Conservative Towards Ourselves, Liberal Towards Others


I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Monday’s section of this week’s lesson reads,

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Try placing your name where the word “love” appears. How well does it fit? Ask Jesus to bring these qualities of love into your life by His Spirit. What changes might the Spirit prompt you to make in order to reach this Christian ideal?

I heard of this idea several years ago, and now whenever I am asked to perform a wedding ceremony, I always include 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I read it twice, The first time I replace the word love with the groom’s name, and the second time I replace it with the bride’s name. It always brings smiles to the  bride and groom as well as the entire wedding party. Still I trust the Holy Spiriting is impressing the sacredness of love upon their hearts.

For some reason, what seems to bring more smiles than anything else is the part in 1 Cor 13:5 where it says in several versions that love keeps no record of being wronged. Now remember, God is love. So we can just as easily replace the word love with the word “God” and get an accurate description of God. But doesn’t God keep a record of all of our wrongs? Let’s let Scripture answer that.

Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you. Psalm 130:3-4 NLT

Remember resurrection morning when the angels told the women in Mark 16:7, to tell Peter  as well as the others that Jesus would meet them in Galilee? Peter had denied He even knew Jesus just a few nights before, but apparently Jesus didn’t have any record of that in His heart. For the sake of unity Paul pleads with us to have the same attitude with others.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13 NLT

Make allowances for each other’s faults? But what about character development? What about Bible standards? First, forgiveness is a Bible standard and should be included in our own character development. Second, Jesus gave us an example of being conservative towards ourselves while being liberal towards others. In other words hold yourself to a higher standard while cutting everyone else some slack. Jesus was conservative towards Himself when he fasted 40 days in the wilderness, but we was liberal towards others when He fed the multitudes. Jesus was conservative towards Himself while He prayed all evening in Gethsemane, but He was liberal towards the disciples when they fell asleep while praying. Jesus could have been hard on them and still spoken truth had He told them, “Hey, I have come down here in the same flesh you have, so if I can pray without falling asleep so can you!” According to Romans 8:3 that statement would have been exactly true!

He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. Romans 8:3 NLT

But as true as such a statement would have been, instead of condemning them for not being like Him, He sought to excuse them by saying, “For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” See Matthew 26:41.

Paul endorses this idea of being conservative towards ourselves while being liberal towards others. We’ve seen in Colossians 3:13 how he says to make allowances for each other’s faults, which is being liberal towards others. Then, in Romans Paul says,

Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires. Romans 13:14 NLT

Paul is teaching us to make allowances for the fault’s of others while not indulging in sin ourselves. Conservative towards ourselves, liberal towards others. This attitude of keeping no record of the wrongs of others, while reaching a higher standard for ourselves, is not just for grooms and brides. Its for children and parents, and brothers and sisters, and cousins and neighbors. We have all heard, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” What happy homes and churches we can have if we will all shred those records of other people’s mistakes, and be liberal towards others, while being conservative towards ourselves!

Growing in Christ; From Flower Girl to Bride

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  1 Corinthians 13:11

Many of us became Christians for childish reasons. We just wanted to go to heaven. That is okay. Jesus tells us to come as children, but He does not tell us to stay like children. “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: That we [henceforth] be no more children…” Ephesians 4:13-14 In 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, Paul tells us, when it came to love he used to think like a child. Children obey when there is a reward involved. But as Paul grew and became a man, be put those childish motivations away, and his love developed into a mature, agape love.  An immature Christian may offer their body to burned or martyred if there is a reward involved, but a mature agape Christian will do it purely out of love. A mature agape Christian loves and obeys because Christ first loved us.

“ It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour’s matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary’s cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him.” –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 480

In the church today, we often hear the phrase, “salvation issue.” Some people will say they are not worried about a certain standard because it is not a salvation issue. That may be so, but wouldn’t we be selfish and un Christian to only concern ourselves with things that only relate to our own personal salvation? What about  concerning ourselves with glorifying God issues, rather than just salvation issues?

In Exodus 32, the children of Israel, worship a golden calf, and God threatens to wipe them out, and raise up a race named after Moses. However, it is Moses who intercedes and tells God if He does this, His reputation will be at stake. “Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth?” Exodus 32:12 Moses even goes so far as to say, “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Exodus 32:32 Moses is more interested in honoring God’s reputation than he is in his own salvation! Moses has grown up from “salvation issues” to “glorifying God issues.”

Revelation 15 speaks of an entire multitude in the last days who “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.” Many songs are about stories or experiences. What experience do Moses and the Lamb have in common? Like Moses, Jesus the Lamb was willing to say goodbye to life forever if that’s what it took to honor the Father. “The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb.” –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 753 In Revelation 15 an entire multitude have grown up from thinking only of their own personal salvation issues, to glorifying God issues. Glorifying God is more important to them than their own salvation.

A flower girl comes to a wedding all prepared and ready. She is prepared and ready for the cake and punch that comes after the service. The bride has made herself ready, not for the cake and punch, but for the groom. We may come to Jesus like a flower girl all excited about the cake and punch, golden streets and mansions, but let’s grow up into a bride who cares about the Groom. We love Jesus not for the cake and punch, golden streets and mansion. We love Him because He first loved us.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

Jesus Wept: The Bible and Human Emotions, Lesson 4

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You may download the weekly adult SS lesson to your android phone here.

 I am no David Letterman, but suddenly I am in the mood to write top ten lists. In conjunction with this week’s SS lesson, here it is:

Top Ten Tips for Relationships

10. Don’t let Satan sabotage your relationships. A few months ago, during a church social, I was visiting with a teenager I previously studied with, before they were baptized. We were talking about having friends, and relationships. I told them,  sometimes I feel like I care more about my friends and family than they care about me. They replied, “I do too!” Then they paused and said, “You know, I bet that is just Satan wanting everyone to feel that way.” It’s good to know my young friend is already onto Satan and his lies.

9. Friends come first. I admire cultures that put friends before things. In some cultures, being late for an appointment is totally justifiable if visiting with a friend made you late. In the United States, we let time and appointments rule our lives, while in most of the rest of the Americas, time is subordinate to people. In Texas, I had some friends from Mexico, who would throw all their plans and appointments for the day out the window, when company stopped by unexpectedly. They were happy to do this. I love a culture that ranks people as their number one resource.  If I have a friend call and ask me to hang out with them, I gladly forget the game I was getting ready to watch, and go hang out with them. Friends come first.

8. Do not be easily annoyed. If your friends do things that annoy you, guess what? You probably do things that annoy them too. Your friends can criticize you as easily as you can criticize them, if that’s really how you want to spend your life. Some people annoy us, because they are so desperate for our attention. For example, let’s say you and I walk into an Olive Garden and they tell us it will be a 30 minute wait for a table. You and I can calmly sit there and relax while we wait on a table. Now, if a man walked into the Olive Garden who had not eaten for  a week, no way would he be able to causally sit and wait 30 minutes for a table. He would be making a fool of himself trying to get some breadsticks or whatever he could get his hands on. Some people make fools of themselves when they are starved for attention. Put yourself in their shoes and give them some attention. I am not saying reward bad behavior, but look past people’s faults and see their needs.

7. With very seldom exceptions, never write off a friend. We are all human. The field goal kicker who missed the extra point last week, will kick the 50 yard game winning field goal this week. You get my point. The friend who let you down yesterday may be the one who saves your neck tomorrow, and the friend who saved your neck yesterday may not be there for you today. Sure there may be times you may need a little space from each other. Life is a football game. Your friends are the players and you are the coach. Sure, you can sit your friends on the bench for a while, but don’t kick them off the team. Know what I mean?

6. Communicate. People ask me what my favorite music and T.V. shows are, but fact is, I would much rather sit and visit than watch shows. I find people more fascinating than T.V. I can watch a movie when I am alone. If I am with people then I want to talk. Oh…..and listen to them talk too!

5. Don’t just hear. Listen. Several years ago in Texas, I had a lady Bible student who was enduring a lot of stress at work. She would leave work and meet me at the church for our Bible studies. She would go on and on about her work problems before I would steer the discussion towards the Bible study. One day, I decided when she came in, I was just going to listen and not say anything until she quit talking. Two hours later, when she stopped, I had prayer and we went home. No Bible study, but she got to talk while I listened.

4.   Always be honest and always be polite. This is especially true in organizations, including the church. Over the years I have sat on several different boards. Sometimes I have encountered people who were afraid to speak out because they did not feel influential or powerful. Some people feel other people get their way because they have more money. Well, no matter how rich or poor you are, you always need to speak you mind, and no matter how rich or poor you are, you need to be nice when you do.

3. Don’t tell your friends what their motives are. You can tell your friends when you do not feel their actions were appropriate or even unacceptable, but do not tell them what their motives were. After the Haitii earthquake, President Obama allowed illegal Haiti immigrants to stay in the U.S. for a while without being deported. Immediately Republicans started questioning his motives and accusing him of having selfish reasons for doing what he did. So what is Obama suppose to do in that situation? Do the wrong thing so people won’t accuse him of having selfish motives for doing the right thing? In that situation, all he could do was the right thing, and as long as he was doing the right thing the motives were irrelevant at that point. The Republicans showed their true colors by being more concerned about the President’s motives rather being concerned about the people of Hatti. I am a Republican by the way.  We already make poor judges of other people’s actions, and we have no clue when it comes to judging motives.

2. Be conservative towards yourself and liberal towards others. Hold yourself to the higher standard while cutting all those around you a little slack. This is what Jesus did. In the Garden of Gethsemane He asked His disciples to pray with Him. They fell asleep on Him, and while He continued to pray, He excused their weakness by saying, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

1. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Replace the word, “love” with your own name, and then ask God to work in you, so that those verses will still make sense.