unconditional agape love…love that is compassionate, and understanding…refusing to retaliate or repay evil with evil. But the love the world teaches of is egotistical, self-absorbed, and arrogant….refusing to put others first. These verses will look at both types of love…selfish and unselfish, and their impact on the world.
Even the early Church had problems with Church division, and here Paul was pleading with them to unite rather than split into factions. For if you think about it, if the local Church can’t come together and become one voice…how do we expect the world to follow suit? When Jesus called those first disciples, He told them to “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17) And if you look at the other meaning for the Greek word for “perfectly united”… it means to mend or repair broken nets. Now anyone knows you can’t catch fish with torn nets…so how can the Church expect to follow Jesus and be fishers of men when their nets are shredded with division and strife? We as a body of Believers need to become perfectly united together, and mend our nets.
What’s it mean to excel in the grace of giving? Here the Apostle Paul was encouraging the Church in Corinth to be generous in their giving to others. Generosity can be a learned behavior…we see our parents or family acting unselfishly with their money or time…and we do the same. But on the other hand, dire circumstances we’ve lived through can also determine how generous we are, or not. Fearless generosity is an investment into God’s Kingdom work and excelling in this grace of giving is the start of that bold approach.
That life-changing encounter with Jesus was the start of your journey as a Believer. You marveled at the grace, mercy, and loving kindness that was extended to you… a sinner that only deserved death. You became a recipient of the greatest gift ever…the free gift of eternal life. But for many of us we stop there, never sharing this Good News with others. We instead hold tightly to this gift refusing to share…desiring to just keep it to ourselves. But Paul tells us in this verse that first we are a receiver, but then we become a messenger… an ambassador for Christ, telling others about Him. Paul goes on in I Corinthians 11:2, ” I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.” How can we keep such wonderful, life-changing news to ourselves? The Lord wants us to pass it on to others. So today, tell someone how Jesus is working in your life.