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Faith, Hope, & Charity

by Bernie Parsons 1998

The apostle Paul wrote that three things endure: faith, hope, and charity. Charity is love that is unearned and undeserved. The greatest of the three is charity.  Bernie Parsons

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INTRODUCTION

There is an underlying theme throughout all of the Bible, yet it is one often missed by teacher and student alike. It is the greatest attribute of God, which makes it possible for us to be right with God. It is that which led to man's creation in the beginning. It is the moving force behind our continued existence upon the earth today.

It is that quality of God that makes possible our souls' salvation.

I am talking about charity!

You might say, "I know all about the love of God. That's not new to me."

I would in turn challenge you: Do you fully understand the dimensions of God's love toward us? Can you measure up to the golden standard of God's love for us?

What, exactly, is charity? Some of the older preachers I heard defined it as: "Love in action". Some folks think of charity as something to avoid, a handout. There is a stigma attached to "receiving charity". I have heard it said that some are "too proud to accept charity".

Charity is love that is extended to another without that other person deserving it. Charity is unmerited, unearned, undeserved, unencumbered and unequivocal. It is the love that God has toward us, His creation.

John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1 John 4:9-12: In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Romans 5:6-8: For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Titus 3:3-7: For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

It is no accident that God shows such love. He is the very source and embodiment of love.

1 John 4:7-10: Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:16: And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

The only way we can understand charity is to study the love of God shown to us, then develop that same attribute. It is important that we understand that charity is love without merit. This means it is not used as a repayment to those who love us. Indeed, the word of God tells that we are to love everyone.

We are to be impartial and just in our thinking and dealings with all of mankind. Many religious people have trouble accepting this premise, but it is an important cornerstone to the Christian life. Jesus (the chief cornerstone of the church) tells us to deal fairly and impartially with all.

Luke 6: 31-38: And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Matthew 5: 43-48: Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Note that Jesus instructs us to love our enemies, not just those who love us. This is in keeping with God's characteristics. If we desire to be perfect as He is perfect, we must learn Him as He is. And He did say for us to be holy as He is holy, I Peter 1:15-16: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

God, in His holiness and righteousness, has manifested love for all men. Yes, that includes sinners, as we previously discussed. After all, we have all been sinners at one time or another in our lives.

Romans 3:23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 5:12: Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 3:10-12: As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

I John 1:8-10: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

We must avoid self-righteousness. Why is it that once we avail ourselves of the great love of God, we become selfish with it? We hoard it, not wishing to share it with others! Those that need it most are the ones from whom we withhold it. Remember the words of our Lord in Mark 2:15-17: And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

I have heard various religious people say, "You won't catch me hanging around with sinners!" Do we then condemn Jesus because He did? Beware the leaven of the Pharisees! Our goal is to present the love of God in the gospel of Christ to those who need it most.

The parable of the sower as given by Jesus fascinates me without end. Note that the sower distributes the seed into all the ground, even that which appears unable to bear fruit.

Luke 8: 5-8: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

It is not for us to decide where to sow the seed. Our job is to distribute it far and wide, and allow God to give the increase!

I Corinthians 3: 6-7: I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

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VENGEANCE

We are not to take vengeance upon our enemies, but rather to love them. God is the avenger of those that do evil.

Hebrews 10:30: For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

Romans 12: 17-21: Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

II Thessalonians 1: 6-10: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

Romans 3: 5-6: But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?

God shall judge the world, of this there is no doubt. Yet, we must understand the Spirit of the Lord. It is not God's desire that anyone should lose his or her soul! It is His desire that everyone repents and bows down to worship Him, yielding their lives to His will.

II Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

I Timothy 2: 3-4: For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

The apostles even had trouble understanding this. However, Jesus quickly set them straight!

Luke 9: 51-56: And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.: For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

Now that we understand that we are to be impartial, just and merciful in our dealings with everyone, let us delve more deeply into the idea of charity.

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FAITH, HOPE & CHARITY

I Corinthians 13:13: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Paul, in discussing spiritual gifts with the church at Corinth, indicates that they will cease when that which is perfect is come. He goes on to say that when all these fail, three things will yet continue: faith, hope and charity. Of the three, he says that charity is the greatest.

What is perfection for the Christian? As always, the Bible holds the answer. We already read in Matthew 5:48: Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

What is the manifestation of God's perfection? His love toward us! While we were yet sinners! Charity: unmerited, unearned, undeserved, unequivocal and unconditional! He gave His only begotten of woman, Jesus the Christ, to die upon Calvary's cross as a pure and innocent sacrificial lamb.

I John 4: 10-19: Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.

This is that which is perfect, spoken of by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians, chapter 13. God's love, made perfect in us! No wonder Paul wrote in II Corinthians 4: 6-7: For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

God's great treasure, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is entrusted to us humans, in these vessels of clay! What is the gospel? The essence is captured in John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Jesus achieved perfection as our sacrifice at Calvary.

Hebrews 2:9-10: But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

This is clearly seen in His forgiveness of His tormentors and persecutors, as He hung dying in humiliation and agony on the cross.

Luke 23:34: Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

The martyred disciple Stephen had learned this same lesson, as we see in Acts 7:55-60: But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

My dear friends, are we able to learn this same lesson? To love those who hate us, persecute us and despitefully use us? This is the true charity that is in God, who would have everyone repent and turn his or her heart to Him.

The love of God is perfected in our human lives when we love one another as God loves us!

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LOVE ONE ANOTHER

Mark 12:30: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

This is the greatest commandment from the Law of Moses. All the other laws, and all the words of the prophets, pivot upon understanding and obeying this law. To totally love God results in our wanting to do everything He asks of us; to obey all His commandments; to observe all His judgments (in a state of equity); and to show mercy as He is merciful.

The second great commandment is similar to, and relies upon, the first.

Matthew 22: 36-40: Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Note that the questioner did not ask, "What are the two greatest commandments in the law?" Yet, Jesus answered by relating the two commandments. Why? Because if you love the Lord your God totally, you will love your neighbor as yourself!

There is also implied in this statement a love for self. Jesus was not talking about selfishness. If you love yourself, you will want what is good for you. A self-loving person will want his or her soul to be saved eternally in heaven. A self-loving person will therefore desire to be right with God (righteous), as this is the means to eternal salvation! (John 14:15: If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 15:10: If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.)

A selfish person, on the other hand, will seek self-gratification. That individual will trample on the feelings and interests of others in order to get what he or she wants. This will result in a selfish, and self-righteous, attitude.

You must first love yourself before you can truly love your neighbor. Why would I make such a bold statement? Because this is what the word of God teaches!

Luke 6:31: And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

In order to treat others with the proper respect, care, concern and compassion, you must first know what it takes to be loved! Once you realize what you desire to have done for you (love), then you know what to do for others.

Acts 2:40: And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

If you do not know how to save yourself (through obedience to the will of God), then how can you lead others to salvation?

Philippians 2:12: Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Ecclesiates 12:13: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Hebrews 12:28-29: Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.

Having decided that our soul must be saved, then moving in obedience out of respect for God's authority and power, we realize that we want the souls of our "neighbors" to be saved. Our desire is to tell them the gospel story, to preach Jesus and Him crucified and to live as the salt of the earth, the candle on the candlestick. ("Salt and light", as some religious folks are fond of saying.)

We will do what we can to bring them to the Lord, just like Apostle Paul.

I Corinthians 9: 19-22: For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

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WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?

Luke 10: 25-37: And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

By this answer, Jesus indicated that anyone is our neighbor, especially in time of need. This parable is especially telling when one understands that the Samaritans were reviled and rejected by the Jews.

John 4:9: Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

Again, we do not merely love those who love us; we do not hate our enemies, but love them. Our neighbor is he or she who needs us, regardless of social standing or cultural upbringing. They do not earn our love by first loving us. We love them as God loved us: while they are sinners!

Love your neighbor as yourself!

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LOVE YOUR BROTHER

When it comes to the church, there is a special love.

John 3:35: By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

I Peter 1:22: Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

I Peter 2:17: Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

I Peter 3:8: Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

I Thessalonians 3:12: And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:

I Thessalonians 4:9: But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.

John 13:34: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 15:12: This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

John 15:17: These things I command you, that ye love one another.

Romans 12:10: Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

I John 3:10-18: In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.

Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

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OUR BROTHER'S KEEPER

Genesis 4:9: And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?

Today we continue to ask that question of ourselves: "Am I my brother's keeper?" As human beings, the creation of God, the answer is yes; as members of the church, the body of Christ, again the answer is yes.

The parable of the "Good Samaritan" is evidence of being keeper to our fellow man, even strangers. This is an age-old premise of godliness. Abraham entertained strangers, who turned out to be the messengers of God, Genesis chapter 18. The strangers were to be dealt with fairly and kindly under the Law of Moses.

Exodus 22:21: Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 23:9: Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 19:34: But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 19:10: And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 23:22: And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.

This admonition is echoed in the New Testament.

Hebrews 13:2: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

I Timothy 5: 9-10Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.

When it comes to brotherly love, the entire Christian life is based upon it. The idea is to support and encourage one another, to function as a spiritual family.

I John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

I John 3:17: But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

I John 4:20: If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

John 15:13: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

I John 5:16: If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

Jude 21-23: Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

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CHURCH DISCIPLINE

Many speak of church discipline in a negative, vengeful way. They see it as a way to get back at someone, or bring someone down a notch or two or as a way of getting someone else to toe their line. Church discipline is an act of unselfish love! If it is ever pursued for any other reason, it is done in the wrong spirit altogether!

Revelation 3:19: As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

The Lord rebukes and chastens those He loves. It is for our benefit. This is plainly declared in the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 12:5-13: And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

If we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will reprove and rebuke in love, as required. Again, this is not a selfish act of retribution. It is an act of love for the restoration of the straying or fallen one. We are to follow in the footsteps of God, our Father, and our Lord, Jesus Christ.

II Timothy 4:2: Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

Titus 1:13: This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

Matthew 18: 15-22: Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Luke 6: 37-38: Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

We are to treat others with love and respect, just as we want to be treated. Our function is not to criticize and condemn, rather to heal and promote growth. As members (organs and appendages) of the body of Christ (the church), we are to work together for the good of each individual part, which will result in the overall health of the whole.

Ephesians 4: 11-16: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 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, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

The importance of loving our neighbor as ourself has never been so strikingly portrayed as it has in the passage above. If our brother or sister in Christ is not spiritually well and fit, the entire body is affected. (If allowed to "fester" and inflame, the entire body will be infected! It is imperative to the health of the body of Christ as a whole that each member be at his or her best!)

When a part of our own personal body is in trouble, the whole body rushes to its defense. So it should be with the body of Christ. We should move quickly and lovingly to restore that member that is hurting, or functioning at less than his or her best.

This is the reason for reproof and rebuke. When done, it must be with the best interests of the individual and the church in mind.

Galatians 6: 1-3: Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

The above scripture indicates again that we are to approach discipline carefully and humbly, in the spirit of love and restoration. If our motives are anything less, we are not qualified for the task.

Romans 12: 3-10: For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

I Corinthians 12: 24-27: For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

We see the true charity of God reflected in the body of Christ. We are God's creation; His little children; the body of His son, Jesus. As He loved us, so we love one another, because we are His children.

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Copyright  1998 by:

Bernie Parsons
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Greenup, KY 41144-9641

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