Continue On

A woman once fretted over the usefulness of her life. She feared she was wasting her potential being a devoted wife and mother. She wondered if the time and energy she invested in her husband and children would make a difference.

At times she got discouraged because so much of what she did seemed to go unnoticed and unappreciated. “Is it worth it?” she often wondered. “Is there something better that I could be doing with my time?”

It was during one of these moments of questioning that she heard the still small voice of her Heavenly Father speak to her heart. “You are a wife and mother because that is what I have called you to be.” Much of what you do is hidden from the public eye. But I notice. Most of what you give is done without remuneration. But I am your reward.

Your husband cannot be the man I have called him to be without your support. Your influence upon him is greater than you think and more powerful than you will ever know. I bless him through your service and honor him through your love. Your children are precious to me. Even more precious than they are to you. I have entrusted them to your care to raise for me. What you invest in them is an offering to me.

You may never be in the public spotlight. But your obedience shines as a bright light before me. Continue on. Remember you are my servant. Do all to please me.


By Roy Lessin

Two Wolves

Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”

A STORY

I once heard a simple children’s parable about two wolves:

A young boy once felt that he had two wolves inside of him. One wolf was good and the other was evil. Those two wolves were often fighting each other. When the good wolf would win the boy would do good (such as say a kind word, obey his parents, help someone, share his toys, and refrain from saying bad things). But when the bad wolf inside of him would win the boy wouldn’t be able to control himself in the moment, and he would choose to do bad. The boy wanted to do good, but he didn’t know how to help the good wolf win. So he asked his Dad about it, he told him of his struggle of the good and the bad wolves which were inside of him. And he asked his Dad, “How can I help the good wolf win, and the bad wolf to lose?” And his Dad said, “That’s easy; the wolf that will win is the one you feed the most. Feed the good wolf, and he will get stronger. Starve the bad wolf and he will get weaker. Then the good wolf will win.”

I believe the moral of this story is what was written in the Bible 2000 years ago: “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:8-9‬ ‭NASB‬‬ When our flesh (self-will) is eating really well, it comes be very intense with whatever we’ve been feeding it. Physically, if it’s been feeding on a lot of sugar, it will start to crave sweets more and more, and in the same way – if it has been feeding on gossip articles online, for example, I believe it will become very strong in its judgment of others. If it has been constantly feeding on material things – constantly gazing at the latest products, gadgets, and designer clothes – it will desire them more and become more covetous.

THE CURRENT SEASON

The same goes with fear. In this current season, I believe that many (Christians even) can be paralyzed by fear if they are feeding their mind on the multitudes of negative things the unbelieving world is telling them – maybe it’s their friends, co-workers, relatives, or online feeds which preach fear, doom and gloom, instead of God’s Word of His love for us, and His sovereign control of every situation. Proverbs 4:23 says that it’s critical to guard our heart diligently. I understand my “heart” to mean: my inner thoughts, intentions, and desires. I used to think that it wasn’t possible to change what I desire, and what I unconsciously think about all day… that it sort of just, “happens.” But I’ve learned that that’s absolutely not true. I’ve seen that much of what I desire and unconsciously think about today, is the result of what I’ve been recently choosing to ‘sow’ into my mind for the past week, or month, or so. What we choose to feed or withhold from our flesh today has a direct effect on the strength of our flesh tomorrow.

THE NEWS

We have to be careful what we are feeding on in the news, for example. I’ve noticed that a lot of the news today isn’t really news (facts about what’s going on in the world) – its merely people expressing their opinion about something – bashing this politician here, criticising this nation there, guessing at what’s going to happen here. It’s similar to junk food – it ruins the appetite for what’s really healthy, rather than building us up as God’s Word does. It’s not right to say that we should be ‘ignorant’ and refrain from reading the news altogether.

Even Jesus was informed about current events – Luke 13:4. But I’ve seen for myself, I need to be able to know when the Holy Spirit is saying, “This is not the right article to read”, or when He’s saying, “That’s enough.” Col 3:15 “Let the peace of God be your referee” (And listen to His whistle-blows when you’re about to go out of bounds!) I remember being over at someone’s house and a boy was playing video games there. The Dad said to his son who had been playing video games, “Ok son that’s enough for now.” It was a good example to me of “moderation.” Have you ever heard the Lord say “That’s enough”, and stopped doing something? Maybe it was an unprofitable conversation, or spending a long time on the internet… not anything sinful… just the excess of something. If the Lord tells you “that’s enough” would you stop immediately? I see that’s the question I often run into throughout many days in some area or another. The Holy Spirit is not being a ‘killjoy’… (God’s commands are not meant to make me miserable) – it’s for my protection. If I continue past that point, then I enter the realm of sowing to the flesh, and the flesh will get stronger, and I will be feeling the consequences of it later. Maybe in intense fear, or preoccupation with something… or a lack of desire for the Lord and His Word.

“Junk food” may be lawful, but in excess it will always ruin our appetite for what’s healthy. But If we regularly feed on time with the Lord, and His Word, good teaching, books and sermons, etc – we will find our spirit very strong, and our mind being transformed (Romans 12:2). Our mind is constantly being transformed with what we feed it. And the amazing result is “eternal life” as it says: “the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” And eternal life, we know is intimate fellowship with our Father, and with Jesus; to know Him (John 17:3).

If we are feeding on the right things, we will grow in knowing the Lord, and we will grow to be strong. Daniel 11:32 “Those who know their God will be strong” (in spirit) May the Lord help us to be wise and sow to the Spirit today, and be careful what we are feeding on. So that our mind and our heart can be transformed to think and see things like He does, and then we will feel like He does about things – free from fear, walking above the storm of panic which the world is caught up in today. And this comes though denying the small desires of the flesh every day that contradict God’s will, and obeying the quiet whisper of the Spirit in every little thing – even ‘This isn’t the right article to read’. It’s much better to obey the whispers of the Spirit today than to try to quiet down our screaming flesh later!‬‬ “Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, for they will eat the fruit of their actions.” Isaiah‬ ‭3:10‬ ‭NASB


**By Bobby McDonald © Copyright – Bobby McDonald. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at NCCF Church

22 Questions John Wesley’s Holy Club Asked Themselves Every Day

These are the questions that members of John Wesley’s Holy Club asked themselves every day in their private devotions over 200 years ago:

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?

2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?

3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?

4. Can I be trusted?

5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?

6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?

7. Did the Bible live in me today?

8. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?

9. Am I enjoying prayer?

10. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?

11. Do I pray about the money I spend?

12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?

13. Do I disobey God in anything?

14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?

17. How do I spend my spare time?

18. Am I proud?

19. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?

20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticise, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?

21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?

22. Is Christ real to me?

The Truth About Christmas and Easter

Men are likened to sheep. And sheep have a tendency to follow the crowd without questioning. Jesus however came and taught us to examine everything by God’s word. The Pharisees exalted human traditions. Jesus exalted God’s word. Man was to live by every word that proceeded from God’s mouth (Matt. 4:4).

The battle that Jesus was constantly engaged in with the Pharisees was the age-long battle of God’s Word versus the traditions of men. In the church, we are engaged in the same battle today. God’s word is the only light that we have on earth. And when God created light initially, He immediately separated it from the darkness. The darkness is both sin as well as human traditions. We also are called to separate both these from the pure word of God so that there is no mixture in the church.

The pagan ‘winter solstice’ celebration of the sun, was renamed Christmas and has nothing to do with the Messiah Jesus Christ. This celebration was in practice way before His birth

Christmas

Consider Christmas, which is celebrated by many as the birthday of Jesus Christ. Shopkeepers of all religions look forward to Christmas, for it is a time when they can make much profit. It is a commercial festival, not a spiritual one. Millions of rupees are spent on Christmas cards and gifts. Sales of alcoholic drinks also go up at this time.

Is this really then the birthday of the Son of God, or of another ‘Jesus’?

Let us look at God’s Word first of all. The Bible tells us that there were shepherds with their sheep out in the fields of Judea, on the night that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:7-14). The shepherds in Palestine did not keep their flocks out in the open fields at night after October and until February – the weather being both rainy and cold during those months. So the real Jesus must have been born sometime between March and September. December 25 then must be the birthday of another ‘Jesus’ that has been foisted on an unsuspecting Christendom by unconverted men!

Further, even if we did know the exact date of Jesus’ birth, the question would still be whether God intended His church to celebrate it. Mary, the mother of Jesus, would certainly have known the exact date of birth of Jesus. And she was with the apostles for many years after the day of Pentecost. Yet there is no mention anywhere of Jesus’ date of birth. What does this show? Just this – that God deliberately hid the date of Jesus’ birth, because He did not want the church to celebrate it. Jesus was not an ordinary mortal whose birthday was to be celebrated once a year. He was the Son of God “Who had no beginning of days”, unlike us (Heb.7:3). God wants us to recognize Jesus’ birth, death, resurrection and ascension every day, and not just once a year.

An understanding of the difference between the old and the new covenants will also enable us to understand why God does not want His children to celebrate any special holy days now. Under the old covenant, Israel had been commanded to celebrate certain days as specially holy days. But that was only a shadow. Now that we have Christ, the will of God is that every day of our lives be equally holy. Even the weekly sabbath has been done away with under the new covenant. This is why no holy days are mentioned anywhere in the New Testament (Col.2:16,17).

How then did Christmas and Easter make their entry into Christendom? The answer is: In the same way that infant baptism, tithing, priestcraft and many other human traditions and old covenant practices, have made their entry – by the subtle working of Satan.

When the emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion of Rome in the 4th century, multitudes became Christian ‘in name’, without any change of heart. But they did not want to give up their two great annual festivals – both connected with their worship of the sun. One was the birthday of the sun-god on December 25, when the sun which had gone down to the southern hemisphere began its return journey (the winter solstice). The other was the spring festival in March/April, when they celebrated the death of the winter and the birth of the warm summer that their sun-god had brought. They renamed their sun-god ‘Jesus’ and continued to celebrate their two great festivals, now as Christian festivals and called them Christmas and Easter.

The Encyclopaedia Brittanica (an authority in secular history) has the following to state about the origin of Christmas:

“December 25 was the Mithraic feast of the unconquered sun of Philocalus. Christmas customs are an evolution from times that long antedated the Christian period – a descent from seasonal, pagan, religious and national practices, hedged about with legend and tradition. The exact date and year of Christ’s birth have never been satisfactorily settled, but when the fathers of the church in A.D 440 decided upon a date to celebrate the event, they wisely (?) chose the day of the winter solstice which was firmly fixed in the minds of the people and which was their most important festival. As Christianity spread among the people of pagan lands, many of the practices of the winter solstice were blended with those of Christianity” (1953 edition, Vol. 5, Pages 642A, 643).

These pagan customs originated with the Babylonian religion begun by Nimrod (Gen. 10:8-10). Tradition tells us that after he died, his wife Semiramis had an illegitimate child, which she claimed was Nimrod come back to life again. Thus began the worship of the mother and child, which centuries later was transferred by nominal Christians to ‘ Mary and Jesus‘.

The birthday of this child-god was celebrated by the ancient Babylonians on December 25. Semiramis was the queen of heaven (Jer. 44:19), worshipped centuries later in Ephesus as Diana or Artemis (Acts 19:28).

Semiramis claimed that a full grown evergreen tree grew overnight from a dead tree stump. This symbolised Nimrod’s coming back to life, and bringing heaven’s gifts to mankind. Thus began the practice of cutting down a fir tree and hanging gifts on it. That is the origin of today’s Christmas tree! (A Google search will show all the documents proving all these facts).

Thus says the Lord, “Do not learn the way of the heathen. The customs of the people are futile. One cuts a tree from the forest with the axe. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails so that it will not topple!” (Jer. 10:2-4).

Easter

The word ‘Easter’ comes from one of the titles of the queen of heaven, ‘Ishtar’ or `Astarte’ (see 1 Kin. 11:5) – one of the idols that Solomon worshipped. There were slightly different forms of that name in different countries.

The Encyclopaedia Brittanica states,

“The English word ‘Easter’ corresponding to the German ‘Oster’ reveals Christianity’s indebtedness (!) to the Teutonic tribes of central Europe. Christianity, when it reached the Teutons, incorporated in its celebration of this great Christian feast day, many of the heathen rites and customs that accompanied their observance of the ‘Spring’ festival. That the ‘festival’ of the resurrection occurred in the spring that it celebrated the triumph of life over death, made it easy for the church to identify with this occasion, the most joyous festival of the Teutons, held in honour of the death of winter, the birth of a new year and the return of the sun. Eostre (or Ostera), the goddess of the spring, gave its name to the Christian holy day. The conception of the egg as a symbol of fertility and of renewed life goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians who had also the custom of colouring and eating eggs during the spring festival. This ancient idea, of the significance of egg as the symbol of life, readily became the idea of the egg as a symbol of resurrection. According to old superstition, the sun rising on Easter morning dances in the heavens; this belief has been traced to the old heathen festival of spring, when the spectators danced in honour of the sun … The Protestant churches also followed the custom of holding sunrise services on Easter morning” (1959 edition, Vol. 7, pages 859, 860).

The death and resurrection of Christ are the central message of the gospel. The only way that Jesus intended us to commemorate this was through the ‘breaking of bread’, which we are to take part in together as a church.

When we break bread, we testify not only of Christ’s death, but also our death with Him. The emotionalism of Good Friday and sentimentality of Easter turns the attention of men away from the necessity of following Jesus, to empty ritualism.

God’s Word Or Man’s Tradition?

Behind the celebration of Christmas and Easter lies the far more deadly principle of following the traditions of men even when they have no foundation in God’s Word. So strong is this power of tradition that many believers who follow the Scriptures in other areas still find it difficult to give up celebrating Christmas and Easter.

It is amazing that many believers are not willing to accept what even secular writers (like the authors of Encyclopaedia Brittanica, quoted abovehave understood clearly – that Christmas and Easter are basically pagan festivals. Changing the names do not make these festivals Christian!

As we said at the beginning, Jesus was engaged in a constant battle with the Pharisees over this very issue – man’s traditions versus God’s Word. He faced more opposition for opposing the empty traditions of ‘the fathers’ than for preaching against sin. We shall find our experience to be the same, if we are just as faithful as He was.

God’s Word alone is our guide and not the example of even godly men in those areas where they do not follow the Word of God. “Let God be found true even though every man be found a liar” (Rom. 3:4). The Bereans searched the Scriptures to check up even on Paul’s teaching, and the Holy Spirit commends them for it (Acts 17:11). That is a good example for all of us to follow.

David was a man after God’s own heart. Yet, for forty years, he permitted the Israelites to worship Moses’ bronze serpent without realising that it was an abomination to God. He did not have light even on such obvious idolatry. It was a much lesser king, Hezekiah, who was given light to expose and destroy this idolatrous practice (2 Kin. 18:1-4). We can follow godly men in the saintliness of their lives, but not in their lack of light on human traditions. Our safety lies in simply following the teaching of God’s Word and not in adding to, or subtracting from it.

Do Not Judge Others

Finally : What should our attitude be towards sincere believers who celebrate Christmas and Easter?

It is important to remember that we do not become spiritual merely by not celebrating Christmas and Easter. And those who celebrate these festivals are not therefore carnal believers.

Spiritual people are those who follow Jesus along the way of daily self-denial and the daily infilling of the Holy Spirit – whether they celebrate Christmas and Easter or not.

So when we meet believers who celebrate these festivals, we must be gracious enough to consider that they may be ignorant of the pagan origin of these festivals. So theyare not sinning in any way when they celebrate them. On the other hand, we will be sinning, if we judge them.

Since December 25th is usually a holiday for everyone and the days around it are also holidays for schools, many use this period for end-of-the-year family re-unions – which is a very good thing.

And since some people attend church-services only twice a year (on December 25th and the Easter weekend) it is good for churches to have services on those dates, so that they can preach the gospel to such people and explain to them that Jesus came to earth to save us from our sins and that He conquered death and Satan for us.

True believers are thankful every day of their lives that Jesus was born and that He died for their sins and rose again – and not just at two times of the year.

In the early days of Christianity, some Christians celebrated the Sabbath – which was a non-Christian religious festival, just like Christmas and Easter. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul therefore to write Romans 14 to warn other Christians not to sin by judging them. The same warning holds good for those who judge others who celebrate Christmas and Easter.

“Accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. Who are you to judge the servant of another? One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who does not, for the Lord he does not, and gives thanks to God. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God and each one of us will give an account of himself (alone)to God” (Rom.14:12)).

And that is the best word with which to conclude this study on Christmas and Easter.

**By Zac Poonen © Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://www.cfcindia.com/ 

Abiding in Gratitude

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

If we are not careful, we will spend an entire lifetime wishing for the things we do not yet have. So often I myself am guilty of this, so today I want to encourage you not to wish one more minute of your precious life away. We must carry hope with us. In fact, Proverbs 13:12 tells us, “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” We must hope and pray for the good things God has in store for our lives, but we must also embrace right where we are because today is a day you will never get back. If we do not guard our hearts diligently, discontentment will rob you of everything good in your life if you allow it too. But we can fight discontentment by digging up the things in our heart that shouldn’t be there and replacing them with good things.

There are many roots of discontentment, so today I want to challenge you to find the cause of those roots, dig them up, and plant seeds of thankfulness and gratitude. You don’t have to worry about your future because God already has it written in the palm of His hand. And if God is already there, you can bet it’s going to be something wonderful. Bitterness, envy, and anxiety breed discontentment, but thankfulness breeds contentment. Gratitude will overflow into every area of your life.

Practice thankfulness in this moment, no matter what your situation may be. Just as the apostle Paul spoke about in Philippians 4:8, set your minds on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, honourable, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Don’t allow discontentment to rob you of today’s blessings.

By Tiffany Langford from Unveiled Wife

New Lockdown Rules For Christians!

NEW LOCK-DOWN RULES FOR CHRISTIANS, AS YOU OBSERVE THE GOVERNMENT RULES, ALSO TRY TO OBSERVE HEAVENLY RULES AS WELL:

🔹 Wash your heart with Christ’s blood. (Psalm 73:1)
🔹 Keep a social distance from evil. (Job 28:28 )
🔹 Avoid the crowd of wickedness and wicked men. (Psalm 1:1)
🔹 Cover your mind from being infected from the sneeze of sin and hatred. (Leviticus 19:17)
🔹 Do not shake hands with abomination. (Deuteronomy 25:16)
🔹 Do not hug or embrace hear say and false teachings. (2 Peter 2:1)
🔹 Be safe so that you will be saved. (Jeremiah 17:14)
🔹 Sanitise your life with the Word of God. (Psalm 1:2)
🔹 In case you notice any symptoms of sin, call the helpline of Christ in PRAYER. (Jeremiah 33:3)
🔹 Always remember to boost your spiritual immunity with Faith and the Power of the Holy Spirit. (Jude1:20)  

*Stay blessed! Stay safe!

The Preciousness of Contentment

“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” – 1 Timothy 6:7-8

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6:6)

How can I say, I am happy to walk with Jesus if I am neither content with who He is in my life, nor with His provisions for me to live in this world?

Am I content with who I am in Christ?

It is wise to never compare ourselves with anyone. God created us unique in every way in His very own image. He doesn’t looks at us as the world does. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7). “I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

Only we ourselves are responsible for fulfilling God’s purpose that He has designed for us as disciples of Jesus, and as wives and mothers. God has entrusted our husbands, children, relatives and friends to us, to whom we can minister in specific ways. We are not perfect but God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Like Paul, most gladly, therefore, we will boast about our weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in us (II Corinthians 12:9). There is now no room for us to compare ourselves with anyone, because it is Christ who dwells in our hearts (Ephesians 3:17).

Each of us has specific gifts of the Holy Spirit to bless the body of Christ; we don’t have to long for someone else’s gift. As it is written in I Corinthians 12, God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, exactly as He desired. Since we have gifts that differ, each of us is to exercise them according to the grace given to us (Romans 12:6-8). So let us value one another, whether eye or feet in the Body of Christ. Whatever may be our function in the Body of Christ, let us do it cheerfully instead of comparing ourselves with others. That will only lead to feelings of incompetence. The woman who poured out the alabaster oil over Jesus’ feet did not worry about what others would think about her. She was forgiven much, and so she loved Him much. Her service to Jesus was out of much love!

Am I content with God’s provision for me?

Happiness does not come from getting all that we want, but in enjoying all that God has provided for us with a thankful heart. Our children not only observe our attitude towards material things, but also absorb it. Where our treasure is, so is theirs! They watch us in what we seek and how we seek it.

God has never failed anyone who has put their trust in Him, so we can totally trust Him for all our earthly needs. What Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 is absolutely true: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

We don’t have to compare our household income, the size of our home, the amount of furnishings or gadgets, our education, or anything of earthly value with anyone else’s, because Christ dwelling in our home and in the midst of our relationships is more important than any earthly possession. That, rather than material things or our qualifications, makes our home a blessing to others.

When we constantly desire more, such coveting inhibits our fellowship and relationship with others. Jealousy arises when we count others’ blessings instead of our own. Let us learn to count our own blessings so that our hearts will be filled with thankfulness! A thankful heart is a happy heart.

We also need not belittle ourselves because of something we don’t have. Our worth does not come from our earthly possessions, but from Christ who valued us so much that He died so that we could be reconciled with our Father in heaven. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever (I John 2:17).

There is nothing wrong in asking God and making our needs known to Him in prayer or even talking to Him about our heart’s desires, because He is our Father who supplies all our needs (Jehovah Jireh)!

“God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now” (Elisabeth Elliot).

We can then say like Paul, I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content (Philippians 4:11).

“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you [woman] of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” (I Timothy 6:10-11).

As godly women full of contentment, we can be a great blessing to our family and our church, Christ radiantly shining in us! Such a woman is far more precious than rubies (Proverbs 31:10).

by Pradha Chakravarthy

**many other wonderful articles by Pradha can be found at RLCF’s women’s page.

The Act of Kindness

What does Biblical Kindness Look Like?

Kindness is a lifestyle. It is a daily practice. It is a choice. As Christians we are to grow in the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and kindness – and growth takes time. A seed does not transform into a tree overnight, but with careful watering, tending, and patience, a seed will slowly grow day-by-day into a strong towering tree. It is the same with kindness. We must be faithful every day to bear the good fruit of kindness. Being kind should be our default mode, a habit of goodwill, a heart of continual service every day of the year.

If kindness needs faithful practice every day, kindness also requires intentionality. Oftentimes, kind acts are on-the-spot, in the moment, and unplanned. However, we must be intentional, it isn’t just when we feel like it. Kindness requires a seeking out, a looking for the needs of others. During his life on earth, Jesus was a perfect emblem of this fruit of the spirit. For three years of ministry, he looked toward the needs of others, never turning them away. He could be counted on. How often today do we miss opportunities to show God’s love to others because we are too busy? We rush here and there, leaving the needs of others in a blur as we whiz past. Slow down and open your eyes. Jesus took the time, and you should too. So, slow down, make the time, and look for the needs of others. Be intentional in showing kindness; be consistent.

“Love your neighbour as yourself,” – the second greatest commandment. But, Lord, “who is my neighbour?” With this question, the Parable of the Good Samaritan was born. Here, a Jewish man was robbed and beaten, left to die. The Jewish priest and Levite passed by, but the Samaritan saved him. The point of Jesus’ story was this: everyone is your neighbour – the foreigner, the widow, the orphan, and even your enemy. We are to show merciful kindness to everyone. “The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless;” “Love your enemies…do good to them that hate you;” “he who does not love his brother, how is it possible for him to love God who is invisible?”

Time and again, God looks out for the cause of the widows and orphans; he cares deeply for the strangers in the land; he emphasizes love for family; he requires mercy and compassion for even your enemies. Oftentimes, we want to choose to whom we show kindness. Left to our own, we would limit kind acts to friends and people in authority above us, people from whom we can attain something in return. But Christ calls us to lower our eyes and look at those who are below, who have nothing, can offer nothing, have no defender. He calls us to welcome the foreigner, the rejected in our land.

Rather than revenge, He calls us to bless our enemies, knowing that through kindness, we can soften hearts. It is easy to get irritated at siblings, throw them under the bus, argue, fight, blame, or just plain ignore them, but Christ emphasizes mercy, patience, love, and kindness to our families. Friends are easy to love, but we are called to be a friend to the friendless. Kindness is selfless, compassionate, and merciful; its greatest power revealed in practice to our enemies and amongst the least of these. Love your neighbour; show kindness to EVERYONE.

For a perfect emblem of Biblical kindness, we need look no further than Jesus. Crowds followed Him and travelled miles just to hear him speak. Healing the sick, feeding the hungry, teaching the people, caring for the widow, and defending children, Jesus lived 33 years of perfect kindness. He is not asking any more of us than what He willingly practiced himself. Even on the cross, He displayed compassionate, merciful kindness praying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Defending the weak, poor, and needy, He stated, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Jesus was perfectly selfless in everything He did. Flowing unceasingly from Him, kindness was His lifestyle. He took notice for the cause of the needy, intentionally and consistently seeking them out, even when He was tired and weary. Without partiality, He was kind to everyone, even if they didn’t “deserve” it. He turned no one away. And by the shedding of his blood on the cross, He demonstrated His love for the entirety of humanity – the ultimate act of kindness. Christ is the perfect role model of kindness.

So, what does Biblical kindness look like? It looks like Christ. Not for just a season or one day of the year, kindness is for every moment of every day; it’s a habit, a lifestyle, a continual practice. It is intentional, taking time and patience, a giving of ourselves in “the busy,” even when we are “too tired.” And lastly, kindness is for absolutely everyone. As we intentionally show kindness each day, may we shine the light of Christ to a dying world in need of a saviour, a generation in need of love and grace. Be Jesus to someone today and every day; make Him your role model and kindness your lifestyle.

By Olivia Forton

The A-Z of Pride

 

“PRIDE GOES BEFORE DESTRUCTION, AND A HAUGHTY SPIRIT BEFORE A FALL.” – PROVERBS 16:18

A – Pride loves ATTENTION and honour from men. It loves compliments and flattery. The humble fear this since they recognise the temptation to steal God’s glory. The humble follow the principle to “Serve God then run away”, such as Jesus did when people tried to make Him king (John 6:15). We may not be able to run away from these moments physically, but in our heart we should be running away from all temptations to indulge in proud thoughts and steal the glory of God.Pride does many good works while secretly hoping someone noticed, being happy at the thought that someone apart from God may be thinking well of us. 

B – Pride is a spirit of BLAME. When something goes wrong, it assumes some other person or situation is at fault (Matt 7:3).  The proud make excuses when it is their fault, and can easily find reason why their mistake is actually the fault of another. 

C – Pride is COMPARISON. It’s one piece of dust saying to another piece of dust “look at how great I am, because I’m a bit bigger than you.” (Psalm 103:14, 2 Cor 10:12) 

D – Pride is DISOBEDIENCE to God.The main characteristic of humility was shown in Jesus’ obedience even to the point of death (Php 2:8).  Pride is plain and simple disobedience to the Lord in anything. 

E – Pride is ENTITLEMENT, it’s feeling that we deserve something from anyone, because of who we are or what we’ve done. For example: it is unwilling to be frugal in money because it feels entitled to buy what it likes. Or it can be an unwillingness to eat simple food, or take a simple vacation rather than a more luxurious one. Humility is never entitled, but keeps an attitude of unworthiness / undeservedness (Luke 17:10, Luke 5:8). Humility recognises that all we have comes from God (1 Cor 4:7). 

F – Pride loves to FIGHT (it is contentious, very quick to argue).  It sets itself to quarrel as long as it takes, until it wins the argument.Humility is letting the other person win the argument, and then changing the conversation to something else you can agree on without fighting, like sports or the weather. 

G – Pride GLORIES in past good works it has done.Pride is revisiting the good works we’ve done in our mind and patting ourselves on the back, taking satisfaction in what we’ve done “with our own hands” instead of giving God the glory (Daniel 4:30-37).

 H – Pride is very HARSH with other people in words or actions, it’s lacking in a critical fruit of the Spirit: gentleness (Gal 5:23).  Humility is gentleness (careful not to harm another even in little ways, such as a careless hurtful word or joke about someone).But pride leads to uncontrolled anger that ends up lashing out in harsh ways at others.

 I – Pride is IMPATIENT. For example, a proud person gets quickly frustrated with a coworker who is slow to respond, with a slow driver on the road, or with a crying child because he feels he deserves much quiet time to himself. 

J – Pride JUSTIFIES itself (Luke 16:15), and JUDGES others, looking down on others in the heart (Matt 7:1). It often joins hands with the accuser (Rev 12:10), focusing on the sins of others, and excusing its own sins. 

K – Pride often gets puffed up with KNOWLEDGE (1 Corinthians 8:1).Pride is assuming that we see and understand things more clearly than others. 

L – Pride is having LOFTY thoughts of yourself (Romans 12:3).Pride assumes we are indispensable in the kingdom of God or at our occupation, for example. Both will get along fine without us after we are gone! I once heard a saying, “The graveyards are filled with indispensable people.” So many millions of “important” people in the past have lived and died, but the world kept on going. (1 Peter 1:24-25) 

M – Pride is MISERLY.  Not only with its money, but with its time.  It can often get offended when someone asks a favour of us, as if they have no right to.This is because it considers my plans and obligations as more important than somebody else’s; so it is unwilling to be inconvenienced. For example, pride is fixing lunch for myself if I’m hungry but leaving my kids without food until they get cranky and start asking. Or it’s consistently leaving messes for my wife to clean up, without considering her work. Jesus cleaned up even a small linen cloth after He was resurrected (John 20:7). Humility is very considerate of others (Philippians 2:4). Pride is being consistently too busy to help my spouse or child with little things. It’s is an unwillingness to be interrupted. 

N – Pride is being NOSY. It’s being a busybody in other people’s matters (2 Thessalonians 3:11) – pride assumes that we deserve to know what’s going on in another person’s life or that our opinion about it matters. 

O – Pride is very OPINIONATED about many matters outside of the things of God. Jesus was not very opinionated outside of the things of God. We should hold tightly to God’s word, but outside of that it’s possible to be very strongly opinionated as well, expressing our strong feelings about such and such matter which has nothing to do with us. Paul said, “I will not boast in anything except for in the cross of Christ” (Galatians 6:14).  I heard a saying once which blessed me; “The more we grow in Christ the less eager we are to share our own opinions.” 

P – Pride is PRESUMPTION: it’s the assumption that I know what’s going to happen in the future, or holding tightly to my own plans which I for sure will carry out (James 4:14-16) – we should only say “If the Lord wills it.”  Pride depends on self (and is quite confident in it!), rather than God. 

Q – Pride is QUICK to speak, and slow to listen, rather than the other way around (James 1:19). A proud person loves talking about himself a lot – pride assumes that my life is more interesting than that of another.  A proud person often dominates a conversation.The proud don’t listen very carefully to sermons or when reading Scripture since they feel they are pretty good people already, they may listen or read for knowledge which they can boast about later, but the humble have a keen eye and ear specifically for personal application they can take for themselves since they recognise their need and want to improve in the areas of their need/sin. The ear of need is what Jesus referred to as “ears to hear” (Matthew 11:15).Pride is being very eager to share with others what the Lord has showed us (because we feel clever and want to impress people), but not valuing the other truths that our brothers and sisters have to share. It’s being very interested to speak, but having little interest to listen. 

R – Pride is the ROOT of every sin.Grace is God’s power to keep me from sin (Romans 6:14, 2 Corinthians 12:9), and God gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).  That means: if I sinned, I didn’t get grace because there was pride in me somewhere.  At the root of every sin is pride. 

S – Pride refuses SERVING in ‘Low’ tasks (which we consider ‘below’ us), either in the home (like washing dishes or doing laundry), or in the workplace, such as some menial task which we consider someone else’s job. Humility is quietly willing to take the low, dirty responsibilities which nobody else wants (John 13:14). 

T – The proud are THANKLESS and ungrateful, since they feel they are quite deserving of the good that comes to them.The proud may sing praise songs on Sundays but know nothing of thanking the Lord from the depths of their heart in secret, praising Him with a hymn of thanks in their heart when no one else sees, because they do not really believe they are that sinful and needed the Lord’s mercy all that much (Luke 7:47). 

U – Pride is UNFORGIVING and UNAPOLOGETIC.  Pride stays cold against someone even after they’ve apologised for wrongs against us.  And it refuses to acknowledge or apologise for a wrong it has committed.Pride gets offended when rebuked or corrected (Prov 15:5).  In that case, pride defends itself or worse – criticises the one giving the rebuke. 

V – Pride is VENGEFUL. In subtle ways pride will hold a grudge, such as keeping a cold shoulder against someone for some time, even if on the outside they say with their mouth “I forgive you.” (Romans 12:19) 

W – Pride is WITHOUT SYMPATHY for the suffering of others, and it’s full of jealousy for the success of others.Since it is so self-centred, pride can easily rejoice in its own ease and comfort, even while a brother is deeply mourning. Its attitude is “I’m glad that didn’t happen to me.” Alternately, it is easily jealous and so it doesn’t rejoice when a brother or sister is rejoicing. (Romans 12:15) 

X – Pride is placing EXpectations on others.We are not God that we should command people what they should do and expect so many things from them.  But pride gets angry at others when they don’t do what we want – even toward the Lord Himself.Pride makes demands from God for selfish reasons that aren’t promised in His Word – James 4:2-3 

Y – Pride is very unYIELDING and stubborn. It will not consider or yield to the opinion or desire of another, it will not back down until it gets its way.Jesus granted the request of even a demon when it asked to be cast into pigs! (Mark 5:12-13)But the motto of pride is “MY will be done.” 

Z – Pride is ZEALOUS for one’s own honour (Matt 23:6), and self preservation.  Pride is thinking only about myself and my family, and unconcern for others outside of that circle.  It is void of genuine love and concern for others. 

**By Bobby McDonald © Copyright – Bobby McDonald. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at NCCF Church