Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Christians Should do Good Deeds

If I could pick a couple of key phrases to categorize what has been on my mind in the last few days, this is what those phrases would be:

What man sees

What God sees

I was looking around on Bible Gateway and I found some passages relating to those topics.

Paul says:

... 7You are looking only on the surface of things.
… 10For some say, "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing."
… 12We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10)

These people were going by what they could see; he was exhorting the folks in Corinth not to "judge a book by its cover." Apparently, he was not that impressive to look upon. However, the work that God has done in and through this man, Paul, is quite glorious for us to behold on the pages of Scripture. (He also mentions the folly of the self-congratulatory types. I think it is good to keep company with those who challenge you and not just with those who commend you.)

The Lord laid this principle out long before, through Samuel. He told Samuel: "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king." (1 Samuel 16:1) When Samuel saw one of those of Jesse’s sons, He thought this of him: "Surely the LORD's [chosen] ..."

7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)

God has chosen David to be King, even though by the looks of things, that wouldn't be David's aptitude. Back to the New Testament ... Jesus had some harsh things to say about some people that looked pretty good:

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean." (Matthew 23:27)

As I thought of what God sees and what man sees, I couldn’t help but think of this verse:

15"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (Matthew 7:15-17)

I see this verse as saying that we should be very concerned with the evidence of one who would venture to speak for the Lord (prophet). This verse is a little controversial to my mind. If Jesus is talking about “deeds” when he speaks of “fruit” then maybe I should listen to the very kind priest who has seemingly dedicated his life to serving God ... or get insight from Mother Teresa as to what God wants for my life – perhaps they have a word from the Lord for me? They are showing good deeds, are they not? Then again, perhaps Jesus is talking about “words” or “ideas” or (dare I say?) “doctrine” when he speaks of "fruit." Deeds, words, ideas and doctrine are all things that we can evaluate through our senses. We cannot see into the heart of others, but we should be able to recognize false “prophets” if we use the Word of God to test the species (wolf or sheep? wolf or sheep?) before we think them to give us truth from God.

Actually, (I'm thinking "out loud" here...) does this verse even speak to us? Does the church today have prophets? The Word of God is complete. I am just now thinking that maybe this is for the early church before the canon of Scripture was established. It certainly has a principle for us, either way.

Finally, I found this verse below, (and there are many others) which reminded me that even though we shouldn’t be so concerned with looking at fellow Christians to judge, (only God judges the heart) we, as individuals, should be letting people see God’s light in each one of us … Christ in us! People in Christ should do good deeds!

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

I submit these thoughts for your analysis.

31 Comments:

  • A very warm welcome to you, Rose!
    We're so happy and blessed to have you with us :)

    By Blogger audrey`, at 4/17/2006 5:23 AM  

  • Hello, Rose~. I hope you had a great Lord's Day.

    There may not be true prophets today, but we do need to judge preachers and some of the same principles apply.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 4/17/2006 5:40 AM  

  • Good musings Rose,

    brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 4/17/2006 5:57 AM  

  • Morning Rose,

    great post,

    my grandmaws always told me that its what in a person heart, that makes them, who they really are! and that's the way I feel! :)

    thanks!
    have a great day!

    By Blogger jel, at 4/17/2006 7:08 AM  

  • Hi Rose!

    Good to see the commentator in you again.

    Out of the abundace of the heart the mouth speaks. When we occupy ourselves with knowing Christ, we begin to see a change of character, however, very, very slowly.

    In my own life I have noticed that if I am so occupied, there is little time left over to examine others, or even myself, seeings how I am unable to see two things at once.

    Otherwise, what Matthew said about the need to judge preachers is quite true.

    You are a blessing!
    Mark

    By Blogger bluecollar, at 4/17/2006 7:58 AM  

  • I wish I could be contentous but I agree with you and everyone commenting here! ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 4/17/2006 8:00 AM  

  • One cannot know what's "in another's heart", but one may know what's NOT there! The irrefutable evidence of what one values is how one spends his/her time. But, such is informative only in the negative. That is, it is reasonable to conclude that one who devotes negligible time to God does not value Him. However, the fact that one devotes significant time to, eg., Bible study, is not necessarily evidence that s/he values God (his/her motivation for Bible study may be, eg., similar to the Pharisees' motivation to do seemingly pious acts in public). As I've previously commented here, the "bottom line" is that one to whom our Lord has given a functioning mind who has no desire to pursue Truth would surely do well to examine him/herself to see whether s/he be of the faith. In the words af another Teresa (of Avila): "Lord, I don't love you. I don't want to love you. But I want to want to love you."

    By Anonymous Jim McDermott, at 4/17/2006 11:13 AM  

  • Hi Audrey - a warm welcome to you - I hope you will come around here some more.

    DF,
    My youngest son vomited three times in the last 5 days and so I wasn't able to go to any Easter morning service. I had a good day, though. He got sick again in the night last night. Cleaning up vomit is my second least favorite thing to clean up. Thanks for saying that you hoped my day was good. I hope I haven't given you too much information!

    Thanks, J. Wendell!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/17/2006 12:45 PM  

  • Jel,
    That is well put.

    Bluecollar,
    When we occupy ourselves ... is this something we must make concerted effort towards ... or is this something that is inevitable? I don't mean to pick, but I am just wondering what specifiaclly you are saying.

    Also - to you and DF:
    WHat do you think about the "fruit" of Matthew 7 - is it deeds or words ar doctrine - what? What do you think, brother? I am not positive what I think. You are a blessing too.

    kc,
    I am glad you are not being contentious. So glad. ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/17/2006 12:50 PM  

  • great post Rose

    By Blogger Kris, at 4/17/2006 12:58 PM  

  • Jim McDermott,
    Thanks for your visit!
    you say:
    One cannot know what's "in another's heart", but one may know what's NOT there!

    Are you sure? It sounds like you are saying no one can have the benefit of the doubt, but only the disadvantage of the doubt. Where is that in the Bible?

    I hear ya about the functioning mind and the pursuit of truth. Let me ask you: What must that person "examine"? I am just curious what you mean (I know that is Scriptural, but put it in your own words, what you think they should examine - what criteria - what necessity - to evaluate whether they are "in the faith"?) I'm just curious how that looks to you.
    Also - will you tell me something about Teresa of Avila - the quote - relate it to the topic for me. Perhaps I'm dense - connect the dots for me. Please? ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/17/2006 12:58 PM  

  • Thanks, Kris!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/17/2006 12:58 PM  

  • Ros(i)e ~

    Despite your accurate reiteration of the statement from my comment, your "take" on it is what would be eisegesis of a statement from Scripture (note "...
    cannot..."/"...may...").

    As to "...examine...", I merely employed such language as it connotes the concept I hope to express, to wit: If one has little or no desire to know our Lord (and, just to be clear, the primary means He's given us by which to know Him is His Word), that's not a good sign! If you'd still like my response as to what one must examine, "k", but such would require more time than is currently available to me! On second thought ... sounds like "fodder" for a separate "post"!

    Teresa's statement (at least as it "strikes" me) is truly profound. Undoubtedly, we all do what we want to do (another way of saying what I said via my first statement). Until/unless GOD (there's that sovereignty thing again!) changes us, we are at enmity with Him. Even for those who He's changed (those to whom He's granted the ability to love Him), to say other than "Lord, I don't love you" is to risk false witness. Why, because to love anyone is to yield one's best to another's best. Even after our Lord enables us to love Him, we continue to (metaphorically speaking) flip Him off/shake our fist at Him and scream at Him: I know what's best for me ... stay out of it! In other words, we sin. SUCH sin is the object of 1 John 1:9.

    Alas, one's wanting to want to love God won't guarantee such; that's, of course, His "call".

    By Anonymous Jim McDermott, at 4/17/2006 2:36 PM  

  • Jim,
    I will have to read your sentences over a few more times before I can know for sure what you mean, I think, and even then ... :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/17/2006 3:12 PM  

  • Poor young chap!

    I suppose it would primarily be doctrine.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 4/17/2006 4:39 PM  

  • Ros(i)e ~

    k (cereb-robics?)

    By Anonymous Jim McDermott, at 4/17/2006 5:12 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    I hope your son is feeling better. That is always hard on parents too (as I have learned from my mom) :)

    You are very right about what Man sees and What God sees. That is why it is a "personal relationship" that we have with our Heavenly Father.

    He is the heart doctor, and knows when it needs fixing or if it's doing alright. Only he knows the inside.

    By Blogger Redeemed, at 4/17/2006 7:40 PM  

  • I think flawed doctrine will always produce flawed fruits. If someone is a false "prophet", it will show up soon enough. False doctrine is like money, you can't hide it.

    Having said that, we should not over-scrutinize the fruit of others, but examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (true doctrine).

    Good post. Hope your son is better.

    By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at 4/17/2006 10:41 PM  

  • Some good food for thought, Rose.

    Often we can try "plugging in" different meanings of words and see which ones seem to fit the rest of scripture as it relates to God's love for His creation and His plan for its redemption.

    Suppose we consider the fruit of the spirit?

    Then the verse seems to say (since the task of the Spirit is to magnify and point us to Jesus), that the deceiver points to things extra-Jesus while the prophet (using the understanding that he is a spokesman OF God, not necessarily FOR God), points us to and magnifies only Christ.

    We might ask, then, does the "prophet" point us toward healing or toward Jesus? Does he point us toward prosperity or toward Jesus? Does he point us toward himself or toward Jesus? Does he point us toward a behavioristic religious system or toward Jesus? Etc.

    Thus the one who magnifies and points us toward and magnifies Jesus is a true prophet and everybody else is a false prophet.

    Possible?

    By Blogger Joe, at 4/18/2006 6:58 AM  

  • Morning Rose,

    is your son any better to day?
    hope so.

    take care

    blessing on the day!

    By Blogger jel, at 4/18/2006 7:08 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    It is a "concerted effort". There is nothing that is automatic. God places the desire in our hearts to occupy ourselves in such a matter, and we desire to go ahead and do so.

    I maintain that any desire that a christain has to occupy themselves with the things of Christ, does not arise from within them, but, rather, it is a result of God having put it there, or if you will,is the result of regeneration.

    When I see Paul in Philipians 3:7-17 " pressing on...reaching forward", these are all things coming from a regenerated heart.

    God gives humans a diaphram in their abdomens in order to cause the lungs to inhale and exhale. He also gives us the air we need to breath, and breath we shall.

    In the same manner, God the Holy Spirit places the desire to seek Christ, both to flee to Him for salvation initially, and, subsequently, to know Him and love Him yet more and more in our hearts. He also gives us His word, Christain fellowship and prayer,and grow spiritually we shall.

    So, to sum things up: We must breath, our body craves it, we utilize the God given parts of our body to breath that God given air. So it is spiritually, we must grow spiritually, our regenerated hearts crave it, we utilize the God given tools ( prayer, meditation on the word, fellowship)and grow we shall. It is a concerted effort: we do the breathing, we do the occuppying of ourselves with the things of Christ, growing in Him.

    I have athsma, breathing is very labored sometimes. In fact, my very last high school wrestling match I had an athsma attack. Even though I was ahead on points, my coach had to throw in the towel, and then proceeded to have to help me off the the mats, I could not breath.

    Sometimes spiritual growth can be labored too. Doubts and fears and besetting sins can be our "spiritual" athsma. Sometimes God has to help us off the mats as it were. He is faithful that way. Praise Him for His love and tender heartedness towards us.

    As to the fruit mentioned in Matthew 7:15-20, In its context it would seem to apply to false prophets. I don't see it applying to the saints in general.

    Bless you Rose!

    By Blogger bluecollar, at 4/18/2006 8:05 AM  

  • Hi jel,
    He did not vomit last night - so I hope that means he is better. I am tired of cleaning carpets and changing sheets.

    Redeemed,
    See above comment to jel! Thanks for you orcomments about thepost. You are right - it is VERY personal, but that which we do is public. Come again!

    Gordon,
    Thank you for your thoughts. I read them and said "amen!" I beleieve what you said about examining ourselves is spot-on. We need to know that we are believing that which is TRUE - this is "the faith."

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/18/2006 9:39 AM  

  • Joe,
    You are so very wise. I think your ideas are very good on this. The truth about Christ and that being the focus = the essence of good fruit. Interesting. I will be thinking about that all day. :~)
    Thanks for visiting!

    Hi Mark,
    We agree. Without Him we can do nothing. I will also be thinking today about your breathing analogy.

    As to the fruit mentioned in Matthew 7:15-20, In its context it would seem to apply to false prophets. I don't see it applying to the saints in general.

    Yes, I agree - it is false prophets and not saints in general. What I am asking is - what is the fruit? Is it deeds, words, doctrine etc... in your view, what is the fruit?

    Thanks, Mark and bless you too.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/18/2006 9:46 AM  

  • Jim McDermott,
    cereb-robics?
    Actually, my problem is with actually grasping what you are saying. I have to do some "linguio-decoding". ;~)
    After lunch.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/18/2006 9:49 AM  

  • Hi Rose, Thank you for taking the time to interact on this post.

    What Joe said is so perfect:
    "We might ask, then, does the "prophet" point us toward healing or toward Jesus? Does he point us toward prosperity or toward Jesus? Does he point us toward himself or toward Jesus? Does he point us toward a behavioristic religious system or toward Jesus? Etc.

    Thus the one who magnifies and points us toward and magnifies Jesus is a true prophet and everybody else is a false prophet."

    That was great,Joe!

    Rose, remember what Jude says: "For certain men have crept in unnoticed" or, in otherwords, through the back door. The thing is, they can come in looking at first like christians. They come in under the radar in order to plant heresy. If they go on undetected they will introduce ungodly living and lusts, sensuality, divisions, "not having the Spirit".

    Look at Jude's description of true Christian living in verses 20- 21, "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."

    See how Jude makes it seem that our growth in Christ is a concerted effort, emphasizing here our efforts. "Keep yourselves in the love of God" reminds me of what Jesus said in John 14:21.

    Thank you Rose.

    By Blogger bluecollar, at 4/18/2006 10:40 AM  

  • 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

    Jim McDermott,
    That wasn't so hard to decode, I think I was just tired yesterday. I like what you say. Actually, what Teresa said reminds me of something my frined Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said when he first came upon my blog here. It truly was so very honest. I think what you are saying is spot-on! (If I decoded it right)

    We will save the other question for later. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/18/2006 4:22 PM  

  • Ros(i)e ~

    No decoding required; just concentration. Speaking of spot:

    See spot. Spot is a dog. See Spot run. (etc.)

    I don't think that way, and I have no desire to write that way (despite the stated preference otherwise among legal
    writing "experts"). The punctuation is merely for the sake of propriety; just read, and pay attention to the punctuation only if necessary!

    By Anonymous Jim McDermott, at 4/18/2006 5:13 PM  

  • Great thoughts, Mark. Thanks for sharing that - and I know it wasn't easy for you to type all of it - or are you improving?

    My initial mentor (who first shared the gospel with me) used to talk about Jude all the time and the "certain men who crept in unawares" - he said they were the early Catholics, the ones who crept in before they claimed Christianity and began stealing the name of Christ from the real believers. Actually, as I looked into it more, I found that the particular heresy Jude was dealing with was Gnosticism (funny because this came up on the Moor today also.) They took the idea of spiritual nature and fleshly nature to such a degree that they were flaunting sin ... hence, the lasciviousness that Jude speaks of. They also denied the humanity ... and the Deity of Christ. This is definately to us today because Jude was written to the church and whatever heresy we deal with is serious business.

    I like the fact that you say it takes a concerted effort. Sometimes in my reading of C. materials, it has seemed like P implies that if you have to work at this thing, then you have no grace, because if you have grace, God will do it for you.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/19/2006 12:51 AM  

  • Sometimes punctuation can change the very meaning of what we are trying to communicate.

    For instance take the words "I would not have you ignorant bretheren."

    Punctuated: "I would not have you, ignorant bretheren," it would mean, "I dont want you."

    Punctuated: "I would not have you ignorant, bretheren," it would mean "I want you to be smart."

    Punctuation is a polite way for the writer to make it easier for the reader to understand the meaning of the writer.

    "God loves good punctuation." II Hezekiah 4:12.

    By Blogger Joe, at 4/19/2006 5:16 PM  

  • Yes ... Joe ... it can?

    I mean, Yes! Joe, it can!!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/20/2006 10:37 AM  

  • Sure Rose being around challenge is good..but being around others that would murder you isn't so hot...I have been around both so I know what I'm talking about.

    By Blogger ambiance-five, at 4/20/2006 8:31 PM  

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