Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 23 March 2022:
Exodus 30:20 – When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn a food offering to the LORD, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die.
God takes His holiness seriously and is serious about His ministers following His instructions. Do you take holiness and obedience as seriously as God does?
Exodus 30:36 – “It shall be most holy for you.”
Anything used where God is present must meet His standards of purity. Since Christians stand continually in then presence of God, how important should we consider our purity before Him?
- 1 John 3:3 — And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
- 1 Peter 1:22, 23 — Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God….
- James 3:17 — But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
- Hebrews 10:22 — let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
- Proverbs 22:11 — He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
- 2 Corinthians 6:2-8 — Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise.
- 1 Timothy 4:12 — Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
- 1 Timothy 1:5 — The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
- 1 Timothy 5:22 — Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.
- Timothy 2:22 — So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
- Philippians 1:10 — …so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
Exodus 30:37-38 – And the incense that you shall make according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the LORD. Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people.”
God does not allow things used in His worship to be used in the normal life of this world.
- 1 Peter 1:16 — Since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
- 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 — Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
- 2 Timothy 2:4 — No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
Mark 2:23, 24 — “One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’”
The truth of our character is revealed when we are tested, and God will test us so that we may be convicted by the Holy Spirit to grow in Christ-like character. Consider the character revealed by Christ today: Jesus and his disciples were so hungry, having invested everything they had in service to others, they were plucking heads of grain to eat — a lot of work for very little food, something impoverished people would do. The Pharisees, who lived luxurious lives in their lack of service to others, took advantage of the opportunity to criticize Jesus and His disciples. Imagine you are exhausted and famished after a hard days’ work in selfless service to others when you are criticized by a self-righteous hypocrite. How would you respond? Jesus calmly instructs the Pharisees. Would that have been your move? How do you act when your hard work is underappreciated by co-workers, family or friends who might have done far less than you?
Consider the two opposite potential approaches presented in Galatians 5 –
- The ‘natural’ human response — enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, etc. (Galatians 5:20)
- The ‘supernatural’ (beyond our nature) spirit-led response — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, 23)
The Greatest Command is love. What does love require? “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
To whom are we to respond with love? “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
When you are tested by others in your moments of mental, emotional and physical weakness, Jesus says, “Deny [yourself] and take up [your] cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5) Don’t miss the lessons of your daily failures. We all fail daily to love as we should, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can and should fail forward, growing in sanctification. Pay attention to how you respond in the ‘little things’ throughout the day, your response serving as a glimpse into your character. Catch your immediate, internal reaction when you are slighted, offended, or frustrated. Consider these convicting words from C. S. Lewis –
“When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.”
You can’t fix what you aren’t willing to humbly honest about. Don’t make excuses for your failures in love, repent, seek forgiveness, receive forgiveness, and strive in grace to walk more closely with Jesus into the future.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 Mar 22: Today, examine yourself, your thoughts, attitudes, and behavior as compared to the requirements of love. Inspect your fruit, but also your roots, the real “why” behind your behavior, which will have something to do with your relationship with Jesus, like the relationship between the vine and the branch (John 15). Don’t just seek behavior modification, pray for heart change.