Charity

~~ a devotional

by tkbrown

I Corinthians 13:13: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

The word “charity,” in the New King James Version (NKJV), is translated “love.” Thus, in this passage written by Paul to the Corinthians, the two words might be used interchangeably. Apparently, there were many issues concerning the Christians at Corinth. In chapter 13, Paul addresses the need for love to abound. He notes a number of achievements to be worked toward as Christians in Christ’s church; then he cautions that without “charity” or “love” none of these is worth anything in Christ’s church. Though one may attain a high level of honor, without love, that person is nothing in God’s eyes.

How often do we, today, teach the importance of “charity” or “love?” Love, or charity, should be a frequent topic of our Bible lessons. It takes extensive study on the topic to exhibit the love Christ had, and has, for His church.

Love is one character trait deserving of frequent address. Too often we “go through the motions” but they mean nothing to us. Verse 2 says:

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing”–I Corinthians 13:2–NKJV.

Though it is possible to have faith enough to accomplish any feat—with God’s help–if I have not ”charity” or “love,” faith profits me nothing.

Faith, hope, and love are the three most essential characteristics of a Christian. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17–NKJV). “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1—NKJV) Faith is instilled by hearing, reading, and learning the word of God. It is important to follow hearing with study in order to learn the true meaning of the scripture presented. Paul told Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15–KJV). When we hear the Word, that hearing must be followed by our own private study to ensure we understand what is being said, when it was said, to whom, and about what. Thus, we learn the true meaning of the scripture uttered in our hearing.

The more we study God’s Word, the more it impresses upon us the need for love in our own character. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:43-47

43 — “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy,”

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;”

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.”

46 – “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?”

47 – “And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?”

 The more we try to emulate Christ, the more love we will extend love to others. It is a tall order to “love our enemies and do good to them.” This tells us, if we have not love we are not emulating Christ—we are but pretenders. This pretense means nothing to God and will not ensure entry into heaven. We must grow as Christians if we are to hold the love for others that Jesus requires.

A new Christian has learned to love him-/herself enough to want to spend eternity with God and Christ. A mature Christian has grown in the emulation of Christ so that love is evident. Christ laid down His life to save us. How many of us would do the same?

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Photo Above: by reenablack @pixabay.com.

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Sources:

Eds. biblegateway.com. (2021). Holy Bible – New King James Version (NKJV). 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. www.biblegateway.com. (26 January 2021). www.biblegateway.com.

Eds. Biblegateway.com (2021). Holy Bible – King James Version (KJV). 1987 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. www.biblegateway.com. (26 January 2021). www.biblegateway.com.

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Complaining and Disputing

            ~~ a devotional

by tkbrown

Philippians 2:14-16

  • 14 – “Do all things without complaining and disputing,”
  • 15 – “that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,”
  • 16 – “holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

As Christians, our attitude toward daily life sets us apart from the world and from those who follow Satan. In Philippians Chapter 2, Paul tells us to “Do all things without complaining and disputing . . . .” An attitude of complaint works against our becoming emulators of Christ.

To be a Christian means to be “emulators of Christ.” In I Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV), Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Was Christ ever complaining about His mission as God’s Son here on earth. No, even in the throes of death, He merely asked God “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46 (NKJV) says, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘E’li, E’li, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ and the King James Version says ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ But He never complained.

When He prayed on the mount during the night preceding his arrest, Jesus asked for “His cup” to pass from Him adding, “but thy will, not mine be done.” Matthew 26:39 gives an account of this: “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” With Christ as our Mediator with God, we are not expected to accept everything without questioning ‘why’, but we are asked to do even that without complaint or dispute. If we manage our attitude, we will be shown the ‘why’ of those things expected of us. However, even if we are not shown the ‘why’, we are still asked to do without complaint or dispute.

How many times do we catch ourselves complaining about our ‘due’ in life? Even complaining in thought can be destructive to a “Christ attitude.” It is imperative that we review our thoughts in a prayerful attitude, as Christ did daily, to prevent the attitude of those thoughts from spilling into our actual interactions with others. To attempt living our daily interactions without guidance from God and Christ is to make our souls vulnerable to Satan and his wiles.

“Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17 – KJV), Paul tells us. Jesus obviously prayed without ceasing. In studying His life, we often see Him retreating from the world to pray – often praying all night and into the next morning. In our studying of His life, we have already seen this to be true: “So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” (Luke 5:16 NKJV). If even He did so, why should we not do the same? To pray without ceasing does not necessarily mean on bended knee all of the time. If I am to emulate the life of Christ, all that I do must be done with a prayerful attitude. If I am engaging in some activity that challenges my ability to emulate Christ in His life here on earth, I should be uttering prayers for guidance “under my breath” the whole time. Thus, even in times of trial, we are open to God’s guidance. If we ever believe we have arrived at a place where we can achieve this without a prayerful attitude, we have just given our souls over to Satan who deceives us into believing we can do it on our own.

The events of this world today are presenting trying times, and many of us may soon be faced with choices as to whom we follow in life. Are we ready for such challenges? Can we do it alone? Indeed not! We can only meet these challenges with a prayerful attitude.

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Photo Above: by reenablack @pixabay.com.

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Sources:

Eds. biblegateway.com. (2021). Holy Bible – New King James Version (NKJV). 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. www.biblegateway.com. (26 January 2021). www.biblegateway.com.

Eds. Biblegateway.com (2021). Holy Bible – King James Version (KJV). 1987 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. www.biblegateway.com. (26 January 2021). www.biblegateway.com.

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My Morning Do . . . Milk of the Word

~~ by tkbrown

1 Corinthians 3:1, 2 (NKJV)

  • 1 — “And I , brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal , as to babes in Christ.”
  • 2 — “I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;”

23 September 2020 — While working on posts for the “Greek Words for ‘love’ in the New Testament” series, I have thought much on my Biblical studies through the years. During my younger years, I studied mostly by verse and by topic. When I needed spiritual strengthening, I would search out scriptures on a particular topic and study it. The scripture was indeed food for my soul.

I grew up in a rural area, so our church family was small. When I was fourteen, I began teaching the Sunday night Children’s Class. There were five children in the class, ages five to twelve. We could not afford the purchase cost of lesson materials, so I started with the four Gospels, and we would take a few verses each week. I would write out the lesson sheets for each child.

The lessons consisted of scripture, copied word for word, with blanks to be filled in. During class, we would read the lesson scripture and fill in the blanks. The youngest could not write, but his siblings helped him fill in the blanks on his sheets. I knew from when I was younger, he could remember what we talked about, especially with two siblings who probably talked with mom and dad about what had been studied. During the two years I taught the class, we digested many morsels as they began being introduced to solid spiritual food.

As I have pondered the purpose for my reminiscing, I realized, the study of Greek words for “love” began in my teen years. The minister taught the teen / adult class. We did much the same as I did with the children, except we did not have fill-in-the-blank sheets. We studied directly from the scripture–a few verses a night. It was during my teen years, in these classes where I learned to study more in depth. The minister spoke of the Greek words for “love” occasionally during these classes, as he did for other words when he thought we could benefit from the learning.

I awoke this morning with understanding of why I had been pondering my younger days. I was being shown, during my teen years, how to study as a mature Christian. In order to do this, we begin as babes in Christ needing the “sincere milk of the word,” referenced by Peter in 1 Peter 2:2:

  • “as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” (King James Version — KJV).
  • “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” (New King James Version — NKJV).

The King James Version (KJV) of the New Testament uses the wording, “sincere milk . . .,” whereas, the New King James Version (NKJV) has changed “sincere” to “pure.” Personally, I prefer the “sincere milk . . .” for this thought process. Just as I fed my babies “milk” in their early days in order to aid their healthy growth — especially bone and teeth growth needing much calcium, we as new Christians need the “milk” of the scriptures to form a firm foundation for our Spiritual growth. As we grow, we are introduced to the more mature instruction so we can develop strength in other areas as we also continue consuming the “milk” to aid continued strengthening of the foundation.

As I pondered this, I realized my attention was being brought to the “solid food” aspect of scriptural study. When I prepare an especially savory meal for physical nutrition, I savor every morsel. This savoring is part of the spiritual growth process too. It is necessary, at times, to take a scripture word by word to learn the true meaning behind the original Greek text in the New Testament. It is necessary to chew it slowly, try to discern which spices were added during preparation. What were the other solid foods added to the dish? Our spiritual study must be taken just as slowly at times.

I said all of the above to say this: The series on Greek words used for “love” in the New Testament is a word by word type of study. We are taking each word as a single morsel of solid food and savoring each flavor (meaning) in order to absorb the most nutrition (understanding) from the food. By learning the various words used in the original Greek text, we are sorting through the flavors of Greek nutrition in order to truly understand what the English version says when it only uses one word, “love,” in its translation.

It was necessary for me to step back and explain this before progressing any further with the Greek words for “love” study in order for you, the readers, to understand the importance of knowing the original Greek term. Just as a chef must know exactly which flavors are needed to achieve a certain flavor, it is necessary for us to know what words added to the flavor of the original text. This is what is meant by the apostle Paul’s reference to “solid food” in 1 Corinthians.

I hope this little aside helps you to understand the “why” behind the “what” of what we are doing with this study. This is my prayer! Blessings to all!

My Morning Do . . . “Love”

~~ by tkbrown

21 September 2020 — Do you know the meaning of the word ‘love’?

I have decided to look at the meaning of the word ‘love’ this week. I already knew the Greek language embraces several different words in the expression of ‘love.’ I had thought I would first give the definition of ‘love’ from the Meriam-Webster dictionary and then cover the Greek definitions. However, when I opened Merriam-Webster to the word ‘love,’ I found more definitions for the word than are found in the Ancient Greek language. Ergo, since the New Testament of the Holy Bible was originally written in Aramaic Greek, I decided to cover those definitions first. Then, I will cover the English language definitions of ‘love’ later.

The Ancient Greeks identified six words which defined various definitional approaches of the word ‘love.’ Those words are:

  • Eros, or sexual passion . . .
  • Philia, or deep friendship . . .
  • Ludus, or playful love . . .
  • Agape, or love for everyone . . .
  • Pragma, or longstanding love . . .
  • Philautia, or love of self . . .
    • (Krznaric, 2013).

Throughout my lifetime, I have frequently listened as ministers of God’s Word and various speakers referenced the definitions of ‘love’ as applied by the Ancient Greek civilization. Those definitions have aided me many times over the years, not only in studying the New Testament, but also regarding life issues in general.

The reason I decided to look at the word ‘love’ is the same as the topic of today’s “My Morning Do . . . “Love”. More specifically, love as it describes God. I want to focus on four verses which just barely scrape the tip of the iceberg when describing ‘love’ as it relates to God. The first of these is Ephesians 5:1, which I present below.

Ephesians 5:1 — “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children, (NKJV).

Ephesians was written to the Christians at Ephesus by the apostle Paul around 62 A.D. while imprisoned at Rome, (Wikipedia, Eds., 2020). The verse says we are to be imitators of God ‘as dear children.’ How often do we see young children imitating ‘Daddy’? As children of God, we are to do the same. Thus, it is necessary to know God pretty well. Searching the scriptures on ‘God’, we find multitudes of descriptors. So, I decided to narrow it down and start with three verses in 1 John 4:7-9:

  • 7 — “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
  • 8 — “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
  • 9 — “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

The authorship of First, Second, and Third John is disputed among Bible Scholars. Therefore, I will not discuss this today. We can look at that later. Suffice it to say, the author saw a need to pen letters admonishing Christians regarding their love for each other. In this light, the verses presented above testify to the love of God. He states, “God is love.” Thus, to be the kind of Christian God wants us to be, it is necessary to understand the various definitions of ‘love’ and how they applied–or did not apply–to Christians to whom the letters were written.

When combined with all the other topics I am addressing in “My Morning Do . . . ” it will take a few weeks to cover all aspects to which I wish to relate my discussion, because I do not want to take away from my other topics. So, I look forward to meeting with you (in blogosphere) regularly to discuss these various topics related to ‘love’ in “My Morning Do. . . . ” With that, I bid you Adieu until the morrow!

Blessings to all!

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Sources:

Scripture References are from the Holy Bible — New King James Version (NKJV).

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Photo Above: from pexels.com.

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Faith . . .

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” — Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” — Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

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