Shortly after the Resurrection when Jesus appeared again to his disciples, Jesus had mentioned to Peter the manner by which Peter was to die. Peter then asked the Lord about John and what would become of him.
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” -John 21:22
In other words, it was no concern of Peter, for his only concern was to continue to follow the Lord.
Oftentimes we defocus ourselves from the tasks or purposes God gives us when we look at other Christians and what they are doing or not doing for God. Unless their tasks intertwine with ours in a team effort, theirs is of no concern to us.
Are they praying or not praying? Are they ministering or not ministering? Are they following or not following? These are questions better left unasked.
Focus on what God has given you to do. It may seem small or big, insignificant or important. That’s really up to your own perception. For God, it is a task he has deemed you are able to accomplish. Do it then with all your heart.
So next time you see a fellow Christian and you are wondering what he/she is doing or not doing for the Lord, ask yourself:
What is it to me?
When Jesus spoke to his disciples about forgiveness, they had a seemingly strange request.
3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” -Luke 17:3-5
Yet, on second look, the request to increase their faith was not that far-fetched, for it does take faith in a loving God to sincerely forgive an offence.
With this in mind, Jesus’ response was allegorical.
He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. -Luke 17:6
A mulberry tree has deep roots and difficult to uproot. So can be an offence. It can come from deep-rooted feelings and it can hurt deeply. Thus, it needs faith to forgive so that the offence can be likened to throwing it into the sea and completely forgotten.
The response of Jesus also tells us another aspect of faith. It has to grow. It is not within God’s purview to increase it.
Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” -Luke 17:4
Yet, it is a seed that is already within us.
…In accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. -Romans 12:3
A seed of faith has been given to each believer. It is up to us to make it grow. It may take several trials, challenges and, yes, offences.
However, when faith develops, it becomes a powerful force to forgive a wrong, no matter how deep.
The Corinthian church thought itself as a highly spiritual church in the sense that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit was prevalent. People spoke in tongues, interpreted tongues, prophesied, uttered words of knowledge and so much more. So, within the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, we find one of the most beautiful dissertations on love.
Yet, the passage on love, found in 1 Corinthians 13, was not written because the Corinthians in their spiritual exercises were practicing love. On the contrary, they lacked it.
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have 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 do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. -1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Indeed, spirituality without love is not spirituality at all. For God is love. God is spirit. And out of his spirit comes forth love. Living a life of love is living a Godly way.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. -1 John 4:16
To live a life of love is what Godliness is all about.
We don’t need to be ascetics, hermits, pastors or priests unless one of these is our calling.
We only need to love truthfully God and our fellowmen.
Love is the purest of all spirituality.
In my last post I wrote about seeing through the storms of life with the eyes of faith. And how do we sharpen our eyes of faith? We have to listen to the word of God.
So then faith [comes] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. -Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
But, in order for us to hear clearly, our hearing ability should be able to pierce through the noise. Not only the natural noise of the world, but more importantly the noise that distracts our hearts from fully receiving God’s word. This takes several forms.
Benjamin Franklin said it: “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” This is because faith sees beyond reason. Faith stems from within; reason stems from without. Reason looks for answers; faith says they are already there.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. -Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)
2. Comfort Zone.
Faith is to venture out onto the purpose of God for our lives. But our comfort zone will make us believe that we don’t have to. Our comfort zone will actually make us deaf to the word of God, making us want to be entertained, intellectually tickled and even deceiving ourselves to believe that we are accomplishing God’s work where he doesn’t want us to be.
Consider Isaiah’s attitude:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” -Isaiah 6:8
The Gospel of Luke gives us a pointed illustration of this in chapter 9, verses 57-62, where we read of three men who made excuses instead of venturing out in faith to follow Jesus. In this passage, they heard the voice of the Lord, but still made excuses. Add to these excuses the oft-repeated one: “I did not hear from God.” Yet, the reality is, they refuse to listen.
Apparently the noise is far more compelling.
4. Unwholesome Talk.
This includes gossip, backbiting, negative criticisms and the like. We would rather talk about other people’s misfortunes instead of ministering to them. We hide these kinds of talk behind the guise of wanting to pray for them. When we find the downtrodden, we should only mention them to God and no one else unless we’re leading a ministry that seeks to do something good for them.
When someone asks me how to know the will of God, I answer, “Go where the need is greater; there you will find God’s will for you.”
Through the noise we need to build a quietness around us so we can listen to the voice of God that stirs up our faith.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” -Psalm 46:10
Jesus had to assure them that it was him and not a ghost.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).
What caused the disciples not to recognize Jesus and even think he was a ghost?
It was fear. They were in the middle of the lake and in the midst of a sudden storm. The fear of the boat capsizing and imminent death translated into seeing Jesus as a ghost.
Peter, gathering up courage, then requested to walk on the water to go to Jesus. Yet, as he walked, he was distracted by the force of the wind, which made him fear, and he sank. Jesus had to pull him up and place him in the boat.
The reality in that particular situation was that Jesus, the Son of God, was there and they were safe. The unreality was that the disciples saw different things because of fear. For the disciples, they saw a ghost. For Peter, he saw the wind and the sight overwhelmed him.
So often, fear can play tricks on us in the midst of life’s storms. We begin to see things that are unreal and they can overwhelm us.
Thus, we need to bring the reality of Christ into our storms. We need to see him through the storm and press on to him where there is safety, comfort and wisdom. Jesus always gives an invitation of resting in him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
To rest in him is to trust in him, that he is always there and willing to extend a helping hand.
We cannot see Jesus with the eyes of fear. We can only see him with the eyes of faith.