|Volume 23 Number 7 July 2021
Brian R. Kenyon
A preacher was recently going through airport security when he saw an unusual sight. At the point where boarding pass holders must empty their pockets and send carry-ons to be checked, a blind man, being guided by his friend or relative, was removing large gold chains and charms from around his neck and placing them in the bin to send through the x-ray machine. Why would a blind man wear all that “bling, bling”? Whatever the reason, the preacher thought, “Wow! All that sparkle, and he can’t even see himself.”
There is a greater spiritual lesson to this scene. Sometimes, a Christian can act in such ways that others legitimately wonder, “Does he actually realize what he’s doing and how counterproductive that is to what he claims?” For example, do Christians who promote or defend immodesty, homosexual practice, or other acts of immorality, whether on Facebook or face to face, actually realize how they look to God and to worldly people? Do Christians who forsake assembling with the local church because they are too involved with recreation not realize they are idolizing passing pleasures of this world in place of the eternal satisfaction of spiritual enrichment? Do Christians whose actions show they love this world more than God not realize the jeopardy in which they place their souls and the harm their influence brings on the local church?
The only true way to see ourselves as we really are is to look into the mirror of God’s Word. “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:23-25). May each of us constantly examine ourselves with God’s Word, not comparing ourselves with others (2 Corinthians 10:12-18). The more we see ourselves as God sees us, the better we can adjust to be more like Jesus!
Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid (Part 3)
There is no way God wants us to be scared of Him, right? Well, think again. God purposely frightened the Israelites in Exodus 20. They begged Moses to speak to them (instead of God). God wanted them to fear Him. They were the “children” of Israel and needed to learn to fear their heavenly Father. Solomon said that fearing the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) and the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).
As a child, I feared my dad. I didn’t want him to spank me, so I obeyed him. However, as I grew up, I became bigger and stronger than my dad. I no longer feared him, but I obeyed him! Why? Now it was because of love, not because of fear.
God was teaching the “children” of Israel to fear Him. He was doing with them what we as parents do with our children. They are not capable of jumping right to a “love-obedience” relationship. That is too advanced a concept for a child. Rather, they obey because of fear. This was God’s approach, and it works with children as well.
Therefore, people obey because of two reasons: (1) Fear – a more immature motivation for obedience, and (2) Love – a superior, mature kind of motivation that leads to obedience.
John made an interesting statement. He said that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). I don’t think I can say I’ve reached that “perfect love” stage, but that is my goal. When our lives are characterized by obedience, we have no reason to be scared of God. Judgment Day will be a day of victory.