Godly Attitudes

Lesson One

The Mind of Christ

In order to begin these lessons we must first define the one attitude that caused Jesus to be given a name above every other name in existence.

Phil 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (9) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: (10) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; (11) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (KJV)

The Mind of a Servant

The attitude that released Christís divine nature in human form is the heart of a servant. The mind of Christ is the mind of a Servant.

Equal With God

Form - morphe (mor-fay'/3444); perhaps from the base of 3313 (through the idea of adjustment of parts); shape; figuratively, nature: KJV-- form. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)

morphe- (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)

1) the form by which a person or thing strikes the vision

2) external appearance

Equal - isos (ee'-sos/2470); probably from 1492 (through the idea of seeming); similar (in amount and kind): KJV-- + agree, as much, equal, like. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)

isos- (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)

equal, in quantity or quality

These verses teach that Jesus, in his preincarnet state, was in the same shape and nature of God. Simply stated, He was God, equal in appearance, substance, and shape - He was and is God.

No Reputation

These verses state that Jesus made Himself of "No Reputation". This phrase is confusing. What does it mean to be made of no reputation?

No Reputation - kenoo (ken-o'-o/2758); from 2756; to make empty, i.e. (figuratively) to abase, neutralize, falsify: KJV-- make (of none effect, of no reputation, void), be in vain. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)

kenoo- (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)

1) to empty, make empty;

used of Christ: he laid aside equality with or the form of God

2) to make void,

to deprive of force, to render vain, useless, of no effect

3) to make void,

to cause a thing to be seen to be empty, hollow, or false

Jesus poured out His divine nature, and took upon Himself the form of human flesh. Jesus was a man is every facet as we are, but he didnít have sin.

Why did Jesus pour out His divine nature and become a man? We could say, it was to fulfill the plan of redemption, and we would be right. I think the reason is of a simple nature. Jesus was a servant, who obeyed the redemptive plan of His Father.

Form of a Servant

Form - morphe (mor-fay'/3444); perhaps from the base of 3313 (through the idea of adjustment of parts); shape; figuratively, nature: KJV-- form. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)

morphe- (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)

1) the form by which a person or thing strikes the vision

2) external appearance

Servant - doulos (doo'-los/1401); from 1210; a slave (literal or figurative, involuntary or voluntary; frequently, therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency): KJV-- bond (-man), servant. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)

doulos- (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)

1) a slave, a bondman, a man of servile condition

a) a slave

b) metaphorically, one who gives himself up to another's will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing His cause among men

c) devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests

2) a servant, an attendant

Please notice! In the same fashion that Jesus was and is part of the Godhead, He also was made in the form of human flesh. The same Greek word denotes the same type of process and nature.

Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon states that the Greek word "Doulos" has two metaphorical applications in the Bible

These two descriptions provided by Thayer clearly identify the true heart of a servant.

The Image of a Servant

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me (KJV)

John 5:30 "I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me (NAS)

John 5:30 "I am able to do nothing from Myself ó independently, of My own accord; but as I am taught by God and as I get His orders. [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision.] Even as I hear, I judge and my judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will ó I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose ó but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me. (Amplified Bible)

Notice how the two metaphorical applications of Doulos are found in this verse. The life of Jesus was dedicated to doing the will of His Father. His mission and purpose was to extend and advance the Kingdom of God among men. Also, Jesus did not seek or consult His own will, but he was devoted to the will of His Father.

The heart of true spiritual servant must be patterned after Jesus. He is our example (1Pet 2:21), the pattern we must follow. Again let me state that the mind of Christ is the mind of a Servant. Now we come to the one doctrine that causes such confusion in the body of Christ. We read in the Epistle to the Romans that we are to be conformed to the image of Christ. What is the image of Christ?

The Image of Christ

Let's turn to the epistle to the Romans, and briefly examine this verse.

Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren (KJV)

This verse teaches us that blood bought Christians have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. Christian rhetoric has confused this issue with abstract theories concerning the image of Christ. Most Christians canít comprehend this concept, because the image of Christ they perceive is His divinely exalted state. We have confused Christís divine nature with the image that motivated Jesus to put aside this nature in order to become flesh. The image of Christ is the heart of a servant. The two applications of Doulos is the image of Christ we predestined to be conformed to.

The Divine Godhead

Col 1:18-19 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (19) For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; (KJV)

John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.

John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him (KJV)

We find the servant heart in all members of the Godhead. God, the Father has chosen to deny himself in order that Jesus might be preeminent. The mission of the Holy Spirit is to reveal Jesus, while the heartís desire of Jesus to manifest His Father.

Not one member of the Godhead exalts His own position, but each person denies their self importance in order to establish their corporate mission and purpose. The servant heart is the very essence and nature of God. In order to know Him we must develop this attitude also.

The Servant Attitude

Matt 20:25-28 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. (26) But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; (27) And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: (28) Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (KJV)

Mark 10:42-45 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. (43) But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: (44) And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. (45) For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (KJV)

Jesus clearly taught that the servant attitude is only key to advancement in His kingdom. Jesus wanted His disciple to understand that He expected them to serve one another is the same fashion that He was their minister.

Attitude or Personality?

In this study we keep emphasizing the concept of a servant attitude. Is there a difference between attitudes and personality traits?

      1. Volatile or Argumentative
      2. Calm or Meek
      3. Depressed
      4. Arrogant

We can learn attitudes, we can imprint their infectious nature on to our souls. It's important we remember that attitudes can have a positive or negative influence. Now let's return to our study.

Jesus admonished His disciples that the greatest in His kingdom would be the servant of all the other disciples. Jesus clearly taught that the normal human personality trait is to strive for self prominence, leadership, and dominion over each other. The kingdom of God will not be infected with the corruption of self-will, but authority and influence in this kingdom will be determined by the servant attitude. This attitude can be learned otherwise Jesus would not have imposed it as a requirement of His kingdom. Let me reiterate, attitudes are self determined reactions we have to different situations. We make the choice to serve or to demand service.

Who Do We Serve?

The next question to arise is simple. Who do we serve?

Servants of Jesus

Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God (KJV)

Rom 1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers (KJV)

Heb 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (KJV)

All of these scriptures teach us that our service is belongs to God. Our servant attitude is not dedicated to the service of humanity. All our actions must be perceived as part of our service to Jesus. This one fact will determine our longevity in our service.

Service focused on humanity will seek reward from humanity. Should our attitude be centered in human service we will frustrate ourselves, because we will - consciously or subconsciously - seek acceptance and reward from whom we serve. A few things will happen to those who center their attitude in human service.

Gal 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ (KJV)

When we seek human acceptance and praise we cannot be the servant of Christ, because peer pressure will determine the type of service we offer to Jesus. The verse answers our theme question. Who do we serve? The answer is simple, we serve Jesus. The servant attitude must to dedicated to Jesus. Our service must be based upon our love and fear of God. Should our servant attitude be dedicated to God, then our reward and praise will come from God.

Servants to the Church

1 Cor 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more (KJV)

2 Tim 2:24-26 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, (25) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (26) And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Does the fact that we are Christís servants release us from service to humanity. Emphatically NO! When we allow our service to be dedicated to Jesus, He will use our submission and obedience to minister to the needs of lost humanity.

The Apostle Paul taught us that the Servant of Jesus must be of a gentle demeanor, able to teach, and be patient. The mission of Christís servant is to instruct those who are resisting God through their lack of service.

Slave of Jesus

1 Cor 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (KJV)

1 Cor 7:22-23 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the LORDís freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. (23) Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. (KJV)

These verses teach that we are bought with a price, and that price was the blood of Calvary. We are not free to be masters of our own destiny. We are the purchased possession of Jesus, therefore we no longer are the servants of men.

Our goal and purpose is to glorify God in our complete man - body, soul, and spirit. To glorify God we must allow Him free expression to us and through us. The only way we can glorify God in our lives is to develop the heart of a servant which is the heart of God.

 

 

Godly Attitudes

Lesson Two

The Way of the Cross

In lesson one we examined the concept that the servant attitude is the basic character trait of the Godhead. Jesus, who was equal with God, allowed His servant attitude to control and motivate His whole human expression.

Now we come to the crux of the matter. Jesus was a servant even to the point of death. He was obedient to the redemptive plan of His Father. The suffering of Calvary was the ultimate expression of the servant attitude of Jesus in obedience to His Fatherís will. When was Jesus crucified? The path of the cross began when He put aside His divine nature, and became a babe crying in His motherís arms.

Jesus clearly taught that His disciples must also follow the same path of the cross in order for the servant attitude to have pre-eminence in their lives. Let's study this concept.

The Cross Principle

Luke 9:23-24 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (24) For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. (KJV)

John 12:25-26 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (26) If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. (KJV

Reference Scriptures: Matthew 10:38-39 Luke 14:26-27

These two scriptural references identify the path the disciples of Christ must follow. Johnís reference associates the servant attitude with following Christ.

Deny Self

deny - arneomai (ar-neh'-om-ahee/720); perhaps from 1 (as a negative particle) and the middle voice of 4483; to contradict, i.e. disavow, reject, abnegate: KJV-- deny, refuse. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)

arneomai- (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)

1) to deny

2) to deny someone, to deny oneself

a) to disregard one's own interests or to prove false to himself

b) to act entirely unlike himself

3) to deny, abnegate, abjure

4) not to accept, to reject, to refuse something offered

Jesus taught that the first principle a disciple of His must learn is self denial. Until we learn to deny our own self interests we will not be able to follow Jesus and do the will of God.

John 5:30 "I am able to do nothing from Myself ó independently, of My own accord; but as I am taught by God and as I get His orders. [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision.] Even as I hear, I judge and my judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will ó I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose ó but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me. (Amplified Bible)

Jesus understood that self denial is an absolute in doing the will of God. The Amplified Bible states that Jesus didnít even consult His own will or His desires. The only motivation of Jesus was to do the will and pleasure of His Father.

The first principle necessary to release the servant attitude is self denial

Personal Cross

Phil 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (KJV)

Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (KJV)

Jesus made a confusing statement when He said we are to pick up our cross daily and follow Him. Are we to pick up a large wooden device of execution? Was the cross of Christ the wooden apparatus used to murder Him? The wooden apparatus is the physical manifestation of the true cross that motivated Jesus.

According to these two references, Christís death on the cross was the ultimate manifestation of His obedience to Godís redemptive plan. The cross that Jesus truly carried was the plan and will of His Father.

This truth clarifies for us the confusion of Jesusí statement. The cross we must carry on a daily basis is OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL of God, and the redemptive plan of Jesus. This fact also binds us to the cross of Christ. What influence will His cross have on us?

Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (KJV)

Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (KJV)

Gal 5:24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts

There is another possibility that we should consider. The cross we must carry on a daily basis is the will of God for our lives, but His will also includes our allowing the cross to crucify our affections and lusts.

In order to do Godís will we must cultivate a honest servant attitude, but this attitude is foreign to the normal human personality. Simply stated, it's not natural for human flesh to assume to the position of a servant. The normal human condition is to assume the roll of selfish master. We strive and fight for power and control over other people - regardless of whether it's our family or friends.

How do we break open our human souls to allow the divine servant attitude to express itself in our lives? We can only do this through the power of the cross. As we draw near to Christ is love and worship we encounter His cross. The encounter will gradually break down our self-centered master attitude in order for the servant attitude to surface. Therefore the disciples of Christ must encounter the cross on a daily basis in order to crucify the flesh. Then and only then will the true servant attitude have freedom to influence our personalities.

The second principle necessary to release the servant attitude is embracing our personal cross on a daily basis.

Following Christ

To follow Christ demands that we embrace the first and second principle of discipleship. We cannot obey Christ and follow His leading until we tenaciously learn to deny ourselves and embrace His cross.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (KJV)

Jesus taught that He is the good shepherd, and His sheep hear His voice, they know and follow Him. To know Jesus is much more than a religious dogma we embrace, it's an intimate relationship based on love and acceptance.

To follow Jesus demands that we seek Him "..with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.." (Lk 10:27). The only way this type of relationship can be developed is to devote time on a daily basis to prayer and His word. How can we know Jesus unless we send time with Him and cultivate a relationship? The marriage relationship is the best example we have of this type of intimate knowledge.

Jesus also taught in Luke and John that whosoever would love their personal life more than Him shall lose it. But those who hate (Miseo - To detest, to love less) their lives in this world shall find eternal life. This is a confusing statement. In order to understand it we must ponder the Greek word used for "life" in these verses.

life - psuche (psoo-khay'/5590); from 5594; breath, i.e. (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from 4151, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from 2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew 5315, 7307 and 2416): KJV-- heart (+-ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.

psuche- (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)

1) breath

a) the breath of life: the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing:

1) used of animals

2) used of men

b) life

c) that in which there is life, a living being, a living soul

2) the soul

a) the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul, etc.)

b) the (human) soul insofar as it is constituted that by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life

c) the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body)

When God breathed into the nostrils of Adam, he became a living soul. A creature with a life force of his own. He was free soul capable of free though and decision. He was not a robot programmed to worship and obey God, he had a free will. Adam could choose to obey God or he choose to be his own king. According to Paul, Adam was not deceived in the great fall, but Eve was. Adam put his love for Eve before his love for God. Simply stated, Adam loved the things of this world more than God.

Psuche is the root of our personality, it's the central hub of our human experience. Jesus said, that any man who puts his or her soulish personality before the kingdom of God shall loose their life in human confusion.

The disciples of Christ are infused with eternal life when they are born again. "Zoe" eternal life is the essences and substance of God, it's the breath of life breathed into Adam. Once we are born again we have resident in us two life forces - Psuche and Zoe - both demand pre-eminence. The Bible teaches we cannot serve two masters. Should we love our personal life and comfort zone we will loose our spiritual identity to world conformity. The opposite is also true, should we surrender our self identity and will to Christ we shall discover the power and joy of eternal life.

(Reference Scriptures: Gen 2:7 1Tim 2:14)

Walking in Darkness

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life (KJV)

darkness - skotia (skot-ee'-ah/4653); from 4655; dimness, obscurity (literally or figuratively): KJV-- dark (-ness). (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)

skotia- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) darkness

2) the darkness due to want of light

3) metaphorically, used of ignorance of divine things, and its associated wickedness, and the resultant misery in hell

Jesus made it clear that those who followed Him would not walk in darkness, but would have the light of life. Now the question arises: what is darkness? Is darkness horrid human sin, or is it another substance? The Bible teaches that darkness is not sin, but it's the breeding ground for sin. Darkness is viewed in the Bible as ignorance (of divine things), spiritual blindness, and self deception.

These three elements comprise the normal human spiritual condition. We are in self deception should we think that Christians are immune from this condition because of their redemption. Being religious doesn't guarantee that we are followers of Christ free from the deception of darkness. It's important we understand that Jesus didn't come to create another human religion with Himself as the central figure; He came to open an avenue of relationship with God, our Father.

I Jn 1:5-7 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (6) If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (KJV)

John continues with His revelation of spiritual darkness in His first epistle. There are three basic truths we must understand concerning the concept of walking in spiritual darkness. Let's examine them!

When we walk in religious darkness the witness weíre presenting to the world is a false witness. We testify about our doctrine, but fail to be channels of Godís light.

Fellowship - koinonia (koy-nohn-ee'-ah/2842); from 2844; partnership, i.e. (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction: KJV-- (to) communicate (-ation), communion, (contri-) distribution, fellowship.

koinonia- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse

a) the share which one has in anything, participation

b) intercourse, fellowship, intimacy, the right hand as a sign and pledge of fellowship (in fulfilling the apostolic office)

c) a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as exhibiting an embodiment and proof of fellowship

John 3:19-21 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (21) But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (KJV)

Jesus also taught that He is the light of the world, but humanity loved darkness rather than light. According to Jesus, the reason for their love of darkness is the evilness of their deeds.

Greek word used for Evil in verse 19

evil - poneros (pon-ay-ros'/4190); from a derivative of 4192; hurtful, i.e. evil (properly, in effect or influence, and thus differing from 2556, which refers rather to essential character, as well as from 4550, which indicates degeneracy from original virtue); figuratively, calamitous; also (passively) ill, i.e. diseased; but especially (morally) culpable, i.e. derelict, vicious, facinorous; neuter (singular) mischief, malice, or (plural) guilt; masculine (singular) the devil, or (plural) sinners: KJV-- bad, evil, grievous, harm, lewd, malicious, wicked (-ness). See also 4191. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)

poneros- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) full of labors, annoyances, hardships

a) pressed and harassed by labors

b) bringing toils, annoyances, perils; used of a time full of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness; causing pain and trouble

2) bad, of a bad nature or condition

a) in a physical sense: diseased or blind

b) in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad

The word is used in the nominative case in Matt. 6:13. This usually denotes a title in the Greek. Hence, Christ is saying, deliver us from "The Evil", and is probably referring to Satan.

Notice that this word has the application of hardships and labors. When we apply this application it changes our concept of evil. Jesus came into the world, but men loved their labors and hardships more than the light of God. In verse 20 the Greek word for evil changes.

Greek word used for Evil in verse 20

evil - phaulos (fow'-los/5337); apparently a primary word; "foul" or "flawy", i.e. (figuratively) wicked: KJV-- evil. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)

phaulos- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) easy, slight, ordinary, mean, worthless, of no account

2) ethically, bad, base, wicked

Notice that this word has the application of that which is "Easy, slight, ordinary, or worthless." Now apply this word to the concept of evil in verse 20. Everyone whose life is consumed with easy, worthless activity will hate (treat with indifference) the light of God, because they don't want their comfort zones being disturbed. This verse is a glaring indictment of modern religious thinking. We shroud our evil (easy, worthless, of no account) deeds comfortable religious dogma in order to suppress the spiritual pain caused by the light of God.

Jesus also taught that the saint of God who hungers for the truth of God will draw near to the light of God in order to expose the true spiritual condition. It's important we remember that doing truth is not doing doctrine. Doing truth is allowing the light of truth to transform us into the image of truth.

The Mind of Christ

1 Pet 4:1-2 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (2) That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (KJV)

Peter taught us that Jesus suffered in the flesh (denied Himself) in order to do the will of God. He also taught us that Jesusí actions were the result of a disciplined mind set. We are arm ourselves with the same type of mind set; a way of thinking that sets it's focus on the will of God not our personal desires and appetites. Peter understood that the normal human condition is driven by self-centered lusts. In order for a saint to do Godís will these lusts must be crucified. Only after we have learned the mind set of self-denial can we hope to develop the true heart of a servant.

Now we come to the crux of this lesson. The servant attitude is the one attitude that must govern our spiritual lives, but in order to develop this attitude we must follow Jesus down the path of self-denial. We cannot be a true servant in the various facets of our personal lives unless we learn to crucify the lusts of our self-centered natures. Being a true spiritual servant is much more than helping occasionally at the church. A true servant is drawn to the flame of truth like a moth to a candle. Servant-hood is a lifestyle of following Christ as His disciple in order to do the will of our Father.

 

 

Godly Attitudes

Lesson Three

The Great Christian Master

In lesson 2 we examined the narrow path of the cross that the servants of Christ must follow. The servant heart is the fruit that sprouts out of the fertile ground of the cross principle.

Now I come to central problem that plagued the Christian church since the days of Pentecost. Let's seek to answer this question.

What is the greatest problem that plagues the body of Christ?

Let me list a few possible answers that we might have to this question.

Of these four answers I would select "Flesh" as my answer. Let me explain. The Bible teaches in Ephesians 4:27 we are admonished not to give place to the devil. Simply stated, the devil can only take place in our lives to the degree we give him place. Sin and unbelief are by-products produced by carnal thinking that arises from the corruption of pride.

The greatest problem that plagues the body of Christ is the cancer of individualism. The cancer of individualism is not the realization of self-identity, it's the exaltation of self-identity. The great Christian master usually is not Jesus, it's our self-centered attitudes. We may speak faith and service, but our actions speak louder than words. Most Christian attitudes project themselves as the center of the body of Christ. Unless we are getting blessed we will not participate in spiritual service. We must be the blessing not the blessed. The root of the master attitude is pride: we must realize that pride can shroud itself in religious thinking. The remainder of this lesson will examine this principle.

The Exalted Self

Matt 23:8-12 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. (9) And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. (10) Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. (11) But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. (12) And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (KJV)

In these verses of scripture Jesus identified the greatest sin in His church throughout human history. From the early Patriarchs to Moses, from the days of the Judges to the Prophets, also from the days of Pentecost to this present day the greatest sin doesn't change. The exalted self is the cancer that slowly destroys the body. Jesus wanted us to realize that this sin is very deceptive and can shroud itself in vain human religion.

The need for position and titles finds it's root in the "Exalted Self". We find this problem in the body of Christ today. Pastors demand their title respect, and they also want their exalted thrones. What difference is their between the term Rabbi and Pastor in ministerial responsibilities. In essence there is no difference, but we still see the distinction between the Clergy and Laity.

According to the teachings of Jesus the greatest in His body would be those who develop true servant hearts. Again we are confronted with the truth that the servant attitude is an absolute key to true spiritual promotion in the body of Christ.

The opposite is also true: whoever exalts his or her own position in the body will only be humbled before the body. Jesus wanted us to realize that humility is the key to spiritual promotion, therefore it's a key to the development of the heart of a servant. Jesus also wanted us to realize that self exaltation will result is a frustrated spiritual condition. Why is this? The answer to this question should be obvious. Self exaltation is the fruit of human pride, and human pride can hide very successfully in religion. Let's examine the two concepts of pride and humility in order to develop our theme on the servant heart.

Pride, and the Proud Heart

The Bible uses nine different Hebrew and Greek words to translate the one English word "Pride". Six of these words are from the Old Testament while three are from the New Testament. From the sake of brevity we will briefly examine the Greek words in order to identify the human character flaw that constitutes pride.

pride - huperephania (hoop-er-ay-fan-ee'-ah/5243); from 5244; haughtiness: KJV-- pride. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)

huperephania- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) pride, haughtiness, arrogance

2) the character of one who, with a swollen estimate of his own powers or merits, who looks down on others and even treats them with insolence and contempt

pride - tuphoo (toof-o'-o/5187); from a derivative of 5188; to envelop with smoke, i.e. (figuratively) to inflate with self-conceit: KJV-- high-minded, be lifted up with pride, be proud.

tuphoo- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) to raise a smoke, to wrap in a mist; metaphorically:

a) to make proud, to puff up with pride, to render insolent

b) to be puffed up with haughtiness or pride

2) to blind with pride or conceit, to render foolish or stupid, beclouded, besotted

pride - alazoneia (al-ad-zon-i'-a/212); from 213; braggadocio, i.e. (by implication) self-confidence: KJV-- boasting, pride.

alazoneia- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) empty, braggart talk

2) an insolent and empty assurance, which trusts in its own power and resources and shamefully despises and violates divine laws and human rights

3) an impious and empty presumption which trusts in the stability of earthy things

From these three words let me list the character traits that comprise human pride.

With these thoughts in mind let's study the Bible concerning the human flaw of pride.

The Hatred of Pride

Prov 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate (KJV)

Prov 6:16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: (17) A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (18) An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, (19) A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (KJV)

The book of Proverbs clearly teaches that God hates pride in all shapes and forms. Pride is not a condition only found in the world of ungodly people. The most dangerous attribute of pride is it's ability to hide in religious dogma, ritual, and thinking. Being Christian doesn't disqualify us from the corruption of human pride; in fact our religious attitudes provide it with fertile breeding ground.

Ps 138:6 Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off (KJV)

This verse confirms this point. God has responds to the hearts of the humble, but the religious proud He knows from afar off. God still knows these people, but their pride disqualifies them from an intimate experience with Him

Isa 2:12 For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low (KJV)

Isaiah chapter two describes the "Day of the Lord" and the second coming of Jesus. Notice that the day of the Lord shall fall upon every one that is proud and arrogant. Just prior to His second coming, Jesus will humble the human attitude of pride.

James 4:6-8 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (7) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (KJV)

1 Pet 5:5-10 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (6) Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (7) Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (8) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (9) Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (10) But the God of all grace, who hath called us (KJV)

The Apostles James and Peter also confirmed this truth. God gives grace to the humble, but He resists the proud. These verses of scripture are often quoted in regards to spiritual warfare: should we resist the devil he will flee from us. It's easy to teach this as doctrine, but the whole truth is simply this. In order to resist the devil we must first submit ourselves to God. Should we submit ourselves to God filled with religious pride, God will only resist our actions, and the devil will mock our attempts at resistance. Is it possible that our frustration in spiritual warfare could be the result of vain spiritual pride?

(Reference Scriptures: Psa 101:5 Prov 15:25 16:5)

Proud Thoughts

Ps 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts (KJV)

In this verse, king David described the spiritual condition of the wicked. Notice that two conditions are found in those who filled with human pride. They don't seek after God, and God is not in ALL their thoughts (plans).

wicked - rasha` (raw-shaw'/7563); from 7561; morally wrong; concretely, an (actively) bad person: KJV-- + condemned, guilty, ungodly, wicked (man), that did wrong.

rasha`- (Brown-Driver-Biggs Lexicon)

wicked, criminal

a) a guilty one, one guilty of crime (substantive)

b) wicked (hostile to God)

c) wicked, guilty of sin (against God or man)

We assume that wicked people are unregenerate sinners who hate God. This is true when we allow the two spiritual traps of pride to mature. Hostility to God is not restricted to sinners only; saints can also be hostle to God with their carnal attitudes and thoughts (Romans 8:7). Hostility to God comes in various degrees; our carnal attitudes and thinking will determine the degree we are hostile to God. Let's examine the two traps.

 

The Root of Contention

Prov 11:2 When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom (KJV)

Prov 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom (KJV

Prov 28:25-26 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat. (26) He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. (KJV)

These three scriptures clearly teach that pride is the root of all contention and strife. Remember this fact when our personal lives, families, churches, and areas of employment are frustrated with contention and strife. All the strife I have seen in church life has been the result of pride.

Proverbs 28:26 provides insight into the reason why pride is the source of all contention and strife. Trusting in our own abilities and strength only reveals our spiritual foolishness. Jeremiah 17:5 states that the man who trusts in human flesh for direction and wisdom will only be frustrated in their actions. God curses this type of thinking, because it only leads to contention and strife. Remember the contention and strife that arose in the body of Christ, because of the Swaggart and Baker confessions. Thousands of people stumbled in their faith because of the failure of these men. Their disillusionment was the result of trust human flesh for direction and wisdom.

1 Tim 6:3-5 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; (4) He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, (5) Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. (KJV)

Paul, in his first epistle to Timothy, taught that foolish doctrinal questions and dogmatic strife is the result of religious pride. The only truth that matters if the revelation of the person of Jesus Christ.

Humbling of Pride

Prov 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall (KJV)

Prov 29:23 A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit (KJV)

Prov 21:4 An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin (KJV)

These references indicate that pride is the source of spiritual destruction. God shall humble the proud of heart, because pride is sin.

Is it possible that pride is the root cause of much of our frustration?

Is it possible that pride is the root cause of marriage and family problems?

Is it possible that pride is the root cause of our employment problems?

These are valid questions, because to root of nearly all human contention and strife at home and in the world is pride. The exaltation of self (Great Christian Master) is the source of much of our personal and professional frustration and failure. It's a scary thought to think that maybe the root of our marital, family, and employment problems is the destruction of pride, and the promise that God shall humble the proud - regardless of religious conviction.

Humility, the and Humble of Heart

Now that we have studied the attitude of pride and the exalted Christian master syndrome we should realize that the servant attitude is the by-product of humility. The simple truth is this: to the degree we humble ourselves in the sight of God is to the degree we allow the servant heart to develop. The opposite is also true: to the degree we tolerate pride in our Christian walk is to the degree we allow the Christian master attitude to develop. Let's study the concept of humility is the Bible.

Prepared Heart

Ps 10:17 LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare (strengthen - NAS/encourage - NIV) their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear (KJV)

This verse teaches that the Lord hears the desire of the humble and He prepares their hearts. The NAS version states that God strengthens the hearts of the humble, while the NIV version states the He encourages their hearts. What a variation between these three versions: let's ponder the Hebrew word used in this verse for "Prepare".

prepare - kuwn (koon/3559); a primitive root; properly, to be erect (i.e. stand perpendicular); hence (causatively) to set up, in a great variety of applications, whether literal (establish, fix, prepare, apply), or figurative (appoint, render sure, proper or prosperous): KJV-- certain (-ty), confirm, direct, faithfulness, fashion, fasten, firm, be fitted, be fixed, frame, be meet, ordain, order, perfect, (make) preparation, prepare (self), provide, make provision, (be, make) ready, right, set (aright, fast, forth), be stable, (e-) stablish, stand, tarry, X very deed.

kuwn- (Brown-Driver-Biggs Lexicon)

to be firm, to be stable, to be established

A) (Niphal)

1) to be set up, to be established, to be fixed

a) to be firmly established

b) to be established, to be stable, to be secure, to be enduring

c) to be fixed, to be securely determined

2) to be directed aright, to be fixed aright, to be steadfast (moral sense)

3) to prepare, to be ready

4) to be prepared, to be arranged, to be settled

B) (Hiphil)

1) to establish, to set up, to accomplish, to do, to make firm

2) to fix, to make ready, to prepare, to provide, to provide for, to furnish

3) to direct toward (a moral sense)

4) to arrange, to order

C) (Hophal)

1) to be established, to be fastened

2) to be prepared, to be ready

D) (Polel)

1) to set up, to establish

2) to constitute, to make

3) to fix

4) to direct

E) (Pulal) to be established, to be prepared

F) (Hithpolel) to be established, to be restored

From our study of the Hebrew word we can conclude that all three translations are accurate to the expanded definition. The definition, though, has several implied applications; let's ponder a few.

Voice of God

Ps 34:2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad (KJV)

The Bible also teaches that the humble shall be able to hear the voice of God, because their hearts have been prepared to engage in intimate relationship with God. The opposite is also true. The pride we allow in our lives will only deafen our ears to the voice of God.

Ps 69:32 The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God

Notice here that the heart of the humble rejoice, because they seek the face of God in love and relationship. Seeking God is a the driving force found in the prepared hearts of the humble. In 2Chronicles 7:14, we are admonished that God will heal our lives to the degree we humble ourselves and pray, and seek His face, and repent of our secret sins. The life we find when we seek God can only be implanted in the hearts of the humble, because of their repentant attitude.

Honor and Humility

Prov 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility (KJV)

Prov 18:12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility (KJV)

Prov 29:23 A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit (KJV)

Notice the connection between humility and honour; in face, honour has the capability to uphold (hold fast) the humble in spirit. Now this question should arise. What is Biblical honour?

honour - kabowd (kaw-bode'/3519); rarely kabod (kaw-bode'); from 3513; properly, weight, but only figuratively in a good sense, splendor or copiousness: -glorious (-ly), glory, honour (-able).

kabowd rarely kabod- (Brown-Drivers-Biggs)

glory, honor, glorious, abundance

a) abundance, riches

b) honor, splendor, glory

c) honor, dignity

d) honor, reputation

e) honor, reverence, glory

f) glory

We understand that our honour is connected with our reputation and the dignity we project. This Hebrew definition clearly associates honour with glory. What is spiritual glory? Simply stated, glory is the manifestation of Godís presence in any circumstance: therefore humility is the key to Godís manifest presence in our personal lives.

Also, the Hebrew word is associated with personal wealth and riches. We can conclude that humility is the path to true wealth and riches, but we must understand that wealth isnít always material in nature.

Dwelling With God

Isa 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones (KJV

Isaiah understood that God dwelt in a high and holy place, but God would only allow in to His presence those who are humble and contrite.

Let's seek to define what humility and contrition is?

God dwells with those who have a humble and contrite spirit, both attributes are necessary to maintain an intimate relationship with God. These two characteristics are welded together to form the servant attitude. You cannot have a true humble spirit without repentance, and you will not have a repentant attitude without true humility.

James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (KJV)

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (KJV)

1 Pet 5:5-6 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble (6) Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (KJV)

In these verse we are taught that God resists the proud, but He gives grace unto the humble. We have now identified another quality imputed to the humble of heart. God gives grace to the humble; what is grace? Grace is much more than I kindly nod or a gentle touch: let's ponder the Greek word used to translate "Grace".

grace - charis (khar'-ece/5485); from 5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): KJV-- acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).

charis- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) Grace:

what affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech

2) Good will, loving-kindness, favor;

used of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

3) What is due to grace

a) the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace

b) the token or proof of grace, benefit

1) a gift of grace

2) benefit, bounty

4) Thanks, (for benefits, services, favors), a recompense, a reward

Grace is Godís divine influence upon the heart that results in changed lives. A gentle touch or a kindly nod is only one small portion of Godís influence. Grace is the power of the Holy Spirit to influence the direction of our lives. We read in 2Peter 1:2 that grace and peace is multiplied through the knowledge (Epignosis - intimate knowledge) of Jesus.

Childlike Humility

Matt 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven (KJV)

Matt 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted (KJV)

A little child is not consumed with pride and self exaltation. A normal child will look with faith and trust to his or her parents to provide for their needs. The children that surrounded Jesus were not intimidated by rebuke of the Pharisees, they approached Him without fear. Religion didn't prevent these children from enjoying the presence of Jesus. They came to Jesus with pure hearts of childlike love.

Jesus wanted His disciple to understand that true relationship with God must be nurtured by childlike humility and faith. We read in John 12:42-43 that many of the chief rulers believed on Jesus, but they would not confess Him, because they might be put out of the synagogue. These members of the Sanhedrin loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. The Apostle Paul wanted the Galatian church to realize that as long as they sought to please men they could not be the servants of Christ (Gal 1:10). Young children are usually not manipulated by peer-pressure, they learn fear, racism, and peer-pressure in later years.

Now we come to the crux of the matter. Should we want a true relation-ship with Jesus we must put aside our fears, religious conformity, and peer-pressure with a humility of a little child. Let's not be like the chief rulers who understood who Jesus was, but peer-pressure caused them to conform to the established religious order. Let's remove this concept from religious circles. The servant attitude must be nurtured in an environment free from peer manipulation. In the home, on the job, or at church peer manipulation controls much of our thinking. The breeding ground for pride is the striving for social position.

(Reference Scriptures: Psa 10:12 Prov 6:3)

False Humility

In a previous section we defined humility as Self Weakness ó God Strength. One thing humility is not, it's not a timid personality. Is their such a condition known as False Humility? Most emphatically yes, their is such a human condition: let me define the various types.

All three of these attitudes arise from an inflated human pride. The inflation could the result of personal wound or hurt, or it could be the result of humanistic religious thinking. In any case these conditions are the result of inflated perceptions of self weakness, and a dependency on self strength to solve the problems. Self Weakness - Self Strength is the root of false humility. In our weakness we must allow God free access.

Meekness - The Servant Heart

let's encapsulate what we have studied. The greatest problem the body of Christ encounters is the cancer of Individualism. The great Christian master is the attitude that fosters this cancer in the body of Christ. The exaltation of self is the stumbling block in all areas of our personal lives. In our families, on our jobs, even in our churches; the exaltation of self is the root of all contention and strife. We must remember this point, all contention and pride comes from the exaltation of self. The servant heart is not a religious concept, it's an attitude based on humility and the surrender of self importance.

The Bible teaches much concerning the spiritual attitude of meekness. We have a tendency to associated meekness with timidity: this is not the case. In Numbers 12:3, Moses is identified as the meekest man on the face of the earth. Moses was not a timid soul. He was the commander and leader of approximately three million people; therefore meekness must not be timidity. Meekness is the Biblical term for the servant attitude. Moses was a servant of God and His people. He denied himself in order to do the will of God.

In all facets of our personal lives we must allow the servant attitude to direct us. When conflict arises in our families or on our job, at the root is self exaltation and pride. The servant attitude will deny their own self interests and goals in order to further the goals of the arena the servant is in. The servant attitude is body and goal centered not self centered.

 

 

Godly Attitudes

Lesson Four

Dealing With Offense

In Proverbs 18:19 we read that a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city. Offense is the action of one brother rejecting another brother because of an apparent wound, self inflicted or not. The poet Pope made the following observation, "At every trifle scorn to take offense, That always shews great pride of little sense." How true these words are, ponder them for a moment and see if I am right. In this lesson we will examine the causes of offense, and how they should be handled in a Christian environment (servant attitude). Jesus taught us that offenses will occur, they are the by-products of human beings interacting with each other. Jesus also issued a warning to those who minister offense to the unaware (Lk 17:1ff). Offenses will come into our lives, but how we deal with them will determine the degree of our spiritual maturity.

The Root of Pride:

In order to understand offense and contention and how to deal with them, we must go to their root.

Prov 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom (KJV

This scripture teaches us that the root of offense is pride. This should not be surprising since pride is the hidden origin of all strife, conflict, and contention. In simple terms, pride is the human quality of exalting self existence and importance. The proud heart postulates that it is the center of the universe, and all people and things must revolve around it - the Great Christian Master syndrome.

Now that we have established that pride is the root of all contention and offense, let's take a look at a few different reasons why offenses manifest in a Christian environment.

People function from a false perception of the ministry, and how the anointed of God should relate to them. Generally, Christian people believe that their Pastors are required to meet All their physical and spiritual needs - the Great Christian Master syndrome. This degree of spiritual maturity is normal for new converts, but at some point the babe must grow up and accept responsibility to serve the needs of the congregation. This paradox is the primary reason for church offense. Over the years of my ministry I have heard numerous excuses rooted in this type of religious pride: let's ponder three.

"Pastor didn't shake my hand, therefore he doesn't like me."

"When I was sick nobody from this church visited me."

"What do you mean the Pastor doesn't have time to counsel with me?"

I could list several more excuses, but they all say basically the same thing; and all have the same basic root: pride. We should not require the Pastor to shake every hand: this is not possible with a large group of people. The Pastor or the Elders will gladly visit when sickness occurs, but we must know: a telephone call can work wonders. Each offense rooted in this false perception is controlled by the pride of selfishness.

I do not understand why, but Christians have a tendency to being very emotional; they wear their emotions on their shirt sleeves. The simplest negative encounter, and they are offended, desiring to leave the church. The scripture commands us to be people who walk by faith in the Lord and His Word not by the emotionalism of our feelings. Its not difficult to recognize an offended heart, because the heart will speak forth its offense in the form of gossip. Consider carefully the wisdom of Solomon.

Proverbs 17:14 "The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with." (KJV)

(Amplified Bible) "The beginning of strife is as when water first trickles [from a crack in a dam]; therefore stop contention before it becomes worse and quarreling breaks out."

Be careful when you vocalize your offense you may cause a problem you do not wish to deal with. Prideful people are drawn to offense like a moth is drawn to a flame; they circle around the contention until they are consumed by the contention, and they become a part of the quarrel. I have witnessed many episodes of simple misunderstandings which were escalated into major problems in the church by the foolishness of religious meddling. Should you not want your problem to become the problem of the church, then keep your mouth shut. This principle is the first one you must learn in order to properly deal with offenses.

Dealing With Offenses

Remember, offenses due occur when human beings form a social structure, therefore we must understand how to deal with these offenses before they get out of control. The Apostle Paul understood the importance of maintaining a clear conscience with God and man.

Acts 24:16 "Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself mortifying my body [deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites and worldly desires], endeavoring in all respects to have a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscience, void of offense toward God and toward men." (Amplified Bible)

Please notice that Paul assumed the responsibility for his actions and how he acted toward offense. Paul maintained a strong discipline which deadened the passions of human pride. The first principle you must learn in dealing with offense is, you are responsible for your own actions, even when you are offended. There is no excuse which can justify carnal divisive behavior. Offense occurs when our pride is hurt, but we must deaden these inflamed human emotions, and control our actions through the strength of prayer and God's Word.

When you assume responsibility for your actions you will find it difficult to blame other people for your hurt feelings, because you can control the emotions generated by offense. Nobody can live your spiritual life but you, please do not yield to the sin of human pride, but crucify these emotions, and deal with your offenses before they become divisive.

Ponder these two questions when your feelings are hurt by social interaction. Is my hurt as big of a deal that Iím making out of it? Am I making mountains out of mole hills? Emotions can be crucified by reason, think when your offended, think of the consequences of your actions.

Paul, in this scripture, also implies that our relationship with God is greatly influenced by our interpersonal relationships with humanity. When we allow offense to divide the love of brethren, and bring hurt to the body of Christ, then we will also notice that our communication with the Lord has been greatly hindered. Jesus explicitly taught that all men should know that we are His disciples by the love we have for one another (Jh 13:34-35). In order for love to control offense, then forgiveness must be a stronger quality in your live than pride. The power of love is forgiveness, and Jesus also said that our ability to be forgiven by the Father is controlled by our ability to forgive others; therefore the offenses that we cherish so much will hinder our relationship with the Lord.

The second principle is designed to control gossip and unnecessary hurt. Many people have been hurt needlessly by loose tongues and ignorance. keep the knowledge of offense in the arena of the offended.

I do not know why, but people who are offended must share their offense with who will listen. By engaging in this action they have expanded the arena of people who are involved with this offense. Often this gossip will grab your offense, and now the entire church has knowledge of your offense, and the suffering you are experiencing is now become the topic of entertaining conversation to many. How true Proverbs 17:14 is; the moment you open the dam of gossip with your offense, everybody will want to meddle with your problem, and now your problem has become an offense to the entire church. Once you have cracked the dam of gossip it is hard to repair it before the reservoir of loose lips spread your problem to every and any ear that will listen. At this point you really do have a problem, and it is out of control.

Another point we should consider with this principle is how to properly minister repentance and apology when dealing with your offense. Jesus taught us in Matthew 5:23-24 that your spiritual maturity is intertwined with your interpersonal relationships. When you are offended by someone, or you know that someone is offended with you, you must go to that person and seek reconciliation. Please remember, it is your responsibility to minister reconciliation, pride - which is the root of the offense - is the reason why you refuse to go in the first place.

Matt 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; (24) Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

When you finally make the decision to release your offense, please remember to keep your apology in the arena of the offense. Let me explain! Should you dislike a brother, only because their is a personality conflict, then your offense is not his problem. Your dislike for him must be worked out between you and God. To go to this brother to share your dislike is only to inflict hurt on him for no reason. Sure you have freed yourself from the guilt of your offense, but you have place a heavy burden of confuse on your brother. Your personality conflict with him is not his problem, its your problem, and you must work out this offense with God. Let me share a real experience to help clarify this principle. One Sunday, during evening service a brother came to the microphone and publicly confessed his personality conflict with me. He stated that I never did anything to offend him, but he disliked my confident attitude. This incident caused me considerable embarrassment and hurt, when that brother left the microphone he felt free from his guilt, but I inherited his problem. Not only did I have to deal with the shock of his confession, but I had to deal with the confusion in the minds of the congregation.

The correct spiritual attitude when offended or confronted with offense is to YIELD or SURRENDER your right to be offended; this is the third principle necessary to properly deal with offense. We read in Eccl 10:4 that yielding pacifies great offenses. The normal human quality is to demand vindication for offense. Human pride has this need to be proven right at all costs. The servant attitude requires its adherents to yield their offense, and surrender their pain to the Lord. The spiritual root of yielding your offense is found in forgiveness. When you choose to surrender your pride to the love of forgiveness the warming rays of the Lord heals the wound, and the spirit of reconciliation is released. The Lord cannot move in a situation where both parties refuse to surrender their right of offense, but when one person chooses to yield his or her pride the walls built by anger and hurt crumble. Humility is the spiritual mother of yielding your rights; without this quality you cannot draw near to the Lord.

1Peter 5:5-6 "Likewise you that are younger and of lesser rank be subject to the elders - the ministers and spiritual guides of the church, giving them due respect and yielding to their counsel. Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with HUMILITY - as the garb of a servant, so that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from pride and arrogance - toward one another. For God sets Himself against the proud - the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful, and opposes, frustrates and defeats them - but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble. Therefore HUMBLE yourselves (demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation) under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you. (Amplified Bible)

Psalm 138:6 "For though the Lord is high, yet has He respect to the lowly [bringing them into fellowship with Him]; but the PROUD and haughty He knows and recognizes [only] at a distance."

Prov 6:16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: (17) A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (18) An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, (19) A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (KJV)

Considering these scriptures we should soberly search our hearts for the root of pride. Its a scary thought to think that we might be at war with the Lord, and His goal is to defeat our human pride. We should wept and lament at the possibility of knowing the Lord only at a distance. Since pride is the root of all offense we can count on the fact that the Lord will frustrate any human effort to nurture and mature the sin of offense. The Lord is a God of restoration and reconciliation, and He opposes the seeds of offense and discord.

According to these verses the proper spiritual attitude which gives grace, favor and blessing is humility. In simple terms humility is the quality of down playing your own self importance, and striving for the edification and exhortation of your brothers and sisters. A humble saint will choose to yield his or her pain, suffering, and confusion for the edification of the Body of Christ. It is easy for Christians to confess their humble attitudes, but the true roots of human pride are discovered when offense occurs. Brother turning against brother, because actions or words injured their united pride. Now comes the test of true humility, a truly humble brother will yield his right to be offended, and will allow the Lord to heal his pain. Consider with me another scripture.

Romans 6:16 "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"

This verse projects an interesting light on this subject. When we are confronted with offense we have the freedom of choice to choose our course of action; we can yield our members (especially our tongues) to the sin of pride, and wallow in the mire of self pity; or we can surrender our members to humility, and enjoy the blessings of righteousness. This choice is an individual decision each person must make.

Preventing Offenses

Dealing with offense is the duty of every Christian, but how do we prevent the occurrence of offense in our lives: this is the next step of spiritual maturity. The Bible vividly portrays the key to living a life free from offense.

Psalm 119:165 "Great peace have they which love Thy Law: and nothing shall offend them." (KJV)

The promise of the Lord is crystalline, those Christians who love the Holy Scriptures, and allow their truths to direct their lives will enjoy a mind free from offense. Remember the root of offense is pride, therefore we can conclude that obedience to the Word of God will nullify the control of human pride. In simple terms, we cannot serve two masters; you cannot serve the Holy Scriptures and your arrogance at the same time. The more we yield our lives to the truth the more we learn the principles of humility, which in turn crucifies the working of pride.

The Word of God is a mirror of our soul, our true spiritual condition is manifested by the amount of time we devote to the meditation, memorization, and study of Godís Holy Writ. I challenge you to examine the reasons you have for not devoting your life to the knowledge of Scripture: the lack of time is not an acceptable excuse. It is interesting to note that we have plenty of time for the things we love; in fact the treasure of our heart is determined by where we invest our time. When we make the Word the treasure of our heart we will find all the time we need.

When we love the Word of God we will allow its truth to control our actions. At times we will be confronted with occasions of offense, but our reactions will be influenced by the humble love of the Lord. To the degree we allow the Word of God to direct our path is to the degree we will prevent the eruption of self centered pride. We can walk a life free of offense, but we must invest ourselves in the diligence of holy Bible study.

Why did I present a lesson on "Dealing With Offense" while considering the influence of the servant heart? The answer is simple, the greatest challenge our servant attitude will encounter is the pain of personal offense. In our marriages, families, on the job, or even in our churches, offenses will come; but will we allow our servant heart to disarm the pain, or will we fan the fires of strife and contention? Consider Jesus as our example; through the servant heart He was able to forgive betrayal, mis-understanding, false witness, even the agony of Calvary. Will we allow the servant heart to yield our right of offense in a fashion similar to Jesus?

Love is the Key

1 Cor 13:1-8 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (2) If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (3) If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. (4) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (5) It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (8) Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. (NIV)

Notice that Paulís discourse on love closely resembles the doctrine being taught concerning the servant heart. Divine love is the power behind the heart of a true spiritual servant. Should our service be fostered out of selfish personal motives, then they have no value in the sight of God. The true spiritual servant attitude is not a vogue doctrine popular in church circles today. Service being expressed through divine love is the only key to lasting spiritual reward. To the degree we become a channel of divine love is to the degree we can express the divine heart of a servant.

I Jn 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. (8) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (KJV)

I Jn 4:16-21 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (17) Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (18) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (19) We love him, because he first loved us. (20) If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (21) And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (KJV)

Divine love is not nature for mortal man, because it must be expressed by God through human vessels. The very essence of God is love, it's His person, and character. The only key we have to divine servanthood is to open our hearts to the love of God. We can only find Godís love in one place, and it's on our knees in prayer. We can only channel Godís love to the degree we engage in relationship with Him. The love described by Paul can only be found in the prayer closet of quiet interludes. Simply stated, God is loving through us not only to us. Love is the key to the true heart of a servant, but only God can turn the key to unlock our servant potential.

 

 

Godly Attitudes

Lesson Five

The Marriage Covenant

Marriage, what a sacred institution. We hear so often about marriages made in heaven, but the reality is this heavenly marriage must be lived on earth. Consider with me the following quote by the poet Fuller "First get an absolute conquest over thyself, and then thou wilt easily govern thy wife.". How true these words are! In this chapter we will explore three basic spiritual principles which are necessary for the marriage to mature in a love relationship. I must say that this will be difficult, because I must share openly my failures in my own marriage, and the principles which the Holy Spirit taught me in these difficulties.

The secret to a Godly Christian marriage is not abstract, but it can be difficult, because a relationship of this nature demands change from both partners. Change is not easy when we become comfortable with our personal actions, but change must occur if the man and woman are to become one flesh. The Biblical concept of being one flesh is much more than just physical union; it demands a merging together of soul and spirit. A merger of this magnitude demands serious personality change from both parties. This one fact should make obvious our personal need for the servant attitude to be the driving force in the marriage.

The Need For Change

Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (KJV)

James 1:17 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 (KJV)

Mal 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

In these verses we see that Jesus is the same always. He is the Creator, therefore He is not subject to change.

Eccl 3:1-8 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: (2) A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; (3) A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; (4) A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; (5) A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; (6) A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; (7) A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; (8) A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. (KJV)

Solomon recorded in these verses the reality that all of God's creation is subject to change: only God will not change. This is an important point we must understand; all things must grow, mature, and change.

2 Cor 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord

The Apostle Paul also understood the need for change. We must change, but in order to change we must look in to the face of Jesus.

The Servant Attitude

Eph 5:22-33 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (24) Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (28) So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. (29) For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (30) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (31) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (32) This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (33) Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. (KJV)

We read that wives must submit to their own husbands, but we fail to realize that the husbands are to love their wives with the same love that Christ has for His Church.

Submission is misunderstood; Christian husbands demand that their wives be submitted to them with blind obedience. The roots of these demands are ignorance and pride. Should the husband love His wife in the same fashion as Christ loved the Church, they would come to their wives seeking to serve not be served. In family relationships we must learn to discipline our selfish attitudes in humility and servanthood.

Personal Testimony

It was easy to quote Ephesians 5:25; I had memorized it and understood it's religious significance. It is one thing to understand the theology of a scripture, but to discern and apply the spiritual truth of the Bible is another thing completely. I was the typical Christian husband who worked to support the financial needs of my family. When I returned home to hearth and wife I would sit as lord of my castle demanding that my dinner be ready upon my lordly entrance. After finishing my meal I would set in my favorite chair and read the news paper, as any typical house lord would do. I would set and watch my servant wife wash the dishes, clean the house, and care for the children while I pondered the eternal significance of husbands loving their wives like Christ loved the church. Truly I was proud of my spiritual success in applying this verse of scripture to my life.

After my first few years of marriage something strange began to happen. My wife seemed to be angry and frustrated, but I didn't know why, because I loved her in the same way that Jesus loved the church. Often I would hear her plead for help with the house work, but why should the lord of the castle work with the hired help. I can still hear my proud tongue say, "that is your job not mine". My wife's anger grew and our fights grew with intensity also. "Your just a lazy bum, you can help with the children", she would say; and I would retort, "why, its your job".

After three years of my lordly reign my marriage was not working. The fighting grew in intensity, and my wife was becoming distant. This should not be, but how could I correct the situation? One night while I was driving home from work, my heart was heavily burdened by my apparent failure of a marriage. With great emotion I cried out to the Lord, and poured out my heart to the God of my salvation. In the midst of this eventful drive home the Word of the Lord came to me, saying, "My son you must love your wife the way I loved the church, and gave myself for it. The secret to a successful marriage is found in servanthood. Each partner should seek to serve the other. Should each partner put the needs of the other before his or her own needs then their will be peace. Remember, my son, I have called you to be a servant."

Col 3:18-21 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (19) Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. (20) Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. (21) Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. (KJV)

Study these verses, it will be apparent that the servant attitude is required of all members of the basic family unit.

Eph 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (KJV)

Each member of God's great family must learn to submit to one another. This is not possible without the true spiritual humility. Religion is usually pride's response to the call of God to humility. This scripture requires that husbands must also submit to their wives in the fear of God.

Duty of the Wife

Prov 19:13-14 A foolish son is his father's ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping. (14) Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD (NIV)

Prov 21:9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. (NIV)

Prov 21:19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife (NIV)

Prov 27:15 A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day (NIV)

Up to this point I have presented the importance of the husband developing the heart of the servant, but the ladies are not immune from being a servant also. Many times a husband does come home from work tired and frustrated from dealing with ungodly people. Please remember the importance of a warm smile and an understanding heart. After 21 years of marriage my wife can discern my attitude when I enter the house, and has learned to minister to my need and raise my spirit. A kind and understanding word can accomplish much. It's important to remember the destructive power of the tongue.

I will never forget one couple that was destroyed with the power of the tongue. The marriage was the first for the man, but the third for the woman. He had his problems, but the could be worked out with love and patience. I counseled with this couple constantly only to have the process frustrated by the constant nagging of the wife. She complained and belittled her husband over the smallest details. After two years of verbal abuse the marriage collapsed with the husband moving to Denver. I know that this woman has been married a fourth time, but it also ended in failure. Each marriage ended because she destroyed her husbands with the power of her tongue.

Prov 31:10-31 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (11) The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. (12) She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. (13) She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. (14) She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. (15) She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. (16) She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. (17) She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. (18) She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. (19) She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. (20) She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. (21) She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. (22) She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. (23) Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. (24) She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. (25) Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. (26) She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. (27) She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. (28) Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. (29) Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. (30) Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. (31) Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Husbandís Responsibility

Eph 5:22-23 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (KJV)

Col 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them (KJV)

1 Pet 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered (KJV)

Let me conclude this section by clarifying the reason I devoted this section to the responsibility of the husband to develop the servant heart. The Bible clearly teaches that the husband is the spiritual covering, therefore we have the responsibility to create a proper spiritual atmosphere for our homes. Should you project a servant attitude first, you will find that eventually the rest of the family will follow your lead. Also, our society encourages the lordly attitude in men, but this attitude is not scriptural. Jesus requires a servant heart, but this attitude is not natural to men. We must learn this attitude in the same way that we must learn to love our wives like Christ loved the church, who gave Himself for it.

Jesus clearly taught that the servant heart was the only way a person could experience the joys of the Kingdom. The greatest in the kingdom of God must become the servant of the rest. Let me try to put this principle into the perspective of the Christian marriage. Pride is the normal condition of the human heart; even though a person might be a Christian, he or she is not immune from the selfishness of human pride. I cannot count the number of times I have heard Christian husbands boast how their wives are in subjection to his authority. I cry inside when I hear this kind of statement, because I remember the pain I caused by my spiritual ignorance. To subjugate a wife to the dominance of a husband is cruel and destructive to the spiritual welfare of any woman. The servant heart seeks to serve; in the marriage relationship the servant is willing to down play his or her self importance and edify the whole unit. Should you desire to establish a greater atmosphere of peace in your home, then allow the servant attitude to grow in your midst.

Common Marriage Attitudes

The marriage relationship must be built on the need for constant and continual change. Our refusal to change stagnates the power of God.

Matt 7:1-5 Judge not, that ye be not judged. (2) For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (3) And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (4) Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? (5) Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (KJV)

John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (KJV)

Most of our problems center around self-righteous judgment. We are bring into our marriages subtle attitude that we are OK, but our mate needs to change. We don't see the foolishness of our hidden pride until we suffer through years of needless quarrels. Lets list a few attitudes that might surface in our marriage relationships.

I'M OK THE WAY I AM: This attitude refuses to see the need for change in his or her personal life.

WHITE KNIGHT: This attitude forms an illusion as to what the perfect husband should be. The humanity of the husband will tarnish the white knight judgment.

MOTHER: The husband that compares his wife with his mother.

Jesus taught that before we cast the humanity out of our spouses lets first strive to repent of our own faults. Then we shall see clearly to help our spouses. It is sin to judge our spouses without the proper discernment of the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor 4:1-5 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. (2) Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. (3) But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. (4) For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. (5) Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. (KJV)

Remember, we all are different in the eyes of God, and we all bear spiritual fruit at different times in our lives.

PEDESTAL: Putting men and women of God on spiritual pedestals, refusing for them to have a human nature.

In the family of God, husbands and ministers are not allowed to be human. They must not hurt, cry, laugh, or have needs; they must project a spiritually together image. This is another form of judging according to the appearance.

1 Tim 5:17-20 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. (18) For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. (19) Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. (20) Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. (KJV)

Ministers are worthy of double honor, but do we honor them. Our attitude reflect the fact that we expect our ministers to be the image of Christ in our lives. This should not be. We might follow their example, but we must allow them room to be human also. Also we should not bring a change against an elder without the evidence of two or three witnesses. Simply stated, we are not to listen to gossip about our ministers without having solid proof.

I'm OK Your OK Attitude

The next principle we will examine is also rooted in self-righteous religious pride. It is human nature to desire to mold or train your partner to fit your perspective of proper behavior. In order for you to understand this principle let me share once again my own personal failure in this area.

Whose Image - Personal Testimony?

Rom 8:29-30 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (KJV)

When my wife and I were married both of us loved the Lord, and dedicated our lives to His service. My greatest zeal was to devote large amounts of time to research the Bible. I loved God's Holy Word, and I believed it was every Christian's duty to understand all the various applications of the Bible. A problem began to surface shortly after we were married; my wife didn't have the same zeal for prayer and the Word of God that I had. This could not be; all true believers must love the word in the same way I loved the word. As a good Christian husband I became worried about my wife's spiritual condition; something must be wrong with her, because she didn't search the scriptures daily as I was doing. My season of silence slowly came to an end, with hidden roots of pride, I strongly warned my wife about her obvious religious failure. I strongly believed that when the Lord returned she would be left behind, and I did not spare any words in informing her of my religious opinion. Slowly I beat down my wife's spiritual self image to the point that she questioned her salvation.

I still remember the day the Lord intervened on my wife's behalf. I was coming home from an early morning men's prayer meeting determined to scold my wife again about her lack of Bible study. As I entered the house the voice of the Lord stopped me dead in my tracks, and I clearly heard Him say, "My son, whose image are you trying to conform your wife to, yours or mine?" Those words stabbed me like a knife in my heart, because I also saw, with the eye of the Spirit, what I had done to my wife. Tears flowed down my cheek as I pondered the pain I inflicted and the damage I had done. The Lord, in His own loving way, set for me a clear course of action. I was to touch my wife's emotions gently, and allow her to discover her own identity in Jesus. I was burdened with a strong desire to confess my sin to her, and this I did. Over the next several months the Lord did repair the damage I inflicted.

The principle I learned from this episode was the realization that the Lord receives everyone as they are, and it is His job to change the attitudes of people. In ignorance and foolish religious pride I presented my image as the acceptable role model. Only people who acted the way I acted, prayed the way I prayed, or studied the way I studied were healthy growing Christians. Please do not judge me to hard. Examine your-self, maybe deep down in your heart your doing the same thing. In truth, you are more like me than you dare to admit. It is so easy to judge people by your standard, especially your wife, but this is dangerous, because Jesus is the only standard that will stand the test of time.

Train Your Husband Attitude

From the moment my wife and I were married I was confronted with the "Train your Husband" attitude. My wife had an illusion of how the ideal husband should act, think, or feel. It just so happened that my personality didn't fit this pattern. I often overheard women speaking about the ways they trained their husbands to conform to their image of the ideal husband. I felt like a dog being trained to jump through a hoop. This training process caused problems, because I didn't train easily. The more pressure my wife put on me to conform to her image of Mr. Perfect, the more I was determined not to change. It became clear that a battle of wills was occurring, and neither side was winning. Finally in total frustration my wife released the pressure valve, and began to pray about her needs not nag about them. The strangest thing began to occur; my wife discovered that she was trying to mold me into her image, and not allow Jesus to work in my life. The more my wife prayed for me to meet her needs the more her needs changed to the needs of the Lord. The Lord did work in my heart, and I did change, but I also noticed that my wife was changing with me.

The interesting thing about the "I'm OK Your OK" paradox is the fact that both partners pressure each other through ignorance and self deception. Please remember that your mate is OK the way they are, don't try to change them. Husbands give your wives the gentle direction and consideration which will allow your wives the freedom to discover themselves in Jesus. Wives, please remember your husbands are not animals to be trained. True attitude changes must come from the heart, and only the Lord can transform the heart. Prayer is the key which will release you from the trap of this paradox; see your mate through the eyes of prayer, and faith will become your vision.

Attitude of Individualism

Gen 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh

Mark 10:6-9 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. (7) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; (8) And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. (9) What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (KJV)

flesh - sarx (sarx/4561); probably from the base of 4563; flesh (as stripped of the skin), i.e. (strictly) the meat of an animal (as food), or (by extension) the body (as opposed to the soul [or spirit], or as the symbol of what is external, or as the means of kindred), or (by implication) human nature (with its frailties [physically or morally] and passions), or (specifically) a human being (as such): KJV-- carnal (-ly, + -ly minded), flesh ([-ly]). (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)

sarx- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood); used of both man and animals

2) the body

a) the body of a man

b) used of natural or physical origin, generation or relationship; born of natural generation

c) the sensuous nature of man, "the animal nature"

1) without any suggestion of depravity

2) the animal nature with cravings which incite to sin

3) the physical nature of man as subject to suffering

3) a living creature (because possessed of a body of flesh), whether man or beast

4) the flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God

We read in Genesis 2:24-25 and Mark 10:6-8 that the will of the Father is for the husband and wife to become one flesh. Often we only look at these verses of Scripture with physical overtones, but the Greek applications of the word Sarx, which is the word used for flesh, clearly implies "..the human nature..". The will of God, the Father is that husband and wife gradually become one in nature, personality, and temperament. The greatest Marriage danger to the occurrence of this truth is the sin of individualism.

The sin of individualism is fostered by the unwillingness of each partner to yield to each other. As long as one or both mates strive to maintain his or her own attitudes, interests, and lifestyle at the expense of the other, then only destruction will manifest in this marriage. The need of the husband or wife to have their special night out with their private friends is a clear symptom of this sin. The need for husband or wife to take separate vacations, because each partner has his or her own interests and friends is also a symptom. Also, the husband believing that his work is the center of the universe, and the wife who feels that her work, in the home or in the work force, is the primary directive of the family. The decade of the eighty's infected this cancer with greater force and resilience. The economic picture of our society, in many cases, has forced both husband and wife into the work force. This is sad, but it's also the reality of today's financial picture. The Lord did not create the family unit to function in this way, but economics has forced it, therefore we must realize that this dilemma can have dangerous pitfalls. As long as each partner refuses to surrender to the other, but, strives to maintain their self importance, there will be growing conflict, and the peace of this family will be lost.

You should have noticed that this attitude is the opposite of the servant attitude. The sin of individualism will strive to dominate the family, while the servant attitude will strive to serve. No one individual is the center of the family, each member must endeavor to meet the needs of the corporate family. This clearly requires all members - husband, wife, and children - must striving TOGETHER to meet the needs of each other; the family doesn't revolve around the parents or the children. Ponder for a moment how the body of Christ must also function like a balanced Christian family.

Prov 24:3-4 Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: (4) And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (KJV)

Prov 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls (KJV)

Matt 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand (KJV)

Satan's tactic is to divide and conquer. Scripture clearly teaches that a house divided against itself cannot stand; therefore Satan wily tests the family structure for the sin of individualism. When he finds one or more partners in the family who are consumed with self centered motives, then he goes to work breaking down the inter-woven fabric of family love and unity. The goal of the Devil is to destroy the family, and individuals are easily divided, but a servant attitude establishes a sure solid wall of defense. When the Devil assaults a family built on the foundation of Jesus and servanthood there is no crack in the high wall of love, and he slithers away seeking for the sin of individualism in other relationships.

There never is enough time or room to say all that could be said about the balanced Christian family. All I have presented are principles discovered in the midst of marital conflict, pain, and self inflicted suffering. In this lesson I revealed to you my own human failure in hopes that I might be a mirror for you; only when you see yourself as you really are can you travel the narrow path of spiritual change. Please remember, your husband or your wife is OK the way they are; love them, pray for them, serve them. Only in servanthood, love, and prayer can a Christian marriage traverse the closing decade of this century in relative tranquillity and peace. These are the gifts of Jesus bestows on His servants.

 

 

 

Godly Attitudes

Lesson Six

The Family Covenant

In lesson five we pondered the relationship between husband and wife. We discovered that the only attitude that welds the individual attitudes of each partner in the marriage into an expression of divine blessing is the servant attitude. The servant attitude is the key to a peaceful marriage.

In this lesson we will examine the divine order God ordained for the family unit. We will also examine the spiritual responsibilities for the husband of the family, because he is recognized by God as the head of the family.

Ephesians 5:22-33 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. (24) Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (26)to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, (27) and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (28) In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (29) After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-- (30) for we are members of his body. (31) "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." (32) This is a profound mystery-- but I am talking about Christ and the church. (33) However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (NIV)

Col 3:18-19 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. (NIV)

1 Cor 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (KJV)

God's Divine Order: Husband

What is divine order? What is the authority structure of the family unit? Does the Bible teach the principles of divine order? Let's seek to answer these questions in Ephesians 5:22-33.

Spiritual Head - Authority structure

These verses clearly define a spiritual chain of command: let's examine them to determine the divine order established by God.

Each member of the divine family unit; from Jesus to the children of the marriage must exercise the servant attitude in order to be in divine order. The Bible teaches that Jesus is a servant to the will of His Father. The husband must be a servant to the will of Christ, while the wife is servant to the will of the husband, and the children are submitted to the combined will of the marriage. This chain of command constitutes divine order. All would be good if the human elements of Godís divine order would submit to Godís will, but this is not the case.

The Apostle Paul compared the marriage relationship to the mystery of Christ and His church. We must understand the relationship established by Christ to His church in order for us to understand the role the husband must assume in his marriage.

Mystery - Christ and His Church:

Matt 20:25-28 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. (26) But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; (27) And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: (28) Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (KJV)

Jesus didn't come to be a Dictator of His new church, He came to be a Servant to them. He came to minister to His church and to give His life a ransom for many. Jesus endured the suffering of Calvary because of His love for the lost of this world.

Eph 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church (KJV)

Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence (KJV)

Jesus came to serve not to be served by His church even though He is it's spiritual head and authority. He gave his life to purchase His church for the chains of sin. Jesus assumes responsibility for His church since He is their spiritual covering and authority. We are taught that Jesus washes His church with the water of His holy word. In type and shadow, the church symbolizes the wife in the marriage bond, while Jesus symbolizes the husband. In order to understand the duties of the husband we must understand the symbols used.

Duties of the Husband

The duty of the Husband is to love his wife with the same kind of love that Jesus has for His church. The husband is the authority but he must exercise that authority through the servant attitude. Jesus love His church to such a degree that He endured the terror of Calvary for them. Can we, as husbands say the same thing about our wives. Our adamic nature demands service not the responsibility of service. Our we willing to enter our marriages with same servant attitude that Jesus manifested. Our we willing to come into our marriages with a call to service not a demand for service.

God's Divine Order - Wife

The Bible also describes the duties of the wife in regards to divine order. In some ways her duties can be more demanding than the husband.

Gen 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee (KJV)

The first point we should consider is the fact that the wife must recognize divine order and to submit to the spiritual authority of her husband. This is not easy when the husband is a crude jerk, but his spiritual place doesn't change because of his jerkdom. This brings us back to the fall of Eve, and her curse. We read that her desire shall be for her husband, and he shall rule over her. How is this a curse? The expanded rendering of this verse clarifies the paradox. The verse should read "...and thy desire shall be to (rule) thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.". The curse of Eve would be the forfeiture of divine order. The family unit would be filled with strife and contention, and each member of the unit would fight for supremacy and dictatorial rights. The womenís liberation movement of today is nothing more than the curse of Eve exerting it's influence.

It's common in churches today to refer to wives of unbelieving husbands as "Spiritual Widows". The same voices that make this declaration also state that these women don't have spiritual coverings because of her husbandís unbelief. The concept of spiritual widows is not valid nor is it scriptural. These women have spiritual coverings, but it's not what they want. The unbelief of a husband doesn't disqualify him from his spiritual responsibilities and authority, nor does it release the wife from her submission to divine order.

The heart of Christ is the heart of a servant, therefore the wife should seek to serve her husband in obedience to divine order. One thing I have learned over the years is this type of servitude cannot be forced, it must be the natural fruit of honest spiritual obedience. I have also learned that wives submit naturally when husbands serve not dictate. The Bible doesn't command the wife to love her husband, but it does command her to revere him with honor and respect.

Prov 12:4 A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones. (KJV)

A wife can build up or tear down the spiritual authority of her husband with the power of her tongue.

Prov 31:10-11 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. (KJV)

A wife in divine order will seek to do good to her husband. Trust is the great asset of a marriage in divine order.

Prov 31:25-26 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. (KJV

Prov 31:27-28 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. (28) Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. (KJV)

Prov 31:30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. (KJV)

A woman of divine order has learned the law of kindness with her tongue. Her husband will publicly honor and praise his wife when she walks in divine order, because she is a crown to her husband.

Fear of the Lord is the reason a virtuous woman will walk in divine order with her husband.

God's Divine Order - Unity

1 Cor 7:2-5 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (NIV)

Now we come to the concept of spiritual legal rights and authority. According to the Apostle Paul the husband belongs to his wife, while the wife belongs to her husband. Each mate must realize this fact and inter- submit to each other. A husband belongs to his wife, while the wife belongs to husband. This ownership includes all facets of our human nature - body, soul, spirit. A marriage relationship must allow unity on all facets of human expression.

1 Pet 3:1-12 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, (2) when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (3) Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. (4) Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. (5) For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, (6) like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. (7) Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (8) Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. (9) Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (10) For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. (11) He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. (12) For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." (NIV)

These verses of scripture list three disciplines that must be adhered too by all members of the family unit.

Husbands, the responsibility for the harmony of the family is on your shoulders. Humility should come from you first, this is especially true during times of arguments. Wives do not seek to destroy your husband's desire to seek the Lord and establish proper biblical order; use your tongues to build up not tear down.

 

 

Godly Attitudes

Lesson Seven

The Godly Employee

Is the servant attitude a religious activity reserved only for church and family activities? Iím I required by the Bible to manifest a servant attitude in my place of employment where I deal only with non-Christian people? These questions are relevant, and this lesson will attempt to answer them.

Servant Attitude: Religion or Relationship

Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (KJV)

The time has come to determine the motive we have for our service.

How we answer these questions will help to determine the true motive of our service. We should manifest the same servant attitude on our jobs as we manifest in our churches. The only way this can occur is to allow your service to be the fruit of intimate relationship with Jesus. True service can only be developed through constant, diligent prayer. Religious conviction will fail us when the fiery trials of unrighteousness burn hot and bright on our jobs. Only when we personally believe that all we do is dedicated to Jesus will the servant attitude prevail in the world.

Employees of Christ

Eph 6:5-9 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; (6) Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; (7) With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: (8) Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. (9) And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him. (KJV)

The Bible clearly teaches that we are to obey our employers in the same way we obey Jesus Christ. We must perceive ourselves as servants of Christ on our job sites, doing Godís will from the heart. Our time has been purchased by our employers, therefore we own them honest hard work with loyalty. The Bible wants us to perceive our supervisors and employers as representatives of Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ was our supervisor or employer would we act the same way?

Why does the Bible require us to submit to our masters ó supervisors and employers ó as agents of Jesus Christ?

Authority Principle

Jesus was a man who understood the principle of authority, and how to exercise true spiritual authority (Mt 7:28-29). A hint to the authority principle is given to us in the narrative of the Roman Centurion. How can he be considered the man with the greatest faith in Israel?

Matt 8:8-10 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. (9) For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. (10) When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. (KJV)

The faith of the Roman Centurion was the result of his military disciple. He functioned in an authority structure; he was submitted to those in authority over him, but he also exercised authority over other soldiers. He realized that Jesus was also a man who exercised spiritual authority, therefore he knew that sickness must submit to His command.

Is there a connection between the servant attitude and the authority principle?

Matt 20:25-27 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. (26) But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; (27) And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: (KJV)

Jesus taught that spiritual authority is channeled through the servant attitude. Should we desire spiritual authority we must recognize the authority principle and submit to it.

Rom 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (2) Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (KJV)

God is the author of authority and government. When men or women exercise authority ó governmental, judicial, legal, or religious ó they are utilizing the authority principle of government established by God.

Why do we submit to the authority of our supervisors or employers as we would to Christ? The authority principle doesnít change even when the person does? Submission to legal authority is essential to the develop-ment of the servant attitude.

Pure Hearts

Col 3:22-24 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: (23) And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; (24) Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. (KJV)

Once we predicate our relationships with our supervisors and employers on the authority principle and the servant attitude, we change our concept on how we should perform our employment duties. The Bible teaches that our submission to authority must be expressed from a pure heart, single in vision and direction. We submit to our employers out of fear of God not fear of them.

A single heart dedicated to the Lord we perceive areas of employment as mission fields. What we do on our jobs is done to the Lord not to man, but we must remember our service must be to our employers as to the Lord. We were hired by our employers to do a job. When we determine our duty to preach to our clients or coworkers to be more important than doing our job, we have failed to submit to the authority principle. Our first mission duty is to be proper stewards of our employerís time and assets.

The Bible teaches that we shall receive the reward of our inheritance for our service, and that reward is a true servant heart, the heart of the divine nature. God also reaps the reward of our service on our jobs. We become living examples of Jesus Christ, and the gospel is proclaimed by our example not word.

The menpleasing heart serves for political gain. It's service is based on peer pressure and social acceptance. The menpleasing heart seeks career advancement through political avenues and flattering words. The menpleasing heart will speak politically correct words without concern for the truth.

Pure Tongues

1 Tim 6:1-2 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. (2) And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. (KJV)

Titus 2:9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again

Timothy admonished us to count our masters - employers, supervisors - worthy of all honour. Our speech should be edifying and positive, but we also must respect the authority our masters represent. Should we have a complaint against our supervisors or employers, then utilize the grievance procedures established by your employers or the government, but don't allow your complaint to plant in us the cancer of rebellion.

Weíre also admonished not to argue (answering again) with our super-visors and employers, but to be obedient to their directions. Answering again also include a demanding attitude that wants know why they must do certain functions.

What should be our motive when we clear see ungodly and unrighteous attitudes in our place of employment. Always remember that we work for Jesus, and we must obey His word before all other instructions. Should our employers require of us illegal actions, then we must obey the mandates of scripture first.

Pure Motives

1 Pet 2:18-20 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. (19) For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. (20) For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. (KJV)

Submission to authority is easy when our employers or supervisors are fair and impartial, but this is not always the case. Your employer or supervisor may be harsh and unforgiving, then your true servant attitude is put to great test. True spiritual attitudes are not discovered in seasons of peace, then are forged in the furnace of trial, and affliction.

How should we act when people around us are promoted for less than honorable reasons? In the world we will not have justice. Why do we expect it considering that Satan is the prince of this world. The world honors those who honor it, therefore, often promotions are awarded for political reasons. Our command to serve is not conditioned on fair treat-ment. The servant attitude must be our attitude no mater the working environment or conditions.

Employers of Christ

Col 4:1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven (KJV)

The Bible requires that masters - employers or supervisors - treat their servants (employees) with justice and equality. This mandate doesn't restrict an employer from using judgment in employee evaluation.

Matt 7:1-5 Judge not, that ye be not judged. (2) For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (3) And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (4) Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? (5) Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother eye. (KJV)

The Bible warns us about the foolishness of vain judgment. Divine justice demands that we will be judged by the same standard we use to judge others. Employers must judge their employees on a constant basis, but the standard established as the rule of judgment shall also be applied to the employer. Do we judge and rebuke our employees for the same faults we display. Make sure the discipline required of your employees is also your discipline. If your expect ethical, honest behavior, then act in an ethical, honest fashion.

Rom 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand (KJV)

Be careful when we judge other employees and employers, they stand or fall by what their employers think. God is able to make that person stand as a servant in his or her place of employment.

 

 

Godly Attitudes

Lesson Eight

Personal Ministry

This lesson we will teach the principles of the servant attitude necessary to build a strong church relationship. Body life is the secret to a healthy church experience, but we canít have body life without each member walking in the revelation of the servant attitude.

Body Revelation

1 Cor 12:13-27 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (14) For the body is not one member, but many. (15) If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? (16) And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? (17) If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? (18) But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. (19) And if they were all one member, where were the body? (20) But now are they many members, yet but one body. (21) And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. (22) Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (23) And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. (24) For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: (25) That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. (26) And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. (27) Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (KJV)

For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body. This truth is a tremendous revelation, but why do we see such division in the church? There can be only one answer. There is a great difference between memorizing the doctrine of the body and flowing in the revelation of the body. The purpose of God is to have a church joined to each other through faith with each member edifying the whole body. This cannot happen as long as we build our awareness of the body on denomination doctrine. The divine revelation of the body is not bound by denomination ignorance. It transcends all doctrinal boundaries, and builds upon the revelation of the person of Jesus Christ through servanthood.

We cannot enter this type of revelation without allowing the servant attitude to unlock the door. The Holy Spirit is working in segmented churches to bring about a true servant attitude. In order for the body to function properly each member must have the same care one for another. This degree of care can only occur when each member recognizes his or her personal responsibility to serve the body. The reason the body doesn't display this degree of care is simple, but complex. Our congre-gations realize that pastoral leadership must serve, but they donít realize their personal need to serve each other. Simply stated, most congre-gations have relegated the work of the ministry to the Pastoral staff. This is wrong and void of the revelation of the body.

Body Life

Rom 12:3-16 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (4) For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: (5) So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (6) Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; (7) Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; (8) Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. (9) Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. (10) Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; (11) Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; (12) Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; (13) Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. (14) Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. (15) Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (16) Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. (KJV)

Some important clues to the internal workings of body life are found in these verses of scripture: let's study them.

preferring - proegeomai (pro-ay-geh'-om-ahee/4285); from 4253 and 2233; to lead the way for others, i.e. show deference: KJV-- prefer.

proegeomai- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

to go before and show the way, to go before and lead, to go before as a leader

Notice the Greek word used for "Preferring" in this verse. It doesn't have the application one person backing away from another to offer them opportunity for success. The word, when correctly translated, should read "..in honor leading the way for others..".

We are also admonished to not be slothful in our spiritual mission. We become slothful when we require other people to do the spiritual work we should be doing. Our service to the body must be seen as service to the Lord.

Body Ministry

Eph 4:11-16 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (15) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (16) From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (KJV)

Body life will produce body ministry when allowed to nurture and mature. Body ministry requires all saints to do the work of the ministry in order that the body of Christ might be edified. We edify the body in order for their to be a unity of faith and knowledge, so that we might mature into the full stature of Christ.

The work of the ministry is not the sole responsibility of the Pastors and Elders. The Bible clearly teaches that all saints have equal responsibility for the work of the ministry. Each member of any local congregation increase the local supply for the body of Christ. Every joint must work to meet the needs of every other joint. Body life ministry can only occur when we allow the servant attitude to become the predominate church attitude. Without servanthood body ministry cannot occur, and the work of the ministry will be done by a faithful few who burn out.

Servants: One of Another

A healthy body is determined by the presence of the corporate servant attitude. The body of Christ is much more than the individual person who believes in Jesus Christ. It's a body of believes intersubmitted to one another, seeking to edify each other through the servant attitude. One several occasions the Bible admonishes us to minister to one another. Let me list the various ways we are to care for one another.

In this lesson I taught the concept that the servant attitude is the key to healthy body life. How can we serve one another without a true servant attitude. We are admonished by Paul in his first epistle to Timothy to not allow our service to be tainted by partiality.

1 Tim 5:21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. (KJV)

When we serve only those who serve us, then we frustrate the maturity of a true servant attitude. Our service must be given to the body without reservation and favoritism.

 

 

Godly Attitudes

Lesson Nine

Needs of the Kingdom

The early Apostles, men of faith, men of renown, men who manifested the apex of Christian faith, were real people like us. Many Christian denominations practice as a part of their liturgy the reverence of these fathers of the faith, but this veneration has entreated the average Christian to perceive them as men of super human abilities and faith. But the Bible and church history does not validate these sentiments. People are people, no matter their place or calling of the Lord, all have needs, and all must look to the Lord as their source of provision. This lesson is designed to examine the servant attitude in reference to the needs of the Kingdom of God. How are we to act when our perception of our needs is in conflict with the needs of the Kingdom?

Paul, a Man of Need

2 Tim 4:13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments (KJV)

Paul was a simple man with simple personal needs. He was not a self indulgent man who was concerned with the materialism of his society, instead he devoted himself to his ministry and provided for his own substance with his tent making skills. This verse provides a shadowed glimpse in to the heart of Paul. His request for Timothy to bring his books and parchments revealed Paul's intense love for Bible study. Also this verse portrays Paul's need for simple necessities. A cloak does seem like much of a need, but to a man imprisoned in the Mamertine prison with winter approaching, a cloak could determine life or death.

It is believed by Bible scholars that 2nd Timothy was the last epistle written by Paul. Paul knew that the time for his martyrdom was at hand, he had fought the good fight, he had finished the course, and he had kept the faith (2Tim 4:6-8). Paul, a mighty father of the faith, he who had established innumerable number of churches was being tried for treason, and he was imprisoned in the infamous Mamertine prison in Rome. Even though this epistle is a sure word of encouragement, there is a subtle under current of loneliness and forlorn in Paul's words.

2 Tim 1:16-18 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: (17) But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. (18) The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well. (KJV)

2 Tim 4:10-11 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. (11) Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

These verses reveal a vivid depiction of a Paul who needed personal support and encouragement from his friends. Paul needed people and friendship, but during his greatest trial all his friends deserted him, with the exceptions of Luke and Onesiphorus. It is sad to consider that Paul, a great father of our faith died alone crying out for love and compassion from the body of Christ. Don't be to hard on the followers of Paul, because to have stood with Paul during his trial would have resulted in their executions.

Why have I presented this brief portrait of Paul? What concern does the recognition of Paul's personal needs have with understanding the needs of the Kingdom? Let me state one thing, Paul was not alone during his final ordeal of faith; according to Paul's own words the Lord stood with him, and strengthened him. Paul knew the eternal comfort of the Lord, because these encounters with the Lord had convinced him that he would be preserved unto Christ's heavenly kingdom (2Tim 4:17-18).

The first impression we have of this portrait of Paul would be that the Lord failed to meet the his needs and he suffered needlessly. Paul's suffering could create a theological paradox for the church today. Much has been taught about the Lord providing for our personal needs, but what attitude will we have when the needs of the Kingdom cause us to suffer?

Phil 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (KJV)

We read in Philippians 4:19 that God shall supply all our according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. I honestly believe this is true, the Lord will always be the source of supply for all saints. There is a striking difference between needs and desires. Typical Christian thinking has confused desire with need; in reality we don't need the things we desire. The Lord is obligated by His word to meet our needs not our desires, wants or lusts. The Lord Jesus is a loving Savior, often He has graciously given to me things I did not need but I desired. Please remember that He is not obligated to appease our desires, should we receive a gift from the Lord then rejoice in His merciful love. Christians often quote verse 19, but seldom do we hear them quote verse 12; lets read this verse.

Phil 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (KJV)

(Amplified Bible) "I know how to be abased and live humble in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances, the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and to spare or going without and being in want."

Paul understood the hidden principle of facing every situation with faith in the Lord and a heart of a servant. Paul knew how to be humble and in need, and to rejoice in prosperity. Paul also realized how to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and suffer need. Paul understood that temporal things are truly temporary; no human condition is forever. The true servant heart will rejoice when prosperity comes his or her way, but also rejoice when hardship occurs. Consider this thought: If God is to supply all our needs, then why did the Apostle Paul suffer need? Do we have a contradiction between the promises of the Lord and the situations we experience? Lets seek to answer these questions, and in doing so, lets identify the secret that the Apostle Paul learned in his suffering.

The Needs of the Kingdom

Matt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (KJV)

Matthew 6:33 admonishes us to seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness then we can expect the LORDís provision to bountifully flow in our lives. Does this scripture allude to the possibility that the kingdom of God has needs also? Could we assume that righteous servant attitudes are needs of the kingdom? If our answer to both of these questions is yes, then what befalls our lives when the needs of the kingdom conflict with our personal needs?

Let me superimpose this thought into our question; their is a striking difference between the LORDís perception of our personal needs and our perception of our personal needs. Lets be honest with ourselves we all enjoy a life of basic comfort. We have a clearly defined opinion as to what we need in order to maintain our current lifestyle. Again let me reiterate, what will happen in our lives when our apparent personal needs come into conflict with the needs of the kingdom?

The Life of Joseph

In the last twelve chapters of the book of Genesis we have recorded the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob. The portrait presented in these chapters clearly demonstrate the conflict which can occur when the needs of the kingdom conflict with our perception of need. Ponder for a moment these facts concerning Joseph.

Genesis 37:1-10 And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. (2) These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. (3) Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. (4) And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. (5) And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. (6) And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: (7) For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. (8) And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. (9) And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. (10) And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

Joseph was the son Jacob loved more than all his other children, because he was the son of his old age. Joseph was also given, by his father, a coat of many colors. According to historical evidence this gift would indicate that Joseph was recognized as the inheritor of the Abrahamic promise. This type of coat was usually worn as a royal garment, therefore Israel was conveying to Joseph a position of authority in the family which should have been the inheritance of the first born.

Joseph also flowed in the gift of prophetic dream and interpretation. In Jacob's house Joseph was the blessed of his father; he exercised the authority of his father, and the gifts of the Spirit were in operation also. From Joseph's perspective their was no reason for him to leave this house of blessing.

God in His wisdom realized that a horrible famine was coming to the Fertile Crescent. The need of the kingdom was for Joseph to be in Egypt in order for God to preserve Jacob's family. Contemplate this thought; if Joseph had his way he would have stayed in the home of his father, and eventually his family would have died of starvation. It was not enough for Joseph to be moved to Egypt, but the need of the kingdom was for Joseph to be imprisoned in this foreign land. On the surface it would appear that God ceased to meet Joseph's personal needs: little did he realize that his chains and bars were the provision of the Lord. While Joseph was in prison he had the opportunity to exercise his spiritual gift of prophetic dream interpretation for Pharaoh's butler and baker. Scripture alludes to the fact that Joseph's false imprisonment lasted for two years, but his unique prophetic gift eventually resulted in his promotion to the second in command in all of Egypt. (Genesis 40:1-23 41:1-57)

What fate would befall Joseph should he have been angry and bitter with God for his circumstance? Anger and self pity destroys the anointing of God, therefore these attitudes would have hardened Joseph's heart to the plight of the officials of Pharaoh, and he would not have exercised his spiritual gifts. Ponder for a moment how much God risked with Joseph that he would have the right attitude on that fateful night in prison. Should Joseph had failed to interpret those dreams he would have died in prison, his family would have died of starvation, and the world would not have a food supply in Egypt and millions would have died needlessly.

Mary & Joseph

Consider with me the circumstances associated with the birth of Jesus. Mary is approximately 8 1/2 months pregnant, and she lived in Nazareth with Joseph. The birth of Jesus was drawing near, and Micah, the Prophet prophesied that the birth place of the Messiah would be in Bethlehem approximately 75 miles south of Nazareth.

The scriptures allude to the supposition that the general public was ambiguous in their knowledge of where the Messiah would be born. It was needful even for Herod, the supposed king of the Jews, to question the chief priests and the scribes to determine where the Christ was to be born. If this hypothesis is correct we can assume that Mary and Joseph did not totally realize that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem.

Even though human flesh didn't realize the prophetic importance of the Messiah's birth, God realized that His Christ must be born in Bethlehem. We can also assume that Mary and Joseph would not journey to Bethlehem voluntarily during this critical time of her pregnancy. Consider for a moment Mary's point of perspective: Mary probably interpreted her personal needs as being in the home of her parents, near her mother, during the final weeks of her pregnancy. The last thing Mary would aspire to do would be to journey to Bethlehem on the back of a donkey. Even with a donkey, this journey would require three days on the road. Mary would have interpreted her need to be in the home of her mother, but the need of the kingdom was for her to be in Bethlehem.

God was confronted with a dilemma; how would He motivate Mary and Joseph to endure a difficult journey that was contrary to human reason and logic. No pregnant woman in her right mind would attempt this type of journey.

Luke 2:1-5 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (2) (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) (3) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. (4) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) (5) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

In order to bring about this journey God moved the entire world. The Roman government ordered all the world to be taxed, and each family was to journey to their ancestral home. Since Mary and Joseph were of the ancestral house of David they would have to journey to Bethlehem in order to comply with the Roman edict. I am convinced God inspired Caesar Augustus to issue this decree to move one family approximately 75 miles south. What God required of Mary and Joseph was a servant attitude even in the midst of their trails and suffering.

The Lord had an concealed motive when He inspired the taxation edict. Should you survey the Gospels an interesting case can be developed establishing the birth place of Jesus from the lack of evidence. At no time does the Sanhedrin accuse Jesus of being a false Messiah because He was not born in Bethlehem. The intellectual priesthood would clearly have understood that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, the first verification they would have made of Jesus' claim to Messiahship would be His place of birth. The fact that the Sanhedrin did not publicly denounce Jesus for not being born in Bethlehem is confirming evidence of His place of birth. The only notable exception is recorded in John 7:52, where Jesus' claim was challenged based on the fact that He was from Galilee. It should be noted that the intellectual challenge of Jesus' place of origin did not reference His birth place. According to Luke 2:21-50 Jesus was circumcised on His eighth day, and this rite of circumcision was performed in the temple in Jerusalem. When the ceremony was completed Jesus' birth would be recorded in the temple records, and these records would verify His place of birth. The taxation of Rome generated another legal document establishing the birthplace of Jesus.

Suffering

When we compare the lives of these saints of God with the needs of the kingdom, we should realize that the needs of the kingdom always have precedent over what we interpret to be our needs. At this point lets return to Matthew 6:33; most Christians have this verse memorized, but how many have memorized verse 34. Lets read this verse!

Matthew 6:34 (Amplified Bible) "So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own, Sufficient for each day is its own trouble."

We are admonished in this verse not to worry about trial or tribulation; each new day has its own troubles to be dealt with. So often we associate with this scripture the blessings of the kingdom of God, but the kingdom also has responsibilities which can put righteous demands on our lives. The lives of the great men and women of God demonstrate that the kingdom of God can place requirements on our lives, and these requirements may conflict with our understanding of personal need. Is it possible that God may require us to suffer for the need of His kingdom?

2Thess 1:4-5 "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom, for which ye also suffer:" (KJV)

Church history is filled with accounts of righteous saints who suffered and endured much for the sake of the kingdom of God. Martyrdom was often required of the saints of God who sought first the kingdom of God. Ponder for a moment what it cost the kingdom of God in blood to provide us with a Bible in the English language.

In 303 AD, Emperor Diocletian issued edicts which ordered the destruction of all church buildings, the confiscation of Christian books, the dismissal of Christians from the government and the army, and the imprisonment of the clergy. A further edict was issued in 304 AD which ordered all Christians to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods. The early church refused to surrender the holy manuscripts, and these books eventually formulated the New Testament. The blood of these dear saints purchased our Bible for us, but these martyrs were not the only ones required to lay down their lives for the sake of our Holy Scriptures.

John Wycliff (1329-84) had the vision of producing the Bible in the English language in order that the common people of England could read the Holy Bible in their native tongue. Wycliff was severally persecuted and exiled for his unorthodox actions; he died of natural causes in 1384, but his remains were exhumed in 1428 on orders from Pope Martin V, burned and scattered on the waters of the River Swift. Wycliff's followers, who were called Lollards, were cruelly repressed, persecuted, and martyred for their faith. The only crime the Lollards committed was the propagation of the Bible in the English language: for this horrendous offense they were burned at the stake.

Our precious Bible cost the Lord much in the blood of His dear saints; when we hold these sacred Scriptures in our hands ponder for a moment what it required our fore fathers to give us these holy words. Nearly every part of our Christian faith was purchased by our fore fathers with their blood; from our communion service, to our baptism of immersion; their blood built and established our Christian faith. Lets put ourselves into the situations of these brothers and sisters in Christ. Doesn't it seem reasonable that these men and women were normal Christians? I am sure they fought with the natural human desire for self survival. If we gave the Lollards a choice of life or death, and still allow them to spread the Gospel, I am sure they would have chosen life. But should we require the denial of their spiritual vision and direction as a condition for life, I am certain they would chose death. In fact church history records these type of conditions for their survival, and the Lollards chose death. For these saints seeking first the kingdom of God and the servant attitude required the laying down of life and limb.

Revelation 12:11 (Amplified Bible) "And they have overcome (conquered) him by means of the blood of the Lamb and by the utterance of their testimony, for they did not love and cling to life even when faced with death - holding their lives cheap till they had to die [for their witnessing]."

What did our fore fathers have in common? What scarlet thread bound together their determined will? It is hard to imagine, but church history records the fact that millions of brothers and sisters were martyred for their faith. Each of these dear brothers and sisters were absolutely assured of their salvation and they possessed a true servant attitude. They did not question the reality of Jesus, or the power of His blood to save, nor did they challenge their responsibility to serve. Their Christian faith was not built on a religion or theology concerning Christ, but it was established on the reality of an intimate relationship with Him and servanthood. Jesus was real, He was not a myth or a lifeless doctrine. In the same way that Jesus comforted the Apostle Paul during his final hours, He also comforted our fore fathers when their hour of martyrdom came. The life blood of spiritual maturity flows from our assurance of salvation and servanthood. Should we desire to grow in Christ, then it is paramount that we cultivate our assurance of salvation and the servant attitude. Only when we are sure of our position in Christ will we dare to endure the righteous demands of the kingdom of God.

Comfort Zone

The greatest obstacle to the kingdom of God is not the spiritual struggle caused by the devil it's the cancer of individualism. The one human factor which causes conflict with the kingdom is our comfort zone. Each and every Christian is surrounded by a comfort (safe) zone. This zone is the attitude which determines the degree we will serve and endure discomfort for the common good. Each and every one of us is motivated by our self interests and desires; when confronted with choices concerning the kingdom of God, often we embrace the easy, comfortable lifestyle which doesn't place any demands or discipline on our way of life. The root of our comfort zone in human pride. Pride always expresses itself is selfish lifestyles and self centered interests.

Let me now express this principle in a graphic way. Please refer to the comfort zone chart presented in this lesson. On the chart please notice their are two triangles:

To the degree we are willing to lose our comfort in Jesus is to the degree we will manifest His character. Let me emphatically state that the Lord is not as concerned about our comfort as He is concerned about our character. We are admonished to count the cost required of discipleship. Comfort and discipleship do not flow well together, they do not sprout from the same spiritual root. The desire for a life of comfort and repose is rooted in the fallen Adamic nature, while the hunger for discipleship is birthed by the Holy Spirit. We have a choice which triangle will depict our spiritual walk. Every facet of Christian life is filled with this basic struggle and decision. Should we desire to walk in the life of the Spirit, then is will cost us our comfort zones. Let me speak directly to you, dear reader; the decision to surrender your comfort zone is an individual one. No one can motivate you or make this decision for you, only you can reach into the depths of your heart to find the faith and courage to allow the Lord to crucify your self centered nature.

Bamboo Parable

The Apostle Paul discovered a secret, and it was a life dedicated to the kingdom of God. He understood that the kingdom also has responsibilities which would place righteous demands on his life. Paul centered his life on meeting the needs of the kingdom, and he placed his own personal needs behind those of the kingdom. The secret of Paul is not a secret that no other person can learn. There is nothing mythical about Paul's secret, it is a principle which any saint of God can operate. In fact, striving to meet the needs of the kingdom is the true application of Matthew 6:33. The needs of the kingdom must become our needs, when we give pre-eminence to our responsibilities and commitment to the kingdom of God, then we will be surprised to discover that all our personal needs are being met also. Let me stress that the needs of the kingdom will always supersede our apparent personal needs when the two conflict. The Lord will use us to further His kingdom, therefore when change occurs in our lives, even though is may cause personal pain and suffering, seek for the needs of the kingdom. Let me conclude this lesson with an allegory.

In a small valley in India stood a regal grove of bamboo. A sign was affixed to the grove identifying the bamboo as being owned by the wise and loving husbandman of the district. In the evenings, when the gentle breezes rustled the tops of the bamboo, a faint whisper could be heard. The bamboo were singing in unison the praises and the accolades of their loving master. How he cared for them? Often he would come and speak kind and tender words to them. The bamboo dearly loved the fellowship they had with their master. Also the bamboo rejoiced in their brotherhood, they would stand together and be strong for the master. Their love for each other was strong, nothing could separate them from their brotherhood. In the center of the grove stood one massive, majestic bamboo, truly he was the eldest of all the brotherhood. He held a position of honor and respect in the grove, and all the bamboo followed his lead when the breezes rustled their leaves.

One day the grove noticed their loving master approaching, and an excitement grew in their midst, because the master was coming to abide in their worship. They all noticed that the face of the master looked saddened, his eyes did not sparkle with joy, but a serious countenance covered his face. What could sadden the master this way? Slowly the master journeyed to the center of his grove and stood in front of the tall elder brother, and after a few moments of mournful reflection he said:

"I have need of thee for my kingdom elder brother, it will cost you everything you have, and you will suffer much to fulfill my will. The choice is yours my son, I will honor your decision".

These words burned like coal in the ears of the elder brother. "What could my wise and loving master want for me to do?", thought the elder bamboo. After a few moments which seemed like hours the elder bamboo, in a somber tone, said:

"I am yours, dear master, to do with as you see fit, I do not understand what you require of me, but I will trust you."

A smile came across the face of the wise master which communicated his pleasure with the words spoken by the elder bamboo. Slowly he removed his machete from its sheath, and with one strong blow the elder bamboo fell to the ground. Softly in the air could be heard the whispering cries of pain and the words of loving trust. The wise master gently carried the bleeding bamboo out of the grove, and laid him by a fire, and in the fire where long iron rods glowing red hot. The master stopped for a moment, and with tears streaming down his cheeks, said:

"Prepare yourself my son, now you must endure much suffering, but remember that I dearly love you."

At this point fear and confusion filled the mind of the elder bamboo, but he would trust his wise and loving master. The master grabbed the first rod, and with hard and sure thrusts, he rammed the searing rod up the heart of the bamboo. The pain was excruciating, it seemed like his inner most being was being torn asunder. Harder and harder the torrid rods where rammed up the center of the bamboo, and each thrust broke his heart further. But amidst the smoke and fire the bamboo could be heard reaffirming his trust in the master.

Eternity seemed to pass for the bamboo, but eventually the master spoke with a quite and calm tone:

"I am finished my son, rest now for your work is at hand."

The elder bamboo laid on the ground broken and hallow, loneliness filled his heart and mind. How he desired for the communion of the brotherhood, but he would trust his master. With love and compassion the wise master picked up the elder bamboo, and carried him a far distance from the pit of fire. When he arrived at his destination, he noticed that the land look arid and dry. Very little grew their because the parcel of land lacked water. The wise master placed one end of the elder bamboo on the parched and arid land, and he placed the other end in a spring flowing with living water. Through the center of the elder bamboo ran this life-giving water, and the once arid and dry land became a luscious garden.

 

 

 

Godly Attitudes

Lesson Ten

Righteous Government

In this final lesson we will examine the principles of the servant attitude necessary in order for righteous government to develop - civil, state, and national. The question before us is paradoxical. Should we require government to serve the people not their politics? Is Godly government based on the servant attitude (Statesmanship) not Politics? Let's seek to answer these two questions.

John 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin

In Jesusí discourse with Pilate, He revealed the truth that all govern-mental authority originates in God. The concept of government is a spiritual truth authored by God in order to establish law and order. Even though governments turn evil and destructive this fact doesn't nullify the divine concept of civil government. All power and authority emanates from God.

Righteous Nation

Ps 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance

The Bible teaches that the nation whose God is the Lord will be a blessed, whom God has chose for His inheritance.

Prov 14:34-35 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. (35) The king's favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame. (KJV)

Solomon understood that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin bring upon the people reproach and contempt. National righteousness is determined by the servant attitude being found in the government and it's people. When a nation allow God to be their Lord, the servant attitude will be expressed by all facets of the government. The people will submit to governmental directive with joy and single vision.

Governmental favor is bestowed on the populace who understand the importance of service. The same government will be the agents of wrath to all those who bring shame upon the government through rebellion.

Isa 26:2-3 Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. (3) Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (KJV)

Isaiah understood that national peace is the result of a righteous nation keeping the truth. God will provide these people peace because they trust in the Lord.

Governmental Responsibilities

The book of Proverbs provides us with political insight into the govern-mental responsibilities of a nation whose God is the Lord.

Sinful Nation

The Bible also describes the spiritual conditions of a nation who has corrupted itself in the eyes of God.

Isa 1:4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward (KJV)

The first thing that occurs in a sinful nation is their abandonment of God as their Lord. The national attitude forsakes their faith in God and turns to the strength of man to solve their problems. (Jer 17:5)

Jer 7:28 But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth (KJV)

A nation that will not obey the voice of the Lord has allowed rebellion to corrupt their national vision. A government that will not obey the voice of God will persecute their citizenry. The government bureaucracy will not receive correction, but will grow fat on it's lust for political power.

Prov 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (KJV)

Without a national vision the people perish in confusion. Only God can give a national vision, but it first must occur in the inner sanctum of highest government. When a people loose their nation vision it's a result of a governmental bureaucracy that will not receive correction or hear the voice of God.

Ps 33:16-19 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. (17) An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. (18) Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; (19) To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

True national defense is determined by national faith in God. A mighty Army cannot provide true national defense when the citizenry is confused by a lack of national vision.

Final Rebellion

Ps 2:1-6 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? (2) The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, (3) Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. (4) He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. (5) Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. (6) Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. (KJV)

In Psalm chapter Two we see the governments of the earth seeking to break the moral restraints of God. They rage in vain hatred of righteous living because the flame of their lust and rebellion has corrupted them in the sight of God. This portion of scripture is prophetic in nature, looking to the day when the nations of the world will attempt to cast off all forms of godly restraint to establish their humanistic government.

Rev 13:1-8 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. (2) And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. (3) And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. (4) And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? (5) And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. (6) And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. (7) And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. (8) And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (KJV)

John, the Revelator witnessed a coming prophetic day when Psalm Two would be a political reality. When nations reject the voice of God and refuse His correction they corrupt with political evil. John realized that this final government would blaspheme God as worldwide policy. He also shuddered in horror when he witnessed the blood of the saints that would flow at the hands of this evil empire. This final government would be given power over all nations in a vain attempt to establish worldwide government built on terror and blood.

Godly Citizens

Rom 13:1-7 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (2) Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: (4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (5) Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (6) For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. (7) Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (KJV)

Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work

The Apostle Paul clearly admonished the Roman Christians to submit to authority of the Roman government. Paulís reasoning is established on the fact that human government is an ordinance of God. When we submit to human government and authority we submit to God.

1 Pet 2:13-17 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; (14) Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. (15) For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: (16) As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. (17) Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. (KJV)

Peter also admonished the saints of God to submit to authorized human government. Peter wanted us to realize that service to government is service to God.

Citizen Prayer

1 Tim 2:1-3 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; (2) For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (3) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; (KJV)

Paul made an interesting statement to Timothy in his first epistle. He exhorted Timothy to offer supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thank-giving to God for all men; Paul also included government authorities. He realized that this action being reproduced throughout the body of Christ would cause the church to live quiet and peaceable lives. Why would God bless us with peace as a result of our prayer?

2 Chr 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (KJV)

When Godís people humble themselves and pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways. Then God will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. One thing I have learned is this; God heals the land by healing the government that controls it, and by healing the basic family unit. When we pray for all men, especially for those in governmental authority, we are praying for ourselves. The prayers we pray are supplications of repentance.

Civil Disobedience

Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye (KJV)

How should we act when the civil government embraces sin as it's official policy? We always must remember that our first duty is to God and His Word. When we embrace civil disobedience we must do so realizing that the government has legal right to punish our disobedience. Abortion clinic protests are civil disobedience, but are they morally right. The answer is yes, but the protesters risk criminal prosecution.