You might consider it a little strange that during the Christmas season my mind turns to Christ's death and resurrection. It's not that I don't enjoy the Christmas season; quite to the contrary, I love to hear the nativity story and sing and hear the familiar traditional carols. However, I can't help thinking about his death, at this time of year when we celebrate his birth.
According to Webster’s dictionary, discernment is “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure.” Discernment is also associated with wisdom, understanding and judgment. In much the same way that people will lament that these days, and perhaps in any day, common sense is not very common, so also the capacity to discern between good and evil, right and wrong or the ability to ascertain the true value of ideas and principles is also rare.
To make the decision to not be offended does not imply approval. There is liberty to be gained when we do not succumb to being offended. To see and experience things that are offensive is unavoidable, but being offended is a choice that may cause us to feel justified in our own righteousness. Instead follow the example of Jesus and may our hearts be filled with love and compassion.
The command of Jesus to “love our enemies” can be very difficult to accept especially in the light of evil, injustice and other atrocities, but he did not tell us to love our enemies only until they crossed a threshold beyond redemption. We are to be people of mercy because as James says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Psalm 34 was written in a very difficult time in David’s life. In some ways he was the victim of his own success or perhaps more accurately, the success that came from being obedient to the Lord. God’s favor upon David’s life caused Saul to be jealous and as a result David was on the run.
Motivation is a huge component in our lives and we quickly realize that not everyone is motivated by the same factors. In the business world and in athletics, the leaders who excel are the ones who have learned how to use a variety of incentives and disciplines to maximize their organization’s effectiveness. Someone who is good at motivation helps others by getting them to focus on things larger than themselves.
Very few “normal” people look forward to difficult trials and tribulations in their lives. In fact, most of us will do everything that we can to avoid hardship and testing. But should we?
When we asked Jesus to forgive our sins, and we accepted his gift of salvation, we became a member of the great and glorious body of Christ. But there is also an expression of the body of Christ at the local level; we are many members with many different backgrounds, gifts, interests and abilities. This is in part a mystery as to how God can take different people from different backgrounds and experiences and mold us and unite us together into the body of Christ.
It can be uncomfortable at times to welcome and embrace someone on the fringes. You’re never quite really sure if they will do or say something that might cause embarrassment for themselves, but more importantly, the rest of us. However, there is treasure to be found by stretching our reach a little farther. Love and acceptance can make a great impact upon someone who has experienced ostracization and rejection. Life may seem less complicated if our criteria for acceptance is narrow, but we will miss out on what God has in store for us.
Many Christians believe that sound doctrine or teaching is important, but they do not always know why it is important. Sound doctrine is not an end in itself, but instead it serves as guard rails to keep us on the road of faith. Following sound doctrine will lead to sound living, sound ministry and sound hope.