7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:7–8, NKJV)
Your life affects many others, and they also affect you. To borrow from the 17th-century English poet, John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less…Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” Even more than being members of the human family, Christians are “members of one body” (the church). Our lives impact each other. Therefore, our choices must honor God as well as bless others. God does not teach us to isolate ourselves. Indeed, the very essence of brotherly love is outward-looking “for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4). In the body of Christ, when one suffers, we all suffer; when one is honored, we all rejoice (1 Cor. 12:26). No one is an island.
The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself. (Proverbs 11:25, NKJV)
Generosity is a mark of unselfishness. The miser selfishly hoards and is stingy toward others (Prov. 23:6-8). Not only should we generously share our material blessings, we should generously share other things, like our time and our abilities to help others. It is “more blessed to give than to receive,” and those with a giving spirit experience a bountiful return on their generosity. Often, that return is not measures materially, but in the spiritual blessings that come from serving others. “He who has pity of the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given” (Prov. 19:17). The generous soul gives without thought of return, but the generosity is seen by the Lord, and He rewards it beyond measure (Lk. 14:11-14). Take time to open your heart and your hand to others, and you will be enriched. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Lk. 6:38).
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth. (Psalm 119:142, NKJV)
In this post-modern world, where men and women take the unjustifiable liberty of redefining truth to be relative, shifting and changing, God’s eternal truth continues to be absolute. It is the one supreme law that governs and judges us all. Just as there is “no variation or shadow of turning” of God’s righteousness, neither is the variability in the nature of truth (cf. Jas. 1:17). Whether one speaks of the law He gave specifically to Israel (the Old Testament law), or the law of Christ, the accuracy and certainty of His rule is firmly established. This gives Christians assurance as we live in a “post-truth world,” where truth is minimized as emotions shape public opinion, moral excesses and even religious faith. God’s truth is not shifting sand. The sayings of Jesus are truth, and when we believe and do them, we build our life a solid foundation that lasts into eternity (Matt. 7:24-27).
8 I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images. 9 Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them. (Isaiah 42:8–9, NKJV)
The true and living God inhabits eternity; He is not confined by time, since He created it (Gen. 1:1, 5). This distinguishes Him from the lifeless, powerless images carved by men’s hands and praised as if they have any power at all. The fulfillment of God’s prophetic utterances declares His glory and demand that we praise Him. When one prophesies in the name of God and it does not come to pass, that person has spoken presumptuously, and is not a true prophet of God (Deut. 18:22). Jesus said, “Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He” (Jno. 13:19). Fulfilled prophecy testifies to the accuracy and the reliability of God’s inspired word, the holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15-17). The words of God’s prophets always came true. By and by, when they fail, the words of the false prophets are shown to be false. We can trust the truthfulness of the Bible, because its prophecies are fulfilled by the very God who gave them.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:19–22, NKJV)
The Christian’s hope in Christ goes beyond the here and now; it reaches into eternity. Our hope “enters the Presence behind the veil” – into God’s holy and heavenly habitation (Heb. 6:19). The future resurrection of all the dead is at the heart of our hope; without it, our faith crumbles (1 Cor. 15:12-19). The empty tomb of Jesus is an ever-present witness to the fact that the dead will be raised. Indeed, His resurrection from the dead was the beginning – “the firstfruits” – of the dead (v. 20). Just as the firstfruits of the field foretell the harvest to come, the resurrection of Jesus signifies the future resurrection of all the dead. Bodily death came into the world as a result of Adam (Gen. 3:19). Bodily resurrection will happen because Christ was raised. Christ’s prediction of our resurrection is assured by His resurrection (Jno. 5:28-29). The Christian’s hope will be realized on the great hour when “all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (Jno. 5:28-29). Our hope is secure. Death is not the end.
He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly. (Proverbs 13:24, NKJV)
Many of us have been on an airplane and witnessed an unruly child. Undisciplined and out of control, the child disrupts the entire cabin with screaming or other displays of defiance. This reminds us that discipline is a combination of instruction and correction. One cannot expect a child to behave who has not been taught acceptable behavior. The “rod” of correction comes after the instruction, and only when the instruction is not accepted. In order to be effective, corrective discipline needs to be “promptly” applied. Failure to do so invites even more resistance. The rod of correction is not a rod of abuse; they are two very different things. As God disciplines His children in love, and sets an example for parents to follow. “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).
30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30–31, NKJV)
This passage does not excuse or encourage sins committed out of ignorance. Indeed, it plainly says that God “now commands all men everywhere to repent” of their sins – including sins of ignorance. This verse does acknowledge the forbearance of God, who mercifully gives sinners time to repent before interposing His just penalty against their sins (see Acts 14:16-17). Ignorance will not be an acceptable defense to free us from our sins and their wages (which is death, Rom. 6:23). God’s command to repent is merciful, since it seeks to prepare us for the coming day of judgment. Additionally, God has assured us of the future judgment by raising from the dead His appointed judge; Jesus Christ. Escaping eternal punishment on Judgment Day is a compelling motive to repent of our sins. God has been very clear. He will impose His punishment “on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8). Are you ready for the Judgment Day? Now is the day of salvation in Christ (2 Cor. 6:2; Acts 4:12).