14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. (2 Corinthians 12:14-15)
Paul loved the Corinthian Christians like parents love their children. He had preached Christ among them and through the gospel had laid up great spiritual blessings for them. Paul could say “I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15). But, some of them did not recognize his love and refused the truth he taught them. They loved him less the more he loved them. But, he was resolved to continue loving them the only way he knew how. He would exhaust himself (“spend and be spent”) seeking their salvation. That is what devoted parents do today. Teach your children the truth of the gospel, lay before them the spiritual blessings of Christ and show them the way to heaven. They may refuse your instruction, rejecting your love. But, keep on loving them “more abundantly” by showing them the way to heaven. That’s true love.
28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. (1 John 2:28-29)
Jesus will personally appear “at His coming”. Jesus will not have an invisible coming as the Premillennial “Left Behind” saga suggests. His coming will involve His magnificent appearance. By abiding in Christ now, you will have confidence in His presence when He appears. Children of God “abide in Him” – they “practice righteousness”. You abide in Christ by “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). By following the will of Christ you will be a confident, unashamed child of God before Christ when He comes. Seek His righteousness by practicing it today.
1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— (Titus 2:1-3)
The sound doctrine of Christ includes instruction to older men and women. We sometimes hear it said the older person has “earned the right to say or do whatever they please”. That is not the “sound doctrine” of Christ, it is the wisdom of men. God expects older men and older women to set examples of righteousness in their attitudes, demeanor and conduct. Older men are not given license to be indecent and irreverent. Older women are to exercise self-control in their behavior and language. Follow the “sound doctrine” of Christ in your old age, and your life will strengthen those around you.
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
Like most everyone else, young people want to be respected. Learning that respect is earned makes a lot of difference. Older people are often respected for their years of experience. The young person overcomes inexperience and gains respect by setting an example of righteousness. Fellow Christians can see how you behave and the motive of love in your actions. Be humble in demeanor, not boisterous and arrogant (a pitfall of many youth). Put your faith in the Lord every day and be guided by the principles of purity and truth. By doing these things, your example will encourage others. Don’t try to impress people with loud words or outrageous conduct. Simply live a godly life. That is impressive to God and to God’s people.
1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. (John 9:1-4)
Sin is not passed from parent to child (see Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Physical disability is not divine punishment for some previous wrong. This man’s blindness became a great opportunity for God’s power to be shown in him. Jesus healed his blindness, demonstrating He is the Son of God. If you struggle with a physical disability, the lesson is not to expect a miraculous healing. Rather, it is the assurance that by putting your faith in the Son of God, He will do something even greater than that; He will heal your soul of sin. In Christ, you can endure and prevail over your present struggle in the flesh (read 2 Cor. 12:7-10). Do God’s will now, and when all is said and done, you will have life eternal.
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. (James 2:21-24)
Abraham was “justified by works”. Does this mean he earned the right to be called “the friend of God”? No, by no means. That would require works of sinless perfection (see Romans 4:1-4). His “faith was working” when he obeyed God to offer Isaac on the altar. His working faith showed that “Abraham believed God”, and his faith (that was “working”) was “accounted to him for righteousness”. Do you not see, as James clearly says, that a person is not justified by “faith only”, but by a faith that “works”? Faith that takes God at His word and does what He says is the faith that God blesses with justification. Oh, that the false theologian twisting of the Scriptures would be laid aside for the simple truth of the word! We can never earn salvation because we have sinned (Rom. 3:23). However, faith that will not do what God says will never save. Be sure your faith is obedient (works) like Abraham’s faith.
6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the well. 7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. 8 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “All is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 12:6-8)
With the passing of years and the inevitable decline of body and mind, we all will finally slip the silver cord upon which our life hangs, and we die. How crucial it is, then, to remember your Creator in old age as well as in youth. The certainty and finality of death testifies to the vanity of life “under the sun”. If life on earth is all there is to being human, then we are left without hope and ultimately unfulfilled. When you live without God, “all is vanity”. But, a life lived with God fulfills your life’s purpose. Are you ready to die? That depends on how you live. “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Eccl. 12:13).
9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. 10 Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity. 1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1)
Youth is a great blessing. Strength, vitality, the newness of life and a yearning to learn, grow and mature form the building blocks for development to adulthood. But youth can become a stumbling block to a mature faith. The temptations of pride coupled with haste have taken many young people down paths of pain and sorrow. So, learn from Solomon and be wise about being young. First, rejoice in your youth – enjoy being young! Always remember you live before God and will answer to Him for all the choices you make. Then, remove sorrow from your life by putting away sin. Also, remember God now, not later. Putting off following God until later does not make it easier, but harder, to turn to Him. Youth does not last. So, while you are young, choose wisely.
10 Then I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of holiness, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done. This also is vanity. 11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. 13 But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God. (Ecclesiastes 8:10-13)
Solomon observed that at times it appears the wicked prosper. However, it would be foolish to conclude on appearance alone that wickedness is preferable to holiness. It may seem that wicked is preferable because justice is not speedily applied. When this happens, evil people choose evil, thinking they are above accountability. But, in the end it will not be well with the wicked. The person who fears God will reap great blessings while the wicked perish. Remember: Evil people live for the moment, but the holy ones fear God and live for eternity. Which do you choose to be?
1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter—“Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-2)
Having wisely deduced that material possessions neither satisfy the flesh nor the soul, King Solomon also considered whether the purpose of life could be found in pleasure. There too, he found “this also was vanity”. Many still run after the pleasure this life affords, making it their priority. Yet, “even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief” (Prov. 14:13). Pleasure does not prevent life’s sorrows, and it certainly cannot prevent the soul’s demise due of sin. Enjoy the good pleasures of life, but keep them in perspective. True and lasting joy is found in the Lord Jesus Christ – the joy that “no one will take from you” (Jno. 16:22).