Total Surrender

Total Surrender

 

A week ago I was listening to Bishop T.D. Jakes quote a verse from 2 Timothy 1:12 and that caught my attention ever since. I am going to write about that today.

2 Timothy 1:12

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

May God bless you richly as you continue to read this blog.

 

Paul writes this passage from a Prison in Rome. He writes to Timothy, a young Pastor, whom he had trained and appointed at the church in Ephesus. Timothy was more than a fellow co-worker. Paul calls Timothy as a true son in the faith. It’s is clearly evident that Paul’s relationship with Timothy crossed the regular boundaries of a “minister and co-worker relationship.” There were many who worked along with Paul in advancing the gospel but Timothy out of all of them seemed to have caught Paul’s heart that Paul wrote two letters to him to impart the valuable lessons and to motivate and to encourage him in ministry.

At this point in time; Paul is in Prison. So Timothy, his son in the faith, might have been ashamed of his spiritual father, mentor and guide because of his imprisonment. Imprisonment was not something to be celebrated. That is why Paul writes, 2 Timothy 1:8 says, “Do not be ashamed of me(Paul).”

As a young servant of God, Timothy would have been going through emotionally turbulent times. He’s young; not sure of everything that needs to be done; Timothy might have needed Paul the most at this time but Paul is imprisoned; He had very few people to stand with him in ministry; He was concerned about his life and future probably worrying if he would also be imprisoned one day like Paul.

I could sometimes relate with what Timothy is going through; being a young person in the ministry can be heavy lifting task. A task bigger than life; it can be overwhelming and daunting; fear of future could overtake at times.

But Paul as he pens this beautiful teaching to Timothy. Paul knowing what Timothy was going through; Paul does not address the problem directly but turns his focus towards what’s more important. Paul turns timothy’s attention towards life and on the God who leads it.

Paul writes, “For this reason, I also suffer these things; nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day”

Paul begins by saying that he is not ashamed because of one reason. The reason is that he knows whom he has believed and knows for sure that He is able to keep what Paul has committed to him until that day.

When Paul received the calling, he wasn’t a jobless rogue going around the streets causing strife but he was an important and highly respected person in the society. But when God called him, he left the life that he considered worthy of honor and respect to follow God.

When God calls, he begins with an act of surrender. We surrender our plans, desires and will to follow God’s plans, desires, and will. In other words, we are exchanging our life with his life. That is why Paul writes, “I no longer live but Christ lives in me, the life I now live I live by faith in the son of God.”

And so when you think about life after coming to ministry. It is often easy to say, “Oh, I need a build a good life.” I need to make sure I have all that need.” I need to make sure I am financially stable and well to do. I need to make sure I hold an honorable position, status and respect in the society. Eventually, we become so full ourselves in ministry that we still control some part our lives. But Paul lived a life of total surrender. He knew that his life was not his own but that he had given it to the Lord when he found him. So his life was not precious to him nor the pleasures but knowing God and accomplishing his will mattered to him the most. That is why he says,

Philippians 3:7. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

So when he writes this to Timothy, He writes a very affirmative and a bold statement that his life did not matter to him because he knew who he had given it to. And he knew that God is able to guard what he had committed till that day.

When we look at ourselves. Sometimes there are so many things we could look back and say I wish I had that, I wish that happened in life. We often desire things that we had left for the Lord. Sometimes there is so much of struggle in our flesh that makes us think the past was better than the current times. The past days were simpler than the ones now.

We are stuck in such thinking because we are still holding on to our own lives than surrendering it to God completely. We have not given every part of our life to him. We might have given to God but we are still looking at the past and saying that those days were somewhat good.

We have to arrive at such a commitment to God’s will and plan. Paul did not consider his life precious but knew that he trusts a God who is able to keep his life until that day when he sees him face to face.

I could go on writing more and more about his verse. There’s more to say and learn from this passage but I want to end it saying that our Life isn’t worth living until it is fully surrendered into the hands of God. Because he only can make us arrive at our Goal. Our abilities, our talents, and gifts will never lead us to our goal but only entrusting our lives in God’s hands will bring us that far.

Paul arrived at the end of his life and said, “I have finished my race.”  He was so confident that he had completed what God had wanted him to do.

Let us also arrive at such a point in our life where we can say boldly that I have finished my race because I entrusted my life in the hands of God.

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Know where to Hide

Know where to Hide

“Knowing where to Hide” is the key factor to living a christ-centered life.

Job, a man found in the scriptures, whose piety and devotion towards God was far greater than any of the people living during his time. He would have lived around the time of the patriarchs; either Abraham, Jacob, Joseph or Moses. And God saw something so unique about Job and his devotion towards him that God called him an upright man.

Woah! That’s a valid certification of man’s character.

God certified Job saying;

Job is

  • Blameless
  • Upright
  • Fears God
  • Turns away from Evil

I wish we all could get such a certification from God.

Now, we know what happened to Job later; He lost his property, servants, and children and had painful sores from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet.

This pain that job faced came in two phases: first, property, servants, and children were killed and destroyed; second, he was inflicted with painful sores.

After the first phase of troubles: Job tore his robe, shaved his head, fell to the ground and worshiped. And said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return” The Lord gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. (Job 1:20-21)

If you read those verses over and over again. You will notice something remarkable about those statements.

A man who lost property, his livestock which was an important wealth of measure in those time, servants were killed and children, his own progeny dead, says those words.

This situation isn’t a hypothetical one. It’s not a tale or a myth. It’s real. The pain, the suffering is all real.

But why did he say those words?

If I were in Job’s position, I would have loaded my donkey went the spot where the livestock was stolen; ordered my men to chase those people down and get all that I lost. And visit the spot where the children died, mourn for them, bring them back and bury them. I would have done all of this. This would have been my immediate action. But Job didn’t seem to do any of that. The moment he heard what happened, he stays where he his and praises the name of the LORD.

Job did something that proved he is upright, blameless, fears God and turns away from evil.

When Job faced pain this is what he did.

As I read those passages I realized, Job knew where to hide when troubles came. And because he knew where to hide himself, he praised the name of the LORD in spite of reacting to this painful moment.

Here’s where the truth is,

Job 1:20;
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.

The key word in that verse is: worshiped

Job’s reaction to this painful moment was worship. Job worshiped God in that painful moment. Job had lost property, servants, and children but he worshiped. Worship was Job’s hiding place. Job knew where to hide. He hid in worship, he hid himself in the presence of the LORD. As he hid in worship he knew that this was the Lord’s doing and said, “The Lord gave and Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Let’s be honest. If you and I face such situation what will our response be; will we blame God and people around us for all things that went wrong?

How do we react when anxiety strikes? How do we react when we face pressure to perform? How do we react when problems come? How do we react when we face challenges?

How do we combat them?

In our Christian life, we face many battles. Many spiritual warfares. Sometimes it’s too overwhelming to stand strong. It’s easy to fall. It’s easy to loose our temper. It’s easy to shout at someone when things don’t go the way we expect. In a small moment, we speak words that show anger and hurt others. We speak words that shouldn’t be spoken. We dishonor parents, family, and friends. We dishonor relationships.

There’s something important to understand: The anxiety we face in life is an arrow from the enemy. Unwanted pressure or untimely pressure is an arrow from the enemy. People gossiping and talking bad about us are arrows that are induced by the enemy. Problems and challenges are arrows from the enemy. And when such situations come we have to hide in worship instead of reacting to all that has gone wrong.

But often times in our stand against the arrows of the enemy; we begin to shoot back arrows and we fail.

When people talk bad about us…we will find who they are and give an answer for all they spoke. When somebody causes trouble we make sure they get twice of what they did to us.

But that’s not what we are supposed to do. Rather we should hide in worship when people gossip. We should hide in worship when anxiety strikes. We should hide in worship when challenges come. We should hide in worship when pressure builds up. We have to develop the habit of hiding in worship and in the presence of the LORD when anything goes wrong.

Remember those are arrows. When they fly towards you instead of dodging; hide in worship. Hide in the presence of the LORD.

What does hiding in worship mean?

Hiding in worship means to set your mind in worshipping and praising God for all that he has done in the past and now continue to seek his protection and strength as you face this challenge. When you do that, God will give you the strength to overcome and also protect you from any harm.

The Psalmist realized this and writes.

Psalm 91:1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psaln 91:7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

Psalm 32:7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Job knew where to hide when arrows flew towards him. David knew where to hide when arrows flew towards him. Even today when arrows fly towards you, learn to hide in the presence of the LORD.

When you learn to hide you will live a christ-centered life.

Walking in your destiny

Walking in your destiny

John Piper recently posted a tweet that said, “God’s will for our life is that his will should become our will.”

I agree to that.

It’s easier said than done.

It seems easier to walk in your own will and desire than walk in the destiny that God has prepared for you.

Because we tend to walk by what we see.

But God desires the opposite for our life. He wants us to walk by faith and not by sight.

In other words, if there is anything in our life that we held on as a treasured possession, that we put our hard work, our hopes, and everything to it – because we see it. Be sure, one day, God will remove that out of your life.

I worked at The Bangalore Conservatory. I served in different positions. I loved my job. I loved the organization. I treated it as a baby. This organization was so precious to me that I spent countless hours planning, working towards achieving the goals. I spent my time, energy, sacrificed my family time to spend at BC. I gave it all. There are times when I’ve worked for 16 hours straight. I thought I’d spend most of my life here. But one day, things started to change. I heard God’s call to enter into full-time ministry. It was a tough decision. I prayed and finally said, Yes. The very thing that I regarded as precious; God took away. Why ?

Why ?

Because I put my hard work and hopes on what I saw. But God took me into a place to make me live according to what I believe and not in what I see. He wanted me to believe in him for my providence. He wanted me to believe in what he made me be. He wanted me to believe in what he spoke into my life several years ago. He wanted me to believe in what he has called me to do.

More than anything, He wanted me to believe in what he can do in my life more than what I can do by myself.

Fast forward, several months later. I have moved to Mangalore. I have met wonderful people; people who became like family to me. Started a church and became part of bible study group where I teach regularly.

So, How is life compared to the time when I worked at Bangalore Conservatory and now when I am in full-time ministry?

When I was working, I put my hopes and hard work in what I could see. I saw an institution that has the potential to become the best music degree institution in the country. I saw students, staff, and everything else. And I saw my providence in that. I put my hopes in what I saw.

And now when I am in ministry. God is teaching me to put my hopes and hard work in what I believe. I believe there is a call, there is a mission and I believe that one day a mega-church will rise up in this city that will lift the name of Jesus high.!

But now, what do I see? I see few people, a small group, challenging times, times when I walk around with coins in my wallet, and sometimes nothing.!

But God has been faithful to me. He has helped me live here for 6 months and continues to provide everything I need. Often times, the question I ask or ponder is why I don’t see anything materialize in the way I expect it to happen. Although I see a structure, I don’t see anything materialize.

But, I know, God is doing something in me. He is teaching me to walk by faith and not by sight. He wants to me to put my hopes and work in what I believe and not in what I see.

He wants me to put my belief in what he can do than what I could achieve by myself.

If I live according to what I see then I don’t need God’s help. But only when I live according to what I believe then I need God in everything. Without him, I can’t live. Without him, I can’t breathe. Without him, I can’t survive.

I believe one day a generation of young people will rise up for the name of Jesus. This city, Mangalore, is going to be on fire for God.

All this will come to fulfillment only if I continue to live according to what I believe.

I tell you, this is life. Though it’s challenging it is a fruitful life. It is satisfying. You will experience the amazing presence of God in an inexpressible way; I experience it every day. This is life. God provides in ways I can never imagine. He is faithful.

This is my destiny.

If God has called you walk into the destiny he has designed for you. Do not hesitate. Pray and prepare yourself. And say Yes Lord, and begin to walk. You will see him do mighty work in your life.

Always remember to set your eyes on what God can do through your life than what you could do by yourself.

Bearing with the Weak

Bearing with the Weak

Romans 15:1-2;

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

Met any weak people?
Have you got frustrated?
Have you lost patience?
Have you lost your relationship?

Perhaps it could have been a good relationship if you had maintained but you didn’t maintain the relationship because they had too many weaknesses to deal with.

So, in my blog today. I’m going to write about How to bear with weak people.

 

It’s easy to hang out with a strong person because they seem to be more mentally stable and less prone to starting an argument. But it is not easy to stick around the weak because they complain, find faults in almost everything, gossip, fight, argue, think high of themselves and do many more things…

Paul writes an important advice to the Church to asking them to bear with failings of the weak.

I am going to write about two common characteristics of weak person and how you can deal with them

Two common characteristics

  1. Pride
  2. Gossiping

Pride
You can find a weak person by just noticing how they like to show themselves.

Almost everyone does show off but some do it to a greater extent. And those who try to show off many times do so to find praise and approval from other people. Such people survive on other words of praise and appreciation.

They also tend to put down, talk low or negative about others. Sometimes they can even put down their own friends for the sake of personal gain.

The worse thing is that they think they are the strongest and the coolest but in reality, they are the ones that need help.

Gossip
Gossiping is a sign of weakness. If you want to know how weak a person. Measure their level of gossip. Notice how much time they spend gossiping. (I wish there was a gossip measuring apparatus. 😀 )

Some are occasional gossipers, some are habitual ones, but some have to gossip to live.!

As wonderful as they may seem on the outside, they are actually the ones who suffer from the problem of double standards, telling lies and trying to live up other people’s standards. In other words, they are trying to live based on people’s opinions on how to live.

So, these people need help. Don’t pray that a miracle will happen in their life that they will stop being proud or stop gossiping. No.! That won’t happen. But you go and show them how to live a normal life; a life without pride and gossip.

 

How do we bear with such people

  1. Understand their weakness
  2. Help them understand the reality
  3. Please them

 

  1. Understand their weakness

People who are weak fail to come out of their weakness because they themselves haven’t identified their weakness. But you have to help them identify their weakness. They may not agree in one day but eventually they will. Help them understand in a way where you carefully explain and tell them where they are wrong. Never point them out in Public but always talk to them in private and help them.

 

  1. Help them understand the reality

Lecrae, a Christian artist said, “If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die of their rejection.”

People who are proud and gossip live in a false reality that this is all there is to life. Show off. Have some swag and live up to people’s standards. But those human standards change. They are never the same. Today you will be accepted and tomorrow you will be thrown out the window.

They have to be taught in being self-sufficient in who God created them to be.

Sadly, our world today is influenced by celebrities and celebrities kids. Anything they do becomes a big thing or anything they speak becomes the norm of the society.

There are millions of girls and boys who suffer from anorexia. They dream of becoming a size zero model that the world will vouch for.

We have to help them understand that we are made in the image of our creator and we have to live only up to his standards of life. That is to have the fruits of the spirit prevalent and working in our life.

 

  1. Please them

You may wonder what kind of an advice is this. Please them ? Seriously ?
Yes, Please them. That is what the Bible teaches us to do.

Rom 15:2 says, Each of us should please their neighbor for their good, to build them up.

Please them. In other words be nice to them. Be nice to them in such a way that they will be delighted to see you. If you were to go on correcting them every time they speak or do something, they won’t like it. But rather please them by being nice to them. Know when to speak, understand when and how to treat them. Keep them closer to you.

The goal of pleasing them is to build them up. It is for their good. Sometimes you may feel it’s better not to maintain a relationship with such people. But stick to them. Do it sacrificially so that their attitude may be changed into the way God wants it to be. That is why it says in the next verse.

Rom 5:4 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

The bible teaches us clearly to bear with the failings of the weak. Honestly, it’s hard to stick around such people but at the end, it’s worth the effort when they finally realize their weakness and work towards becoming stronger. When you do that you will reflect Jesus to the weak ones around you.

Let us show Jesus through our lives.

Better is one day in your courts

Better is one day in your courts

Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house
of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Psalm 84:10

The Psalmist expresses his love for the temple of the Lord by saying it is better to live in the courts of the Lord than in the be in the tents of the wicked.

Jerusalem was an important city to the Jews. For David, it was the City of God. The City where God dwelt. For the kind of person, David was, it was important for him to be in the tabernacle of God.

The Psalmist, David, was undoubtedly a man of Praise. If I had to describe him, I would describe him as a man of Praise and worship more than a king or a warrior. He delighted in the presence of God. He delighted in the house of God He was a man who built his life on Praise, worship, and adoration to God.

v.10 of Psalm 84 begins with saying.
Better is one day in your courts,
     than a thousand elsewhere

The First part of the saying explicitly expresses the Psalmist desires to be in the courts of the Lord. Historically at this time the temple wasn’t built. The place of worship was still a tabernacle, it was a temporary place of worship.

The Psalmist describes his longing by making a strong comparison. That is, one day in Lord’s courts and thousand days in another place. The kind of fulfillment, satisfaction, joy and peace that you get by going to the house of Lord is something you won’t get when you go anywhere else.

There can always be things that can please us. Things we can do that delight us. We can meet friends and family or people whom we love. That can delight us. But those things can never be fulfilling or make our hearts be satisfied.

Psalmist continues to say,
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house
     of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

The psalmist goes on to show the desperateness of being in the presence of God. He shows how much he values the house of God. All he has to do is just be there to receive the fulfillment and satisfaction that comes out being in the house of God. He continues to make his clear distinctions by saying he can never find that fulfillment in the tents of the wicked. Let me put it this way, there might be merry in the tent of the wicked but never a fulfilled or satisfied life.

I believe, we have to make this Psalm the anthem of our life. We have to find our fulfillment and satisfaction in being in the house of the Lord than try to find it anywhere else. Nothing can give us more fulfillment and satisfaction like the house of God where is presence dwells.

So, Let us find our fulfillment and satisfaction in the house of God.

The power of forgiveness

The power of forgiveness

There is a power in saying, “I forgive you”

In the Hebrew language the sentence “I forgive” meant, “I will not talk about it again.”

So when God says, I forgive you, He means that “I will not talk about your sin anymore.” Satan will remind you of your past sins but God will never remind nor remember them anymore.

Jesus while he was on this earth. He delivered one of the greatest sermons of all times. The Sermon on the mount. Those sermons are recorded in Matthew chapter 5 through 7.

David Guzik, in his commentary on the sermon on the mount writes like this,

It has been said if you took all the good advice for how to live ever uttered by any philosopher or psychiatrist or counsellor, took out the foolishness and boiled it all down to the real essentials, you would be left with a poor imitation of this great message by Jesus.

That statement is true. Many philosophies in the world today imitate the sermon on the mount. Many non-Christians follow it too. But quiet sadly, many Christians including me have failed to follow teachings of the sermon on the Mount.

I am going to write on single principle from the sermon on the mount.

Matthew 5:43-48 KJV

Mat 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Mat 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Mat 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
Mat 5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Mat 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Historical Context
Jesus is dealing here with the age old problem of people hating their enemy. The Jewish teachers of those times started twisting the laws and the commands to their own benefit. In Leviticus 19:18, a command is given to “Love thy neighbour as thyself.”

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law had interpreted the word “neighbour” according to their own interests. They limited the word “neighbour” to people whom they loved and they showed enmity to people whom they hated. In other words, they chose who their neighbour should be.

The word neighbour in Hebrew is “ray’-ah” which means, an associate either close or not so close to you: a brother, companion, fellow, friend, husband, lover, neighbour or any other.

 

In simple terms, the word “neighbour” covers a span of all relationship that you and I will build throughout our life on this earth.

Jesus is now speaking to such a audience who were influenced by this misapplied teaching. He beings with saying, “You have heard that it was said,” and begins his discourse of loving your neighbour

Applications/Implications
There are several applications that can be understood from this passage. Now, based on the title that I am writing i.e. The power of forgiveness. I will be limiting the applications to the title.

Although we’ve lived the Christian life. We haven’t experienced the power of forgiveness. Why? Because we always find it difficult to forgive people who wronged us, hurt us or used us for their personal benefit. It is a struggle to say, “I forgive you” and quite easy to hold a grudge against such people.

But Jesus commands us to forgive. it’s not a request or a something to consider but a command.

On reading these verses there are three applications that can be drawn from this passage.

  1. Forgive so that you will receive your reward. v.44 – 45a
  2. Do not hold a grudge after you’ve forgiven them. v.45b – 47
  3. Set your eyes on being perfect. v.48

 

  1. Forgive so that you will receive you reward. v.44 – 45a

Jesus gives this stern command saying “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven:”

Jesus here is dealing with a few issues.

  • Love people who are your enemies.
  • Bless people that curse you
  • Do good to those that hate you.
  • Pray for them that despitefully use you.
  • Pray for them that persecute you.

 

The moment you read this, you may be like… No! How can I forgive that person.! He/she might be one of those terrible people on this earth and they might be your greatest enemy. When you pass by them your blood pressure shoots up, you don’t spare a chance to mock them, gossip about them and turn your face away when you see them coming opposite to you.

But, this is what Jesus said.!

Love people who are your enemies
When Jesus said love your enemies…it goes more than just saying, “I forgive you.” When you show love to people who have become enemies to you. You begin to set a new standard of loving people. It is easy to love people who love you but hard to love people who hate you.

Here’s something important to understand. People who generally hurt others…are the people who are deeply hurt. Because of their hurt or wounds in their own life… it is easier for them to hurt others with their words. All the positivity, happiness, and joyfulness in their life is clouded by all the hurt that they have been through.

So when you show love to them despite their enmity towards you…they will be surprised to see the unconditional love that you show to them. When you do. Their hearts will be transformed. They will be interested to know how you can love them in spite of their enmity towards you. And by doing so you will show the unconditional love of God to them. You will show that you are the citizens of the kingdom of God.

Bless those who curse you
Bless those who pronounce curse on you. People will hate you and can misunderstand you easily which can lead them to cursing you for no reason. You do the opposite. Bless them. Do not return curse for a curse but bless them. Do the opposite. By doing that you will reveal the unconditional blessings of God in their life. Because, Romans 6:23 says, our sins deserved death. We deserved to be cursed but Jesus did the opposite. He came down to die for our sins. At a point when we deserved to be cursed we were given blessings beyond measure. Now it is our responsibility to speak blessings into lives of people who curse us.

By doing this you will prove yourself to be the citizens of the kingdom of God.

Do good to those who hate you
Those who hate you are going to do the worst things to you. They will work against your promotion in office. Inform lies about you to your superiors. They will tell all people who come to your office about how bad person you are. But you, you, treat them well.

There was man who would give a box of sweets to anyone who would talk bad or gossip about him. The secret behind this, I believe is this, the moment you do good when they show bad behaviour to you. They will stop doing bad to you. They will begin to wonder. I did wrong to them but they returned me with a good thing and how can I even now do anything bad against them.

Proverbs states this well on how to treat your enemy.
Pro 25:21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
Pro 25:22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.

Pray for them that despitefully use you
Oh well, we’ve all been there. We’ve been through times when people have used us for their personal benefits. We know we are being used but we feel powerless and weak to get out of such situation. We are trapped. But Jesus said, Pray for them that use you…not just use.. “despitefully use” the word despiteful means, contemptuous treatment. Imagine that!. Jesus is saying, pray for those who contemptuously treat you and use you for their personal benefit. In other words, they hate you…so they use you even more ruthlessly with hatred in their heart.!

Pray for such people. Why does Jesus say Pray instead of Love or bless them?
Yes, if you notice the previous points, Loving and blessing is already part of the whole package but Jesus adds one more to the list.. saying “Pray for them”. For such people the only transforming power can be the work of God.

What does prayer mean at this point? Why did Jesus use the word pray instead of love or blessing?
When Jesus said “Pray”. He said, don’t take the matters into your own hands but pray and allow God to work.
By praying you will show that you have father in heaven that listens to your prayers and petitions. You belong to the kingdom of heaven.

Pray for them that Persecute you
Ever been through persecution? Then you may know how difficult it is to pray for them at that point? Like a Prayer of blessing?

Perhaps if we were asked to pray so that the fire would come consume them alive…we may gladly pray…

And If we were asked them to sue them in court we would find the best Christian lawyer to get the punishment they deserve for persecuting you.

Persecution is not just limited to being tortured for the name of Christ. It can also mean a physical abuse or harm caused to you.

Matthew 5:38-42 talks on these lines about a persecution, i.e., someone who slaps you or abuses you. Jesus said, if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Generally, when someone slaps you on one cheek they will slap with the palm of their hand but when Jesus said show the other cheek also…that means when they slap you again they will use the other part of your hand to slap you – which is actually considered disgraceful in Israel.

Jesus says it clearly. Don’t return evil for evil but good for an evil act. The easiest way to do good for an evil act is pray for them. Don’t take matters into your own hands but pray and allow God to work in their lives.

The Reward
The point of forgiveness is this… that you may be called the children of God. Forgiveness is a virtue we have to master. Jesus forgave people who brought him to trial and hung him on the cross saying.. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34) We ought to say the same thing. People who commit acts of evil against us, actually are not fully aware of what they do. Because sin blinds their eyes.. So we have to ask God to forgive them. When we do. We will be called the children of God. Because we imitate what God does. We forgive others just as He forgave our sins.

 

  1. Do not Hold a grudge after you’ve forgiven them.

We’ve heard people say. I forgive you but I don’t want to see your face again.! That’s not forgiveness at all…! That is only partial forgiveness. Partial forgiveness causes partiality or favouritism to creep into our life

If there were two people standing before you. One who is loving towards you and another who caused problems but you’ve forgiven…more like partial forgiveness!

Who will you be favourable to? To one who loves you or the one whom you’ve forgiven but still hold a grudge?

Usually, you will be favourable to the one who loves you and not so favourable to the one you forgave. Because past memories can haunt you and so you have not forgiven completely. So now, partiality creeps in. No matter what that person tries to do to.! You will always look on them with a bit of dislike. You will favour the one who loves you and treats you well.

The Bible clearly says in James 2:1, to not show partiality
Even in our passage, Mat 5:45, it goes on to say God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain both on the righteous and the unrighteousness

If we call ourselves the children of God but practice partiality, then we are deceiving ourselves. The verses goes on to say, If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even tax collectors doing that?

Returning love for love gets you nowhere. You get no reward for such a action. Tax collectors, during those times, were considered as people who cheat people of their money. The repentance of Zacchaeus speaks for itself. How he repented and paid back all money he had charged double. Tax collectors were filthy rich and made money out of charging double or triple the amount of money that was required to be collected. Jewish people regarded them as the highest of sinners. They also practiced the same, Loving people who loved them. So Jesus said, if you love only those who love you… then you are practicing what the tax collectors practice. He gives them stern call for repentance from a life of double standards.

The verse continues, “And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that?”

In a fellowship, in a church setting we like to greet people whom we like to greet. We like to talk to people whom we like to talk to. We keep the rest away, ignore them or don’t even go to a place where they are. Jesus gives them a stern call saying… By doing so, aren’t you practicing what the pagans do? To the Jewish community, they considered pagans as someone outside their own Jewish community. They wouldn’t associate with such people easily but Jesus points out saying, Hey, You are practicing what they pagans are doing although you claim to be God’s chosen one.

 

  1. Set your eyes on being perfect

Here’s the cream of the whole passage. Jesus ends this portion of the command to love and forgive by saying this. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The greek work for “perfect” actually means “Complete”. Jesus is actually saying, “Be complete.”

Forgiving people who hurt you makes you a complete person.

James 1:2 Count it all joy my brethren when you fall into various temptations. Knowing this, that the trying of faith produces patience. But let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

In other translations it says, so that you may be complete.!

God desires for us to complete, to be perfect. He wants us to grow to a point where our self is dead and he begins to live in our life. Even if anybody hurt us. We will be ready to forgive more than argue. When we reach that point of self-death and Christ living is us. We will be perfect, in other words complete, just as the heavenly father is complete.

That’s the power of forgiveness. It makes you a complete person. Lacking nothing. The beautiful thing is, when you are complete. It is hard for the enemy to shake you. The sorrows of the world will not put you down. No work of the enemy can harm you.

In Mat 5:20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (NKJV)

Do you know which righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the Pharisee? The righteousness of loving people who hate you. Forgiving people that worked against you. That is a righteous act.

Pharisees were undoubtedly the most righteous people. They were evangelistic in nature. They were good at winning souls. But what they lacked was that they never forgave people so easily.

Maimonides one of their writers said, (Source: John Gill exposition of the Bible)

“A disciple of a wise man, or a scholar, whom a man despises and reproaches publicly, it is forbidden him to forgive him, because of his honour; and if he forgives him, he is to be punished, for this is a contempt of the law; but “he must revenge, and keep the thing as a serpent”, until the other asks pardon of him, and then he may forgive him.”

They were too self-righteous to see the forgiveness of God and understand what it means to love their enemy.!

The power of forgiveness is this…
You will only reach a Perfection in your life only when love your enemies and forgive those who hurt you.

Jesus said, be perfect just as your heavenly father is perfect. That is our goal. Be perfect just as your father is perfect.

Let’s us strive towards to attain that perfection so that we may become people who lack nothing.

Do not let anyone look down on you

Do not let anyone look down on you

Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers’ in

speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity
1 Timothy 4:12

Timothy was a young pastor of the Church at Ephesus. Paul writes to him encouraging to be strong in his leadership in the church.

Timothy seemed to be younger than most people of his times who were serving in the ministry. It is easy for anyone to look down at a young pastor and find faults with him but Paul encourages saying, even though you are young, do not let anyone look down at you…but set an example that even older people will see and follow.

There are five areas in which we have to set an example. This is applicable everyone; for the believers and ones serving in the ministry.

  1. Speech
  2. Conduct
  3. Love
  4. Faith
  5. Purity

Speech
We have to watch the way we talk. People can assess our character and attitude based on words we speak. When we speak we have to make sure we sound thoughtful, considerate of other people, ethical, and honest. We have to be very calculative of the words we speak. Sometimes being calculative might seem extreme because we like to talk our minds. We can talk our minds to people but if they don’t understand the way we see it then we are in trouble. We will fail to be an example. There are times when you have to talk in a formal and sometimes in a casual tone. Use whenever it is appropriate. But never mix both together otherwise, you can be easily misunderstood.

Set an example in your speech

 

Conduct
Watch the way you carry yourself. People can assess based on the way you conduct yourself. Your body language, posture, gestures, facial expressions can make all the difference when you talk to people. There are times when you have to maintain a very formal way of conduct and sometimes casual. It is always better to keep a good amount of distance when talking to a person of the opposite gender. Even when you walk, show yourself humble. Your conduct is best seen when you talk to a street vendor or someone who is not financially sound. Your actions speak more than words. Keep a watch over them as you conduct yourself among people.

Set an example in your conduct

Love
The scripture says, in 1 John 4:8, God is love… and we as followers of Him, we should show love for one another.

When we conduct ourselves. It is necessary to do it out of love. Without love, all our actions will be void and meaningless. When someone talks against us…such people need to be shown, extra love. When we do, we will set an example for love to the people around us.

Faith
As people in the ministry, we have set an example for living the life of faith. People who did great things for the Lord were always the heroes of faith. They were the ones who believed that nothing was impossible for God. God can perform miracles and can even bring the dead back to life.

Many times we have to display our life of faith for people to see so that they can learn and be inspired.

Purity
The last thing that Paul encourages to set an example is in Purity. One word that is quite synonymous with Purity is Holiness and it is the word that should not be forgotten. The bible says, 1 Peter 1:16, “Be Holy Because I am Holy.”

God expects purity and holiness from our lives. Holiness and purity can be said as a lifestyle that is pleasing to God. Purity not only in our public life but also in private life… times when we are alone…when no one is watching us.

Although purity is written as one of the last items on the list. Our lives wouldn’t be complete if we are not pure in the sight of God. We can do many things for God but none of that would be acceptable if purity and holiness are not part of the lifestyle.

You know, it’s easy to spot someone who is living a pure life. When people see that in us, they will be inspired and be motivated to live of purity and holiness.

In Conclusion, 

Going through these list of things seem like going back to basics of the Christian Life. Often times these characteristics are forgotten and sometimes compromised. But what God always expects from us…is that we should be rooted and grounded in the basics. He expects us to be heroes in setting an example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.