Praising others appears
to be a thing of the past. Everyone has an opinion, or so it seems, so I return
to biblical days. Soldiers and others mocked Jesus’ words, and some people were
bold enough to discredit Him. He was beaten with fists, blindfolded and taunted;
but, not once did He turn His back on the hateful nor retaliated with scornful
Some things are well said… but some things are better left unsaid.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but
leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will
repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19
abundant, but at times, not responding speaks louder than words. Rebuttals hurt,
and damages integrity. Many times spoken words in the heat of a moment are
later wished they were unheard by the recipient. I ask, did you pray before
you spoke those demeaning comments? Most people must not, for their spew
would not roll off the lips so easy. Is it human nature to bow down to such shallow
depths for it sure leaves little room for two to compromise?
Some things are better left unsaid.
“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23
Christ tried to
make listeners comprehend, but when preaching fell short, a better method took
front stage. God, in accordance, knew His actions would speak louder than words.
We will learn a lot if we just listen and accept the Lord’s advice to love each
Some things are better left unsaid.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
rampant in society, and it’s not only individuals but politics and businesses
too. We are taught differently as children, yet it free flows into adulthood. The
Bible warns us of a tragic fall when we follow the crooked paths of life. Curb
the tongue as our gracious Lord taught us.
Some things are better left unsaid.
“Death and life are in the power of the
tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21
Those who scramble
to speak like a double-edged sword will find their life spinning in circles. They
shall never experience the Christ of this world without repentance. Smile
instead… let your derogatory words and thoughts be a secret only unto the Lord.
Be gracious unto God and let others be a witness to His love which lives inside
of you. You are the Lord’s temple.
Everyone comes into
life to serve a great purpose. That is our destiny. We extend a hand in life to
help the broken, but it’s Christ who chooses the believers He wants to
represent Him. Faith is a large part of the commitment, but it’s the renewed
spirit which Christ blesses each time. I, too, am not worthy to wipe the dust
from our Father’s holy feet, but for an unknown reason, God duly elected me. I
am a representative of Christ, an emissary, an evangelist of His word. But, I was
the man most people least suspected to be His ambassador. This is how God works
among humanity. He selects the defeated, renews their heart and mind, and sends
them into the world as a witness of His great love.
My heart filled
with emotions, and it danced with a joy I didn’t think was possible. All I
could do was reverently thank God for the opportunities He opened up before my
eyes. It’s a select few picked to serve our Lord on a greater platform,
representing Him in the interim of His great return. Yes, this includes
ministers, pastors, priests, missionaries, and then just the ordinary… like me.
Do you know how
Christ chooses who will live in His shadow as disciples? Millions live in a
holy relationship with the Lord, but a genuine disciple usually is considered a
social outcast. They have a more profound knowledge of God and wisdom; perhaps
a miraculous incident occurred with Him. Often, they are rejected by family and
friends and considered “weird” or a false prophet. Demon possessed people react
strongly to them, and immature Christians spew insulting comments their
direction. Disciples, or anointed chosen followers, stand alone in a mocking
world. I’ve experienced all of these things, but with God by my side, I endure
all the accusations and criticisms, knowing He is my strength and power.
In the Bible,
Jesus’ biological half brothers rejected Him and His ministry. King David was
ridiculed for obeying and following the Lord. Isaac, the son of Abraham and
Sarah, was born supernaturally for his parents were aged one hundred and ninety
when he was conceived by God’s miracle. Moses was appointed at birth to
represent God and was the target of terrible criticism from the Israelites and
even his own brother and sister. Christ filled John the Baptist with the Holy
Spirit before he was born. He was ultimately beheaded because no one believed Christ
chose him. Not one person in scriptures chosen and anointed as a representative
of Christ had an easy life. They had to set themselves apart, and I’m sure they
felt very isolated.
So, today I ask,
are you chosen by God to be His ambassador? Are you afraid to take a leap of
faith for fear of rejection? Please read Psalm 91 as it is God’s promises to
His chosen and anointed people:
God will reward the fruits of our accomplishments at the end. Pick up your staff and walk my friends. Be strong in your commitment, now more than ever as the world’s flocks of sheep are like a pack of wolves. They hungrily circle God’s chosen to wait for the perfect chance to ensnare and devour your devotion. Be not afraid to stand in the barley and dance in the shade. Christians, we were born to represent Christ Jesus.
Faith is an
interesting topic which I examined from many perspectives – atheism,
Christians, and other religions. I’ve witnessed its results in many unexpected
situations and outcomes. Faith, according to Hebrews 11:1, is “being sure of what we hope for and certain
of what we do not see.” We are born with the ability to have faith. But, for
as many followers who trust in God, too many are non-believers or kinda/maybe
believers. So I ask myself, how can I exploit the wonderful acts of God? How
can I assure my readers God is real and lives inside every one of us? How can I
teach you what I was taught about faith?
I could start with
the physical proof of the Bible. Archeologists recently uncovered evidence of
biblical stories such as the finding of the steps which led into the pool of
Siloam and tombs in Nazareth. Technology is fantastic for it uncovers the truths
of the Bible dating back to the beginning of time. But, unfortunately, doubters
still block out the unearthing and go their merry way as doubters in a world of
What about unexplainable
miracles which occur to many people? Accidents, where angel forms appear in
pictures, happen all the time. Victims were unscathed and listed as a survivor.
Then, my personal story is labeled miraculous by a minister. God instructed me
ten years ago to get out of bed and write His messages. I was an undereducated
carpenter who knew nothing about writing, and today I lead a blog with twenty
million readers. God, like us, has a great sense of humor. Ok, many people do
not believe in miracles either, but this phenomenon can create questions in the
minds of non-believers.
Perhaps a better approach
to explain the concept of faith to an unbeliever is by an example…
Have you ever experienced
a backed-up septic system? You can’t call a repairman because it’s expensive,
so you contemplate fixing the problem yourself using a different solution. At
the local hardware store, the salesperson reaches for a box of “Rid-X”
and tells you to follow the instructions. You hop in the car with the box
sitting firmly next to you and think, “Man, I hope this works!” At bedtime, you
pour it into the bowl and flush it twice, just as the instructions described on
the label. Standing nervous over the “throne,” you say, “LORD, PLEASE LET THIS WORK!” Oh, wait!
I thought you didn’t believe in God? How can you call on God to help when you
don’t believe in Him? If you are an agnostic or atheist, you just sinned
against your own belief for you prayed to a higher power to help with an
How many times
have you heard the expression, “just have faith, all will work out”? These
words are an assurance of things we hope for but not yet received. Faith comes
before answered prayer or before an individual has received what they requested
from God. In sharp contrast, those who take for granted they don’t need a “God”
in their life – look out! Christ is not a plumber, so stop praying to the wrong
“throne”! Instead, find a friend who can guide you to a church where the
plumbing is routed straight to heaven. At least you will not be misled by
Satan’s evil sludge. Put God first, and it will surprise you how simple life is
when He’s figured into the equation.
The basic theory
of Faith 101 believes in God’s existence even though you cannot see Him. He
designed it this way to distinguish between those who belong to Him and those
who won’t, in death. If you have faith, God will reveal himself fully to you.
His integrity is perfect.
I serve a mighty and awesome Lord, and I promise, through prayer, everything is fixable. The best policy to invest in for any homeowner is Faith 101. ~~www.danabicksauthor.com~~
The culmination of this series on virtue is an examination of the chief of virtues, love. There are more words that have been written or spoken concerning love than perhaps any other subject.
It is safe to say that most of these words have to do with a romantic type of love. Love as a virtue is not that kind of love.
The Virtue of Love Comes from Above
The source of virtuous love is God Himself. According to the Apostle John,
1 John 4:7,8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. [ESV]
Love’s source and identity are found in God. That is why love is the chief of the virtues.
It is the chief in authority over the virtues, and the chief purpose of all virtue. The authority of love comes from the authority of God, and the purpose of love is to know God.
The word translated as “love” throughout John’s letters is agape. That is the love which puts the good of another before oneself.
Agape is epitomized by the Lord Jesus laying down His life for us all. The goal of the virtue of love is to know that love from Christ to each of us.
What Love Is Like
The Apostle Paul gives a beautiful description of what love is really like in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [ESV]
Paul begins with the value of love over all other things that are good. It doesn’t matter how smart or wise one is. It doesn’t matter if my faith is the strongest of all.
It doesn’t even matter if I sacrifice all I have or am to a right cause. None of it matters without virtuous love from God giving it meaning.
Paul then goes on to describe the defining characteristics of godly love. He does so is both positive and negative ways, that is, he tells us both what love is and is not.
Love is both patient and kind. Love is also an advocate of truth. Love is the defining and motivating characteristic of these and all virtues.
What Love Is Not Like
Paul also explains what love is not like. First of all, love is not envious.
Envy is an all too common characteristic in most. Envy can never be a loving emotion.
Envy is the fuel for hatred of either another person or a group of people. Envy seeks the other person or group’s loss simply because they have more.
Love is not arrogant. Arrogance cares only about self, and love always reaches beyond the self.
Love is not rude or without manners. Rudeness doesn’t consider either the feelings of another or the standards of a society.
Love doesn’t insist on getting its own way. A better rendering of this Greek term is found in the NET Bible.
1 Corinthians 13:5 (Love) is not rude, it is not self-serving, …
If my purpose of life is to only ‘look out for number one,’ love will get disregarded. Love requires a larger purpose.
A life of love cannot be filled with resentment. A person with a perpetual chip on their shoulder doesn’t know the virtue of love.
Love is not in favor of wrongdoing. A loving heart is distressed with wrong whether that comes from others or from ourselves.
What Love Does
The last aspect of love from Paul’s letter concerns what love actually does. The first of these he mentions is that love “rejoices” in truth.
Paul states this as a contrast to love ‘not rejoicing’ in wrongdoing. Truth is a potent vaccine and antidote to wrong.
Love desires truth to prevail. Truth increases the joy of virtuous love.
Paul then lists four things love does concerning “all things.” He writes that love bears, believes, hopes and endures all things.
A detailed exposition of this is far too lengthy for this venue. Here is my shorter version.
Love ‘bears’ the burdens of the loved one. Moreover, it believes in the one loved.
Love brings hope to a loved one in need. It also endures even hurt for another.
Most of all, virtuous love does this “in all things.” That is, love does these consistently come what may.
There is one factor about virtuous, agape love which seems overwhelming to any honest person. It is the conclusion that no human could be this loving all the time in all circumstances!
At the least, I know I can’t. Nor can the best people I know, all far better than I at showing Godly love.
There is but one person who ever loved in that complete and perfect way. It is Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God.
God sent Jesus to both show us the life of perfect love, and to die so we could live in His love. Following Him brings the virtue of perfect love to our lives.
Romans 5:8 But God shows His love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV)
Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
Featured and Top Image courtesy of Sharon Tate Soberon’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Melanie’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Sharon Tate Soberon’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Tim Ellis’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Claudio Ungari’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Number six in a series of seven articles on virtue
Courage is one of the most important of virtues. In fact, it is involved in the practice of all other virtues.
In hope of increasing the understanding of this virtue, here are some essential components of courage. Components which define both what courage is and is not.
Courage Is Not The Absence of Fear
This is a common myth that is often dispelled by real-life experience as a person matures. The first time one makes a courageous stand in any situation the experience will be accompanied by a certain level of fear.
It might be just a small twinge of uncertainty in the back of the mind. A slight cringe in the spirit because of the costs of making your brave stand.
To the extent any of that is true, a certain amount of fear is present. Courage is acting in the face of that fear.
Moreover, courage is impossible without fear being present. It takes no courage to act in an atmosphere without any risk.
Bran’s father is right. Unless there is a real fear, bravery is not necessary.
Fear defines and can shape action courageous or cowardly. However, courage must not give way to panic and act in a foolhardy manner.
Courage Is Not Foolhardiness
Acts of courage are often portrayed in popular media as acts that seem hopeless from the start. In fact, they seem so hopeless that a reckless and foolish response of someone to rescue the imperiled is deemed necessary.
There is an old saying, “Discretion is the better part of valor.” These words have been misused in the past to excuse cowardice.
The quality of having or showing discernment or good judgment…the ability to make responsible decisions.
This definition of the word discernment sheds further light on why discretion is called the ‘better’ part of valor. Discernment is,
the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure …
It means to act with understanding. Understanding the consequences not just to oneself but to others as well.
Discretion is why soldiers train for battle, law enforcement trains to fight crime, fire fighters have rigorous training and testing, and ordinary people learn CPR.
Courage can take many forms. It can require quick and decisive action. It could be a persistent effort over a long period.
Whatever the situation, discretion employs wisdom and thinking. It is especially important to use discretion if one’s valor is to be service of what is good rather than what is evil.
It would be tragic and foolhardy to risk for evil. For courage requires righteous faith, thus it is wise to exercise discretion in choosing the beneficiary of valor.
Courage Requires Righteous Faith
Real bravery requires faith in someone or something. Without a belief important enough to risk perhaps life and limb for, courage is impossible.
The faith itself does not have to be in a higher being. Moreover, it does not have to be faith in a being at all.
Faith can be faith in an ideal. However, for courage to be truly virtuous, it must be employed on behalf of righteous ideals and principle.
Someone may have risked their life as part of the Gestapo, but that does not qualify as true courage. Conversely, those involved with Operation Valkyrie against Hitler demonstrated real valor.
The officers involved in this failed attempt to assassinate Hitler realized their faith in the Fuhrer was misplaced and evil. They risked and paid with their lives trying to atone for that misplaced faith.
Bravery is not amoral. Nor is it without context. It requires a context of righteous faith and that is found by faith in the LORD.
Real courage requires a righteous faith because it will also inevitably involve sacrifice. Sacrifice akin to that given by Christ.
Courage Is Sacrificial
Acts of courage are sacrificial acts. They exact a real cost from those who exhibit them.
This is easy to understand when speaking of physical bravery. Anyone can see that physically defending a person from another, stronger person sacrifices personal safety to varying degrees.
There is another level of courage involved when many people are in danger. It is a willingness to sacrifice even your life for those you may not know.
The ultimate example of self-sacrificial courage was given by the Lord Jesus Christ. He gave His life even for people who hate Him, scorn Him, and reject Him.
In fact, while on earth Jesus chose to spend a lot of time among those that had been rejected by the world.
And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:15-17 [ESV]
The courage displayed by Jesus began when He left His heavenly home to become a child in the virgin womb of Mary. As the Son of God, to know the fate and sacrifice which awaited and choose to go anyway is an astounding display of courageous sacrifice.
A sacrifice which culminated upon the cross of Calvary, when the sinless Son took upon Himself the penalty for our sins.
Courage is compelled by sacrificial love which puts the other person ahead of oneself. That is known as agape in the New Testament Greek.
Agape is by far the most common type of love spoken of by Jesus. In the next and final piece on virtue, we will look at agape as well as the other types of love in the Scriptures, as love is the queen of all virtue.
Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001