“Adoniram Judson sweated out Burma’s heat for 18 years without a furlough, six years without a convert. Enduring torture and imprisonment, he admitted that he never saw a ship sail without wanting to jump on board and go home. When his wife’s health broke and he put her on a homebound vessel in the knowledge he would not see her for two full years, he confided to his diary: “If we could find some quiet resting place on earth where we could spend the rest of our days in peace. . .” But he steadied himself with this remarkable postscript: “Life is short. Millions of Burmese are perishing. I am almost the only person on earth who has attained their language to communicate salvation. . .”
2 Peter 1:5-9 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Today’s reading reminds me that no matter how long I’ve been saved, I ought to be “add to my faith”. None of us can ever say that we’ve arrived. According to the Holy Spirit through Peter here, if we add these things, we won’t fall. And if we don’t diligently add these things, we’ll be blind, and can go so far as to forget that we’ve been purged from our sins. Let us diligently work to add to our faith virtue, and then knowledge, then temperance, and patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity.
1 Peter 3:21-22 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
This morning I’m thankful for Jesus Christ. I’m reminded of His resurrection. I’m humbled by His majesty and position and authority. If angels, and powers, and authorities are subject unto Him, might I subject my will to His, seeking to make His name and glory known to the ends of the earth.
1 Peter 2:12-17 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 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. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
This morning reminds me of our responsibility, as Christians, to our civil authority. We are to be lights. We are to be subject. We are to submit ourselves to their ordinances. We are to pray for them. And Peter says that we are to honor them. Let us remember this today, as lights and examples to our community. Let us not pray for their death. Let us not defy their requests (unless it clearly violates Scripture). Let us give honor to whom honor is due, tribute to whom tribute, and custom to whom custom.
Jim Elliot, martyr of Ecuador, was a torch of fire for Jesus Christ. One day, as he was meditating on the words, “He maketh his ministers a flame of fire” (Hebrews 1:7), he wrote in his diary:
“Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of other things. Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short-lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul short life? In me there dwells the Spirit of the Great Short-Lived, Whose zeal for God’s house consumed Him. Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.”
1 Peter 1:13-16 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
The matter of lust and overcoming lust has been on my mind much recently. In the past year, I’ve talked to more men than ever before who have fallen into the of lust. We’re reminded “that the eyes of man are never satisfied”, yet lust sells us that acquisition of a certain thing will bring that satisfaction. It’s a farce, and only will drive us toward desiring more.
We quote “be ye holy, for I am holy” often. But in context, it’s talking about this matter of lust (an inordinate desire or affection, or pursuit – physical or mental – of that which God has not desired for us to have). What are we lusting after today? Might we “gird up the loins of our minds”, and “be sober”, and seek to be holy, as He is holy, in every area of our lives.
If I firmly believed, as millions say they do, that the knowledge and practice of religion in this life influences destiny in another, then religion would mean to me everything. I would cast away earthly enjoyments as dross, earthly cares as follies, and earthly thoughts and feelings as vanity. Religion would be my first waking thought, and my last image before sleep sank me into unconsciousness. I should labor in its cause alone. I would take thought for the morrow of Eternity alone. I would esteem one soul gained for heaven worth a life of suffering. Earthly consequences would never stay my hand, or seal my lips. Earth, its joys and its griefs, would occupy no moment of my thoughts. I would strive to look upon Eternity alone, and on the immortal souls around me, soon to be everlastingly happy or everlastingly miserable. I would go forth to the world and preach to it in season and out of season, and my text would be, WHAT SHALL IT PROFIT A MAN IF HE GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD AND LOSE HIS OWN SOUL?
James 5:9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
I’m reminded of a simple, yet important truth this morning. There’s no need to hold a grudge against a brother. Even if he’s withheld wages, done us wrong, or spoken ill against us, there’s Another Who judges. And James here says “He standeth at the door”. He’s there. He’s nigh. He knows what’s going on. Might we remember that He said “vengeance is mine, I will repay…”
James 4:1-4 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
When we think of lust, generally, automatically we think of impurity of thoughts, fornication, uncleanness, and sins of the like. However, in this context, there is much more that we can lust after. Verse three goes on to say that there are even things that we ask (pray) for, that aren’t given to us because they stem from the lust of the flesh.
I think lust can be described as a desire and pursuit (mental or physical) of something that God doesn’t intend for us to have. It can be in the context of immorality. But it can also be money, possessions, relationships, imaginations, status, worldliness, and more that we desire, and pursue physically or mentally (remember the Israelites lusting after food?).
Lust is a big deal to the Lord. In context of lust, he says that “friendship with the world in enmity with God.” He also calls those befriending and lusting after these things “adulterers and adulteresses” – a heavy accusation in God’s economy!! if it’s such a big deal to God, we might want to steer clear of these things. The question is, after what are we lusting today? Maybe we’ve allowed impure thoughts linger. Maybe it’s a desire for the things of this world, and we’ve allowed our heart and thoughts to follow these things. Maybe it’s a relationship, status we seek, or a person, position, or possessions. Whatever it is, today, might we “cut it off”. Let’s be content with such things as we have.
If we have, James goes on to give us the remedy for getting right:
James 4:4-10 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
Proverbs 7:2-4 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:
Proverbs 7:6-7 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding.
Today’s reading reminds me that simplicity is never ample justification for the prevention of tragic consequences. Simplicity didn’t stop this young man from a spiritual dart to the liver. It didn’t stop his from being snared like a bird in a net. It didn’t stop him from marring his life.
I’m reminded, too, that we can not cry “but I didn’t know”. This is why it’s so important to seek wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. This is why it’s so important to have a healthy fear of the Lord.
I’m reminded of a story my uncle used to tell. Before Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and the plethora of virtual assistants available today, a man was reading a map, looking for his destination. He made a (wrong) turn down a street, that he didn’t know was a dead end. He he was simple to the reality that the street was gang infested. He also was void of the knowledge of the fact that his car resembled a rival gang’s car. Toward the end of the street, a barrage of bullets was sprayed toward his car. He and his wife survived, but their baby was struck by a bullet, and killed. Was he trying to do something sinful? No. Was he trying to put his family in harms way? Absolutely not. But his simplicity was the demise of his child, and resulted in a tragedy that would never be forgotten.
Scripture shows us that many times, the simple man suffers the same consequences as the fool. Our simplicity in the truths of God’s Word, and our lack of understanding, may be the downfall of our marriage, our children, or our churches. Let us be students of the Bible. Let us seek wisdom as we would for hid treasure. Let us move from simple to wise as we seek to live this life successfully for Christ.