Posted in love, theology

Does God hate anyone?

By Elizabeth Prata

Psalm 5:5, The foolish shall not stand in your sight: you hate all workers of iniquity
John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

I was asked about an apparent contradiction between a God who says he hates people who sin and the love He expresses in John 3:16.

There are different types of God’s wrath. There’s cataclysmic wrath such as in when He sends tornadoes or hurricanes or earthquakes. There’s His wrath of abandonment such as when he ‘gives a person over’ to their sin (Romans 1:24, for example, or hardening Pharaoh’s heart). There’s eschatological wrath, prophesied to come in the future. And so on.

There’s different kinds of love. There’s God’s beneficent love to all general mankind we see in John 3:16 (That kind of love is shown as common grace, sending the rain to the wicked and the righteous alike). Then there’s His covenant love toward those He has purposed to save.

There’s different kinds of hate, too. Look at Luke 14:26,

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

Is Jesus telling people to literally hate their parents? No. How do I know that? Because Jesus would not advise breaking the Fifth Commandment, “Honor thy Mother and Father.” No, He was using hate as a metaphorical comparison, you must love Jesus SO MUCH that by comparison is seems that your love for your parents is hate.

Is the hate expressed Psalm 5:5 the same kind of hate? No that is literal hate. It seems weird that God is love is also a God who hates.

That’s because in this day and age people vastly underestimate God’s hatred of sin. We’ve had a generation or two of “Jesus loves you and wants you to have a good life” kind of evangelism. It used to be “You’re a sinner that God will send to hell for rebelling against Him.” Sin is a huge problem to a thrice holy God. (Revelation 4:8, Isaiah 6:3).

Since God is love, sin is the polar opposite of everything He is. He hates sin- and the people who perform sin. Which makes his love for us all the more spectacular. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, He clothed them. Even though they had just done one of the most evil deeds in the universe of all history (Judas’ betrayal being #1, this can be seen as #2) He still loved them enough to clothe them and send them on their way and did not kill them immediately. That’s love through hate.

We’re familiar with the phrase “Love the sinner but hate the sin”. It’s a wonky phrase that actually does more damage than is helpful. If we are to love the sinner we must confront his sin. Here, Cameron Buettel explains in a clear and concise way about how important it is not to divorce the two, the sin and the sinner performing it.

That determination to separate who a person is and what he does has also infiltrated the church. The exhortation to “love the sinner and hate the sin” is a clever Christian cliché regularly used to deflect people’s responsibility and accountability for their sin. While it’s true that we should both love sinners and hate sin, the cliché distorts those truths by unbiblically severing the two.

We should love sinners. We should hate sin. And we shouldn’t divide those two truths into separate categories. Our hatred of sin should manifest itself in a love that warns sinners—compassionately, but no less clearly—of the dire consequences their sin demands. Short of that, how could we ever claim to truly love them? Source

We can take this trajectory to its ultimate conclusion. Once a sinner has been warned, given the Gospel, refused and rejected, we turn it over to God. God knows the heart and knows when it it time for His general love to turn to hate, giving the person over to his sin with the sure and devastating consequences. Since He knows the heart, He knows when it’s time to love and a time to hate.

If we agree with the advice in the essay, and apply the same principle to God, we know He would do it in perfection and purity since He is perfectly holy.

Here are two good articles talking about God’s hate. This short devotional from Ligonier makes the love-hate situation really clear. Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis short article is good also.

God’s love and God’s hatred

Does God Hate Anyone?

psalm 5 hate

Posted in love, theology

What is love?

By Elizabeth Prata

I don’t like writing about myself and I never talk about my internal emotions and thoughts. I’d really rather die than talk about what’s going on inside me. But I have to this time, because it’s about Jesus.

As a woman who grew up in a difficult circumstance, I learned to rely only on myself and to be strongly independent and self-sufficient, and have been so for 50 years (since I was 8). Yet when I was given the grace of salvation 15 years ago, I learned also that the Lord wants me to share my burdens and to interlock in mutual submission with others in caring relationships. I don’t know how to do this, it’s literally beyond my life experience and my emotional capacity. But with God all things are possible.

I am learning His lessons about trusting Him in sharing burdens and loving others- as well as accepting love from others. My prayers are being answered day by day, His glory is being shown- through all of my different families- Twitter tweeps, School family, Church body in a huge and impactful way.

Life before salvation and outside of church, was a bewildering swirl of relationships between others…not knowing how to break in or even particularly wanting to:

relationships1b
I still have difficulty with socializing and developing or maintaining relationships. It’s not a matter of trying harder or willpower or shyness. It’s irritating when people try to sympathize by saying “I’m shy too” when it’s literally a matter of different brain wiring, and not behavior modification. I know they are trying to be nice, but it’s a totally wrong thing to say.

Though my brain is made differently, nothing is too difficult for God. Through the incessant work of the Holy Spirit, like water eventually wears through stone, the glory of God that is shown through my friends, after 5 decades and a loving set of families the Lord has given me, we have this:

relationships2b
I still don’t know the “how” of it. But I can feel the love. I love you back.

The important thing is to keep persevering.

persevere
Further Resources:

RC Sproul lectures: Love

19 Secrets Autistic People…(what not to say)

14 Things not to say to an Autistic Person (I’ve actually had someone say #11 to my face, except it was phrased more rudely)

Love for the Long Haul: The Autism Pastor

Posted in love, theology

‘Put on’ love

By Elizabeth Prata

I’m old enough now that the songs played on the radio’s Oldies station are the songs of my youth and teen years. The Supremes’ 1964 song “Baby, baby where did our love go” is catchy. It was on the radio the other day. It got me thinking in pictures. As in, ‘love’ going somewhere. Did it pack its suitcase and slink out the back door like a thief? Did it wilt then droop then evaporate, like the steam on the bathroom mirror?

The secular world sees love as a noun. Especially romantic love. They see it as a thing to be grasped. Something to be possessed. They see love as a thing that comes, then goes. That would mean that love has a mind of its own, will, volition.

The Christian knows that love is not a noun to hold but a choice to be made. Love is a verb. We choose it and we live it. Colossians 3:14 announces love as something we “put on”, indicating again that love is an act of our own volition. We are in charge of love, it is not in charge of us nor is it in charge of itself.

Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (Colossians 3:14).

Matthew Henry explains the Colossians verse-

In order to all this, we are exhorted here to several things:—1. To clothe ourselves with love (v. 14): Above all things put on charity: epi pasi de toutois—over all things. Let this be the upper garment, the robe, the livery, the mark of our dignity and distinction. Or, Let this be principal and chief, as the whole sum and abstract of the second table. Add to faith virtue, and to brotherly-kindness charity, 2 Pt. 1:5–7. He lays the foundation in faith, and the top-stone in charity, which is the bond of perfectness, the cement and centre of all happy society. Christian unity consists of unanimity and mutual love.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2335). Peabody: Hendrickson.

Warren Wiersbe explains-

Put on … love (Col. 3:14). This is the most important of the Christian virtues, and it acts like a “girdle” that ties all the other virtues together. This is not something that we turn on and off, like the TV set. It is a constant attitude of heart that makes us easy to live with.

Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 138). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Baby, baby, where did our love go? It didn’t go anywhere,t he person loving another simply got tired of choosing it.

Choosing to love is the hardest thing in the world, especially if you’re married. Making the choice to “put on” love toward someone who isn’t acting right, or who wronged you, or is just being a pill, is not easy. But love is the binding that holds the Body together and it is the quality that makes Christ attractive to the pagan. It is supreme.

Don’t be a bystander watching love come in and go out. Put it on, choose it, live it.

love verse 4.jpg

Posted in love, theology

Jesus’s pain, His love, His priesthood

We are told that the times during the Tribulation will become increasingly loveless (Matthew 24:12). They are turning cold even now. Many people tell me they are experiencing it or sense it. As the times become more cold, and love ekes away, many people may find they are searching for warmth.

Isaiah 53:3 says “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” Recently I was thinking of when He was alone in the Garden and everyone fell asleep even though He had asked for company. And later, how Peter said he didn’t know Him, denying Jesus three times. That had to have hurt. I thought about the universe’s most ultimate betrayal, Judas. I thought of Jesus saying to Judas, “What you must do, do quickly.” (John 13:27).

You see, Jesus KNEW Judas was going to betray Him, but He loved Judas perfectly anyway. That is a powerful model of love. If I knew I was going to be betrayed and rejected ahead of time, would I love the people all the same? I’m human but sinful and Jesus was human and sinless. Therefore I know I would not.

But…

Jesus came to earth SO THAT He could feel these things with us. Did you know that? We rightly focus on the salvation aspect of His time on earth and His sacrifice as the Lamb. But did you know that He is not only Messiah, but also High Priest? He was fully God and fully Man and He came to feel every emotion that we feel.

Hebrews 2:17-18 says “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

He is the most faithful High Priest, not only to save us but to sympathize with us!

Now let that stop us for a moment. The God of the Universe poured Himself into human skin to live a full life, so that He could save us by dying, but before that, to feel what we feel as we are tempted. When you are feeling lost, lonely, sad, rejected, tempted, betrayed, angry, bitter, or anything else, remember, that when we pray to Him, He is there. He knows. When we feel betrayed, He knows. He has been there. He serves God as our High Priest, interceding for us in a way that is fully empathetic. He is God, yet He came to us as fully human this so He could empathize with us in our times of sorrow. Are you not floored by knowing this?

Know this also, Psalm 56:8b- “Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?” He not only numbers the hairs on your head but sees and knows every tear shed in His name.

Psalm 34:18- “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.” So, just knowing He WILL do it, helps us until He does it. That is faith.

Many people tell me they feel lost inside their own church. American churches are infested with goats, and the sheep are squeezed out. They cry for a good, solid place to worship. They cry because they have been hurt. They cry because their workplace is cold, or they are mocked at school for being a born again believer, or marginalized from their unbelieving family. The dividing lines are widening, you see, in churches, at work, in homes…

Luke 12:52-53; “for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” As the times grow closer to when He calls the Bride to Himself, the dividing lines will deepen. Division is a natural part of belief- if the truth is central. It will happen, but it still makes us sad.

This from Revelation 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Your face may be wet today, but he will dry it Himself on that Day! Isn’t it worth the wait, and the tears, just knowing He will fulfill His promise to wipe them away with His own hand? If your tears feel large to you today, just imagine how small they will be when His hand erases them into oblivion and gives you perfect peace.

And finally, remember the Love chapter from 1 Corinthians 13. Love bears all things. Love means we have to open ourselves to people and love them, even knowing that rejection, betrayal, sadness and hurt will come along with that. We don’t like it, but Jesus said to choose this kind of love as an expression of the Gospel He came to proclaim. His hurt and betrayal was so monstrous, how can we then complain of ours? We cannot. Begin praying for others. Pray for missionaries in places where their mission will bring them death. Converts in the dangerous places where their faith may bring them imprisonment or worse. Praying for others in worse circumstances helps us put our things into perspective; HIS perspective.

The key is to focus on Jesus. He is the lens through which all trials are put into proportion. He gives comfort and He gives a Kingdom perspective, of eternity. Prayer helps and prayer works, because the Spirit brings to mind his Word, and his Word is always the triumph over all. Why? It is the greatest love letter ever written, and relying on it through submission to and by the strength of the Spirit revives even the poorest, saddest child of Jesus.

Hebrews 12:28-29 says “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”

And so the Word revives us. He promises us the unshakable kingdom. There will not be any cracks. There will not be any quakes. There will not be any shocks. There will not be anything interrupting the joy He has promised to deliver. We show Him gratitude in advance of this promise of inheritance through faithful service, letting the sadness we may feel diminish because after all, it is only temporary. He is a fire of wrath for the ungodly but a fire of zeal and eternal love for the believer. Therefore let the Man of Sorrows comfort you in your sorrow. You will find the more you rely on Him to minister to you as High Priest, the more joy you will end up experiencing!

love

Posted in discernment, emotionalism, love, panentheism, theology

The idol of emotionalism

To the women who claim to have cuddled with Jesus, heard His whisper, sat on His lap, felt His ‘caress’, had their fondest dreams validated, (and I’m speaking of Beth Moore, Ann Voskamp, Kim Walker Smith, Joanna Gaines, and all the rest), hark to this paraphrase from Revelation 1:12 by John MacArthur,

He [John] turns when he hears this booming voice that sounds like a trumpet, and the voice is speaking, and he turns and sees that this voice belongs to a person in his vision moving among seven golden lampstands. Verse 20 says the seven golden lampstands are symbolic of the seven churches; they’re lights in that sense. And he looks into the middle of the lampstands and must be with some hope for comfort and encouragement, and instead he sees a warrior; he sees a frightening warrior, “one like a son of man – ” a term from Daniel expressing God in form, manifesting blazing glory, who has authority and power and dominion, as it says of the Son of Man in Daniel “ – clothed in a robe reaching to the feed and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. And His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. 

There is nothing cozy and cuddly about that vision of Christ. In fact, it is so terrifying that in chapter 1, verse 17 says, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.” It literally, it literally took away his breath.

Ladies, reject the romantic panentheism. Don’t succumb to the idol of emotionalism, as explained here-

Beware of substituting the love of feelings and drama and emotion for the love of God. Some of us come to Him in tears; others in quiet surrender. Some come running, others walk, others are led by another, but the end result is the same. The bottom line is this: God is sovereign, and He will do it His way. It’s not about how we feel—it’s about who He is. more here

See Jesus for who He is: not the hand-wringing needy Jesus who begs for attention from us, but the Warrior in charge of His church, having ‘things against us’ when we do not obey His commands and threatening retribution. (Revelation 2:4, 2:20).

And for a laugh that hurts a little because it’s so true, read this from the Babylon Bee:

Powerful Time Of Worship Draws Woman Closer To Her Own Emotions Than She’s Been In A Long Time

RAPID CITY, SD—Sources are reporting that local woman Britney Mollison experienced the presence of her own emotions more powerfully than she has in a long time during a time of worship Wednesday night. According to Mollison’s own testimony, about three-quarters of the way through the set of dramatic songs blasting from the band onstage out to the worshipers, she was finally able to surrender all to her feelings.
“In that moment, when the bridge to ‘Oceans’ reached its crescendo and the keyboardist masterfully applied the wah pedal, my emotions were more real to me than I can remember,” Mollison sobbed to sources. “It was just me and and my personal relationship to the chemicals in my brain responding to stimuli. Nothing else mattered.”

More at link.

Be theological. It’s the best way to love Jesus, because it is the way He revealed Himself to us.

Posted in encouragement, love, transfiguration

"…With all your strength,…all your soul…"

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28)

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17)

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)

Jesus lived a perfect life and He fulfilled the Law. We know this. But what this means, what it really means … is that Jesus loved the Father with all His heart, all His mind, all His strength, and all His heart, every second of every day. All His life.

No human on earth has been able to fulfill the Law to that degree … except Jesus. No one else except Jesus has ever been able to be an ambassador for God. No one else has ever been His covenant Keeper, except Jesus. What a unique and incredible Person He is.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me:
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
~Battle Hymn of the Republic

Posted in God, love, valentine's day

True love isn’t candy or flowers or valentines

Valentine’s Day is a made-up holiday so greeting card, candy, and flower companies can get money.

EPrata photo

One famous quote from Billie Holiday says

“Love is like a faucet, it turns off and on.” 

The world does not know love. It expresses kindness and sensitivity and something approximating love, but without Christ, we don’t know what love is. To Billie Holiday and others, love is something that can come on of its own volition, and it can go away again.

God’s love is eternal. This is because God IS love. His love is perfect, pure, holy, eternal, and thorough. He loves His people with a devotion saturated with timelessness and emanates from living waters that flow forever. No faucet in sight, just an everlastingly flowing fountain of perfect love.

In our economy, love is a fleeting feeling based on a deceitful human heart. In God’s economy, love is a permanent state of being.

Wouldn’t you like to know this kind of love? God loves us so much that,

EPrata photo

In return, we love God with all we’ve got in us. And when that isn’t strong enough or faithful enough, in His sanctifying work the Holy Spirit enlivens our soul and pricks our conscience and burns off what hinders us from loving Him as we should and we love Him all the more. Loving Jesus is not romantic. As Bob Dewaay says in his review of romanticist Ann Voskamp’s book 1000 Gifts,

The Bible speaks of the church as the Bride of Christ but does not describe the universal call of the gospel in sensual terms of a lover pursuing His love interest (who may have no interest in return). God is commanding sinners to repent. The gospel calls for repentance and faith, not romantic feelings looking for satisfaction. … When Peter urged Christians to grow in their faith and in Christian virtues, he did not point to a higher order experience based on romantic feelings—he called them to remember:

Therefore, I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, (2 Peter 1:12, 13)

Instead it is a knowledgeable, singular, focused, pursuing kind of love. There is no room for anything else if we love Him with all our soul, heart, mind, and strength.

EPrata photo

Love God with your everything. Then the love you give to other people will be purer, stronger, and more faithful. And that is way better than a paper heart or a sloppy sentiment or a box of consumable candy. Your faucet will never turn off; because the love of God never stops.

Posted in death, discernment, hell, jesus, love, sin, wrath

When love includes hate

I had a Twitter interaction this week. With an opening like that, you know how the rest of this is going to go.

There are Christians on Twitter who tweet verses about God’s love. This is fine and great. I do that too! But there is an overemphasis in social media on God’s love, and rarely presentation of our personal sin, or His wrath, or the world’s curse or death, or hell. Yet Jesus spoke more of hell than heaven.

As the writer at Bible.org stated,

It may be worth noting that in Deuteronomy 28 (and following), the blessing section (28:1-14) is a great deal shorter than the cursing section (28:15-68). 

Speaking only of hell or wrath isn’t good either. God is a balanced and perfect God, and speaking of any and all of His attributes is always fruitful. But the excessive focus on “love” is, well, sickeningly sweet to me. Presenting only the ‘good’ attributes like love to the world, gives the world a picture of a Holy and Sovereign God as needy and wimpy.

Here is how the Twitter conversation went. I saw this tweet being re-tweeted by someone who I follow and follows me:

So I replied with this from Revelation 19:11,

And she valiantly and staunchly tweeted back:

She didn’t even tweet back a verse of love, but instead chose to deliberately cut out the part of the verse that says He makes war and judges. Those attributes are not so popular, and they get very little airing on public forums like Facebook, comment sections, and Twitter. So I answered:

And there was no reply.

I had heard a Phil Johnson sermon this weekend that I enjoyed. (What Phil Johnson sermon ever isn’t to enjoy? 🙂 Here is the part where Pastor Johnson was explaining how an overemphasis on Jesus’ love diminishes even the holy attribute of His love to a man-centered false notion of love that is far from the truth. Here is Pastor Phil Johnson:

Love Not The World

Now this is vital, because there are a lot of people who want to make the principle of love a kind of ethereal goodwill that is strewn about indiscriminately on every conceivable object. In fact, in the culture of American Christianity, if you include the mainstream denominational groups and everyone in our society who uses the label “Christian,” I think it’s fair to say that the prevailing notion of Christian charity in society at large is an idea of love that is always benevolent, always congenial, always positive about everything. 

I hear this all the time. Years ago, when I first began to investigate and catalogue the Christian resources on the Internet, I made a large list of links to other Christian Web sites. And in order to keep them all straight in my own mind, and in order to help Christians who might not be very discerning about doctrinal dangers on the Internet, I classified my links to other web sites Web sites according to their doctrinal soundness. So there’s large a category of links I have labeled helpful, and then there are other categories called “Bad Theology” and “Really Bad Theology.” And then a few years ago I found I had to add a category called “Really, Really Bad Theology.” And I’ve annotated every link on those pages to help explain why I categorize them as bad.

And to this day, nearly every week of my life, I get e-mail messages from people who are convinced that it is inherently unloving to label anyone else’s ideas bad theology. And they write me to chide me for posting my disagreements with other Christians’ doctrine on the Web. 

But the love that is called for in the New Commandment is not a vague, indiscriminate congeniality. Real love for the truth necessarily involves hatred for error.

Real love for God includes hatred of error. One error is the gauzy exclusive focus on Jesus-as-boyfriend, “in love” with His bride wearing a wrath of braided daisies and never the Crown of many diadems. Here is where the rest of the Revelation 19:11 verse takes us. To verses 12 and 13:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

The picture of Jesus than the one where He is smilingly depicted as sitting among the disciples among a field of, um, daisies is the one that social media and immature Christians exclusively present. The picture of Jesus as a bloody, judging, sin-avenger? Not so much.

Both pictures are true. Always tweeting, showing, describing, or even living, one picture of Jesus exclusively and not the entirety presents a false God.

John MacArthur’s sermon “Why the World Hates Christians, Part 1” also urges us Christians to speak of Jesus and His holy attributes of wrath, sin, judgment etc. It’s important. Don’t neglect putting them out into the world, he said, because it’s sin if we don’t. Here is Pastor MacArthur:

The world will hate you if you “start identifying evil as evil. We don’t want to do that. Let me help you. The Pope is evil. He is from the Kingdom of Darkness. He is anti-christ. Anyone who would say atheists are going to heaven, is anti-christ. Jesus said you will die in your sins and where I go you’ll never come because you believe not on Me. Not only do you need to believe on god but on Jesus Christ.

Homosexuality is evil. Gender identity tampering is evil. Adultery is evil. Fornication is evil. Lying is evil. Pride is evil. Self-centeredness is evil. Self-righteousness is evil. That’s why they killed Jesus, because He said their religion was evil. … 

John 7:7 says that the world hated Me before they hated you, because I testify of the world that its deeds are evil. If we don’t SAY that, we’re sinning. You can say it in love, but it has to be said.

Call evil what it is: evil.

We must love and talk of the attributes of God that the world hates to hear about, such as judgment, hell, wrath, and sin. If we don’t, who will?

Posted in children, divorce, encouragement, love

An Eloquent Six-Year-Old Gives Her Mother a Meaningful Lesson About Staying Friends After Divorce

From the Laughing Squid.

The Bible talks about having the faith of a child.

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:2-6)

See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:10)

Matthew Henry explains the concepts here:

Christ spoke many words of his sufferings, but only one of his glory; yet the disciples fasten upon that, and overlook the others. Many love to hear and speak of privileges and glory, who are willing to pass by the thoughts of work and trouble. Our Lord set a little child before them, solemnly assuring them, that unless they were converted and made like little children, they could not enter his kingdom. Children, when very young, do not desire authority, do not regard outward distinctions, are free from malice, are teachable, and willingly dependent on their parents. It is true that they soon begin to show other dispositions, and other ideas are taught them at an early age; but these are marks of childhood, and render them proper emblems of the lowly minds of true Christians. Surely we need to be daily renewed in the spirit of our minds, that we may become simple and humble, as little children, and willing to be the least of all. Let us daily study this subject, and examine our own spirits.

With that in mind, here a 6 year old girl gives her mom a wake up call and a life after her parents were divorced. Cherish Sherry recorded her daughter Tiana’s important message and posted it on her Fcebook page. It was picked up by other media in the last few days since the initial posting.

I’m so glad she recorded it. Little Tiana spoke of humility, of exalting the other. She spoke of friendship, and having a heart of love among family members. She said a world without love and friendliness would be overrun with people who are simply monsters. What good is it to live in a world of monsters, without love? Her point was love begins in the home, with extending one’s self toward the other and not lording it over. She reminded her mother that her dad was still her father, and not to be mean.

This family is not Christian I don’t think, but these are biblical concepts the girl is speaking of.

God hates divorce. But when it happens, the little ones sometimes must step in with insight and the faith of a child.

May the Lord bless all the children. This sinful world is hard on them.

Posted in encouragement, love, widows

Jesus’ incredible care for widows

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

Widow – Konstantin Makovsky, 1865

The Bible speaks so often of the widow, the landless stranger (or alien) and the orphan. This is because in tie social hierarchy of Israel and environs, these three struggled the most in poverty at the lowest of the lowest of stations. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament outline the expectations for the Israelites to take care of the people who unfortunately fell into one of these three classes.

Bible Study Tools/Bakers Evangelical Dictionary describes the plight of the widow.

Widow

Married woman whose husband has died and who remains unmarried. The Hebrew word translated “widow” is almana, and it occurs fifty-six times in the Old Testament. … The Septaugint virtually always translates almana with the Greek term for widow, chera (cf. Job 24:21 ). The same Greek word occurs twenty-six times in the New Testament.
Words that occur in the general semantic field of the term “widow” in the Bible shed light on both her personal experience and social plight. Weeping (Job 27:15; Psalm 78:64), mourning (2 Sam 14:2), and desolation (Lam 1:1) describe her personal experience after the loss of her spouse. Poverty (Ruth 1:21; 1 Kings 17:7-12; Job 22:9) and indebtedness (2 Kings 4:1) were all too often descriptive of her financial situation, when the main source of her economic support, her husband, had perished. 

Indeed, she was frequently placed alongside the orphan and the landless immigrant (Exodus 22:21-22; Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 24:19; Deuteronomy 24:20-21) as representative of the poorest of the poor (Job 24:4; 29:12; 31:16; Isa 10:2) in the social structure of ancient Israel, as well as in the ancient Near East. With minimal, if any, inheritance rights, she was often in a “no-man’s land.” She had left her family, and with her husband’s death the bond between her and his family was tenuous.

The New Testament. Widows were prominent in the New Testament. It was no accident that one of the poorest of the poor, Anna, was privileged to greet the infant Messiah (Luke 2:36-38). The adult Jesus followed in the footsteps of his prophetic predecessors with his concern for the plight of the widow. He healed a widow’s son because of compassion for his mother (Luke 7:11-17); he protested the exploitation of widows (Mark 12:40). He reversed the standards by which people were judged with the parable of the widow’s tithe: the widow gave from her poverty while the wealthy merely offered from their abundance (Mark 12:41-42). In another parable, the church was compared with an importunate widow who kept demanding that her case be heard. Similarly, the church must persistently pray for eschatological justice, the redressing of all wrongs against her (Luke 18:1-8).

There is much more at the link. It seems that if the widow had no able bodied or willing sons, it often happened that she could not work the land well enough to retain it, which is why she is often classed with the landless immigrant.

Things are not so different now. From the US Social Security Office of Policy, we learn

Despite increased labor force participation rates among women and reforms under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, widowhood remains an important risk factor for transition into poverty, although somewhat less so than 20 years ago. Women widowed at younger ages are at greatest risk for economic hardship after widowhood, and their situation declines with the duration of widowhood. We also find that women in households that are least prepared financially for widowhood are at greatest risk of a husband’s death, because of the strong relationship between mortality and wealth.

James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Widow’s Mite

It’s worse for most women who divorce or are divorced from their husbands. They endure an immediate and often permanent plunge in their socio-economic status.

Divorce makes men – and particularly fathers – significantly richer. When a father separates from the mother of his children, according to new research, his available income increases by around one third. Women, in contrast, suffer severe financial penalties. Regardless of whether she has children, the average woman’s income falls by more than a fifth and remains low for many years. (Source: The Guardian, Men Become Richer after Divorce)

In one of the most tender scenes in the Bible, Jesus cared for His mother while He was suffering on the cross. He knew He was going to die of course. Presumably His foster father Joseph had already passed on. At the opening of the essay I’d shared the verse from John 19:26-27, when Jesus committed His mother to John the disciple and John took her in “that very hour.”

Have you ever wondered why Jesus did not speak to one of His brothers? He had brothers and sisters, that is a biblical fact.

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (Mark 6:3)

So why, then, did Jesus arrange for His mother to be housed with John, and not immediate family of James, Joses, Judas, or Simon? Likely it was because his half-brothers did not yet believe in Him. (John 7:5). In His agony, every breath a struggle, He commanded John to take in His mother, whom He addressed with an honorific of “Woman.”

MacArthur’s Commentary on John states,

Even as He was dying, bearing man’s sin and God’s wrath, Jesus selflessly cared for those whom He loved. (cf. 13:1, 34, 15:9, 13) Evidently His earthly father, Joseph, was already dead.  The Lord could not commit Mary into the care of His half brothers, the children of Mary and Joseph, since they were not yet believers (7:5). They did not become believers in Jesus until after His resurrection (Acts 1:14, cf.1 Cor. 15:7, thought he James referred to in that verse may be the Apostle James). 

Therefore He entrusted her to John, he became as a son to her in His place, and from that hour he took her into his own household. This may seem a very mundane thing to be concerned about in His hour of greatest sacrifice, but the beauty of the Savior’s love and compassion for His widowed mother, in the face of His own excruciating pain, reflects His love for His own.

Widow’s Walk, by Maja Lindberg Source

There are many tender scenes in the Bible where women are honored, cared for, healed, loved, and honored. Hagar, badly mistreated, received a visit from a pre-incarnate Jesus who gently spoke to her in her hour of need. The Woman at the Well, a sinner shunned by her townsmen, was given the privilege of a personal evangelistic moment with Jesus one-on-one. He did not rail at her for her sins, not like He did the Pharisees, but instead simply told her everything she ever did, revealed Himself to her as Messiah, and offered Living Water. After Eve sinned along with Adam, we read in Genesis 3:21 that God personally made skins from animals and clothed her (and Adam). And once again I refer to the quote above from the Bible Dictionary about the Lord’s extolling of widows such as Anna, the persistent widow, and the widow with the mite.

His eye is on the sparrow. (Matthew 10:29). It is on the actual tiny, insignificant sparrow but it is also on the metaphorical sparrow, the small and insignificant widow dwelling in poverty and hanging on to the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder. We have a good and gracious God whose eye sees all, knows all, and cares for those who love Him.

Exalt His mighty name today, His care is unparalleled. If you are grieving a lost, widowed and feeling marginalized, insignificant, sad and hidden, fear not. Our wonderful Lord is watching out for you. If His pain on the cross did not stop Him from arranging care for Mary, His mother, you can be sure He is arranging good and gracious care for you at this moment.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. (Luke 12:6)

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. (Psalm 37:25)