And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 23, Number
In this issue:
Our lives are filled with responsibilities, obligations, and commitments. It is often difficult to find time to do everything that we need to do. Because of this, it’s easy to put off what we simply don’t want to do. Or we may have good intentions about doing something, but we fail to do it because we are distracted by things that seem to be more urgent.
We need to be careful that we do not leave undone those things that we ought to do – especially when it comes to our treatment of others. The wise man said, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you” (Proverbs 3:27-28).
When he described “good…to whom it is due,” he was not referring to benevolence or some aid we might give to someone in need. That is certainly good to do, but this is something different. Instead, this is about what we owe someone. It implies an arrangement made by mutual agreement.
By failing to keep our end of an agreement, we are showing ourselves to be untrustworthy, not dependable, and that we do not value the other person’s time, effort, or investments. Even if it is unintentional, we are claiming that our time, effort, and investments are more important than theirs.
So don’t put off doing good. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Let us keep our word and show that we value others.
Joe R. Price
If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them (Ecclesiastes 5:8).
It grieves us when we witness oppression and violence, but it should not surprise and astonish us. Justice and righteousness continue to be perverted in this country and around the world. Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9).
While acknowledging these wrongs, Solomon instructs us to remember that those in authority are also under higher power (John 19:10-11; Rom. 13:1). This reality ought to be a check against harassment and injustice, but even that is not always the case. “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan” (Prov. 29:2).
What are we to do in the face of oppression and violence?
(1) Remember that God is sovereign and holds the unrighteous accountable for their sins (2 Cor. 5:10). Jesus called out the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees who “devour widows’ houses” while pretending to be pious with long prayers (Matt. 23:14). God will bring justice to bear on His day of judgment (Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 2:4-11).
(2) Keep our faith in God instead of putting it in human beings (Jer. 17:5). God will not fail the righteous (Heb. 13:5-6). Therefore, accept suffering for righteousness’ sake (1 Pet. 3:13-14).
(3) We can go about our daily business (Eccl. 5:18-20). Honest labor is God’s gift that prevents us from being overburdened with anxiety over life’s troubles (Eccl. 5:20). Daily labor to provide for ourselves and our families brings joy and contentment in the face of life’s injustices.
(4) Remember to pray (1 Thess. 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 2:1-2). Prayer remains effective from the righteous (James 5:16).
(5) We can aid those harmed by others (Luke 10:29-37). Be neighborly and help one another instead of being suspicious and divisive.
-Adapted from Sword Tips #2304
Joe R. Price
And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you (1 Thess. 3:12, NKJV).
Room for more. We may say it after a serving of delicious pie or cake. But do we say it about our brotherly love toward our fellow Christians? “We already love one another,” we might respond. The Thessalonian Christians were taught to love one another, and they were practicing it: “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more” (1 Thess. 4:9-10). There was room for more.
Our capacity for brotherly love has no limit. It grows as we practice it. Later, Paul commended these brethren because “the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (2 Thess. 1:3). Fraternal affection in the body of Christ is a mark of our mutual purposes, shared salvation, and common faith (1 Pet. 4:8-10; Jude 3; Titus 1:4).
next time you have room for more pie or cake, remember to make room for more
brotherly love. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love,
in honor giving preference to one another” (Rom. 12:10). -Sword
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Pursue Peace (#2)
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 11:6-10
In Part 1 (6/27/21) we reviewed that peace has two components, absence of
conflict and presence of tranquility.
I. THE BOND OF PEACE AMONG BRETHREN, Matt. 5:9.
Peace is Preserved by Good Hearts that Follow Truth, Eph. 4:1-6; Col.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Diversions, Deflections, and Duty
Joe R. Price
There is a crime problem in America. Violence, theft, murders and more are on the rise. Chicago is just one example.
Recently the mayor of Chicago said she is held to a different standard and criticized almost entirely because she is a black woman in a position of power. “About 99 percent of it,” Lightfoot said. “Look at my predecessors. Did people say that Rich Daley held tea sessions with people that he didn't disagree on? Rahm Emanuel was a polite guy who was a uniter? No. Women and people of color are always held to a different standard” (fox32chicago.com). In response, “Chicago’s 20th Ward Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor, who has had public disagreements with Lightfoot, called the mayor's claim a ‘copout.’” (Ibid) Sadly, politics often get in the way of practical solutions for citizens.
I grow weary of hearing the worn-out charges of misogyny, racism, bigotry, etc. when people challenge leaders’ policies and practices. There is nothing racist about wanting peace in the streets and for violence to stop. Likewise, it is not misogynistic to expect women politicians to step up and seek practical solutions that protect the innocent and punish the guilty (Rom. 13:3-4).
The above example from the Chicago city officials illustrates a spiritual point. We can become very adept at diverting attention away from the real issues of our sins, errors, and shortcomings to deflect personal accountability. It is much easier to talk about the speck in my brother’s eye when I do not want to remove the beam from my own (Matt. 7:3)! “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” But the diversion of responsibility does not remove accountability (Matt. 25:15, 25). We will do far better as husbands, wives, parents, children, politicians, employers, employees, etc., when personal duty replaces diversionary tactics (Gal. 6:5).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 07/11/2021
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA