Monday, June 25, 2012

What’s That Smell?

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

One day a wise grandmother was spending the day with her young grandson. The little boy asked his grandmother about the tooth fairy. He said, “Grandma, is there such a thing as a tooth fairy?” Not wanting to disgruntle the young lad, she replied, “Well, when you lose a tooth there is always money under your pillow, isn’t there?” “Yes,” the smiling young boy said, “but the money still smells like Daddy’s billfold.”

The world has many different ways of defining the church, but God’s word is very definite about her description. In fact, in opposition to what the world believes, Paul wrote, “There is one body…” (Eph 4:4). In another passage he explains that Jesus is “head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18). The world’s acceptance doesn’t define truth. It is God Himself that defines truth (John 17:17). If one is going to be faithful to God’s truth they must belong to God’s church which is clearly defined in the Bible.

But with all the different choices in the religious world how do we know the church? The church, like the father’s billfold, has a distinct smell and true Christians will “smell” like their Father. His work in their hearts will reveal God-like characteristics. They will bear distinctive traces of His goodness, reveal marks of His transformation and they will reflect the pureness of His love. All these are reminders that the church smells like God.

The church has been separated from the world and its practices and they smell like God when they react to evil differently than the world (Romans 12:21). Relying on God’s truth to deliver His people is a unique distinction only shared by those of the faith. The world reeks of perverseness and immorality but Christians smell of the holiness of obedient children (1 Peter 1:15). Christians live a life of holiness so that the world may recognize them as people who have been bought and sent by God to tell of His glory.

Christians also have a distinct smell of godly love: "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The context of this passage is the completeness of God’s love. People will surely recognize the church by the completeness of their love for one another and those still in held in sin’s grip. Their lives are clearly defined by the sacrificial love God sent down through His grace to lead the church out of the captivity of sin. They share the same love that separated them from sin’s demise with those who are lost to help them find their way out of sin and its wages of death.

No matter what people may think, the world will always smell like the world, but the church will have a different aroma. The Christian’s character will be a reflection of the Father’s love because it originates in God. Their words and deeds will have a beautiful aroma. Their message will smell like the most beautiful incense, yet be clear and strong. The saints have been marked with the presence of God and the church will always smell like the One who called them out of the stench that is affixed to the soul without Christ.

In His Grace,

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Placing Proper Value

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

We have seen many times where someone has something of great value, but for some reason or another miss out on the worth of ownership because he or she is not willing to place proper value on it. There was an episode of “Survivor” where one person held an immunity idol, which is protection from being voted off, but because he was misled into believing he was safe, refused to use it and was voted off the show. How sad it was for this person to miss out on the opportunity to win a million dollars because of his improper perspective of the seriousness of his situation.

God has poured His blessings out on us, but if we choose not to put them to use in our lives, we run the risk of missing out on the value of their rewards. The apostle Paul gives us some insight on how we can avoid this kind of demise. First, we must be able to properly prioritize. When it comes to our worldly achievements we must recognize them as loss. Paul is not saying that gaining knowledge is wrong, but when it comes to a relationship with God, everything we can gain from the world is of no value. The world has no way of understanding God nor His way of thinking, therefore anything gained through studying their logic in spiritual matters will only hinder our search for truth: “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). Giving God control of how we think opens the door to life.

Paul also shows us the importance of proper value placing. Unlike the worldly investor who places value in earthly treasures, the Christian places the highest value on “knowing Christ.” God has delivered salvation to mankind by sending His grace to this world (Titus 2:11). If we are misled to think that this is not the most valuable gift in life, then we are bankrupt. Many in this world place more value in their earthly life than in their spiritual destiny because “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving” and they cannot see the value of knowing Christ and the power of His gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). God gave us the treasure of a relationship with Him through the “way, the truth and the life” of His Son (John 14:6). The Christian places the highest value conceivable on this blessing of truth and nothing can be seen as more valuable.

Finally, Paul reveals to us the importance of counting. What he once held as gain, in this case his understanding of the Old Law, he now counts as loss compared to gaining Christ. What an example for us to follow. He uses the graphic Greek word, “skubalon,” for “rubbish”, showing the worthlessness of knowledge without relationship. The excrement of an animal is what Paul used to illustrate what once was gain has now become. Paul, like the rest of the faithful people of the Jewish traditions, knew the Scriptures inside and out, but knowing what God says without knowing Who God is leaves one out of His grace (Galatians 5:4). We must be able to count our relationship with Christ as the most valuable treasure anyone can seek. And what is great about this blessing is that it is offered freely through faith in Christ (Romans 6:23). From the opinion of this author, the misunderstanding of this life being free is part of the reason many will not count it as valuable as they should. Many believe there is no need to change, but that God will just overlook their sin and give them this free gift. But what makes this gift worthy of being counted as the greatest blessing in life is that it is the power of God to change us from the inside out. When we count this blessing properly, we will seek the transformation of God’s amazing grace.

In His Grace,