Daily Distinctives January 13, 2015 (Agree to Disagree?)

January 13, 2015

Daily Reading:

[Tit 3:1 NKJV]
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work,

[Tit 3:2 NKJV]
to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.

[Tit 3:3 NKJV]
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.

[Tit 3:4 NKJV]
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,

[Tit 3:5 NKJV]
not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

[Tit 3:6 NKJV]
whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

[Tit 3:7 NKJV]
that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

[Tit 3:8 NKJV]
This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

[Tit 3:9 NKJV]
But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.

[Tit 3:10 NKJV]
Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition,

[Tit 3:11 NKJV]
knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

[Tit 3:12 NKJV]
When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.

[Tit 3:13 NKJV]
Send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey with haste, that they may lack nothing.

[Tit 3:14 NKJV]
And let our [people] also learn to maintain good works, to [meet] urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.

[Tit 3:15 NKJV]
All who [are] with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace [be] with you all. Amen.

Daily Distinctive:

We can agree to disagree agreeably, says the one who will not bend regardless of what you say to him. This can be a good thing if there is a godly conviction which the person is standing upon. What if you know you are right and the other person is wrong? Can you really agree to disagree? I suppose it depends on the matter at hand. There are some things that we can’t agree to disagree upon. For example, we cannot agree to disagree on the issue of salvation by grace through faith. We cannot agree to disagree on many of the foundational issues of Christian orthodoxy. On the flip side of the coin, we can agree to disagree on matters where the Bible is not clear. Still, we need to always be on guard to conduct ourselves in a godly manner when disagreements arise.

I heard it once said about arguments, “You can win the fight and lose the battle.” Our opinions don’t really matter that much. The essential truth found in the Bible is all that really matters. When we set out to prove our case in an argument, we have to be careful with our words. You may have the right answers, but is it worth risking a relationship over being right about something?

Pastor Chuck once said, “I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more important that I have the right attitude than that I have the right answers.”

The right attitude is love. Sometimes it is more loving for us to acquiesce to another on issues that have no eternal value. We should seek to give preference to others over ourselves. The only thing that truly stands in the way of doing so is our pride. Believe me, I understand how it feels to know you are right about something and still defer an argument to the other person; I am married after all! The point is simply this. We need to be willing to lay down our rights, to surrender our pride, and seek to show others the kind of love that the LORD has shown us.

When I read the passages for today (above), I thought about where it was that I came from. Verse 3 of this chapter pretty much sums up my life before Christ. I could argue, and often did, with the best of them to justify my own sinfulness. Old habits die hard let me tell you! I am aware of this proclivity in my flesh to be a “know-it-all.” Quite frankly, it is one thing about myself that I both love and hate. I like being knowledgeable about things, but I don’t like it when the knowledge I have attained becomes a foundation for all out battle royal over inconsequential matters.

Verse 9 tells us:

[Tit 3:9 NKJV]
But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.

Instead of looking for a fight, the Bible tells us here to avoid a dispute. In context, these topics in and of themselves are completely harmless, but to get in an all out battle over them is both unprofitable and useless. Some times people are so dogmatic about their beliefs you won’t change their minds anyway. Instead of trying to win them over to our side, or our way of thinking, we need to affirm what they are saying, or at least acknowledge that we understand their view, and then simply love them, even if they are wrong.

I have a friend who I have known a large part of my life. We don’t hang out any more. We lost track of each other over the years and were reacquainted through the marvels of modern technology (Internet- Facebook). I discovered that my old friend took a detour in life and ended up in prison. He is out on parole now, and an avowed atheist and satanist. WOW! I thought the old days would have worn off as maturity set in. It was one thing as a teenager to be rebellious and not really know why, but as an adult to look around and not see the marvelous workings of an omnipotent God is staggering. Still, I have to harken back to my own life and consider again verse three, which says:

[Tit 3:3 NKJV]
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.

It does not mean that I forsake the acquaintance all together, as some have suggested that I do. Instead, I hope to be a living example of the love of Christ to this old friend. The topic has come up on occasion, and my old friend says that he respects my views and my right to have them, but then posts all kinds of malicious things against my Creator on his Facebook timeline.

Still, when the deeper issues of life arise, a friend who is hurting and needs counseling, or a 3:00 AM wakeup call because he is experiencing a bad trip on drugs, I have the opportunity to be the arms of Christ and embrace this old friend. I may never convince him that Jesus is LORD, and the Jesus loves him and died for him. I may never be able to get him to read the Bible and see for himself the joy of what awaits if he will only call upon the name of the LORD and be saved. But one thing I know for sure, if he does stand before the LORD at the White Throne Judgment, he will be without excuse, for I have shown him Jesus in every encounter I have had with him.

Still I pray for this lost friend. When I see him online I don’t run away from him. I simply avoid remarking on his posts as like I want to. When something is going on in his life that is praiseworthy, I simply tell congratulate him and praise God on his behalf. When something is wrong, I let him know that I am praying for him and then I do just that: pray. By doing so, I am starting to get the sense that he understands that there are people who claim to be Christians, and then their are people who are truly Christians. I am soooooo looking forward to that phone call where he says, “Nick, I need to know who Jesus really is.” Until then, I am content with sowing seed.

Some might say, well what about the rest of the passage that says:

[Tit 3:10 NKJV]
Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition,

[Tit 3:11 NKJV]
knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

…to which I will defer to context. This letter was written to instruct Titus in his dealings with the church. If we were to abandon the lost sinner after the first and second admonition then unbelievers would have no reason to desire the love that we claim to have. They would likely say, “Sure…you love me until I offend you, then you bail just like everybody else does.” We should be hard after the unbeliever. Just as Christ was hard after us. Can you imagine if God gave up on you after the first and second admonition? Personally, I would never have surrendered my life to Christ if that were the case. The fact is that Jesus was constantly wooing me and showing Himself to me. It was His persistence that was evidence that He loved me. It was when I finally surrendered that I saw what it cost Him.

[Jhn 15:12 NKJV]
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

[Jhn 15:13 NKJV]
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

How can we say that we love someone and are willing to lay our lives down for that someone if we reject them after only a few admonitions. I am sure you see my point.

Finally, Paul tells Titus:

[Tit 3:14 NKJV]
And let our [people] also learn to maintain good works, to [meet] urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.

As believers we are to be about the Kingdom business. This means that we are to put our hands to good works. I am reminded of Nehemiah, when he cast his vision before the Jews in Jerusalem to rebuild the wall that had been destroyed during their captivity. It says in Nehemiah 2:18:

[Neh 2:18 NKJV]
And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to [this] good [work].

There is no better work than serving the LORD and His people for His glory! Furthermore, we are to help one another and meet the needs of one another. How then can we do this if we are busy arguing over foolish things, being divisive or trying to win arguments? We must work together and avoid these foolish things in order to maintain an environment that is cohesive and conducive to fulfilling the work that the LORD has for us. Then when the unbeliever looks in on us (and they often do), they will be convinced that there is something about us that is truly different.

[Jhn 13:35 NKJV]
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Daily Muse:

Happy birthday to me…happy birthday to me. I look like a monkey and I smell like…well that doesn’t rhyme!

Anyways. I celebrated my birthday today and I was very happy to see all of the Birthday wishes that my friends sent me on the social networks. How convenient it is to type, “Happy Birthday” and hit send. Doesn’t take much and your good for another year! I chuckle to myself as I read this. I do the same thing. But this year, I am going to try to go a little further. When I see it is someones birthday, I will give them a call or go and visit them if I can.

I think we have lost the final art of being social. We have replaced it with the “Social Network,” but is there really anything truly social about social networks? If anything they keep us from being truly social.

I guess I will have to change that about myself too. Having read the book “On Being A Pastor” by Derek Prime and Alistair Begg, I think that it is important that social calls be made by pastors. While I am not yet a pastor, I suppose it would be a good habit to start getting into. I can see it now…Knock…knock….”Who is it?”, “It’s me Nick…”, “What do you want?!?!” LOL. Good times on the horizon.

Daily Prayer:

LORD, thank You for another year of life. Thank You even more for Your life!  -Amen

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