Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 2 May 2022:
Numbers 3:12 — “Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine.”
The priests of God are living sacrifices, their earthly lives are essentially over as they devote everything to God – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)
Numbers 3:13 – “…for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of beast. They shall be mine: I am the LORD.”
“The firstborn children of Israel were spared the night that the death angel slew the firstborn of the Egyptians. They had been delivered and redeemed by a blood sacrifice, and so now God claimed them as belonging to him.
In a similar manner, we deserved to die, but God through the blood of Christ, the innocent sacrifice, spared us. And so now we belong to Him. We are his. We are bought with a price (1 Cor 6:20), and so we should glorify God in our body and our spirit which are God’s.
I wonder how we feel about God’s claim to our lives. Do we really live our lives like they belong to Him? Or do we still try to remain in control, doing things our way? May God help us realize that we do belong to Him, and so we should live to do His will.” (Travis Snode, Vision Baptist Church)
Numbers 3:25 – And the guard duty of the sons of Gershon in the tent of meeting involved the tabernacle, the tent with its covering, the screen for the entrance of the tent of meeting….
Guard duty was an act of worship. All that we do should be an act of worship before the Lord, dedicated to Him and His purposes, motivated by love for Him rather than motivated by fear, pride, or obligation.
Romans 14:1 — “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions…. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
How incredible would it be if Christians and their respective churches put Romans 14 into practice? The body of Christ suffers from tremendous disunity and consequential disempowerment because of unproductive quarrels over various religious practices and traditions which often have little to do with the central message of the Gospel – “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike.” Divisions between denominations and between churches within denominations can become quite worldly and hostile, destroying the witness of those involved. Some church denominations even forbid certain Christians from participating in communion, not because those Christians aren’t committed believers in Christ, but because they aren’t members of that particular denomination and don’t subscribe to Their man-made traditions; this is contrary to the teachings of the Bible – “decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother (Romans 14:13).”
There are some cases concerning non-negotiable doctrine on the Gospel or concerning clearly unbiblical practices where differences may be irreconcilable, and division required –
- Galatians 1:6-9 — I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
- 2 John 1:9-11 — Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 — If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
However, too often non-essential Scriptural interpretations divide denominations and churches. But why can’t we disagree without being disagreeable? Why can’t we disagree about some of the more complex, debatable theological issues while remaining united in the love of Christ? Can’t we trust God to reveal truth to His faithful servants? “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand (Romans 14:4).” We must address disagreements with Jesus’ aim for us in mind – “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:22-23)
We must remember that disunity among believers is ultimately counter to the aim of the Gospel, contrary to the ministry and message of reconciliation, and out of step with the Spirit –
- 1 Corinthians 1:10-13 — I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided?
- Mark 3:24-26 — If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
- Colossians 3:12-15 — Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
To those who are weak in their faith, we must learn to show grace within the body. In Corinth, Paul encouraged knowledgeable Christians to show gentleness and understanding to new believers who, get this, still did not understand that there is only one God and that idols are fictitious, meaningless and powerless – “not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled (1 Corinthians 8:7).” Rather than ridiculing these new believers for their tremendous lack of understanding, Paul encouraged the enlightened Christians not to eat meat sacrificed to idols in order to remove that stumbling block from the spiritual development of those baby Christians.
Be gracious to those who are misguided in their faith but who love Jesus, and continue to lovingly proclaim the truth of God to them, guiding them gently to greater understanding as a reconciler. It is hard to be on the ministry of reconciliation when you are quarreling with others and putting up barriers or stumbling blocks.
One of the best methods of restoring unity within the Body is by getting Christians back into the word of God. I am very thankful for the Defenders Group with representation across the denominations, studying God’s word together with a heart for the Lord and for each other.
Romans 14:12 — “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
God is Judge, not man. Everyone will give account of their actions before The Lord.
Romans 14:13 — “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
Everything we say and do to others should be intended to bring people closer to Jesus and to each other.
Romans 14:15 — “For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love.”
If others are offended by what you say or do, change your ways if possible within the bounds of godliness to accommodate them, even if your actions aren’t ungodly. Don’t let an issue distract others from Jesus. If you choose your rights over love, your actions are ungodly. Seek reconciliation first.
Romans 14:18, 19 — “Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
Compare this verse with 1 Samuel 2:26 and Luke 2:52. If you are serving Christ and showing grace to others, you will receive favor from others who need to be loved.
Romans 14:21 — “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.”
Good things become bad if they cause issues or problems for others.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 May 22: Be patient and encouraging with those less grounded in the truth than you. Remain true to the word in your own behavior; speak the truth to the misguided in love, and always display the love of Christ.