Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 1 John 5:1
I love my children. I am enamored with them. I love them when they please me and when they upset me. I don't love them for what they do, I love them for who they are. When we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ we are often tempted to think about all of the reasons we love them. We love them because they encourage us, bless us. Perhaps we are even tempted to love them less when they cost us something, or hurt us. The true love between believers is rooted and grounded in Christ. We love each other, not for what we do for each other, but for what Christ has begotten in each of us. That is the love of Christ - pure, unconditional and undefiled.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
The first words of these verses are striking: "Let nothing be done". The English translation softens the Greek which reads: "NOTHING through selfish ambition or conceit". Our motives are of the utmost importance. If you are doing some service to God for your own glory do yourself a favor and quit. If you are serving the church for the round of applause you are hoping for, just stop. If you are helping someone with a feeling of disdain for them, don't. The only valuable service to the Lord is the service that is done by Jesus Christ through you, for His glory. Jesus Christ is our example in this, having given up His privileges as God, submitted himself to the humiliating death on the cross to save us. When you are able to serve with His life it will look like His work and you will be glorifying only Him, and it will be good.
But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
1 Corinthians 2:9
This verse is often abused to inspire the hearer to think about all of the great physical wealth that we might be brought into by the television preachers. But we have seen physical wealth. To suggest that monetary prosperity is what is being discussed here sells the cross and power of Jesus Christ hopelessly short. What God has prepared for us in Christ is far greater than anything we can ask or imagine. We are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. This reality outdistances any idea of prosperity, any desires in this perishing world completely.
For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
On a internet reality show I watched recently the main characters challenged two of the Harlem Globetrotters to a 2 on 2 game. They were slaughtered. Each time a point was scored they got up and tried again until the game eventually ended. Had that game gone on for all of eternity the characters in the show would never have had a chance. In Romans 7 Paul describes a similar situation. His sin nature is the player that he could never beat, the Law is the game that he never could win. In Romans 6 he realized that Christ had won this game for him, in Romans 7 the sin nature temps him back on the court. And he loses, every time. It isn't a flaw in the game (the Law) it is a flaw in the player. The minute we step on "the court" (the Law) with our sin nature we lose. No matter how good our intentions, no matter how strong our resolve. Our only hope for salvation was to look to Jesus, our only hope to be saved from our Sinful Nature now is to keep our eyes firmly fixed on Him and the reality that He already won this game at the cross.
"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding"Job 38:4
Success in life depends very much on knowing who and where we are at any given moment. If a linebacker on the football team thinks that he is the quarterback there will be problems in the game. Employees often grumble about their boss's decisions because they lack the perspective of the leadership of the company. Musicians who refuse to follow the conductor can make a beautiful piece of music a complete muddle. This is the problem that Job and his friends fell into. Upon his great trial Job showed perseverance of character and trust in God. Yet, in his more audacious moments (and due to the unjust provocation of his friends) he got too big for his britches and wanted to take his case before the Lord. Job's friends wanted to usurp the place of God and assume they knew everything that was going on in the life of Job. Yet God's rebuke to each of them is similar. He alone is God. Trying to assume His place only brings heartache and trouble.