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“Grieve is a Love Word”

My last post was about a decisive question that can help us say no without guilt. That question was,

“Who are you willing to disappoint?”

I ended the post with a look at Mary and Martha through that clarifying lens and quoted Jon Bloom. Bloom drove the point home with this statement, Mary was more willing to disappoint Martha than to disappoint Jesus. 

Whoa dere, boy! We can disappoint Jesus?- the Son of God, and the second member of the Holy Trinity?  Little old me can disappoint Almighty God?

Maybe this is as clear to you as it was for my friend Peg. “Well,” she simply said, “if it’s possible to please God, it must be possible to displease him. So, yeah, we can disappoint God.”

Scripture makes that plain- that we definitely can please God. (See Col. 1:10, Rom. 12:1, 14:18, Col. 3:20, 1 Thess. 2:4, 1 Tim. 2:1-3, 5:4, Heb. 13:16, 1 John 3:22 for examples.)

In a nutshell, whenever we trust and obey God, he is pleased.

Can you make God sad?

But for many of us that line from Bloom about disappointing Jesus begs the question: Can we make God sad?

After all, Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. And we know with Job that he can do all things; no purpose of his can be thwarted. He makes known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.

To those who would argue that God can’t be grieved because he knew what was coming, I would say, Really? Just because I know a dear friend is losing a battle with cancer means I won’t grieve when I see her body wracked with pain and losing the fight? Really?

Knowing it’s coming doesn’t make it any less sad when it comes.

So is it possible to grieve an all-knowing, all-powerful, sovereign God?

I think so. Here’s why.

1. “Love does not equal unconditional affirmation.”

That’s what Kevin DeYoung says. It’s in the context of The Hole in our Holiness, in a chapter called “The Pleasure of God and the Possibility of Godliness.”

And I agree with DeYoung: We need to clear up the confusion about whether or not a forgiven, justified, reconciled, adopted, born-again believer can displease God.

DeYoung breaks it down,

The logic seems sound: “I am clothed in Christ’s righteousness. Nothing can separate me from the love of God. So no matter what I do, God sees me as his pure, spotless child.” It’s true there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1), but this does not mean God will condone all our thoughts and behaviors.

Though in Christ he overlooks our sins in a judicial sense, he is not blind to them. 

For the record, affirmation means approval or validation. So, to paraphrase, God’s love for us does not mean that he approves or validates everything we do. Even believers can displease God. Scripture is clear about that. Our sins hide his face from us.

Discountenanced was born one sad night. But discountenanced does not mean unloved.

2. Discipline goes with displeasure and love.

DeYoung continues,

We can “grieve” the Holy Spirit of God (Eph. 4:30). Though God is always for us in Christ (Rom. 8:31-34), Christ can still have things against us (Rev. 2:4). The fact that God disciplines his children (Heb. 12:7) means that he can sometimes be displeased with them.

God gives consequences. Moses struck the rock. God didn’t affirm that choice. As a result, he couldn’t enter the Promised Land. Even though he talked with Moses as to a friend.

My sons have heard this more than once: I discipline you because I love you. That’s why I don’t make them eat their veggies and brush their teeth and practice piano. I don’t discipline them because I don’t love them like I love you.

So with God. If he didn’t love us, he wouldn’t notice our sin and he’d never discipline us. But Hebrews 12:8, If you are not disciplined you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 

No, love does not equal unconditional affirmation. 

3. His “For-us” Frown

Instead, DeYoung writes (p. 74),

Love entails the relentless pursuit of what is for our good. And our good is always growth in godliness. “Those whom I love,’ Jesus said to the church at Laodicea, “I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19).

Is that confusing? Maybe this will help. DeYoung explains,

Through faith we are joined to Christ and have union with him. That bond is unbreakable. Our union with Christ is an established fact, guaranteed for all eternity by the indwelling of the Spirit. When we sin, our union with Christ is not in jeopardy. But our communion is.

It is possible for believer to have more or less of God’s favor. It is possible for us to have sweet fellowship with God, and it’s possible to experience his frown- not a frown of judgment, but a “for us” frown that should spur us on to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24).

I’ve been the giver and the receiver of “for us” frowns and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that behind that frown  is love.

The Westminster Confession of Faith (11.5) puts it this way,

Although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.

I hope this makes sense.

But why does it matter?

No Choke on Delight

Here’s one huge reason. DeYoung concludes it up this way (p. 74),

One of the main motivations for obedience is the pleasure of God. If we, in a well-intentioned effort to celebrate the unimpeachable nature of our justification, make it sound as though God no longer concerns himself with our sins, we’ll put  a choke on our full-throttle drive to holiness.

God is our heavenly Father…He will always love his true children. But of we are his true children we will also love to please him. It will be our delight to delight in him and know that he is delighting in us.

Our delight to delight in him and know he is delighting in us. Amen.

What Grieves God

In his sermon on Ephesians 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,” C.H. Spurgeon writes,

I think I now see the Spirit of God grieving, when you are sitting down to read a novel and there is your Bible unread…You have no time for prayer, but the Spirit sees you very active about worldly things, and having many hours to spare for relaxation and amusement. And then he is grieved because he sees that you love worldly things better than you love him.

…He will not hate his people, but he does hate their sins, and hates them all the more because they nestle in his children’s bosoms. The Spirit would not be the Spirit of truth if he could approve of that which is false in us: he would not be pure if that which is impure in us did not grieve him.

He is grieved with us mainly for our own sakes, for he knows what misery sin will cost us; he reads our sorrows in our sins… He grieves over us because he sees how much chastisement we incur, and how much communion we lose.”

God grieves because he knows what misery our sin will cost us, because he knows the sweet communion that we lose.

What a God. What a merciful, loving God.

“Grieve is a Love Word.”

In Jeremiah 2:13, this loving God, says, They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. When we forsake God and look for satisfaction elsewhere, I think God grieves.

I close with a quote from S. Lewis Johnson,

Grieve is a love word.You don’t grieve people who don’t love you. To truly grieve a person, what is necessary is that the other person must have high regard for you. So that grieve is a word of love. That is the word that is used here: grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. 

He is grieved, because we are the objects of the love of the triune God.

To acknowledge that we can disappoint, displease or grieve God is to realize at least some of his great love for us.

Because grieve is a love word, we make it our goal to please God.

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

2 Corinthians 5:9

 

For more on “The Two Wills Of God” – the one that will never be broken and the one we break when we grieve him- check out John Piper’s sermon “What is the Will of God and How do We Know It?”

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Tuning Heartstrings

“[A] gracious heart is like a musical instrument, which though it be exactly tuned, a small matter brings it out of tune again; yea, hand it aside but a little, and it will need setting again before another lesson can be played upon it.” 

John Flavel, Keeping the Heart

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” 

Proverbs 4:23

My friend Hannah and I are reading a 350 year-old book together. It’s called Keeping the Heart and it’s by a Puritan pastor named John Flavel. As we sat recently, musing and quoting our starred, favorite lines, Hannah made a very resonant connection.  

“You should write that up,” I said. The rest of this post is what she wrote, only slightly fine-tuned.

Constantly Tuning

“[A] gracious heart is like a musical instrument, which though it be exactly tuned, a small matter brings it out of tune again; yea, hand it aside but a little, and it will need setting again before another lesson can be played upon it. If gracious hearts are in a desirable frame in one duty, yet how dull, dead, and  disordered when they come to another!”

Being an orchestra teacher, Flavel’s analogy instantly struck a chord.

Every day, every class begins with tuning. Some days it is a quick and easy process to tune an instrument. Other days it takes half a class period. And some days we tune at the beginning of the class period, only for someone’s instrument to slip out of tune at a few minutes into rehearsal.

The comparison is obvious: Simply put, my heart- mind, will, and emotions- need to be brought into correct alignment with God’s will and ways.

My heart needs to be in tune with His Word, His ways, His character – with the truth. But my heart is affected by matters both great and small, within myself and around me, that bring me out of alignment.

My heart, like my students’ instruments,  must be constantly realigned and adjusted and reset.

Gut Strings

Upon my first reading of Flavel’s analogy, that was as far as the connection went. But when I read it again, I thought about the time period in which Flavel lived.  Suddenly his analogy ran deeper and truer.

You see John Flavel lived in the mid to late 1600s. In that time, strings on instruments were made of animal gut, typically from a sheep. These strings were very temperamental and prone to going out of tune (and breaking). Once tuned, as Flavel wrote, “a small matter brings it out of tune again.”

The slightest change in temperature, humidity, or any other change in environment would undo the tuning.  A musician could play a Stradivari or Guarneri violin- which are still considered among the finest crafted stringed instruments in history-but their strings were gut strings.

Though capable of producing sweet-sounding music, gut strings were hard to manage, moody and in constant need  of care and retuning.

Oh how my heart resembles a gut string!

Temperamental, prone to going out of tune, and in constant need of adjustment. Yes, I am an instrument made beautifully by the Master Craftsman, but the strings on which I play, have been affected by the Fall.

This means I need tuning not just once in a while, and not just in one context of life or one time of the day, but in every context, every day.

Come And Be Tuned

Now back to the orchestra room for a minute. I think of my students who struggle to get their instruments to stay in tune. Some come to me immediately upon it going out of tune. Others look up at me and make this face.

It’s a face that I’ve come to know as the “oh-no-my-string-is-out-of-tune” face. And they sit there, making that face, as if the looking at me like that will somehow tune the instrument.

I used to respond to this face they make with annoyance, wondering, “Why don’t they just come to me? I could easily help, and I’m a only a few steps away.” That’s what I used to think, as my students would sit and look up at me, out of tune.

But I’ve come to respond to this face with a smile, and sometimes a chuckle, and say, “It’s out of tune, yes? Come to me so I can tune it.” Someday they may come to me right away, but for now they need the observant eyes and ears of a teacher and an invitation to come and be tuned.

I can say this to my passive, sitting out-of-tune students now because I realize how like them I am as I relate to God.

Go To The Master Tuner

I cannot tune my own heart. Try as I may, it just never stays tuned!

As it says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Deceitful – twisted, untrustworthy, misleading. Desperately wicked – incurably sick.

What does one do with an incurable sickness? Take it to the master doctor. He also happens to be the Master Heart Tuner.

Like my students when their instruments fall out of tune and need my help, so I must bring my heart to the God, the Master Heart Tuner. Thankfully, He is not far off. And He knows just the right way to approach the instrument and the perfect way to tune it.

Sometimes the Master Tuner sets the instrument back into tune with great facility. But sometimes it takes a bit more wrestling with the instrument and strings to bring it into tune.

Eventually the “instrument” cooperates, though, and it is perfectly tuned. But honestly, like those old gut strings, it only stays tuned for a minute or maybe a few before the slightest upset brings me out of focus or alignment with God.

But that’s when Christ calls me to come to him. Like my students, I must to go back to God and be retuned. And He invites me to himself and gladly tunes me again and again and again. We come. He tunes.

And all the glory for any sweet tune we produce goes to the Master Tuner.

Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing

Tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
mount of God’s redeeming love.

-Robert Robinson

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Easter’s Over. But Do You Know Resurrection Power?

Did you feel it this morning? I mean, when you opened your eyes, did you feel wonder-working power coursing through your veins?

Easter is over, but did you know resurrection power today? Did you?

No?

You’re not alone.

Power Piled Up

Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened that you may know…what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty strength that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places. Ephesians 1:18a, 19-20

That’s just part of the prayer. But did you notice how Paul heaped up power words to describe what’s available for those who believe?

He could have stopped at just one term, but he piled up all of these:

power – dunamis – strength, power, ability, from which we get “dynamite” ,

working – energeia – working, compulsion from within; from which we get “energy”

mighty – kratos – force, strength; might; in our word autocrat

power/strenth – ischus – physical force, ability, force, strength, might

So much power. Immeasurably great power. And it’s all for believers; for us- for me, for you.

But what does it do?

Wonder-Working Power?

It works so many ways, but here’s what it did in me, today.

You see, I’ve been nursing a certain hurt for a while. But the current strengthened me to look the one who hurt me in the eye and smile.  It helped me fix my thoughts on good things when self-pity and wounded pride flared up. This requires resurrection power.

The more we are united by faith with God in Christ,” Paul Bayne says,the more does His virtue or power work upon us, both in conforming us to Himself.” Bayne describes this power in four vivid ways:

(1) What a power is that which so changes men, and makes lambs of lions, chaste and sober of filthy and intemperate, humble of proud — a thing harder than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.

(2) To continue and promote the work of sanctification in us, who are carnal, sold under sin, is a thing no less strange than to keep and make fire burn higher and higher in water.

(3) The quickening of us with heavenly desires and holy affections is no small power; neither is it less wonderful than to see iron and lead flying upward…

Such is resurrection power.

Why We Need Resurrection Power

Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes two huge reasons why we must know this resurrection power– a negative reason and a positive reason.

Negatively

Negatively, because of the powers set against us. The Christian in this world is one waging a constant warfare– the world, the flesh and the devil are dead-set against us. (See 1 John 2.)

Here Lloyd-Jones explains the urgency in our war against the flesh, specifically against the force of habit.

[C]onsider the force of habits. How many a man has been stumbled by this. He comes into the Christian life and he’s heard, All things are become new. Then he begins to find there are certain habits within him and he finds it rather difficult to break them. The old man is not annihilated. He’s still there and he’s got to be dealt with.

You and I have to mortify the body. Don’t imagine for a moment that evil habits will be taken right out of your life…There is nothing but the power of God that can keep a man going against the force of habit.

To face the force of habit requires we know this power. But that’s not all.

Positively

Then Lloyd-Jones describes the positive need we have for resurrection power.

You and I are called to keep the commandments of God. Christ calls us to keep his commandments. There are the 10 Commandments and the moral law of God- that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. We are called to follow Christ: Be perfect as your Father is perfect. We’re to live like this sort of life now…

We’re absolutely helpless. We wouldn’t stand for a second. We couldn’t live it for a moment but for this exceeding great power of God that is in us.

The power, I say, is in us. The Apostle is not praying that they will receive this power, but that they will realize that it is in them…It’s an utter fallacy to think that God makes a man new and then leaves him. No, he wouldn’t have stood a moment unless this power is in him. It’s our realization of this power in us that varies

So why don’t we realize resurrection power? Why don’t we know it? 

I mean know it. I mean experientially know it- like you know how a hot shower feels or how dark chocolate tastes, how coffee smells and your dog’s fur feels.

That know.

Dull Heart-Eyes

The biggest reason we don’t know this kind of power is that our spiritual eyes are dull.

That’s what Paul says at the beginning of the Ephesians 1 prayer that the “eyes of your hearts would be enlightened.” Because Paul knew that our heart-eyes had to be enlightened to really know resurrection power.

Notice that Paul didn’t pray that God would give us this mighty power, but rather that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened to know this power. Which means we should probably pray this way. That God will help us understand the resurrection power we have.

Unless God gives us “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation the knowledge of him,” we won’t really know it. And Scripture is plain, God is at work in us today (Ephesians 3:20, Philippians 2:13, Hebrews 13:20-21).

But we won’t know that unless our heart-eyes are opened to see what’s already ours.

Power Already Ours

Steven Cole related a story about the late, wealthy newspaper publisher, William Randolph Hearst. Hearst had spent a fortune collecting art treasures from around the world.

Then one day he found a description of some items that he desperately wanted to own. So he sent his agent abroad to search for them. After months on the trail, his agent reported that he’d finally found the treasures. And guess what? They were already in Hearst’s warehouse. He had been searching for treasures that he already owned!

If you are a Christian God’s mighty power is already yours.

But maybe like Mr. Hearst, you’re not aware of what you possess and you don’t possess your possessions. Maybe you don’t experience God’s mighty power to resist sin and live a holy life. 

Cole asks if some of us are looking at our lives and asking,

Is there a power that can subdue my tongue? Is there a power that can subdue my anger? What power can subdue my bitterness? Is there a power that can subdue my lust? Is there something that can conquer the sin I don’t ever seem to get a hold of?

Well, Paul is right there waiting for us when we ask questions like those. He’s already prayed that God would open the eyes of our heart to know the surpassing greatness of His power toward us to believe.

Then, with a prayer, it shows up.

How His Power Shows Up

In Romans 6 Paul explains how being united with Christ means we died to sin and we live to God. How resurrection power means we die to sin and and live to God.

For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 

Then, in Philippians 3, Paul explains how even his own suffering and physical loss is gain,

[T]hat I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead… Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 

Paul had been a believer more than two decades when he wrote that to the Philippians. Which means that that pressing on to know God’s resurrection power isn’t one and done. To know resurrection power is our lifelong quest.

I love how John Piper explains this life-and-death, resurrection power paradox:

Sin is defeated at the cross; yet sin remains to be fought. Satan was defeated at the cross; yet Satan remains to be fought. And for this fight, may God answer Paul’s prayer in our lives! May we know the power of God toward us who believe— resurrection power now—to live and die for the glory of Christ.

Resurrection Power Now

Yesterday I asked a few friends how they experience resurrection power now.

One friend said she feels the power when she forgives a someone who keeps disappointing.  Another said he knows it when he is patient with a child who keeps provoking.  And the third said she experiences it when she keeps praying- without losing heart- for a loved-one who keeps straying. The last friend said she felt this power when she stops the vicious cycle of anxious thoughts to cast her cares on God.

How about you? How do you feel resurrection power?

I feel it when I repent and press on when I sin, rather than waste time in guilt and shame. And I know resurrection power when I’m strengthened to wait patiently and serve others with joy. Like when I greet ones who hurt me with friendly eyes and a smile.

And none of these is one bit natural for me. The actions are fire raging in water, iron flying upward. Dying to sin, living for the glory of Christ. 

All are proof of God’s wonder-working resurrection power.

There Is A Power

Maybe yesterday you ate too much at Easter brunch. Or lost your cool, again, with a rude child last night. And maybe today you’re asking, Is there a power that can help subdue my sin or break this force of habit? 

Martyn Lloyd-Jones answers a resounding yes. Even in these we can trust that God’s resurrection power is at work. We can trust that he who began a good work will be faithful to bring it to completion. 

Oh, beloved people! Is there anything more important to know than this? We are in the hands of God and he’s working in us. He’s given us this power to believe and He’s right now working in us- fashioning us, molding us into perfection.

We can’t avoid it and we can’t escape it. We are in His hands and he will go on with it -Blessed be his name! My comfort and assurance this morning is to know that God is working in me and He will never cease to work in me until I stand before him in glory. 

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,

according to the power at work within us,

to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

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My Word of the Year: Adorn

 

“That in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”

Titus 2:10

You know how some pants- skinny jeans probably- can make you look 10 pounds heavier? And how, mercifully, there’s also a cute-fit pair that seems to take pounds off?

How you fade in the teal blue top, but cobalt blue always makes the outfit pop? Or how the Miss Mauve lipstick makes you look sick but Rich Rosewood like royalty? And how the right jewelry and hair set it all off? How all of these- to use an old-fashioned word- adorn?

Last week, I was privileged to share with a women’s group. The title was Adorned and the subtitle way too long to repeat. Honestly, the talk was too.

If I could give it again, I’d say it this way: Dress in ways that make yourself look good. Live in a ways that makes God look great.

Yes, I am well aware that dressing- and living so “put together”- won’t always feel natural. Yoga pants and grumbling words might feel like a better fit. Sometimes we have to fake it till we make it. Adorning can be effortful.

But not much that’s good comes easy. It takes strong grace and our resolve. Which is why my word is ADORN.

My Word of the Year

Did you pick a theme word for the year?

One of my friends picked HELP. Another picked ENGAGE. It took me till March, but I’ve finally got one. Yup. You guessed it- ADORN.

The word adorn comes from the Greek word kosmeo, from which we get our English word cosmetic. It means “to arrange, to put in order,” – to present in a way that enhances beauty. The Greeks used it to describe how the right jewelry would beautify a well-dressed woman or how tasteful decor could beautify a room.

The Apostle Paul used the term in Titus 2:10  to describe what happens when people live godly in their unique spheres of life. Adorning the doctrine of a saving, transforming God is what we do when we show patience and kindness and self-control.

Those are just some of the many ways we make God look good. The ways we live that set His beauty off and adorn.

Adorn

Pastor C.H. Spurgeon said that adornment in this Titus 2 sense is,

  • A tribute to beauty. Godly behavior honors the gospel.
  • An  advertisement of beauty. Holiness calls attention to the natural beauty of the gospel.
  • An enhancement of beauty. Godliness gives emphasis to the excellence of doctrine.

We know how to zhuzh up our look with the the right color and fit. 

But we’ve also seen how poorly fitting clothes, wrong color shades and gaudy jewelry can actually diminish the appearance of beauty. The beauty is still there but the color or style detract and deflect. They don’t enhance or “set it off.” They don’t adorn.

We do the same things to the doctrine of a saving God. We diminish- not God’s actual beauty– but the appearance of God’s gorgeous, glorious salvation to those who know Christ through us.

I Should Like to See it Working

Alexander MacLaren was a 19th-century, English preacher. His treatment of adorn has impacted me greatly and I think his is a word for all Christ followers today. That’s why MacLaren gets the podium for the rest of this post. (The full transcript of this message can be accessed here. )

[M]en do quite rightly and legitimately, judge of systems by their followers...It is just as fair, when a creed comes before our notice which assumes to influence men’s conduct, to say: ‘Well, I should like to see it working,’ as it is for any of you mill-owners to say, when a man comes to you with a fine invention upon paper, ‘Have you got a working model of it? Has it ever been tried? What have been the results?’

So when we Christians stand up and say, ‘We have a faith which is able to deaden men’s minds to the world; which is able to make them unselfish; that is able to lift them up above cares and sorrows; which is able to take men and transform their whole nature, and put new desires and hopes and joys into them’; it is quite fair for the world to say:

‘Have you? Does it? Does it do so with you? Can you produce your lives as working models of Christianity? Can you produce your cure as a proof of the curative power of the gospel that you profess?’

So, dear friends, this possibility does lie before all Christian men, that they may by their lives conciliate prejudices, prepare people to listen favourably to the message of God’s love, win over men…and make them say: ‘Well, after all, there is something in that Christianity.

Lives Like Mirrors

Our lives ought to be like the mirror of a reflecting telescope. The astronomer does not look directly up into the sky when he wants to watch the heavenly bodies, but down into the mirror on which their reflection is cast.

And so our little, low lives down here upon earth should so give back the starry bodies and infinitudes above us that some dim eyes, which…could not gaze into the violet abysses, may behold them reflected in the beauty of our life.

Our lives should be like the old missals, where you find the loving care of the monastic scribe has illuminated the holy text…The best Illustrated Bible is the conduct of the people who profess to take it for their guide and law.

Do you repel or attract?

The issues of the conduct of professing Christians are the one or other of these two, either to add beauty to the gospel or to cause the Word of God to be blasphemed. If you do not the one you will be doing the other. If my life is not throwing back honour…it will be throwing back discredit.

Your lives, professing Christians, are not neutral in their effect upon men’s estimate of your creed. Either you attract or repel. The one pole of the magnet or the other you do present. Either you make men think better of God’s truth, or you make them think worse of it. There are no worse enemies of the gospel than its inconsistent friends.

My brother! I bring to each of you the very solemn question: Do you repel or attract? You have, perhaps, children. Are they favourably disposed to Christianity because of what they see in the lives of their father and mother? or do your inconsistencies… drive them away and disgust them with a profession of religion, and with religion itself?

You have friends and acquaintances, and a circle whom you influence. Do you influence them to look with favour upon that Word which has made you what you are? Or do you turn them away from it?

The Smallest Duties, Done For Christ’s Sake

Remember, too, as the context teaches us, that the lives which commend and adorn the doctrine must be such as manifest Christian principle in the smallest details.

These slaves [Titus 2:8-9], in their smoky huts, with their little tasks… were to ‘adorn the doctrine.’ For it is the little duties which by their minuteness tempt men to think that they can do them without calling in the great principles of conduct, that give the colour to every life after all…

A handful of snow in the hedge in the winter time will fall into the same curves, and be obedient to the same great physical laws which shape the glaciers that lie on the sides of the Alps. You do not want big things in order, largely and nobly, to manifest big principles.

The smallest duties, distinctly done for Christ’s sake, will adorn the doctrine…

He Must First Beautify Us

And now one last word. How is such a manner of life to be attained? I know of only one way, and that is by continually living near Jesus Christ.

If we are to beautify Him, He must first beautify usIf we are to adorn the doctrine, the doctrine must adorn us. That is to say, it is only when we live near Him, are in constant touch of His hand, and communion with His spirit, it is only then that His beauty shall pass into our faces, and that beholding the glory of the Lord ‘we shall be changed into the same image from glory to glory.’

Only then men will say, “Well, after all, there is something in that Christianity,” Only then will the doctrine of God our Savior look gorgeous.

And don’t you want to adorn the truth of our beautiful, transforming and saving Lord?

“In the same way, let your light shine before others,

so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

“Blessed are the people who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face”

Psalm 89:15