Training in Righteousness
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Friday
Oct242014

There are things that should not belong to us

Life in Christ is one of the best books by Lloyd-Jones I have read. I am being regularly challenged and convicted as I read.

Here is a section, in the context of commenting on I John 4:7-8:

What does he mean when he exhortss and pleads with us to 'love one another'? I cannot think of a better way of putting it than simply to say that we are to be manifesting in our lives with one another, and in our attitudes toward one another, everything that we read about in I Corinthians 13... There are things that should not belong to us, but they are there, and this calls for patience in others, it calls for sympathy, it calls for understanding; and that is what John is pleading for at this point. He is asking these people to do all they can to help one another, to bear with one another, not to be antagonistic, not to become irritated. If you see your brother at fault, be patient with him, pray for him, try to help him, be sorry for him, instead of feeling it is something that is hurting you. See it as something that is hurting him terribly and doing him great harm and robbing him of so much joy in his Christian life.

Thursday
Oct232014

We should not be like Cain

Last Friday, at Out of the Ordinary, Becky wrote about new life in Christ. That was rather serendipitous, because last Sunday, I taught a lesson about I John 3:11-24, which deals a lot with one of the consequences of the new life: love for the brothers.

John says: "We know we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death." (3:14).

John began his exhortation in 3:11, with a general call to love. He follows with an example of how we're not to live: like Cain. What did Cain do? He killed his brother. Why did he kill his brother? Because Abel's deeds were righteous and Cain's were not. John follows that up with the warning that if we are brought from death into life, the world, which is still in darkness, will hate us just as Cain hated Abel. 

The world hates righteous deeds. A good deed they can tolerate, but righteous deeds they cannot. The love we have for others is more than good deeds. It is a love based on the objective reality that Christ laid down his life in sacrifice for us (I John 3:16). The definition of love flows from Christ; it does not originate with us. We can only love because Christ has made it possible for us to stand before God, and because our salvation allows us to partake of his Spirit. Naturally, we tend to love for selfish reasons; mostly because we get something which makes us feel happy. That is not love in the biblical model. It starts with Christ, and his love was an act of the will.

If we hate rather than love, we live in darkness. The ultimate end of hatred is murder and death, and John alludes to that in verse 15: "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Throughout this letter, John repeats over and over, "You know." They knew these truths. We know these truths.

So, how does this speak to us today? What can we take away from all this? Obviously, we need to love the brothers and sisters. But is our love for the brothers and sisters motivated by Christ, or by worldly models? Do we love only those we like? How do we love those in our midst? No, we may not be able to like everyone, but we are called to love everyone. Dr. Lloyd-Jones said this:

To love those whom we do not like means we treat them as if we did like them -- to choose to act kindly toward them even though we do not like them.

Simple kindness toward others; even toward those we don't like.

I often see the exact opposite among Christian women. I see women who take every opportunity to subtly alert others that they dislike someone. We freeze others out, or are aloof. We allow someone's views on a secondary issue to be a point of contention, and we shun that person. Social media can be a useful tool for practicing such rejection. Instead of carrying on in the high school cafeteria, we do it online. No, we do not have to like everyone; but we are called to love others.

Instead, we ought to offer kindness wherever we can, no matter how we feel toward someone. The motivation for love is Christ himself. John says in 3:1: "See what kind of love the father has for us that we should be called children of God!" We're children of God, and God is love (4:8). We should want to show love to others.

We may not murder someone as Cain did, but often, our attitiude toward others is not too far from his toward Abel. Whoever does not love abides in death (3:14), and that's not where Christ is. We want to be where there is life, light, and righteousness. We are to love even to the point of laying our lives down for each other (3:16). It's a tall order. I know I'm not there by any means, but I want to be.

Thursday
Oct232014

Thankful Thursday

It was a wild day here in Canada yesterday. From the time that my husband told me about the shooting in Ottawa until dinner time, I had one ear traiined on the news reports. It was a first for me to have CBC online running on my computer desk top while I prepared to tutor. I follow the headlines, but I'm not one to be glued to the news all day unless there is something really serious happening, and even then, there are times when we must step away.

So, what am I thankful for this morning?

... for news coverage that avoided speculation. I was frankly stunned at the number of people on my social meda feed, Facebook in particuular, who reported speculation as if it was fact.

... for the fact that children who were in the Parliament Buildings on field trips yesterday were not caught in the cross-fire.

... that the reports of a shooting in the nearby mall, The Rideau Centre, were ultimately false.

... for the reality that these kinds of things are rare in Canada.

... for the truth of Psalm 46: 

He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth,
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.

Many will say today, "Where was God yesterday?" as they contemplate the shooting of a young soldier who was not at war. And the answer, of course, is on the throne where he is every day, and where people forget he is when everything is going well.

I pray that many people who were caught up in the fear yesterday will be drawn to the Lord today as they wake up and cotemplate returning to their place of work. 

Tuesday
Oct212014

Correspondingly weak

If we are to expect the full blessing of this Christian salvation, we must love one another; we cannot experience this life without doing it. But I call attention to it not merely form the standpoint of our own personal enjoyment. There is another and greater reason for repeating this exhortation, which is that it is is still the way in which the Christian church is going to affect and influence the world. The world in it darkness and blindness still expects something different from the Christian. It expects to see something in the Christian community which no one else can show; so to the extent that we fail to practise and exemplify this great virtue, the whole testimony and witness of the church will be correspondingly weak.

Monday
Oct202014

Counsel from Ferris Beuller

On the weekend, I attended the wedding of a young lady whom I've known since she was four years old. That was a first for me. We've been to weddings in our church before, but now the young people of my kids' generation are marrying. It makes me feel old.

The father of the groom, when he made his speech, referring to the fact that his little boy was now grown and married, said poignantly, "It was quick."

They grow up so fast. It's trite but true. 

Ten years ago today, according to the archives of my blog, I was writing about an incident that happened during snack time, which fell around 10:00 a.m. during our homeschool day. I reflected about our first Beagle, Sally, and how she captured a stray Goldfish cracker:

She decided that there must be more than one way to skin a cat, and approached the table from the other side. I heard the commotion, but I finally came onto the scene to see her on the floor, attempting to get underneath the coffee table. The sight of that little beagle bum sticking out of the space under the coffee table was pretty funny, but it was serious business to her. I think she eventually got her head jammed in between the table and back of the couch, and her proficient tongue snagged the prize. Boy, I wish I had her tenacity. There's no lack of excitement when you have a beagle in the house.

What am I doing today? Nothing like what I was doing back then. I have another Beagle, but there is no hope of a stray Goldfish cracker in her day. The intensive part of parenting is over. In the famous words of Ferris Beuller, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

In ten short years, I have gone from snack time at 10:00 am with three kids to a day ahead of me that doesn't include those three children particularly, aside from the possibility of a text message.

Parenting moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around at your kids, you might miss them.

There are a lot of things parents want to give their children. Some things, like new life in Christ, is not ours to give. And maybe we can't give them all the "things" we'd like to. But we can give them our time. Give your kids your time. Talk to them, listen to them (listen more than talk; that's something I wish I'd learned earlier), play with them, laugh with them, eat with them, dream with them. Be willing to sacrifice, even if it means you don't always get to do what you want.

Mothering is about a lot more than not giving up the second piece of cake. Sometimes, it means giving up a whole lot more. But it's worth it, because it does go by so fast. God gives us these precious lives for a season, and it's a privilege to bring them up for his glory. Loving our children as Christ loves means sacrifice. And we don't do it for the accolades or the standing ovation on Mother's Day. We do it because God has given us this task, and because we love our children.

I'm not saying this because I feel particularly melancholy today. I've seen all my children recently, and we are fortunate to see them often. But I'm not going to assume that they'll be close forever. Even now, with all this free time on my hands, I'm careful to give them my time; to listen to them, to talk to them, to rejoice with their successes and sympathize with their struggles. Once our kids become teens, it's tempting to think we can just check out. We can't. They still want us there, even if they don't always articulate it.

Whatever you do with your time, if you have children, make time for them; as much as you can. Be there for bed time, dinner time, game time, recital time. Give them lots of time. Homeschooling meant we had a lot of time together, but I still wish I'd given more.