Tag Archives: relationship

Prove All Things: Part 1

 

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. I Thessalonians 5:21

Who is the person who fears Adonai?

He will teach him the way to choose.

He will remain prosperous,

and his descendents will inherit the land. Psalm 25: 12-13

The responsibility to “prove all things” is one we all share, and its application should be a practical and fundamental motivation in our everyday lives. This is what I sought to put into understandable terms when I had the opportunity to speak to the women’s fellowship at our church.When I looked into the phrase “prove all things” in I Thessalonians, I discovered some things I hadn’t expected.

Let’s look at the passage.

19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything.  Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.  NIV

19 Don’t quench the Spirit, 20 don’t despise inspired messages.21 But do test everything—hold onto what is good, 22 but keep away from every form of evil. The Jewish Bible, Tanakh

Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible.  Check out everything, and keep only what’s good.  Throw out anything tainted with evil.  The Message Remix

And then we have this…

18 In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

19 Quench not the Spirit.

20 Despise not prophesyings.

21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly…   King James

According to J.C. Ryle: “St Paul says to us, ‘ Prove all things.  Hold fast that which is good.’ In these words, you have two great truths:

I-The right, duty, and necessity of private judgment.

II- The duty and necessity of keeping firm hold upon truth.”

So here are the questions I had to answer about this passage.

~If we are to test everything, and hold on to the good, then are we to discard something?

~If we are to test all things, how are we to do that? What standard are we to test them against?

~Do we do that?

~What kinds of things are we to test? Spiritual matters alone?

~What kinds of things are spiritual matters? Do these things impact how I live my life?

~If we are to apply this testing to practical decisions and preferences, are there other legitimate standards by which to test those?

~ What are they? Do we use those other standards?

What We Throw Out

First: If we are to test everything, and hold on to the good, then are we to discard something?

Avoid every kind of evil. Hold onto what is good”…Do you see a gray area? Hold on to the good, but keep away from every kind of evil. Abstain from it, throw it out.

What is found not passing the test is called evil, and we are commanded to separate ourselves from it.

The Sources We Use

Next: If we are to test all things, how are we to do that? What standard are we to test them against?

What are some sources of advice we usually go to?

Our common sense… people we respect as peers…premises from a surrounding culture…expert advice…our best judgment based on our beliefs? Do you have any others?

 I submit to you that while living in the midst of a culture which is intrinsically contrary to God’s thinking, that in practical terms, we make decisions all day long which are influenced by that culture. Without examining and without proving.

We swallow our culture’s premises without a thought.

“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.  Prone to leave the God I love.” We are!

We sometimes declare that we’re to use our common sense. And we tend to do this when it’s the last refuge we have, in cases where hundreds of years of culture and the most obvious Biblical references stand against our wishes. But Scripture does not seem to recognize our common sense as a reliable source of wisdom.

Pr 14:12  There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Psalm 53:3 Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way. And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Is 53.

Our own way is called iniquity. My way of acting is called iniquity. Left to my own devices, my own reasoning, my own judgment, I choose iniquity.

Is there an area where God has not spoken and so it’s up to our common sense?

Pr 3:5Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.

There’s that universal word again—all.

How many things are we asked to prove?  “Prove all things.”  That means everything including the ones you thought were settled.  Test them all over again!

Getting Advice from Our Culture

Barnes Notes on the Bible:  “Prove all things—Subject everything submitted to you to the proper test. (I Cor 3:13)…they were carefully to examine everything proposed for their belief. They were not to receive it on trust; to take it on assertion; to believe it because it was urged with vehemence, zeal, or plausibility. In the various opinions and doctrines which were submitted to them for adoption, they were to apply the appropriate tests from reason and the word of God, and what they found to be true they were to embrace; what was false they were to reject. Christianity does not require people to disregard their reason, or to be credulous. It does not expect them to believe anything because others say it is so. It does not make it a duty to receive as undoubted truth all that synods and councils have decreed; or all that is advanced by the ministers of religion. It is, more than any other form of religion, the friend of free inquiry, and would lead people everywhere to understand the reason of the opinions which they entertain.”

My pastor, Robert Kinzel: “We are swimming upstream—big time–against the culture.” “The ship is going down…you don’t want to go with it!” AND “When you begin to look for guidance outside of God’s word, you’re in trouble!”

Here is a description of the unbelieving culture of any time:

Romans 1:21-23: …Although they know who God is, they do not glorify Him as God or thank Him. On the contrary, they have become futile in their thinking, and their undiscerning hearts have become darkened. Claiming to be wise, they have become fools!  

31: brainless, faithless, heartless and mindless.

 If the world is filled with people who go their own way, whose god is their bellies, who don’t refer to Almighty God in the way they lead their lives, why would be go to the world, the culture, for advice?  Are these the sources we use to help us make important decisions about our lives?

And here is Romans 12:2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will

What is the True Test?

I started looking for a definable test.  What was the standard I ought to use? And I was shown this:

Commentary: The prophecies  “ must not be accepted with credulity but are to be tested by more objective revelation and especially the touchstone of Christ’s Lordship. (I Cor 12:3) and His Incarnation.” (I John 4:1-3).

I John tells us how to discern between spirits; this was the test the early Christians were to use.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.

And here is the ‘touchstone of Christ’s Lordship’: I Cor 12:3:

Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says ‘ Jesus be cursed’, and no one can say,’Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.  

So the test that we apply to a premise or idea is whether it  acknowledges  the Lordship of Jesus Christ; and whether it acknowledges that Jesus is who he said he is.

Please read  Prove All Things Part 2 and Prove All Things Part 3

Submission Is Good

Submission carries negative baggage today.

But submission is at the heart of every successful relationship.

What do we mean by submission?

Here is just a taste of what the Bible says:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

 …and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Place yourselves under each other’s authority out of respect for Christ. Ephesians 5:21

Also:

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3

How do we identify a successful relationship?

Not all relationships which endure are successful.  There are unhealthy, co-enabling relationships which last because the two people have a death-grip on each other. So what is meant by “success”?

The two questions have the same answer.

Submission to one another is how any type of relationship survives, and remains beneficial to both people, for any length of time. In order to have a good, healthy, loving  relationship, each must be continually submitting to the other…giving some turf, respecting, letting the other choose, giving little rights-of-way to the other…putting your interests before mine.

This is normal, standard operating procedure within relationships to any but the truly controlling.  We take it as a matter of course that this behavior is ideal, even if we don’t always achieve it.

So why do we object so loudly when it is suggested that there ought to be submission within marriage?

Submission– putting the other before oneself –is basic equipment for conducting a marriage. How can we expect to happily coexist with another human being without submitting to one another in the most intimate and intense relationship in our lives?

Submission is what both of you sign up for in front of witnesses when you get married.

 

Projects, Pets, and Full Plates

If you are a woman with a child, don’t look for projects. You already have a project that requires all your attention and talent. You already have a built-in full-time career.

We all feel more comfy with tasks or jobs. They come with objective measures for how well the job is done.  The measures tell you when the job is completed and you can move on. These jobs are things to do which have a finishing point, about which we can feel a sense of accomplishment. Things which we can exert our power over and receive no willful resistance. Things for which we receive feedback about our performance from coworkers and superiors.

But if you have children, you have an ongoing task built into your life which calls for different methods. That person, or those people, require that you engage with them, act toward them, behave around them. They require that you constantly acquire wisdom about how to teach and guide them. You need to learn on the job.

This task is never done; it is life-long.

You will receive a lot of resistance to your work. You are struggling with an autonomous being who is your equal in will, and hasn’t yet learned to be master of himself.  He is still learning self-control, other-centeredness, and courtesy. You may have several of these beings to relate to, each different from the others.

There are only subjective and open-ended measures for your work; you can never know whether you are accomplishing your job well. Results are as permanent as sand beneath the waves. In fact, you will probably get the worst resistance and hostility when you are doing your job best.

I understand why women with children opt for careers rather than staying home full-time; in some ways it’s easier.

But I find a puzzling thing among women with and without careers.

Working women with demanding jobs and children find themselves stressed and obsessed with a third task.  It can be a ministry, a demanding pastime, or a demanding pet. The notable thing about these third tasks is that they are optional.

Women who believe that it is preferable to be full-time stay at home mothers, and even homeschool, because that lifestyle allows them to be engaged in their children’s lives…who have chosen to be the primary teachers and disciplers to their children…also find themselves engaged in a third task.  It might be a ministry, a family hobby, or just the need to be involved in the endless opportunities available to a woman who has complete prerogative over her schedule, and who has a car. With these optional tasks, these women are also adding stress and distraction to their already-full plates.

Any and all of those things will crowd out the real eternal task you have in front of you: raising your child. Loving your child takes everything you have.

Raising a child offers little reward in a material sense. Many times you will feel very alone.  You will not feel a sense of accomplishment so much as an awareness of how badly you have done the job compared to how it ought to have been done. You will not be paid or be treated to any system of job reviews. There is no system to provide you with feedback from co-workers or superiors. And you cannot quit this job, ever.

It’s relationship you are tasked with.  Building a relationship with each of the children you have is your responsibility. You are called to it the day your child is born. It’s open-ended, subjective, unpredictable, exhausting, and thankless. It’s humbling and absolutely necessary.

And please don’t mistake pet ownership for relationship. Pets are not eternal beings who will forever be influenced by the quality of your discipling. You are not answerable to Almighty God for how faithfully you lived out your calling to bend them toward a lifetime of faithfulness. Pets do not have an eternal destiny. Preferring pet training to the call of loving and shaping your child is so sad I don’t know where to go with it.

 

My Home is for Sharing

 

Hospitality begins at home.

Before hospitality becomes outward-focused, in showering our kindness on those from outside our home, hospitality must be intentionally inward-focused, showering our family members with love and acceptance.

Hospitality toward others must be built on a foundation of something good you have established in your home.  Guests will sense what we are. If we are stressed and fearful about making the physical environment just right, but our family relationships are disregarded and unloving, guests will see that.  If my energy is spent on engaging with my family and my goal is loving them, guests will see that.  It will make my home a place that they want to be in. People who visit our home should want to be included in what’s already going on

Hospitality is sharing your HOME, not your house.  It is sharing your home, that is, sharing the family you have established and lavished your love on along with the place you do that in. Your goal should be to make your home a haven, a place where people are loved, accepted, valued and supported.  That is, first to your family members, and very definitely secondly, to those who come into your home.

Your first primary and most important objects of hospitality are those people in your own family. You know, the ones God gave you. The people He planned from the beginning of Creation to be in your family, living their lives next to you day after day. He had reasons for putting these people in your life, and His reasons are always perfect and right.

And since God is the essence of love, and since we are to be like Him…it follows that we ought especially to deliberately love those people.

Sharing Our Home

I believe that God gave me and my husband a home to share.  It’s a talent given to us, not to be buried in the ground, but to be invested. We invest our home and family comfort in the people with whom we are seeking to build relationships. Our home and family are gifts not to be hoarded but shared.

The Author of Love

Follower of Christ, do not make an idol of your relationship.

The love you have is a blessing from the hand of God; it is amazing and sublime. It’s sometimes hard to take our eyes off of such a wonderful and pure thing, beginning to look to it when trials in life appear. But you should not pin all your expectations on it; not because it may fail but because we must worship not the created thing but the Creator.

He is the author and the completer of the love you share. He is the goal and the purpose of your love. He planned your relationship and all its consequences at the beginning of the world. He is the one spoken of and represented when you faithfully live out the love He has given you. Do not forget Who you are being faithful to when you love faithfully and well: your spouse and God.

Malachi 2:14-15 says, “…the Lord is acting as a witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are His. And why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.”

In this passage the prophet Malachi is speaking for God to the people. God is saying that He is purposely turning a deaf ear to the people’s requests, even though they are “flooding the altar with tears.”(v.13) The reason He is doing this is to indict them for being unfaithful to their wives!

God is standing up for the wives, standing like a wall between the men’s offerings and His blessings. Verse 14: “You ask ‘Why?’ It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her…”

What an endearing portrait of God. It matters very much to Him, for your spouse’s sake, if you are faithless to the one He has given you.

But also, God is the one Being in all Creation who can justifiably be self-centered. It really is all about Him. God has made you one, has made your flesh and spirits unite, and God wants that union to produce more offspring for Him.

So we should by all means in awe of the unique union He has given us, but our eyes should be on the purpose of it. It is God’s purpose, and it ought to be our purpose as well.