“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
1. Peter 4:7-11
How do we best serve one another? There are probably times when we mean well, however, don't serve, but rather hinder others, through blind actions. But, out of courtesy we keeps silent and let it happen. The mature Peter combines several things and tells us what God values and how we indeed can and should serve others well. Firstly, and in the first instance, we should be level-headed, sober and prayerful. I ask myself, why does he put special emphasis on “how”? Presumably, because we sometimes think that we need preparation and a certain mood and emotional state as well as a special place etc. prior to praying. When we always depend upon so many external and self-imposed requirements, we would probably never attain serious prayer. Therefore Peter says: “Be sober and watch” (1 Peter 4:7). This means, we can and should pray at at all times (Ephesians 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints”. When someone has problems (perhaps self-inflicted) we should not first consider or wait until he has learned his lesson. How do we know how God sees it? Who are we that we should withhold helping prayer from our fellow Christians, when we know that they need it? Maybe only you know and can pray for certain things? There is also the matter of “steadfast love” which is also applicable here. If I deny someone my love (am thus fickle and only impulsively loving) then I can also not presume to be forgiving without also being resentful. How do I help and serve? Through hospitality without grumbling! That means, one can also invite others with “hands in the pocket” or quasi pretend to be hospitable. What's the point? It should be regarded as a divine privilege to serve other Christians with food and drink as well as good company. Especially towards those who are maybe alone or suffering through many difficult circumstances in their lives. We shouldn't serve one another with things we don't have. It would certainly be wrong to incur debt in order to serve others. Then you would probably be doing it more for yourself than for others. To allow yourself to be invited (even when you know that you are unable to reciprocate in like manner) should be possible for us. God also gave every Christian gifts with which we can serve others. We are allowed to be creative, to consider how best we can profitably pass that which we have on to others. What we lack in talents and gifts (but would like to have), we should also not endeavour to perform, and with such behaviour block others who can simply do it better. Some even do this. God gifts, not man. We should also consider what remains of our earthly lives? The heirs rejoice over our possessions and money, the movies and photos of us will fade and gather dust. What counts and remains, what transcends over all else and has validity before God: our love, our prayers, our hospitality, our need for that which God gave us and all the good deeds we do without first considering ourselves. We read in Matthew 6:19-21 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'' The wonderful thing is that God expressly states that He does not allow Himself to be served by people (Acts 17:25) but takes it, so to speak, personally when we serve others with the right attitude and are there for them (Matthew 25:40 “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me'').
“And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee.”
Luke 24: 5-6
A religion allows a person to go there, where he thinks God is, however God cannot be found there. Many religious people visit certain areas and buildings, because they seek confirmation for their religious feelings – and some even find it. On a purely emotional level one can even understand and follow their example. But a liberating faith, which is independent of appearances and circumstances, is different. In Luke 17:20-21 we read: “And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, ''The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Thus it is an inner matter, not necessarily dependent upon circumstances or membership. When Jesus in John 8:36 says: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” then it is clear that nothing stands between them and one also does not need any other mediator for the Mediator (John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, ''I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.''). As Christians we are not servants of sin (not any more) but, servants of righteousness – thanks to the resurrected LORD Jesus Christ (Romans 6:17-18). Righteousness and freedom belong together here – the Name of Jesus Christ, Who made us righteous, stands for it – 1 Corinthians 1:30: “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Jesus did not establish a religion, but came to seek that which was lost (Luke 19:10). What sense would it make for a lost person to seek the One who will seek and find him? He would never come up with this idea, as he does not realize that he is lost in the first place (Romans 3:11). However, a religious faith does precisely that: It imagines to be able to seek God, and meet God on its way to heaven. Religion is man's attempt to come near to God, but the Gospel is the divine way for God to come to man. God comes to us, because we cannot come into His presence, due to our sinful nature. The disciples of Jesus also didn't really comprehend it at first. Peter first disregarded the message of the three women at the sepulcher of Jesus as “idle chatter” (Luke 24:11). He was also perplexed when he stood in the sepulcher and found nothing apart from the linen clothes and the neatly folded napkin. Although he had some information and knew the scriptures, he somehow still didn't understand it (John 20:9). This was also the case with Nicodemus, who was in fact a prominent teacher in the former Israel. No one is born again by himself – not in the flesh, nor in the spirit. The latter is essential in order to see the Kingdom of God and to partake thereof (John 3:1-12). A religious person can therefore not be a born again person just because he thinks he can contribute or participate in bringing about this new life from God. But, even if a dead man came back to life to tell others about God and call them to faith, it would serve no purpose because they are their own obstacles. We find the corresponding scripture in Luke 16:30-31: “And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” So regardless of what happens, we cannot by our own means receive salvation and cause ourselves to become new persons. A religious person is not really convinced of his basically hopeless condition before God. Just as was the case with the self-righteous Pharisee and the penitent tax collector which we read in Luke 18:11-13: “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.'' God was merciful towards him.
“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”
We have probably all experienced this, that we hear a keyword and immediately react to it. But, sometimes we speak over someone's head because that which was heard was actually not what was meant at all. To get out of such an uncomfortable situation, we then quickly add: “I merely wanted to say...”!? To give opinions or remarks without listening or being asked to do so, is something which gives off a trigger-reaction and puts us in a bad light. Proverbs 17:28 springs to mind “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” Many conclusions on our part, are based on our own presumptions or wishful thinking, but not always on fact. We are exhorted in James 1:19 to hear well (namely swiftly) and speak sensibly (namely slowly). That is why we have two ears, but only one mouth – even our anatomy teaches us many things. Whoever constantly and prematurely speaks (and probably also likes to hear himself speak) is most probably sometimes a lost cause (Proverbs 29:20). We should also consider this in our prayers. In Ecclesiastes 5:2 (Good News) we read: “Think before you speak, and don't make any rash promises to God. He is in heaven and you are on earth, so don't say any more than you have to.” In like manner as we should pay attention how we listen and what we say and with whom we are dealing with and for what purpose, we should also approach God. If we utter too many (and wrong) words in-between ourselves, and it is criticized in the Bible, why do we think that it can function in this manner with God Himself? God is in Heaven and we are not (yet) – that also means that God knows and understands us better than we ourselves do, and therefore many words (as if we need to explain something and what we mean to God) don't make our prayers better. In Matthew 6:7-8 we read: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.” Many backgrounds and connections (why someone is the way he is, or did what he did) we are unaware of. We can therefore save ourselves a lot of foolishness and embarrassment (“folly and shame”) when we listen first and not superficially judge the person before us, prior
Verlag: BookRix GmbH & Co. KG
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 21.03.2017
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