You Do Not Know

Feb 8, 2013
Akron, Ohio
Sunday, February 1, 2015, 9:04 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Not Be Silent.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Proverbs 27 (selected ESV).

Do Not Boast

1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

This verse takes on fresh meaning for me today. My youngest sister died this past Tuesday. My husband and I just spent the past four days with her four girls and with their families. Her memorial service was yesterday. Many friends and family members shared their memories of Carol then. The time with her girls was bittersweet. We cried much together, but we also spent time reminiscing and laughing together. It was so good spending that time with them. When Carol’s girls were much younger they lived with us for a short period of time, so her girls became like daughters to us. Thus, we share a special bond with them.

Never Satisfied

8 Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home.
12 The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.
19 As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.
20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man.
21 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.
22 Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him.

So many people, even among those who profess the name of Jesus, live their lives like tomorrow is a sure thing. They give little thought to God/Jesus, or to what he desires for their lives. They plan out their own activities and make their own decisions as to what they will do each day without even thought to consult their Lord and to inquire of him as to what he wants them to do. Many, as well, give no thought to eternity. Some make the false assumption that they will spend eternity in heaven, either because they made a profession of Christ as Savior, or because they do good deeds. And, yet Jesus said that if we will come after him, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow him (in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives) – See: Lu. 9:23-25.

It is true that the scriptures teach us that we are saved by grace, through faith, and this is a gift from God, not of works lest anyone should boast (See: Eph. 2:8-9). Yet they also teach us that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means dying with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self, being born anew of the Spirit of God, and being given new lives in Christ, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Ro. 6-8).

Jesus Christ did not die on the cross merely to rescue us from hell and to give us the hope of heaven. He died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See: 2 Co. 5:15). His grace is not a free license to continue living in sin without guilt or remorse. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for his return. He died “to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (See: Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Eph. 2:10).

If we say that we love God and that we are in fellowship with him, but we continue in sinful lifestyles, His Word teaches us that we are liars. If we say we know God but we do not do what he commands (our Lord’s teachings and instructions), we don’t really know him (Read the book of 1 John). God, “by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,” “condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Ro. 8:3-4). So, if you are still living for sin, self and self-pleasure, and you are not walking in the fear of the Lord, in his ways, and according to his word, then I pray that today you would surrender your all to him, because none of us knows if we have tomorrow.

A Friend’s Sweetness

5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

I believe we often confuse words that are intended just to make us feel good, whether true or not, with kindness. It may be that they are truly kind, but they may not be. We also get this idea (notion) that being non-judgmental is also kindness, though it may not be. And, thus we think that if anyone tells us the truth about our sin that they are being mean, hateful and condemning. Yet, we must recall Jesus’ own words to his brothers where he told them that the world did not hate them, but the world hated him because he told the world that their deeds were evil (See: Jn. 7:7). Jesus never told people just what they wanted to hear. He never flattered others just so they would like him. He wasn’t everyone’s buddy. Although he loved everyone, he did not accept (receive) everyone, and he certainly did not shy away from making judgments of people with regard to their sinful conditions.

We are not kind, loving, sweet or caring of others if we just tell them what makes them feel good inside and we never make judgments with regard to their sin. What we are is selfish, because we are thinking about wanting them to like us. People may think we are so nice and loving, and yet we may be “loving” people straight to hell. And, this is especially true if we help to facilitate their sin, thinking we are being “nice.” That is not nice! It is not kind, and it is not loving! Yet, we are loving when we tell people the truth about sin, about their standing with God outside of faith in Christ, and when we tell them that they can be set free from slavery to sin by submitting themselves to the cross of Christ, and by dying with Christ to what once enslaved them - that is if we do so out of love, compassion, and from hearts that truly care that people are enslaved in sin, and if we long to see them set free.

So, if some folks are just telling you nice and sweet things all the time, even though they may be lies, and if they do nothing to help you to be free from bondage to sin, although you may regard them as “nice,” they are not truly being kind if they claim to be your friend but they never tell you the truth. Jesus did not go around just accepting everyone and never judging anyone. He spoke plenty of strong words to the religious leaders of his day because of their hypocrisy and their evil hearts. He told people they must repent of their sins if they want to see the kingdom of heaven, and that we must obey his commandments (teachings) if we want to be in relationship with him and have eternal life (See: Lu. 13:3; 24:47; Jn. 14:15-24; 15:10). Many of his disciples deserted him, never to return, because his teachings were too hard. He was not hated because he was Mr. Nice Guy. Jesus was hated because he spoke the truth, and they didn’t want to hear the truth. So many people just want to hear what makes them feel good, but we also need to hear the truth.

Give Attention

23 Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds,
24 for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations?

I believe this is a warning to those who are in positions of spiritual leadership over others, who have the responsibility of pastoral care over a flock, yet I also believe it applies to all of us, because Christ Jesus commanded us to go and to make disciples of people of all nations. We all have a responsibility, I believe, to know the people with whom we have been given a charge to nurture in the Lord, or to know our friends and family members, i.e. to know their spiritual condition, so that we can minister specifically to where they are. Yet, this also requires that we not just hang out with them and “make nice” with them, but that we listen to their hearts, and we observe their behaviors and, if we see them involved in sin, that we counsel them to leave their sins behind them and to follow Jesus in obedience.

I also believe that, going along with this, that those in positions of spiritual leadership over the flock have a responsibility to share the full gospel message, and not just part of it. It is true that Jesus died for our sins, and it is true that he longs to forgive us our sins, and that he will if we will believe in him. Yet, believing in him is not merely just asking him to forgive us our sins, but it involves repentance and obedience, too. We must surrender to Christ, die with him to sin, submit to the crucified life, cooperate fully with his work of grace in our hearts, and we must walk in the Spirit, no longer living to gratify our sinful desires, but living holy lives pleasing to God, all in the power and working of the Spirit within us (See: Ro. 12:1-2). This does not mean we will be perfect or that we will never sin again. But what it means is that our hearts are committed to Christ, and that we make a practice of following him with our lives instead of still living to please ourselves.

The warning here, I believe, is that many in our flocks do not truly know Christ. They make professions of Christ, but they have never died with him to sin, but have continued to walk in the flesh. None of us knows if he has tomorrow. So, we need to tell them the truth – the truth that Jesus and his apostles taught with regard to our faith in Christ, our death to sin and concerning living and walking in Christ’s holiness. If we do not tell them the whole truth, we may be guilty of giving people a false hope of heaven while still leaving them in their sins. As well, we may be helping believers to continue in their lives of sin if we do not tell them the truth, and so they live unfruitful, unfulfilled and spiritually adulterous and idolatrous lives while still on this earth, thinking that God’s grace covers it all. The most loving, kind, and unselfish thing we can do is to tell them the truth so that they can be free!

Not Be Silent / An Original Work / December 3, 2012
Based off Psalm 30

O Lord my God, I’ll exalt You.
I called for help, and You healed me.
O Lord my God, You brought me from
the grave. You spared me from hell.
Sing to the Lord, you saints of His;
Praise His holy name today.
Weeping may remain for a night;
Joy at break of day. Our debt He did pay!

O Lord my God, I said, “I will
Ne’er be shaken.” Secure, I felt.
O Lord my God, You forgave me.
Confident I stand in You.
When I could not see Your face
I was dismayed. I called to You.
O Lord, You are my help. You were
merciful to me; By Your grace set free!

O Lord my God, I’m so thankful for
Salvation through my Jesus.
You turned wailing into dancing;
Clothed me with Your joy today,
That my heart may sing To You
and not be silent. Praise Your name.
O Lord my God, I will give You
thanks forevermore. My Lord, I adore!