By Daniel Emma
This is a really strange time we’re living in right now. There’s a lot of confusion and speculation going on in the world right now, even amongst believers. Amidst the wide range of emotions so many different people are feeling, I thought it might be helpful to remind us all from God’s Word about some basic Christian principles. It’s easy to forget sometimes the simple (simple in concept, not always in practice) exhortations of our heavenly Father, and we get sidetracked by our sinful natures so very easily. So with that in mind, I wanted to remind you of several Christian virtues and activities we must remember to “put on.” Amidst the confusion and differing opinions about many different things, let’s remember the clarity of our God’s instructions.
1. Don’t complain – Do all things without grumbling or disputing. Philippians 2:14. It’s really easy to complain right now. Many people are edgy and easily angered. We must remember to do “all things” without grumbling/complaining.
2. Put away anger – Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20. Sinful, human, fleshly anger never has, and never will, produce the righteousness of God. Getting angry at your fellow citizens, friends, family members, or government doesn’t produce the righteousness of God that you are called to seek after (Matt. 6:33)
3. Avoid quarreling – Remind them to…avoid quarreling. Titus 3:1-2. (see also Phil. 2:14, Tit. 3:9, 2 Tim. 2:24). Much discussion and debate is happening right now as to what exactly is going on. In all of our discussions, which can in fact be very helpful, let’s remember to avoid strife, quarrels, dissensions, factions and the like.
4. Avoid slander – You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people. Leviticus 19:16. Refrain from misrepresenting, distorting, and mocking other people’s views.
5. Rejoice – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Philippians 4:4. While the Christian life most certainly does include sorrow and weeping, joy is a preeminent virtue of the Christian. We’re called to rejoice even in sorrow (2 Cor. 6:10). To mope around because many of your favorite activities have been canceled or postponed is unacceptable behavior and is not walking in a manner worthy of the calling to which you’ve been called. As James instructs us, “Count it all joy, my brothers, whenever you meet trials of various kinds…” (Jam. 1:2-4).
6. Give thanks – Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18. In all your searching to figure out what’s real and what’s not; in all your questioning as to what exactly God would have you do at this time, know this: God’s will is for you to give thanks. Our God is sovereign over all things and has ordained good for us. Ungratefulness is unbecoming to any of God’s creatures; how much more His children!
7. Honor everyone – Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:17.
8. Be kind – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32. Instead of getting upset with others and slandering them, be kind to them. Our God is kind to all and so too must we be. This is especially true for you families who are spending extra time together. It’s quite easy to bite and devour one another. Choose to show the same kindness your Savior shows to you.
9. Bear with one another – Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7. (see also Col. 3:12-13). Unfortunately, we are often unkind to one another, whether that be to family members, strangers, or brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t repay evil with evil. Bear with other’s faults and failures. I think also of us elder’s failures in handling everything perfectly. Bear with us and one another. “Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.” Ecclesiastes 7:21-22.
10. Pray for government leaders – First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may live a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good and is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim. 2:1-4. Pray for President Trump and Governor Mills in particular. Pray for wisdom to rule justly (even pagan kings like Nebuchadnezzar and Darius were able to reign justly when influenced by prayer and godly people) and for their salvation. God may perhaps grant them too the repentance that leads to life!
11. Pray for the elders – Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God. Hebrews 13:7a. Remember us in prayer too. For myself in particular, please pray that I would not grow weary in prayer.
12. Don’t trust riches – As for the rich in this present age, remind them not to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19. I know many have suffered, and likely will continue to suffer to some extent, great financial loss. I would remind you of this exhortation to “not set your hopes on the uncertainty of riches.” If you are bitter, angry, worried etc. about finances, remember to set your hope on God. Cast all of your cares upon him, for he cares for you. Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave your nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6
13. Be watchful in prayer – Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2. In many ways, it seems to me that God is giving great opportunity for His people to give themselves to prayer. May God be desiring to work a revival in our country through His people’s concentrated prayers? Don’t squander the opportunity.
14. Seek the things that are above – If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:1-2. Many will use the additional “free time” (no time is free, it’s all the Lord’s) they have right now for self-indulgence. Oh, that we would not be numbered among them! Seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth!
15. And finally, Receive instruction – For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 13:11. What exactly God is doing right now, nobody knows. No matter what exactly is going on though, let us remember to grow in Christlikeness during this time. Is this God’s discipline? Is it something else? I don’t know. Frankly, I’m not too concerned about it. What I am concerned about, though, is that God’s people are actually “trained” by whatever it is God is doing right now. To not realize that God has planned good and good works for us to walk in right now, would be folly. Let us not miss the opportunity to “yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness” by being “trained by it.”
There is a fair amount of information in this email. It may be profitable to you to spend the next several days meditating upon a few of these items at a time. It may also be profitable for you and your family if you discussed some of this info together to help one another think everything through biblically.
I love you all dearly and am praying for you often.