Pride Is Destroyed By Your Perception

Jesus descended from a mountain top where He selected the twelve, “whom also he named apostles” (Luke 6:13). Having arrived in the plain, our Lord was met by a great multitude of people out of all Judaea, Jerusalem, and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon. They were there to hear and for healing; “which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases” (vs.17). Having spoken to them on a multitude of subjects, in verse 39-49, He enlightened them to at least five basic principles of fruitfulness. We have already addressed two of five, “Progress is dictated by your partner” and “Promotion is determined by your professor.” At this time, I want to enumerate on the third.

Pride Is Destroyed By Your Perception

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42

Of the many things that can destroy and deter fruitfulness in the life of an individual, pride is one that ranks near the top. Pride was an attribute that surfaced continually in the lives of Jesus’ disciples; “And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest” (Mark 9:33-34). It was true of the disciples is equally true of most people! Pride is an evil within us that is usually recognized by others previous to being acknowledged by one’s self. Pride is the fountainhead of shame, contention, and destruction (see Proverbs 11:2, 13:10, & 16:18). Pride will ultimately rob the Lord’s disciple of effective service and future rewards.

The Vision of Pride

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

The very first thing that must be understood is that the vision of pride is farsighted and faulty! The vision of pride is forever looking at a distance at the weakness of others while maintaining a distorted perception of that which is closest to them. Pride “beholdest” in others, but never “perceives” in self. “Beholdest” means to look at as to be aware of, to regard. Pride not only sees the imperfections, but continually focuses on them, making them the constant object of attention. “Perceives” means to discover or consider, to observe fully. Because of pride’s constant outward look; it fails to discover personal areas of weakness and if these areas are apparent, pride quickly minimizes their importance and fails to pursue them fully. Pride’s vision perceives itself as being superior to all others; if others could only see as it does, they too would be disturbed by the apparent weaknesses and shortcomings of those around them.

The Volition of Pride

“Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

If there was a positive thing to be said about the vision of pride, it would be the fact that pride is not idle. Pride is actively seeking every opportunity to “pull out the mote.” Pride is energetic! While it is motivated by a false perception, it will not rest until it has rid those it perceives as less fortunate of motes! Pride will assert itself in every situation. The only problem to pride’s energetic activity is pride’s ineffectiveness! While pride’s motivation is to help, pride’s hindrance will not permit it; “thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye.” While pride’s vision is sufficient enough to discover the mote, it proves to be defective in removing the mote because of the beam protruding from its own eye. The “beam” is a stick of timber and gives the idea of that which supports or holds up. The word “mote” means a withered twig or piece of straw, sawdust or a shaving off of the beam. Some old writers had pointed to the fact that it is possible that the mote in the brother’s eye was a speck of sawdust from the beam protruding from the other person’s eye. That’s a new twist; trying to solve everyone’s problems which you are the instigator of!

The Victory Over Pride

“Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.”

There is victory for those that will do first things first; “cast out first the beam out of thine own eye.” When one gains the proper perception of one’s self, pride is smitten! This Biblical truth is set forth in Galatians 6:1. A brother has been overtaken in a fault and the body of Christ has become aware of it. If the brother is to be effectively restored, it will require the aid of fellow believers. What is to be the first response of the body; “considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Only those that have effectively removed beams from their own eye are qualified to remove motes from a brother’s eye.

The satanic nature of pride is a destructive force in the life of a believer. It renders them ineffective in the work and makes the prospects of rewards void. Pride can be smitten by a change in perspective by gaining the proper perspective of self. Consider an inward inspection of self before participating in the outward gaze of a critical spirit. The proper perception of self is the answer to the destructive force of pride.

Promotion Is Determined By Your Professor

Jesus descended from a mountain top where He selected the twelve, “whom also he named apostles” (Luke 6:13). Having arrived in the plain, our Lord was met by a great multitude of people out of all Judaea, Jerusalem, and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon. They were there to hear and for healing; “which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases” (vs.17). Having spoken to them on a multitude of subjects, in verse 39-49, He enlightened them to at least five basic principles of fruitfulness. We have already addressed the first of five, “Progress is dictated by your partner.” At this time, I want to enumerate on the second of the five.

Promotion Is Determined By Your Professor

“The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” Luke 6:40

In the first principle, our Lord dealt with progress or the idea of forward motion. In this principle, He dealt with promotion or that which can be attained through the dedication of one’s self to a task. The Apostle Paul’s dedication to a task can be seen in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” What is it that you desire to accomplish, or be recognized for achieving? While the future goal begins with an eager desire, it must be followed by enlightened and elevated directions; every athlete needs a coach, every violinist needs a tutor, and every pupil needs a professor!

Liken unto the first principle, there are certain areas in which we are given no choice. Yet, there are times and situations in which we will be held accountable for the fountain from which we draw enlightenment and education. Knowledgeable of this great truth, let us chose our professor wisely! The text falls into two natural divisions that are worthy of our consideration.

The Superiority of Promotion – “above his master”

Within the context of the text there is a “disciple”, a learner or a pupil, one that learns in any way, and there is a “master”, an instructor or one that teaches. The learner has chosen to set under the instructor for the purpose of receiving a quality of enlightenment that will lift the student from their present state, promoting them to a desired destination or goal. The disciple’s choice of master is critical; for the master can’t dispense to the disciple a greater volume of enlightenment than the master’s personal capacity of enlightenment! The word “not” is an absolute negative. With respect to promotion, the student will never rise above, go beyond, become superior to, or assume a dominate place over the source of their enlightenment or education.

While you may never reach the summit of your expectations, you will never supersede the heights attained by the one you chose to lead your expedition! It is admirable to possess lofty desires so long as one understands that aspiration and achievement are not one in the same! Find a master that supersedes your dreams; allow them to become the fountain from which you draw the rays of enlightenment and the riches of education and you will be assured of not falling short of your desires.

The Similarities of Promotion – “as his master”

Having warned about superiority, our Lord warns about similarities. Please notice a couple of words. The phrase “shall be” means will be or what will follow, and it comes from a word that is future for I exist. The word “as” means in that manner or according as it has been. The truth that is being set forth is quite simple; when the process of enlightenment and education is complete, the pulpit has become a replica of the teacher! There are the similarities of accomplishments. Your master is not only limited as to the distance he can take you, but the destination he can take you. Masters that have accomplished a secular goal, no matter how impressive, can’t assure success with respect to spiritual goals; it is not their area of expertise. You must not only have a master that can go the distance, but get you to the destination. When it comes to the choice of a master, there are the similarities of attitude. If the educational process works the way it is designed to work, the opinions of the master are mimicked by the student! Make sure as a student; that you like the character and nature of your master for that is what you are destined to become! The master, disciple relationship is one of reproduction!

Pause for a moment and give some consideration as to the master you have chosen for enlightenment and education. Can you achieve your desired goals under their leadership? Secondly, do you want to become who and what they are? When it comes to the master disciple relationship; it is necessary that you chose wisely!

A Principle For Fruitfulness

Jesus descended from a mountain top where He selected the twelve, “whom also he named apostles” (Luke 6:13). Having arrived in the plain, our Lord was met by a great multitude of people out of all Judaea, Jerusalem, and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon. They are there for hearing and healing; “which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases” (vs.17). Having spoke to them on a multitude of subjects, in verse 39-49, He enlightens them to at least five basic principles of fruitfulness. At this time, I want to enumerate on the first of the five.

Progress Is Dictated By Your Partner

“And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” Luke 6:39

The purpose behind Jesus’ parable is to make use of a physical example to set forth a spiritual truth. One such truth that is readily made know is; “With respect to spiritual fruitfulness, your progress is dictated by your choice of partners.” This truth is revealed in three principles set forth in the parable.

Their Union Is Entered – “lead the blind”

Through the process of mutual agreement, one has consented to lead and the other has consented to follow; they have become one for the purpose of progress. While they have been few in number, I have been privileged to help someone that is visually impaired to get to a desired destination. This was accomplished when they would either grasp my arm just above the elbow or place their hand on my shoulder; thus forming a union and making us one in the same. With respect to personal unions, some are entered without our consent; the family we are born into, the teachers we are assigned in school, or the social class we are born into. Yet, there are multitudes of other unions that we determine for ourselves; the friends we associate with, the individual we chose to marry, the church we attend; just to mention a few. The thing that we must be mindful of is that when we establish that union, we are joining ourselves to them and become one with them. Now, our progress is linked to their progress, our direction is linked to their direction, our destination is linked to their destination. In the parable the union has been establish for the purpose of progress and this can only be accomplish by the means of being led. In the text the word “lead” means to show the way or to teach, to guide. The way you are shown, the things you are taught, and the direction you are taking is being determined by those with whom you have become one!

Their Abilities Are Equal – “the blind lead the blind”

The first thing to take note of is an unwise choice; a blind person has chosen to form a union with another blind person. The only thing that could be possibly worse is for the blind to choose one that is blind and halt. The word “blind” means opaque as if smoky by analogy to be blind physically or mentally. It comes from a word meaning to envelop with smoke or figuratively to inflate with self-conceit. In this case, it doesn’t matter who leads because there is the equality of ignorance! Both have the same perspective of the way. Both have the same mental aptitude with respect to wisdom and knowledge. Both are void of the ability to direct the other. In this union, the best that can be hoped for is that you don’t lose ground. In II Samuel 13, Amnon entered into a union with an equal which led to his death. In II Chronicles 10, Rehaboam entered into a union with his equals and it cost him his kingdom. While we are admonished by God’s Word to “not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (II Corinthians 6:14); it might be just as wise to not be yoke to one that is your equal!

Their End Is Established – “fall into the ditch”

In the parable, we see that a union is made between individuals that are equally impaired and two become as one. Remember that the union was made for the purpose of progress. There is but one problem, any attempt at progress made by this union brings an established end; “shall they not both fall into the ditch?” While that may not be the desired end, it is still the end result of an unwise choice! The spiritual truth that is being illustrated is; “Progress Is Dictated By Your Partner.” You can never go any farther, rise any higher, or achieve any more than the partner that you become one with.

It is in the understanding to this divine truth that we see the importance of making a wise choice as to whom we enter a union with; to whom we chose to led, instruct, and guide us in the path of life. An unequal yoke in unscriptural; and some equal yokes can prove to be unwise.

Speaking unto His disciples, Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit” (John 15:4-8).

Making Decisions

I would like to call your attention to a story that you are more than familiar with in the life of the Apostle Paul. If you could take the time to read Acts 27:7-44, it is the account of Paul being transported to Rome to appear before Caesar. In verse 6, the centurion has found a ship of Alexandria that is sailing for Italy. He has secured passage for him and his prisoner, the Apostle Paul. Because of unfavorable wind conditions, they have made very little progress in reaching their destination. The ship has passed under Crete and over against Salmone before arriving at a place called, “The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.” It is at this time that Paul and the entire party on the ship must make a decision; lodge or launch? Do they lodge in a less than desirable port for the winter or do they launch in less than desirable conditions and try to make it to Phenice? These men are faced with a decision.

You may never be faced with the exact same decision that these sailors were, but the everyday affairs of life call for us to make decisions in our daily lives. Like these sailors, each decision brings with it repercussions that not only impact us personally, but those that accompany us in life’s journey. In spite of the fact that times may be different, and conditions surrounding the choice aren’t the same; we all basically use a similar decision making process. Look with me at the various aspects of making decisions.

(I) Comfort and Common Sense – vs. 12 “the haven was not commodious to winter in”

Sailing has been slow and difficult for some time now. While they haven’t arrived at their final destination or made the progress they desired, they have arrived at a port near the city of Lasea. It is at this point a decision must be made; lodge or launch. The first factor that enters into the process of making a decision is comfort and common sense. The sailors consider the aspects of comfort. Whether it was known before hand or after investigation, it was discovered that the harbor was not the most desirable. The word “commodious” means well set or convenient and this was not the case with this port! We are not told what was lacking; it may have been the food supply, the quality of lodging, or the attitude of the people toward sailors. All we know is that this port is not some place you want to spend the winter unless it’s necessary! The second consideration that must also enter into the process is common sense; is it advantageous to try to sail to another port; is there enough wind and will the weather permit it.

In the decisions that we make, we use comfort and common sense. When linked with discretion, there is nothing wrong with being comfortable. Some would have you believe that the only way to be godly is stand in a strain, and starve yourself of any pleasures life has to offer; thus making a smile the unpardonable sin. Sometime the right choice is determined by weighing out all the facts and using the discernment man has been given.

(II) Councilors – vs. 12 “the more part advised”

The next element to be considered was that of wise council. It appears that the centurion sought council in several areas. He spoke with the owner of the ship as well as the captain of the ship. They would have considerable knowledge worthy of consideration. Together, their years of experience in sailing and working around the various ports would prove to be invaluable. It appears that he also sought the advice of those that were manning the ship; those that worked closely with the captain and the owner. While the centurion might know something concerning the various aspects of being a soldier, he was deficient in the area of ships and sailing; thus causing him to seek out council from the most reliable sources available at the time.

We too, are admonished to seek council in the process of making a decision, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14) and “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22). When faced with a decision, take the time to seek out those who are much wiser and older; those that have experience in the various fields surrounding the area in which you must make a decision.

(III) Command – vs.9 “Paul admonished them’

There was a third element to be considered in the process of making a decision, the command. Everyone, but the Apostle Paul chose to ignore this element! In verses 9&10, Paul spoke up and advised against leaving the harbor and trying to sail any farther at this time. Since Paul was not a sailor and had no great wealth of knowledge with respect to ships and sailing, what was his source of inspiration? I believe that the same God that spoke to Paul in verse 23 spoke to Paul and gave clear direction as to the dangers of trying to sail on to the next port. God had spoken to His servant and Paul made known God’s clear command. While they were willing to consider comfort and common sense, and counselors; they chose to reject God’s command in the decision making process.

I am grieved to have to say it, but this is the practice of many folks today; they consider comfort, common sense, and counselors, but choose to totally reject the clear commands of the Word of God. This is not only true of the lost, but it is the practice of many that name Christ as their Saviour.

(IV) Crisis – vs. 14“there arose against it a tempestuous wind”

This is not an element of the decision making process that one wants to come to. Because they made a poor decision on whether to lodge or launch, they are now in a crisis at the mercy of this powerful storm. They make a decision to undergird the ship with helps (vs.17), they lighten the ship (vs.18), and they cast out the tackling of the ship (vs.19). After many days of not seeing the sun, and fearing being cast upon the rock, they cast out four anchors and wish for day. They are in a terrible state and have suffered much loss, but God in His mercy spoke through the mouth of His servant. While there will be the loss of the ship, the lives of all on board will be spared. In an attempt to save themselves, some of the men race for a life boat. It is then that they are faced with a choice, use the elements of common sense and council and attempt to save ourselves by using the life boats or cut the boats loose and stay in the ship. Common sense and council said get in the life boat; the clear command was stay in the ship. Having made the choice to be obedient to the command, all the men were delivered safely to shore. Even in the time of crisis, it was not the time to disregard the command.

There are repercussions for making a bad decision and you can find yourself in a state of crisis. But, even in the midst of crisis, never go against God’s clear commands.

In the process of making a decision; consider the elements of comfort, common sense and council, but never fail to take into consideration the most important element in the decision making process; the clear command. It may be comfortable, it may make good sense, and it may be the consensus of the masses, but if it is in conflict with God’s command, you will always be better off going with God!

A Priceless Friendship

Please forgive us for being off line for awhile; we were changing servers and the transition was more trouble than we thought it would be!

Two things that I want to draw your attention to: First, our latest book, I Timothy is now in print and available for purchase. It will appear on the website shortly.

Second, we have already begun work on II Timothy and the article before you is a subject that I deal with in one of the chapters. I hope you enjoy it.

A Priceless Friendship

II Timothy 1:3-5 “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”

When I think of the subject of friendship, my thoughts turn to the words found in a sermon by the seventeenth century author, John Donne; “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” None of us are self-sufficient within ourselves; we all rely on others. The blessing is when reliance evolves into a relationship; that priceless commodity called friendship! This is the priceless commodity that Paul’s memory set before him; a commodity that would transform Paul’s spirit; “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

Having turned his attention to friendship, Paul ponders the various facets that give this priceless jewel such great worth. Paul’s attention has come to rest upon the supplication of friendship, “I thank God.” The phrase “I thank” comes from two words and when combined means to hold or possess a spirit of graciousness or gratitude, especially the divine influence upon the heart. This gratitude is directed toward “his” God, “the” God; the supreme Deity of heaven and earth! Paul knew that friendship is a priceless commodity that was given to him by God himself. While the subject of friendship may be man, the source and strength of this friendship is the Master. As Paul enterd into the throne room before his Heavenly Father, he found it necessary to express his gratitude for the priceless gift of friendship; “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Paul must offer up thanks to God for this priceless commodity that has been lavished upon him.

Paul turned his attention to the season of friendship, “without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day.” In this particular case, when Paul makes reference to his “prayers”, he is speaking of the practice in which he is offering up praise rather than that of making a petition. Having the understanding that friendship is a gift from God, he offers up praise to God. The text not only reveals something of the prolonged and perpetual season of Paul’s prayer life, but Paul’s friendship. When writing to the Thessalonians; Paul encouraged them to “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Paul uses the same words here when making a reference to the season of friendship that existed between these two comrades. The words, “without ceasing” are best described by their use in secular writing. These words were used of someone who had a persistent cough; “Bill has a cold and coughs constantly.” It does not mean that Bill has one long continual cough that never stops, but it does mean that of a uniform or persistent recurrence! The season of friendship is reinforced by Paul’s use of the word “remembrance.” The word means recollection and comes from a word having the idea of fixture in the mind or of mental grasp. This priceless commodity of friendship is a fixture in the mind of the Apostle Paul; it will not be soon removed. Friendship is not some temporal trinket lightly esteemed and quickly discarded, but a priceless commodity that resists the challenges of adversity, retains its union even at a distance, and refuses to lessen its grip in the passing of time! It has been said of some, “They have an enduring friendship.” Truth is; if the friendship was genuine, it will be enduring!

Paul turned his attention to the spirit of friendship; “desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears.” While acquaintances may be confined to the intellect, friendship is a matter for the heart! Of the many things that contribute to the spirit of friendship, two will be set forth within the text. Paul begins by magnifying the companionship or comfort of friendship, “desiring to see thee.” There is the comforting affect that one feels in the presence of a friend; a time when one freely casts aside the cloak of pretense and is at peace being one’s true self. It has been said that a friend is one that can take the chaff and the wheat; and with the breath of kindness, blow away the chaff and keep the wheat. The word “desiring” means intensely craving the possession of. While Timothy’s presence will not change the circumstances, just being there will serve as a comfort to the heart of a man standing in the shadow of death. Paul magnified the compassion of friendship, “being mindful of thy tears.” “Being mindful of” is from the same root word as “remembrance.” There as a fixture within Paul’s mind that was not only the commodity of friendship, but the compassion of friendship; that which has the ability to bless as well as break! While it is thought by most that Timothy displayed a compassionate spirit toward sinners as well as the Saviour; the heartache that manifested itself with the production of tears was due to separation! There is much debate as to the timing and the reason for the separation, but it is the emotion and not the event that Paul is magnifying. Because of his love for the Apostle Paul, Timothy’s spirit was touched when it became necessary to separate himself from his dear friend and companion.

Paul now addresses the solidifying of friendship, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee,” In our approach to this thought, it is necessary to look at the word “remembrance.” The word that Paul uses here isn’t the same as the one he used earlier. Here the word means a reminding or a reflex recollection; it comes from a word meaning to remind quietly or suggest to the memory. There must be a bonding agent that solidifies the priceless commodity known as friendship. Friendships can be formed around secular events like sports, school activities, social events, and the like. It is the appreciation or active involvement of such that serves as the bond that holds the friendship together. When Paul speaks of remembrance, I believe that it is the sweet Holy Spirit that is quietly reminding him of that which brought him and Timothy together. Peter spoke of it in II Peter 1:1, “to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The friendships that exist around the secular elements of this life are good; but far superior to them is that spiritual bond that exists in the hearts of those that share a “like precious faith” or as Paul called it, “unfeigned faith.” At this moment the Holy Ghost is quietly reminding me of one such friendship. With respect to personality and the physical pursuits of life, we were polar opposites, but the solidifying element to our friendship was the passionate pursuit for truth found within the Word of God. While he is at rest with the Lord, our friendship continues to be a reflex recollection when I found myself in pursuit of the precious and eternal truths of God Word. Because of the solidifying element of “faith”, the friendship that existed between Paul and Timothy would not be confined to this present world, but leap the boundaries of time into eternity!

Paul concludes with the satisfaction of friendship “that I may be filled with joy.” In consideration of this thought it is necessary to point out that the text doesn’t say that Paul was void of joy! The presence of his dear friend and companion, Timothy, was so “that I may be filled.” The word “filled” means to replete, to cram a net full, to level up a hollow, to finish a task or complete, to fill up. It would be a serious mistake to minimize the circumstances surrounding Paul’s incarceration. It is apparent that Paul is more than puzzled at the desertion of fellow servants and the degree of adversity that has come upon him; yet, Paul comforts himself with this the knowledge of the Lord’s presence; “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me” (II Timothy 4:17). God has come along side His child for the purpose of imparting divine enablement that will translate into peace in the midst of the storm. Paul is at peace in the will of God; “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Yet, the personal presence of his dear friend, Timothy would finish the task, fill up and make things complete! His presence would bring about cheerfulness, a calm delight within Paul’s spirit. John Stott said, “Wonderful as are both the presence of the Lord Jesus every day and the prospect of his coming on the last day, they are not intended to be a substitute for human friendships.”

As a comforting companion, Paul’s memory has placed before him the priceless friendship of Timothy, Paul’s young comrade and brother in the faith. God promised sufficient grace for the journey and the presence of his dear friend would complete that promise.

Breaking Out of the Ranks

I Chronicles 4:9-10 “And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.”

In the opening chapters of I Chronicles, you are confronted with a lengthy list of names. In most cases, it is nothing more than who begat who with an occasional comment for clarity. That is with the exception of a man by the name of Jabez; the man who “Breaks Out of the Ranks.” I have been saved for over fifty years and it is refreshing to occasionally see someone breaking out of the ranks of nominal Christianity! Jabez is an example of that type of individual!

(I) The Testimony of the Sovereign – vs.9

It is necessary to be mindful of who is doing the speaking; “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:21). Being a God-breathed book, our Bible is the words of God. When we read that “Jabez was more honourable than his brethren”, that is not the testimony of mortals, but the Master! The God that “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12), looked over the sea of humanity and after complete knowledge of all men’s hearts said that Jabez was more honourable than his brethren. The thought behind the phrase “more honourable” is that of being weighty, to abound with, to promote to honor. God saw attributes and actions that when placed in the balances of Divine discernment were worthy of acknowledging or calling to attention. While it may not be the case, this is the type of life I wish to have; a life that the Sovereign, the saints, and society takes notice of. I am sure that most have a similar desire, but while we may possess the desire we lack the determination to accomplish such a notable deed.

(II) The Temperament of the Saint – vs.10a

Sometimes profundity is found in simplicity! The thing that made Jabez’s life so profound was the simplicity of his desires. Jabez was a man that pursued the spiritual at the expense of the secular. While it is not palatable to the taste, you are as spiritual as you want to be! The greatness of Jabez’s character is marked by his pursuit of a person; “And Jabez called on the God of Israel.” Jabez knew that the spiritual desires of his heart could never be accomplished in the energy of the flesh; were it not for the divine intervention of God, he would be confined to the ranks of mediocrity. Jabez sought God’s blessing in at least three areas of life. Jabez sought God for habitation, “enlarge my coast.” Jabez sought God for help, “that thine hand might be with me.”Jabez sought God’s holiness, “that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!” What would never be accomplished in the futile efforts of the flesh was certain to come to pass with the enablement of His Heavenly Father.

(III) The Triumph of the Supplicant – vs.10b

As I ponder Jabez’s triumph, God’s promises resonates through my spirit; “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:4-5). When you want what God wants and God wants what you want; it is bound to come to pass.

The only thing better than seeing someone break through the ranks, is being the one that does it. Oh that my determination would be equivalent to my lofty desires! May I leave the ranks of mediocrity and passionately pursue His habitation, His help, and His holiness!

Five Years From Today

Hebrews 5:11-6:3 “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.”

Peter’s final word to the Christian is “grow”; “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18). The word “grow” means to grow up or enlarge one’s self. Peter is telling the believer that God expects them to enlarge them self, to mature as a child of God. A question worthy of our consideration might be, “Five years from now will I show signs of having matured or grown any?” Paul writing to the Hebrew believers also addressed the subject of growth in the Christian life.

Paul began by speaking of the believer’s duty, “ye ought to be teachers” (5:12). It is the responsibility of all God’s children to grow in an understanding of the principles and precepts of God’s Word. Paul writing to his young comrade said, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). The word “study” means to use speed, to make effort, to give diligence, to study. Your increased understanding of the precepts and principles of the Word will give you the sufficient resources to be able to teach others; which is your duty. Again, Paul writing to Timothy said, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Timothy 2:2). If you’re growing, you will have resources to be able to teach others.

Paul then addresses the subject of the believer’s diet; “have need of milk, and not of strong meat” (5:12). Your diet reveals growth; those that continue on milk are babies and those that partake of meat are maturing in the things of God. Milk is a food that is provided by and administered by another, while those with the practice of eating meat have learned to provide and feed themselves. Paul is saying that the believer is to move forward in his diet; way from milk and on to the more weighty things of God; “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ” (6:1). The word “leaving” means to lay aside or to yield up. The word “principles” means commencement, beginning, or at the first. Paul is not tell the believer to cast these thing away or to discard them, rather in time those things that were necessary to understand at the commencement of our walk with God should be set aside to embrace greater and more profound truth.

Finally, Paul addresses the believer’s destination; “go on unto perfection” (6:1). The word “perfection” means a finisher, to accomplish or complete in character. Paul’s thought is to be a mature or gown-up Christian. The Bible tells us that we are “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). The word “conformed” means to be fashioned like unto. The mark of a mature Christian is that they are fashioned like unto the Lord Jesus Christ. While you may not be the best Christian in five years; with growth, you can be a better Christian!

Creating A Thirst

John 12:17-22 “The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.”

Jesus and His disciples made their way up to Jerusalem for the feast. On this particular occasion Jesus made His entrance into the city on the back of a young ass as the people “Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13). Word of His arrival had awakened the city as a great host of people endeavored to see Him. The crowd however doesn’t consist of Jews only, but there are certain Greeks that desire an audience with Him; “The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus” (vs.21). Their request, “Sir, we would see Jesus”, reveals that these Greeks had a thirst for Jesus. The phrase “would see” is a determined action; not an impulse or passive desire. There is one and only one thing that will satisfy their thirst and that is seeing Jesus! But, where did they acquire this thirst that was made manifest by their determined efforts to see the Saviour? Verse 17&18 answers that question; “The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.” These Greeks had acquired a thirst for Jesus from those that were at the grave of Lazarus in John 11. While there was numerous others at the grave, by the fact that they asked the disciples, most likely this is a specific reference to them.

In studying the text, we discover that there are at least three things that were prevalent in the disciples that generated a thirst for Jesus.

First, there was personal contact, “The people therefore that was with him.” These men chose to leave all so that they might have a personal relationship with Jesus. Jesus wasn’t someone they had read about, but one they walked with daily. We are living in a day where most of those that claim to be a Christian have no personal contact with the Lord Jesus Christ. They are negligent in faithful attendance to His house, they seldom pray except in times of extreme emergencies, and find no time for the study of His Word. With respect to personal contact, Paul said in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” Listen to the cry of the sweet psalmist of Israel, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2). If personal contact with Jesus is not a priority in our lives what makes us think that we would create a desire to be near Him in someone else?

Secondly, there was a powerful confirmation“when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead.” Companionship gave way to confirmation as they personally witnessed His great power and passion. They personally witnessed divine power as Lazarus came forth in resurrected life. They witnessed Jesus’ passion for the souls of men as He embraced the children, feed the multitudes, and wept at an open grave. These men witnessed what great things Jesus could do on a personal level. As they witnessed His works and heard His Word, they grew in grace and knowledge; their faith was enhanced; “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

Lastly, there was a public confession“bare record.” Companionship yielded to confirmation which gave way to confession! How could they be silent? They must tell everyone what they had seen and experienced! Speaking to the man whom He had cast out the devils, Jesus said, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee” (Mark 5:19). When he had done this, the Bible says, “And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel” (vs. 20). The men of Samaria were drawn to Jesus because of the confession of the woman at the well; “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him” (John 4:29-30).

The Greeks had a thirst for Jesus because they had witnessed Jesus in the life of His disciples. Contact, confirmation, and confession are necessary for creating a thirst for Jesus in the lives of others!