Daily Reflections April 7, 2017
Proverbs 25 begins a new section containing Solomon’s proverbs copied by Hezekiah’s scribes. Because Solomon and Hezekiah were both kings, it isn’t surprising that the first seven verses deal with royalty. Although we may not be planning to interact with monarchs anytime soon, this passage still provides some wise counsel to us.
In verses 6-7 we are told that one should not take a place of prominence before a king. It is better to be overly humble and be raised in status by the king than to presume significance and be shamed. This teaches a general principle of biblical humility: a disposition of lowliness allows one to be exalted but a stature of pride opens one to become humiliated. Jesus likely had these verses in mind in Luke 14 when he sees the haughty Pharisees taking the place of honor, and he tells them a parable about the shame that could come from doing so at a wedding feast. He declares the purpose:
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
Reading these at face value, we may think that the principle is that self-exalting ambition has the potential to be socially humbling. And that is true. But we should then understand that this is embarrassing because of the authority of the king and importance of the groom. And as we reflect on this, it should cause us to ask, “if it would be humiliating to be brought low by a human ruler and groom, how much more would it be with the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Church’s Bridegroom?” Jesus expected the Pharisees to consider this as he told the parable. Yet they continued to elevate themselves, even though he made himself clear by proclaiming things like, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” and “whoever would be first among you must be your slave”.
Scripture is clear that if we seek to exalt ourselves above Jesus, we will be brought low either here or at his coming. It says that the poor in spirit will inherit the kingdom of God and that God will exalt the humble in due time. Let us not be like the Pharisees. Let us put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience so that when we see our true King, we will hear, “well done, good and faithful servant. Why are you sitting down there? Come sit here with me.”
Yours in Christ,
Assistant Pastor Evan Webster
1 Thessalonians 4
In this, the fourth chapter of Thessalonians Paul opens with an encouragement to continue in the reader's sanctification. He divides his commendation into two parts. First, he exhorts the Thessalonians to live a pure life free from sexual immorality. We are reminded, from this section, that sexual immorality is an offense against a person created in the image of God and God’s holiness. Furthermore, this passage reminds us that God Himself is the avenger of His offended holiness. Therefore, we are to work hard to be free of those sins. Our God is a holy god, as His people, we should strive to be like Him.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV)
Later, in this first section, Paul also encourages the Thessalonians to live lives that are quiet. As a believer in Jesus Christ, our lives should do nothing to tarnish the name of Jesus. I believe that means that how we conduct ourselves in our communities should commend Jesus to our neighbors and acquaintances. Paul communicates that the Thessalonians are already living a life that pleases God, but there is no cap to the amount of growth that a Christian can have. It is important for us to remember that. We cannot get to the place where we think that we have grown in Christ sufficiently, so now we can rest on our laurels until Jesus comes back. This is a life marked by working and growing and striving to be more like Christ. Our lives are to be lived by self-control, not licentiousness.
The second half of this chapter is a reassurance from Paul to his readers about what happens to Christians when they die. Those who die faithfully meet Jesus face to face. Those of us who live on are allowed to mourn the loss of a loved one because it is our loss. They get instantly transformed, but we are still here on earth and we miss them. It is a good thing to be sad at the death of a saint. These are people that we love, to be heartbroken is natural. However, it is not natural for a follower of Jesus to mourn the death of a fellow Christian like non-believers mourn death. We have a glorious hope, an eternal life given to us by God, to look forward to. We need to mourn in hopeful anticipation of seeing each other again, and then for eternity. Matthew Henry puts it this way:
Christianity does not forbid, and grace does not do away, our natural affections. Yet we must not be excessive in our sorrows; this is too much like those who have no hope of a better life. Death is an unknown thing, and we know little about the state after death; yet the doctrines of the resurrection and the second coming of Christ, are a remedy against the fear of death, and undue sorrow for the death of our Christian friends; and of these doctrines we have full assurance.
We do have full assurance, because God is able to do far more than we could ever expect or hope! To Him be the glory, forever and ever!!! Amen
Associate Pastor Jonathan Welch