And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat (Mark 6:31, NKJV).
Jesus was in constant demand from the crowds. His apostles had just returned from their limited commission (Mark 6:7-13, 30). Finding a “deserted place” where one can “rest a while” is important to ”recharge our batteries” and return to our work with renewed vigor. God rested after finishing His work of creating the heavens and the earth (Gen. 2:1-3). God commanded Israel to rest from their labors every seventh day (Exod. 20:8-11; 31:12-17). Every seventh year their land was to rest from planting and harvesting (Lev. 25:1-7). Every fiftieth year, Israel’s land was to rest during the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-11). Rest should have a calming, comforting, and reassuring effect. Rest also reminds us to trust the Lord for our strength instead of ourselves. Israel anticipated the rest God would give them from their enemies in the promised land (Josh. 1:14-15; 23:1). Christians look hopefully for eternal rest (Heb. 4:8-10; Rev. 14:12-13). With these blessings in mind, we will be taking a short time to rest from our daily regimen of writing Sword Tips. We believe this respite will invigorate us to count our blessings and thank the Lord for His provisions and promises in Christ. We plan to resume the daily Sword Tips in early June. I appreciate your interest in these daily offerings.
13 The lazy man says, “There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!” 14 As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed. 15 The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth. 16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly (Proverbs 26:13–16, NKJV).
Diligence is a hallmark of faith (Rom. 12:11; Heb. 4:11; 6:11; 2 Pet. 1:5, 10). Laziness fails to see daily opportunities to serve God, our families, brethren, and neighbors. Laziness serves the desires of Satan, not God. Solomon’s wisdom teaches us to be diligent in every part of our lives as it identifies the indicators and dangers of idleness. (1) The lazy person always has an excuse for not meeting his responsibilities (v. 13). Real or imagined dangers and difficulties content the lazy to remain so (Prov. 22:13; 20:4). God will use us to accomplish His work when we diligently seek and do His will (Matt. 19:26; Phil. 2:12-13; Heb. 11:6). (2) The lazy person fails to use his time wisely (v. 14). He sleeps when it is time to work (John 9:4). As a result, he is unprepared to successfully meet life’s challenges (Prov. 6:6-9; 19:15). We must redeem our time wisely (Eph. 5:15-16). (3) The lazy person does not want to work (v. 15). The answer to his problem is staring him in the face, yet he is unwilling to work (Prov. 19:24). There is no reward in life or eternity for the apathetic and negligent soul (Prov. 12:27; 13:4; Eccl. 5:18-20). (4) The lazy person comforts himself with his pride (v. 16). He is self-deceived, lacking the perception needed to change his condition (Prov. 16:18). Let us be diligent in things temporal and eternal. Otherwise, “the desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor” (Prov. 21:25).
9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him (Matthew 12:9–10, NKJV).
The enemies of Jesus looked for opportunities to accuse Him and destroy His credibility. They carefully watched to see if He would be so bold as to heal on the Sabbath (Luke 6:7). With a disabled man before them, they confronted Jesus in the synagogue, asking whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath (implying that to do so would violate the Sabbath’s work prohibition, Exod. 20:8-10). Jesus explained the law allowed them to show mercy toward animals on the Sabbath; How much more so was it, therefore, “lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:11-12). With that, Jesus healed the man’s hand (Matt. 12:13). His accusers were enraged and left to plot His demise (Matt. 12:14; Luke 6:11). Consider these tips from the text: (1) Those faithless men could not heal the man. But, they could have shown him mercy. Instead, they saw him only as a tool for their devious design against Jesus. (2) Only a person sent from God could work such healing as this (John 3:2). They refused to be convinced by the power of God they saw. Like them, we must learn mercy and show it every day (Micah 6:8; Matt. 9:13). (3) Mercy and truth have met in the Son of God (cf. Ps. 85:10). The Lord of the Sabbath mercifully heals our souls from sin and gives us entrance into eternal rest when our work on earth is over (Matt. 11:28-30; Heb. 4:8-11).
Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him (John 6:27, NKJV).
Some people followed Jesus because they expected Him to work a miracle and feed them. Jesus rebuked this shallow, selfish, faithless view of Him (John 6:26). Jesus contrasted their misguided motive for seeking Him with working for the food that produces everlasting life. He was by no means saying do not work for your daily food (“If anyone will not work, neither let him eat,” 2 Thess. 3:10). Jesus said to be concerned primarily with working for the food that leads to everlasting life. The work God gives us to achieve that result is to “believe in Him who He sent” (John 6:29). Jesus is the “bread of life” in whom we must believe to eat “the living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:35, 51, 58). By faith, we do so when we receive and obey His words (John 6:63-68). Unbelievers do not trust and follow Jesus; believers do. When we accept and obey His word, we have not earned everlasting life; we have only done a servant’s duty (Luke 17:10). The gospel call is, “You who have no money, come, buy and eat” (Isa. 55:1-3). The question to ponder is, “Why are you seeking Jesus?” To gain some temporary, physical advantage, or to labor “for the food which endures to everlasting life?”
Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight (Acts 20:7, NKJV).
Gallup reported this week that “U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time.” “In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999” (news.gallup.com). New Testament Christians know the spiritual value of being members of a local body of saints (1 Cor. 12:12-27). The Lord arranged local churches for our spiritual edification (which includes worship), the spread of the gospel, and relief of needy Christians (Acts 2:42-45; 4:32-35; 11:22; 20:28-35). Churches of Christ assemble on the first day of the week to offer God worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). Scripture shows how true worship honors God and strengthens Christians in the faith (1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 5:19). Therefore, membership in a local church is a responsibility of great importance to Christians (Acts 9:26-28; Rom. 16:2). Being a member of a local church identifies each Christian as part of a working group of believers striving to do God’s will (Rom. 12:4; Eph. 4:16; Rev. 2-3). Christians will be active members of faithful congregations (there is no floating membership or “membership-at-large” in the New Testament). May each Christian be committed to fully participating in assembled worship and the other scriptural work given the local church by the Lord (Heb. 10:24-25).
“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4, NKJV)
Jesus finished His redemptive work (Sword Tips #2133). Yet, people have devised doctrines that effectively deny this truth. 1) Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets (Matt. 5:17). Yet some churches (like the Seventh-day Adventist Church) listen to Moses and the prophets for their faith practices instead of hearing Jesus. This is false (Matt. 17:5; Heb. 1:1-2). 2) Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10). Yet some churches (like the Baptist Church) reject His salvation by refusing the necessity of water baptism to be saved. This is false (Mk. 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). 3) Jesus came to give His life for all sinners (1 Tim. 2:6). Yet some churches (like the Reformed Church) teach limited atonement (Christ’s death only reaches those God elected for eternal life). This is false (Jno. 3:16; 1 Jno. 4:14). 4) Jesus came to preach the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; Mk. 1:14-15). Yet some churches of Christ teach Jesus was only teaching Jews how to be good Jews. This is false (Matt. 9:35; Lk. 16:16; Matt. 5:31-32; 19:8-9). 5) Jesus came to be a king (Jno. 18:37). Yet many churches teach the premillennial doctrine that because the Jews rejected Jesus as their King, God withdrew the kingdom promise and substituted the church. They believe Jesus will return to earth in His kingdom in the future. This is false (Matt. 16:18-19; Mk. 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; Col. 1:13; 1 Cor. 15:23-24). One denies the truth that Jesus finished His work by accepting doctrines that contradict His work and word. Let us go back to the New Testament of Jesus, to a time before the doctrines and creeds of men corrupted the purposes and the gospel of Jesus Christ, and please God by remaining in its truth (Gal. 1:6-10).
“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4, NKJV)
Jesus emphatically declared He glorified the Father and accomplished the work His Father gave Him. Jesus lived each day by God’s word to do God’s will. He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (Jno. 4:34). Jesus used every day to “work the works” of the Father who sent Him, thus teaching diligence to His disciples (Jno. 9:4). With His dying breath, Jesus said, “It is finished” (Jno. 19:30). What work did the Father give Jesus? Summing it up in one sentence, He gave Jesus the work of accomplishing human redemption from sin and death. “The Father sent the Son as Savior of the world” (1 Jno. 4:14). The work Jesus accomplished is understood by how the Scriptures describe His work. Jesus came 1) To fulfill the law and the prophets (Matt. 5:17); 2) To seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10); 3) To give His life a ransom for us all (Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:6; Jno. 10:17-18); 4) To preach the gospel of the kingdom (Mk. 1:14-15, 38-39; Acts 3:22-23); 5) To be a king (Jno. 18:37; Mk. 9:1). 6) To bring division (Matt. 10:34-38; Lk. 12:49-53); 7) To bring light, life, and judgment (Jno. 1:4-9; 9:39); 8) To destroy the works of the devil (1 Jno. 3:8); 9) To do the will of the Father (Jno. 6:38). This list is not exhaustive, but each one identifies the work Jesus did and the honor it gave the Father (Jno. 17:4). If Jesus failed to finish even one of these works, then He also failed to glorify the Father fully. Which of these works are you willing to say Jesus did not accomplish? Our next “Tip” will identify some doctrines that do just that.
15 not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, 16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment. 17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:15–18, NKJV)
The apostle Paul energetically preached the gospel and fulfilled his ministry with faithful zeal. We can learn lessons by observing his gospel labors. First, Paul did not boast in other men’s labors (v. 15-16). That is, he gave credit where credit was due. He did not take credit for another person’s work. This trait of genuine meekness always serves the cause of the gospel. We should imitate Paul by admiring and encouraging others’ faithful work instead of trying to “ride their coattails” and elevate ourselves. Secondly, Paul did not boast in himself (v. 18). Self-commendation can color an honest examination of ourselves and our work for the Lord (Gal. 6:3-4). “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips” (Prov. 27:2). Thirdly, Paul boasted in the Lord instead of himself (v. 17). He could say, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” in the Lord (2 Cor. 12:10). Our faith must be in the strength of the Lord, not ourselves. Fourthly, Paul sought the Lord’s approval above all (v. 18). So, he worked diligently to be approved by God (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15; 4:7-8). In whose approval do we boast, men’s or God’s?
15 Thus says the Lord: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” 16 Thus says the Lord: “Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; For your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. 17 There is hope in your future, says the Lord, that your children shall come back to their own border.” (Jeremiah 31:15–17, NKJV)
The horrors of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem (586 B.C.) and exile were followed by a remnant of the people returning to their land (Ezra 1-2). God gave hope to the exiled people through Jeremiah, assuring them their “work shall be rewarded” and “your children shall come back to their own border.” It is telling the Lord said their “work” would be rewarded. (See Jeremiah 29:1-11 for a description of their “work” and God’s promised reward.) Many teach any rewarded work of man is meritorious and against the purpose of God. This verse teaches otherwise. So, the “faith only” people have a problem because Jeremiah said God would reward their work. There are Messianic undertones to the passage. Matthew applied verse 15 directly to Herod’s slaughter of the young male children in Bethlehem and its districts (Matt. 2:16-18). Jesus survived that horrific event, and our hope is redemption from sin’s captivity in Christ Jesus (Rom. 5:1-2, 8-11). Works of faith do not merit the reward God promises us any more than the remnant’s faith earned their return to the land. Works of obedience show our faith in God and the hope we have in Jesus (Jas. 2:17-18; Heb. 10:36-11:1). Remember, God rewards the faithful (Heb. 11:6).
1 The Elder, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth: 2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 1–2, NKJV)
John, now the aged apostle, expressed a three-fold love of Gaius, which was no doubt prompted by the disciple’s faithful walk in the truth (3 John 3-4). John’s love for Gaius prompted prayer for his health and prosperity “in all things” as his soul prospered. Is this proof of the “prosperity gospel” that many preach? Hardly. The word “prosper” contains the idea of progress, of “help on the road,” and thereby to successfully reach one’s destination (Strong, G2137). Gaius’ spiritual life was progressing – he was on a spiritual journey. (So are we, 1 Peter 2:11.) John prayed that his health and all things would progress well, too. Christ did not mandate material abundance as evidence of spiritual fullness. Indeed, the Son of Man did not have a place to lay His head (Matt. 8:20). Far from covetous enrichment for selfish pursuits, the gospel teaches material wealth is a blessing that gives opportunities and the spiritual responsibility to be “rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,” and to do so thankfully (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Gaius was undoubtedly doing these very things when he hospitably supported faithful workers for the truth (3 John 5-8). May our souls faithfully progress on our pilgrimage with the health and the means to do the work our hands find to do “while it is day,” for “the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).