Faith of a Father

"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised; – Hebrews 10:23


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Forbearing One Another in Love

My first cursory review of the last part of verse 2 was inaccurate.  I read it as to bear or lift one up in love but this does not seem to be the definition.  It says to, forbear one another in love.  The word forbear means to put up with – to endure.  Another translation uses the phrase “showing tolerance”. 

You see, when Christians around us see things differently, hold different views in portions of the Scriptures, put more emphasis in one area of their life then someone else, and yes, even at times offend us and harm us in so many ways, we are told in this verse to put up with them.  They may be a little weird, they may have a few “extreme” convictions or preferences, or they may be lacking discernment in a few areas of life but we are called to, forbear one another in love.  As an example, Paul discussed the issue of eating meat offered to idols in I Corinthians 8.  Here Paul was describing how that some felt eating the meat that had been offered to idols was sinful while others did not see this as an issue.  In summary, Paul tells the Corinthians that while there is no issue in eating this meat because there is only one true God, if eating the meat causes another brother to stumble and sin, then we should defer to the weaker brother and not eat this meat so that we are not encouraging them to go against their conscience and sin.  In essence Paul was saying that the one should forbear or tolerate the other in love.  Not to do so was actually sin by the “stronger” Christian.  (For some good messages on the Conscience please listen to our  Pastor, Dr. Bryan Ferrell here.) 

You know, there are just some people that are hard to deal with or with whom to get along.  I can think of a half dozen people right now that for one reason or another, we just kind of clash, and on the flip side, I am probably on someone’s list.  But Paul is reminding us that along with lowliness, meekness, and longsuffering, we are to “put up with / tolerate” in love those around us.  Can you imagine Christ and his tolerance for the brethren?  Can you imagine the differences, the Son of God had with his disciples?  Yet He loved each one of them, and was willing to die for them.  In the same way, He has tolerated us in love so much that He died for you and me.  We are undeserving, hardnosed, rebellious, sinners, deserving of Hell only, yet He loved each one of us enough to die for us.  Put that up against your tolerance for your fellow believers and see how you compare.  We come up short don’t we?

It’s hard to forbear in love a fellow believer when our own hearts are not striving for that lowliness, meekness and longsuffering.    Yes, in public, out of responsibility or duty we can usually find a way to put up with other Christians that differ from us, but how are we at home?  How do we respond when their name comes up around the dinner table?  How is our heart attitude toward the individual?  Are we really forbearing in love?  When our own hearts are right with God, and we are practicing lowliness, meekness and long suffering, and we are pursuing our ultimate vocation which is to be a follower of Christ, we are able to respond outwardly in love from our heart rather than responding with hypocrisy.  Please don’t read into this that I am implying that to prevent this hypocrisy we should be rude and respond how our heart really feels towards an individual, (some would try and call this “being real”). Remember, two wrongs don’t make a right (bad heart, bad response).   We should examine our heart, and recognizing the lack of real love for that individual, and through the Holy Spirit we should be convicted unto repentance.

Although the other items in this verse are big, for me at least, forbearance in love can be extremely difficult to keep in check.   If someone isn’t doing what I do, or doesn’t believe exactly as I believe, if I am not careful, I can become judgmental and shun those people.  This sin, yes sin, can creep into our lives so easily causing our pride to grow (lack of humility), and our meekness and longsuffering to be stifled so that we cannot accomplish what Paul writes about in the next verse – Unity.

I think we can see through this entire verse that Paul is focusing not on our outward actions but on the heart attitude.  Come back and we’ll take a quick look at how unity cannot be achieved without the fulfillment of verses 1 and 2.

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Ephesians 4 – Our Vocation

So is my vocation more than just my job?

Oh, it is so much more than a job.  As we found in the last posting, the term vocation means a calling or an invitation and in this case it is a calling or invitation from our Heavenly Father.  First and foremost, we all have been called to be a follower of Christ.  The gift of salvation is the greatest invitation we are offered and our decision to accept or decline this will have eternal consequences.  Have you accepted this invitation?  If not, why not?  What is preventing you from doing so today, right now? (The Gospel)

This overriding vocation is seen in Matthew 16:24-26.  Christ says that we are to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him.  If I am to deny myself and even be willing to lose my life for His sake that pushes everything to the side, nothing else will have a priority; nothing else will / should matter as much to the Christian.  All other vocations within our lives are secondary and in essence are God given avenues used to express our primary vocation and our commitment to our Lord.  If one has declined to follow after Christ then all other vocations are incomplete, superficial and at best only providing temporary satisfaction having no lasting worth.

In addition to my vocation to follow after Christ, I have been given secondary vocations such as: being a husband, a father, a church member, an employee, a boss, and the list could go on and on.  Each of these are responsibilities I have accepted and it is important in HOW I perform these callings because it is in these that my primary calling to follow after Christ is magnified. 

We should not just claim the name of Christ but we are to live Christ-like in all that we do (I Cor. 10:31).   Too often Christians heed the call of the world to compartmentalize our faith.   We are constantly being told by the world it is ok to have our faith as long as we leave it at the door of our homes or churches.  We are told not to allow our faith to influence us at work, school or in the debate on morals or other topics, etc.  Unfortunately many times we comply thinking that by doing so we will win them to Christ but we fail to realize we will rarely win someone to Christ if  we share a compartmentalized faith.   If our vocation is to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, then every other vocation we accept has to support our primary vocation of following Him.

In the next two verses, Paul begins to describe in what manner we are to behave.  Take the time to review these verses and let’s pick it up there next time.