Josh Christophersen

Reign In Life

By This Time You Ought To Be Feeding Others: Grow Up

baby_being_fed

In the book of Hebrews, the writer rebuked those he was writing to because, “by this time” they should have been feeding others, but they could barely feed themselves (Heb 5:11-6:1).  These verses give legitimacy to the expectation that with the passing of time one should not only be feeding one’s self, but others as well. This post takes a look at three different stages of Christian development.

Baby

A baby needs to be fed.  Babies can’t feed themselves.  They need to be nursed or fed a bottle.  If they aren’t fed, they cry and whine.

When a person puts their faith in Jesus and they begin to follow Him; they need to be fed by others.

Child

Eventually as children get older and are healthy, they start feeding themselves.  If children don’t start feeding themselves as they get older, there’s legitimate cause for concern.

As time passes, healthy followers of Jesus start feeding themselves.  They learn how to study the word, pray, and “strengthen themselves in the Lord” (1 Sam 30:6).  Unfortunately for the Christians who make it to this stage of development, many choose to stop developing.

But there’s another stage.

Mature Adult

When a person becomes a mature adult, they not only feed themselves, but babies as well.  They don’t whine about “not being fed”.  That’s what babies do.

They are responsible to feed themselves with a healthy dose of the personal disciplines, supplemented by training from leaders, while also taking responsibility for the development of others.

They have vision for both their discipleship and the making of other disciples.  They entrust what they’ve heard “to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim 2:2)

As natural and spiritual fathers and mothers, they turn their hearts to sons and daughters. (Mal 4:6)

“They look not only to their own interests but also to the interests of others.”  (Phil 2:4)

I have a brother-in-law with down syndrome and I’ve also coached a special needs soccer team.  We expect people with special needs to act and think like children or babies, even though they have adult bodies.  They’re developmentally disabled.

But when healthy people with no physical or mental handicaps act like babies (need to be fed), or children (only feed themselves), it’s called laziness, selfishness, and sin.

How long have you been a Christian?  Are you feeding yourself yet?  Are you feeding others?

If you’ve been following Jesus for a longer period of time and you’re not feeding yourself and others, then it’s time to grow up.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” 1 Cor 13:11

“Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” 1 Cor 14:20

“Let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity” Heb 6:1

(Image Credit: shawn dreilinger)

Are You Seeking The Harvest But Avoiding The Work?

harvest
(Image Credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons)

“Ask the Lord of the harvest… to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt 9:38 NIV)

“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Cor 15:58 NIV)

I think one of the things we forget as Christians is that this is actually supposed to be work. How often do we give up on what we’re doing or avoid getting started because of how much work is involved?

Following Christ is a lot of hard work.

And let’s be honest. A lot of times we’re trying to find another way. We often look for the minimum when God commands the maximum.

We want faith without works… Christ without the cross… pleasure without pain… and the harvest without workers.

But Jesus called it work and he called those who participate in it, workers. How often do we attempt to follow Jesus while avoiding the work?  Have we gotten a little soft?  When the going gets tough, do we stop going?

God never meant for following him to be easy. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” He promised us trouble and told us there would be work. He also told us that the workers are few. (Luke 10:2)

Are you one of the few?

Are you a consumer or a producer?  Are you a life taker or a life giver?

Are you a worker?

The Father has a field with a harvest that’s plentiful, but he’s looking for workers.

It’s hard. It’s tiring. Many times it’s not rewarding in this life.

But He’s worth it.

Let’s stop whining, stop making excuses, and stop avoiding it because it’s a lot of work. Let’s toughen up and persevere.

Let’s be workers.

 

Build Up Or Shut Up

shh

Importance

“The tongue has the power of life and death. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (Prov 18:21 NIV, James 3:9-10 NIV)

What an incredible statement, that our tongues have the power of life and death.

What are we using our tongues for? Praising or cursing? What are we doing with this incredible privilege and responsibility? It is of extreme importance that we use our tongues rightly, that we take seriously the impact of our words.

The bible says that “reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Prov 12:18 NIV) and that “if anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:26 NIV)  Paul said, “You must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is . . . a slanderer . . .with such a man do not even eat.” (1 Cor 5:11 NIV)  Jesus said, “Men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt 12:36 NIV)

Definition

So what is gossip? What is slander? What does the bible have to say?

The bible says that “a gossip betrays a confidence”- that a gossip can’t keep a secret (Prov 11:13 NIV). When someone confides exclusive information to us, and we share it with others, it’s gossip. It’s sin. The bible says it separates close friends (Prov 16:28 NIV) and that “the words of a gossip are like choice morsels” that “go down to a man’s inmost parts.” (Prov 18:8 NIV)

How about slander? What is slander? The bible says that slander is speaking against a brother or sister (James 4:11 NIV). The bible speaks of slander as negative information that can be gathered and spread abroad (Ps 41:6 NIV). When we speak against a brother, when we share negative info about people with others, it’s slander. It’s sin.

Myths & Standard

But maybe you’ve heard this before; “I can share this with you, because I know your mature and you can handle it.” or “Well it’s true isn’t it? or “Everyone’s got a right to his or her opinion.” or “If this person was here I’d say it to their face.”

So what is God’s standard? What does He say? Ultimately our opinions about what we can and cannot say don’t matter.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Eph 4:29 NIV)

According to this verse it doesn’t matter if someone’s mature or if they “can handle it”. It doesn’t matter if it’s a true statement. It doesn’t matter if you’d say it to their face. Is it helpful for building this person up? Is it benefiting those who listen? According to this verse, the only opinion we have a right to, is one that is helpful for building someone up and that benefits those who listen. How many times do we think about whether something is building someone up before we say it? And what about the listeners? Is what we are saying benefiting those who listen? Is it making it hard for others to love people? Are we causing others to stumble?

If we’re not going to build people up then we better shut up.

Protocol

The bible is pretty clear on what to do when a person sins against you. We must move from our selfish, careless, reckless words and unbiblical myths to biblical due process:

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matt 18:15-17 NIV)

“Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.” (1 Tim 5:19 NIV)

“Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11 NIV)

If someone has wronged us then we don’t go around telling everyone how they wronged us. We go to them. And if the person is not won over by confronting them, that doesn’t change the rules. We still don’t have the right to have conversations with others that are unloving or not building people up. If we need counsel about a situation, then whenever possible, we should do it without using names.  If names are required or the person counseling knows who we are talking about, then we should be extremely careful how we talk about the other person.  It’s very easy to justify sinful behavior when we’ve been wronged.

Solution

So how do we keep our tongues pure and our hearts clean? This isn’t a behavior issue. It’s a heart issue: “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt 12:34 NIV)

No matter how hard we try to keep our tongues from speaking evil, if it’s in our hearts, it will eventually come out. We must repent. We must open to God’s healing in our hearts, and fill up with God’s love. May the overflow of our hearts be love.

“Love builds up.” (1 Cor 8:1 NIV)

See also: Build Up Or Shut Up Audio

(Image adapted from: Juan Felipe Rubiocc)

How Not To Be Afraid Of The Scariest Verses In The Bible

In my opinion, Matthew 7 verses 21 thru 24 are the scariest verses in the bible.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

What’s scarier than thinking you are living your whole life for Jesus and finding out in the end that you were deceived the whole time?

What is God’s issue in this verse?

Notice that he says “I never knew you”.  He doesn’t say “you never knew me”.  He says “I never knew you”.  Christians talk a lot about knowing God (as they should) but you don’t hear a lot of talk about God knowing us.

So the question is, “How does God know us?”

1 Corinthians 8:3 gives us the answer.  It says, “if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”

God will never say, “I never knew you” to those who love God, because those who love God are known by God.

What is love for God?

1 John 5:3 says, that “this is love for God: to obey his commands.”  Therefore those who obey God are known by God.  This is why he said, “why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46 NIV)

If you love God by obeying his commandments, you never have to worry about God not knowing you.

Those who love God are known by God.

Does God know you?