A Humble Heart Above All

6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him.

7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.

9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.

10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these.

11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.

12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.

13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. 1 Sam. 16:6-13

The other day my wife confronted me about something I had done and I owned up immediately. I said, “Yes, what I said was wrong, please forgive me.”

My wife almost fell down with shock. Being a good reader of my wife’s mind, I could see she was thinking that probably the rapture had occurred without her knowledge and that we were now living in the millennium. She is so used to me defending myself whenever I am confronted that what I had just said was simply inconceivable to her in the old world. But on this ocssion she searched my face and she realized it was real.

What she did not know was that when she came at me, I was prepared. I had been reading about David, the man who made ghastly mistakes but was quick to own up. And David’s heart and life had challenged me greatly.

We can hardly claim to know what God knows, even about ourselves. The Apostle Paul tells us:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)

Here Paul is saying that it is only when we get to heaven that we shall know things as God knows them.

That said, it stands to the test that we do not know men’s hearts as God knows them. We need to die more to self to arrive at this point. But many today do not want to know the cross of Christ. That is why today men are so full of empty praises. They love praising the mighty and looking down upon the lowly. But if we truly knew people’s hearts, especially with regard to how God sees them, we wouldn’t be so fast with our praising of some and our despising of others.

When Jesse’s sons began passing in front of Samuel, he looked on the outside. Is that not so much like us? We gauge, judge and categorise people based on what we see on the outside. For this reason, men therefore prepare themselves more on the outside than on the inside because everyone’s attention is on the outside; and, in our natural state, we crave men’s praise more than anything.

The seven sons whom Jesse made to pass before Samuel had better qualifications than David in the natural. They were of a better countenance and stature.

Under the new covenant, we could be better men by all standards; but God is not looking for just any standard. We could be better preachers, but God is not looking for good preachers. We may be great singers, but God is not looking for great singers. We may be men and women who do everything right. But God is not looking for people who do not make mistakes. David made the biggest mistake that any man under the sun could make.

But God is not looking for any of these things. God is looking for a heart. And having the kind of heart that God is looking for is the biggest challenge that any man or woman could face.

So what kind of heart did David have? What kind of heart did he have that set him apart from his brothers? What kind of heart did he have which made God to say to Samuel,

“Arise, anoint him: for this is he.”

The answer is to be found in 2 Samuel chapter 12. The answer lies in David’s attitude when he was confronted. He had sinned, and when he was confronted by God’s servant Nathan, David said simply,

“I have sinned against the LORD.” (v.13)

David did not rise up to defend himself. He did not even try to offer an explanation. In other words, he did not give God any conditions. He owned up fully to his sin.

That is the hardest thing with us. The minute we get confronted, our defense mode kicks in. Even if we admit our guilt, we still try to offer up an explanation. But this attitude of heart is of the flesh, not of the Spirit of God. Even when wrongly accused by men, Jesus did not defend himself.

If you want to know that you have the kind of heart that God desires, it is when you desist from defending yourself. That is the humble heart that God desires us to have. That is the heart of faith.

God is therefore not looking to the many great things that we can do. He is looking for a humble heart, one that can quickly fall down, confess, admit and repent. One that can allow itself to be trampled under. We see all this with David especially in his difficult relationship with King Saul.

We may not have many qualifications in the natural. We may not even be gifted with many gifts in the Spirit. But we can all have a humble heart, and this is what pleases God most.

In the Psalms, King David wrote about the relationship that God has with people who have a humble heart. In Psalms 34:18, he wrote:

“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

And in Psalms 51:17, he wrote:

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

[… for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.]

IMG_0595

Photo courtesy of Carol Lanthier

Advertisements

Keep Your Heart Pure!

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Prov. 4:23

In the Swahili translation, the first part of this scripture reads: “Guard your heart above everything else…”

In other words, there are other things that we should guard; but it is the heart that we are to guard above everything else.

I believe there is much to this scripture than I dare try to expound here. But there is a small light that has been shining in my heart with regard to this scripture, which is what I want to share with you this morning. And it has to do with what I have just explained concerning what it says in the Swahili translation.

There are many areas in our Christian life where we can mess up; but it should never be with the purity of our hearts. We can “blow it” in may areas of our lives; but it never should be with the heart.

Let me illustrate this to try and bring out the light that I have seen in this scripture. Let’s say you and your wife have a disagreement over something. A disagreement often leads to some form of altercation. Unfortunately, this occurs quite often between married couples. But this is not the real problem. The problem, as far as God is concerned, is when we come away from such a situation with bitterness in our hearts. Bitterness causes us to close our hearts to the people who have hurt us. On the other hand, we can walk away from such a situation with a pure heart.

The Corinthian church hurt Paul deeply. He had paid such a big price to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to them but the minute he turned his back, they reverted back to the flesh in a big way. When Paul heard the news, he was deeply distressed. But he did not close his heart. In other words, Paul guarded his heart to the extent that he did not allow any bitterness to seep in. And hence he was able to write them:

“11 O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. 12 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.” (2 Cor. 6:11-12)

Paul had such grace that, the more they sinned against (him) the more his heart became enlarged towards them. That is the heart of grace that the Bible talks of and that we should always carry in us.

It is not okay for us to arrive at disagreements, but that is the lesser of the problems that God sees in us. The disagreement or the altercation is not the problem; with God the problem is the condition of our hearts.

In Matthew 5:8 we read:

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

You can do everything well and be blessed; but in order to behold God’s face – in order to get up close to God – you have to take care of the condition of your heart. But, pray, what does it mean to “see God”?

I believe we can find the answer in 1 Peter 3:7

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

Here the Apostle Peter says that if husbands play it roughshod over their wives, God will not grant them an audience. He will not hear or answer their prayers. In other words, such husbands will not be able to “see” God. On the other hand, when we guard our hearts and maintain patient and loving hearts towards our wives, God is pleased with us. He gives an ear to and answers our prayers.

This is as it should be for in Isaiah 57:15 it says,

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

It is in the same spirit that Jesus taught about forgiveness.

“6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mat. 6:14-15)

Forgiving requires a denial of self. Ultimately, therefore, we have to come back to the cross to be able to keep pure hearts. Only a man or woman who has crucified their lives with Christ can keep and maintain a pure heart in a world that waiting is to defile our hearts every waking moment of our lives. The Bible says that a man’s enemies are those of his own house (Mat. 10:36). That means that it is the things that are closest to us that easily defile our hearts. And what could be closer to us than our own selves. It is when we are unable to rein in our carnal nature that we get defiled in our hearts.

Personally, I can say that in my married life it was my wife who became the biggest thorn in my flesh. Presumably. I had never heard the cross taught as the Apostle Paul expressed it, and I therefore always had something to be bitter towards her. It took me a painfully long time to realize that the key to unlocking the victory over the bitterness lay in my heart. But today, by the grace of God, it is no longer so. Whatever may come between me and my wife, I am glad (and greatly surprised) to see that there is no aftertaste of bitterness after all is ended.

I believe that is one of the true victories that we can claim in the Spirit. But the price we have to pay for such a victory is to take up our cross daily and follow Christ.

Above all things, may we keep a pure heart.

[Called upon to keep and maintain a pure heart]

Image16952

The Basis For Our Peace

I remember once, many years ago, when we had just began to hear the gospel of the cross, that a man of God came to our church and preached a message in which I remember only the words, “Put down your weapons!”

He repeated this phrase over and over in the course of his sermon.

Over the years, I have come to discover just how much to the point this man was. We have so much weaponry in our hearts it makes a mockery of all the munitions in the entire world. And the enormity of our weaponry is not just in its sheer size and abundance but, more ominously, in its power of annihilation. We have weaponry in us that can devastate a soul, something which all the worldly artillery does not have the capacity to do.

Just imagine what a misplaced word can do to a brother or a sister. Or, more appropriately, a deliberately well-aimed barb, sent in not to edify, but to destroy… to destroy someone’s soul.

Imagine what can be born out of a heart that is not well: Jesus listed the things that can come out of such a heart:

“21 evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mk. 7:21-22).

Imagine the damage that a single God-less thought can do, even to yourself.

The things that come from our unregenerate hearts will nearly always manifest themselves in the natural, and sometimes they will flare out into verbal or even physical violence.

There is so much violence in the human heart, so much war and uproar!

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. “ (Gen. 6:11)

The way of peace they know not…” (!s. 59:8).

One of the names of our Saviour, Jesus Christ is, “The Prince of Peace.” (Is. 9:6) All the violence in our hearts is there on account of the King of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ, being denied His royal place in our hearts.

Somehow, we have got to make sure that our faith in Christ is just not in our words or in our minds. Our faith must have a tangible relationship to the lives we live. This can only come about when the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, is firmly enthroned in our hearts. And the Bible makes it clear that there is only one Christ: the crucified Christ, who also rose again (1 Cor. 1:23; 2:2).

That is why we must have a revelation of the cross in our hearts. This revelation is the only thing that has the power to make us put down our carnal weapons. And when we put down our carnal weapons, there will be true peace in our hearts, which is the basis for true victory in the Spirit.

[Below: Once in a while you stumble upon a great song, beautifully sang]

Our Hearts – God’s Husbandry

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 1 Cor. 3:9

It has been some time since I last posted on this blog. During the time that I was away, however, God was teaching me something valuable, which is what I want to share with you today. God has been teaching me that we are His “husbandry”, that we His building.

The word “husbandry” simply means garden or farm. We work our gardens, or our farms. In the same manner, God also works His garden, which is us.

And in the same manner that we painstakingly build our houses, God also builds His.

But exactly which part of us is God building? And which part, exactly, is He working as His garden? It is our hearts. God’s garden, God’s building, is the human heart, and especially the heart that is surrendered to Him. When we surrender our hearts to God, we become His husbandry and He begins to work in us.

The heart is God’s turf.

Now, if we want our gardens to be clean and orderly, how much more does our Lord want His garden to be clean and orderly? If we can consider and take care of our earthly abodes to such an extent, how much more the heavenly one? God therefore wants us to look after the cleanliness and orderliness of our hearts above all things.

That being the case, and considering that God has enemies – Satan and his fallen angels – there are so many things that will come to try and dirty or “rubbish” our hearts.

In the above scripture, Paul says that he and the team of ministers that was with him were “labourers together with God”. In other words, Paul was saying that he and God were working God’s people’s hearts. They were tilling them, manuring them, and caring for them in every sensee of the word. It also means that they were pruning them (which is not a very enjoyable experience for the plants!)

That is what a preacher ought to be doing. Every preacher ought to care about the condition of the hearts of his flock. Any other agenda is mere earthly, motivational speaking, which has absolutely nothing to do with God’s spiritual agenda for men. Why do you think the Apostle Paul would write:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you… I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:1-2)

The Apostle Paul could have preached so many things to these people. He could have preached the world to them. But he preached them nothing apart from how to take up their cross and follow Christ. That is how God takes care of His garden, which is our hearts.

Jesus never changes. We must strive to guard our hearts at all times in order to be found safe and sound in Him. We must at every opportunity refuse to allow into our hearts things that will dirty them. The things in question are, basically, the works of the flesh.

“19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like…” (Gal. 5:19-21)

These are the things that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we must never allow into our hearts. The Holy Spirit has been given to us for this very purpose.

We must not hearken to new age gospels that teach us that we must care for our bodies as much as we care for our spirits. There are people who teach that because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, then it must be cared for to the same extent that our spirits are cared for.

But you would have a hard time convincing the poor, beggarly and sore-infested Lazarus that we read of in the Bible of such an outlook on life. The Bible actually states that Lazarus went to heaven while the rich man who fed himself sumptuously went to hell. Much food for thought there.

God is not bothered if you are dirty or poor or underfed. If God can allow us to live abundant earthly lives, praise the Lord! But God is infinitely more concerned about the condition of our hearts. It is our hearts, not our bodies, that will live with Him forever in heaven.

“Angels Unawares”!

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Heb. 13:2

Who are the “strangers” the Bible is referring to here? A Biblical stranger is any person – apart from yourself – who has a need. It could even be your next door neighbor. But primarily, here, it refers to people that we do not know or whom under normal circumstances we could hardly care about.

Our key scripture above refers, chiefly, to the account, in Genesis chapter 18, of how Abraham entertained total strangers who just happened to be the LORD Himself and two of His angels. Let us look at this account up close.

“1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. 6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. 7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. 9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.”

In this account, we can clearly see Abraham’s attitude to strangers in the way he treated the three men. Abraham had a heart of mercy. He lifts up his eyes and sees three men standing outside his tent “in the heat of the day”. This little detail – “in the heat of the day” – indicates that the men were tired, exhausted and hungry.

Abraham does not know they are angels. The LORD was not wearing a three-piece suit, nor did He roll up in a Jaguar. He came on foot and He looked tired and hungry.

Clearly, the men have come a long way and they probably have a long way to go. Abraham decides he cannot let them pass. He must do something for them! His heart trembles with mercy – and generosity.

But first, he must get their permission. Abraham has a servant’s heart. Just because he has something to give to these men, Abraham does not walk up to them with his hands stuck in his pockets and tell them, “I can see you are hungry. Now, sit down and let me see what I can do for you. And don’t make noise. I don’t like noise around my house.”

Bless the Lord, no. Abraham does not talk or behave like that. Instead, he tells them:

“3 My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant.”

Abraham calls himself their servant and deliberately makes these strangers his lords. To which they replied,

So do, as thou hast said.”

Abraham springs into action. Abraham has a large heart. Without thinking, his heart knows exactly what it needs to do to refresh these exhausted men. The rest, as they say, is history. The “morsel of bread” that he sets out to prepare for them turns out to be a banquet!

It could be that Abraham did not prepare a good and tender calf for every stranger who passed by… or, it may well be that he did. After all, not many people passed through the dry plains of Mamre in those days and Abraham’s heart was able to take care of anyone who had a need. But, whatever he did or did not do, Abraham’s heart to strangers, or people in need, is clearly revealed in these scriptures.

That is unlike so many of us. Many of us have an ‘accountant’ mind where keeping an account of the things we own is of more importance to us than helping someone in need. To many people, a stranger – or a needy person – is an intrusion into their lives! But it was not so with Abraham.

Has anyone passed by your house or your place of work lately, whom you felt was not deserving of your attention? They probably did not meet your (worldly) criteria of someone you needed to do a favor to.

Most people will bend over backwards to extend their warmest welcome to people they know or to people who look important – or to people they want to help – but not to “other” people.

But God comes incognito. When the Lord decides to visit you in person He does not send a celebrity your way. Nor does He send your best friend around. On the contrary, He will send a type of person that you couldn’t care about – or the kind of person that you loathe. That will be your angel. God knows our hearts and He knows all the pride and selfishness in us. This is a test that He therefore sets before us. Being the God of heaven, He is not going to give us kindergarten stuff. God will give us something that will test us to the core, for He longs to mature us in the Spirit.

But this test comes with a blessing. According to His good purposes, God sometimes does bless us materially to the extent that we do the same to others. But it is not the material blessing which we are to seek after, and that is why it is not a law for God to bless us in that manner. It is the fruit of the Spirit that is God’s true blessing to us. The Bible, in Luke 6:38, says:

“30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. 31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Lk. 6:30-38)

That is God’s character. But, again, notice God’s many promises to us when we “entertain strangers”. And God is faithful, which means He will fulfill every promise of His.

It all hinges on the heart. Do we have a loving, tender heart? Or is our heart hard and selfish and judgemental?

I thank God for the many men and women of God the world over who have exactly this heart. I personally have had the honor of coming across some of them. They are not necessarily the people who can preach the cross very well. But they are brothers and sisters who can live it.

God will bless these people with a heavenly blessing.

 

The Gospel – A Responsibility (Part 2)

And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the LORD. 1 Chr. 15:15

In his epistles in New Testament, the Apostle Paul brings the light of the gospel to bear upon this saga between God and David. In 1 Corinthians 1 verses 17-18, Paul writes:
“17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
And, in chapter 2 verses 1-5 he writes:
“1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

Both these scriptures indicate that the gospel of Jesus Christ is to be carried in the lives of men. It is to be demonstrated in the lives of men, not in fabulous teachings and programs of men. In other words, we bear a tangible responsibility in carrying the life of God in us. God does not dwell in men’s teachings, ability, plans, or even traditions, however wonderful. Nor does God dwell in our beautiful songs and dance. These are today’s “new carts”. These are the things that Paul talks of when he talks of
“excellency of speech or of wisdom” and “enticing words of man’s wisdom”.
But, on the contrary, God dwells in the hearts of men when their lives have been crucified. The Bible tells us that. You cannot come up with a new program for God. God always depended, and He still depends on His original program: crucify the flesh!
Hence, the significance of the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross it is that comes to build an abode in our lives for God to dwell in. It crucifies the old man of the flesh and allows the character of Christ to be built in us. Actually, the gospel is all about character – the character of Christ in us. This is the significance of this account of David and God.
Today, we have men who are serving God. The manner that they are going about serving God is what concerns God most. God wants men to serve Him with their lives, not with their wonderful teachings and theologies. If you are not willing to give your life, you will only bring death to those you minister to.
It is for this reason that the Apostle John writes in 1 Jn. 3:18:
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
He is talking about serving God with our lives, not with our teachings or our programs.
And when the Apostle Paul says:
“And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power”;
he is giving an account of how he served God with his life. Paul’s life among the Corinthians is laid out here: it was
“in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.”
You don’t find that in many men of God today. Today, many men of God will demand this and that. I recently heard of one who would not sleep in a hotel room that does not have air conditioning. I don’t see much weakness, fear or trembling there. Just someone who wants to be treated super-special.
But you can read a lot about how Paul demonstrated the character of Christ in his life in 1 Thessalonians chapters 1 through 3.
Where is the responsibility of the cross in God’s people’s lives today? When David put God’s ark on a new cart, where were the priests and Levites? Where was Israel’s responsibility? God punished David and the entire nation of Israel when they thought to carry His ark on a “new cart”.
In the same manner, God will punish the church for thinking to carry the gospel through teachings alone. Teachings and programs, however “anointed”, will only bring death to God’s people if their carriers have not crucified their flesh with Christ. Today, there are all kinds of wonderful teachings going on in church. But God is looking for the crucified life.
I hear there are even so-called new age teachings… “God will take you into a new dimension”, etc.
Look, there are no “new dimensions”! The gospel has only one dimension: Jesus said if any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. It is only when we carry the gospel of Jesus Christ in the right manner by denying ourselves that we can please God and bring Him into people’s lives.

Spiritual Relationships – Part 1

25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. Jn. 19:25-27
Let us begin by setting the background to this story. What does the Bible mean by “the disciple… whom he loved”? Was Jesus a respecter of persons? Did He favor some in His team of apostles above others the way we favor men above others?
The answer is no. Otherwise, we would not bother believing the Bible.
When the Bible talks of the disciple whom Jesus loved, it means this was a disciple who, in one way or another, pleased the Lord Jesus Christ. A person who pleases the Lord is one who does the Lord’s will. Now, we all know that the disciples of Jesus were far from perfect men. So, how did this disciple come to endear himself to the Lord Jesus?
The Bible tells us exactly how:
“20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?… 24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.” Jn. 21:20-24
The Bible tells us that this disciple was he who leaned on Jesus’ breast at supper. This indicates that this disciple stayed closer to Jesus than anyone else. He wanted to know what was in Jesus’ heart. He was so close to Jesus that, when Peter needed to know who Jesus was referring to when He said He would be betrayed by one of them, he knew he had to ask it through this disciple. In John 13:23-26, the Bible recounts this incident in this manner:
“23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. 25 He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? 26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.”
This disciple pleased the Lord Jesus by being close to Him. He knew every heartbeat of Jesus. If Jesus had a secret He wanted to divulge, this disciple it was who would first know of it. He was Jesus’ right-hand man.
Is it not wonderful to be so close to the Lord? Is it not wonderful to be able to lean on Jesus’ breast? Jesus loves those who love Him and, clearly, this disciple loved the Lord. If the Bible can take the time to recount three times in one gospel that this was a disciple that Jesus loved, then this man also loved Jesus.
John 21:24 also tells us who this disciple was. It was John. The Apostle John it was who wrote the Gospel of John.
When you read the epistles of John, you realize how really close to the Lord’s heart John was. His epistles are filled with exhortations of love. And the Bible tells that God is love. Moreover, it also tells us that of all the Godly qualities that will endure – faith, hope and love – love is the greatest of them all.
[Below: The Apostle Paul said of his disciple, Timothy: “But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.” (Phil. 2:22)]

image14521