CHRISTIAN LIFE and WORSHIP
Pacifism, Parents, the Past, Patience, Peace, Peaceableness, Perseverence, Personal responsibility, Physical fitness, the Pilgrim life, Plans, Possessions, Poverty, Prayer, Prayer book texts, Preaching, Preaching prosperity, Pride, Problems, Qualifications for Apostles, Quarrelling, Real religion, Reaping what we sow, Reconciliation, Religious complacency, Religious hypocrisy, Religious observances, Responsibility for others, Rest for the weary, Revenge .........
Luke 3:14 - ... the soldiers asked him (John the Baptist), "And what are we to do?" "Don't bully people, don't bring false charges, and be content with your pay," he replied.
Ephesians 6:4 - Fathers, don't over-correct your children or make it difficult for them to obey the commandment (to "honour your father and your mother"). Bring them up with Christian teaching in Christian discipline.
Colossians 3:21 - Fathers, don't over-correct your children, or they will grow up feeling inferior and frustrated.
Hebrews 12:7-11 - Bear what you have to bear as "chastening" - as God's dealing with you as sons. No true son ever grows up uncorrected by his father. For if you had no experience of the correction which all sons have to bear you might well doubt the legitimacy of your sonship. After all, when we were children we had fathers who corrected us, and we respected them for it. Can we not much more readily submit to a heavenly Father's discipline, and learn how to live?
For our fathers used to correct us according to their own ideas during the brief days of childhood. But God corrects us all our days for our own benefit, to teach us his holiness. Now obviously no "chastening" seems pleasant at the time: it is in fact most unpleasant. Yet when it is all over we can see that it has quietly produced the fruit of real goodness in the characters of those who have accepted it in the right spirit.
Philippians 3:13b-14 - I (Paul) leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal - my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.
Colossians 3:12b-13 - .... be most patient and tolerant with one another, always ready to forgive if you have a difference with anyone. Forgive as freely as the Lord has forgiven you.
James 5:7-8 - ... be patient, my brothers, as you wait for the Lord to come. Look at the farmer quietly awaiting his precious harvest. See how he has to possess his soul in patience till the land has had the early and late rains. So must you be patient, resting your hearts on the ultimate certainty. The Lord's coming is very near.
James 5:10-11 - For our example of the patient endurance of suffering we can take the prophets who have spoken in the Lord's name. Remember that it is usually those who have patiently endured to whom we accord the word "blessed!" You have heard of Job's patient endurance (in the Old Testament Book of Job) and how God dealt with him in the end, and therefore you have seen that the Lord is merciful and full of understanding pity for us men.
John 14:27a - "I (Jesus) leave behind with you - peace; I give you my own peace and my gift is nothing like the peace of this world."
Philippians 4:6-7 - Don't worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.
Romans 12:18 - As far as your responsibility goes, live at peace with everyone.
Galatians 6:9 - Let us not grow tired of doing good, for, unless we throw in our hand, the ultimate harvest is assured.
Galatians 6:5 - ... every man must "shoulder his own pack" (carry his or her own load).
Titus 3:14 - ... our people should learn to earn what they require by leading an honest life and so be self-supporting.
1 Timothy 4:8 - Take time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit. Bodily fitness has a certain value, but spiritual fitness is essential both for this present life and for the life to come.
the PILGRIM LIFE
Matthew 7:13-14 - "Go in by the narrow gate. For the wide gate has a broad road which leads to disaster and there are many people going that way. The narrow gate and the hard road lead out into life and only a few are finding it."
Mark 9:23-24 - "If you can do anything!" retorted Jesus (when asked if he could heal the boy with epilepsy). "Everything is possible to the man who believes." "I do believe," the boy's father burst out. "Help me to believe more!"
Luke 9:62b - "Anyone who puts his hand to the plough and then looks behind him is useless for the kingdom of God."
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 - Do you remember how, on a racing-track, every competitor runs, but only one wins the prize? Well, you ought to run with your minds fixed on winning the prize! Every competitor in athletic events goes into serious training. Athletes will take tremendous pains - for a fading crown of leaves. But our contest is for an eternal crown that will never fade. I (Paul) run the race then with determination. I am no shadow-boxer, I really fight! I am my body's sternest master, for fear that when I have preached to others I should myself be disqualified.
Philippians 3:12-14 - ... my brothers, I (Paul) do not consider myself to have "arrived", spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal - my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.
2 Timothy 2:4-5 - Remember: 1. That no soldier on active service gets himself entangled in business, or he will not please his commanding officer. 2. A man who enters an athletic contest wins no prize unless he keeps the rules laid down.
Matthew 6:34 - "Don't worry at all .... about tomorrow. Tomorrow can take care of itself! One day's trouble is enough for one day."
James 4:13-17 - Just a moment, now, you who say, "We are going to such-and-such a city today or tomorrow. We shall stay there a year doing business and make a profit"! How do you know what will happen even tomorrow? What, after all, is your life? It is like a puff of smoke visible for a little while and then dissolving into thin air. Your remarks should be prefaced with, "If it is the Lord's will, we shall be alive and will do so-and-so." As it is, you get a certain pride in yourself in planning your future with such confidence. That sort of pride is all wrong. No doubt you agree with the above in theory. Well, remember that if a man knows what is right and fails to do it, his failure is a real sin.
Luke 12:15 - ".... be on your guard against covetousness in any shape or form. For a man's real life in no way depends upon the number of his possessions."
Hebrews 13:5a - Keep your lives free from the lust for money: be content with what you have.
James 1:9 - The brother who is poor may be glad because God has called him to the true riches.
Matthew 5:44b-45a - ".... pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Heavenly Father."
Matthew 6:5-13 - ".... when you pray, don't be like the play-actors. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at street-corners so that people may see them at it. Believe me, they have had all the reward they are going to get. But when you pray, go into your own room, shut your door and pray to your Father privately. Your Father who sees all private things will reward you. And when you pray don't rattle off long prayers like the pagans who think they will be heard because they use so many words. Don't be like them. After all, God, who is your Father, knows your needs before you ask him. Pray then like this - (the Lord's Prayer, the "Our Father")
'Our Heavenly Father, may your name be honoured;
May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day the bread we need,
Forgive us what we owe to you, as we have also forgiven those who owe anything to us.
Keep us clear of temptation, and save us from evil'.
Matthew 7:7-8 - "Ask (in prayer) and it will be given to you. Search (in prayer) and you will find. Knock (in prayer) and the door will be opened for you. The one who asks will always receive; the one who is searching will always find, and the door is opened to the man who knocks."
Matthew 14:22-23 - ..... Jesus insisted on his disciples' getting aboard their boat and going on ahead to the other side, while he himself sent the crowds home. And when he had sent them away he went up the hill-side quite alone, to pray. When it grew late he was there by himself ....
Prayer - continued
Matthew 21:21-22 - "Believe me," replied Jesus (to the disciples), "if you have faith and have no doubts in you heart, you .... should say to this hill, 'Get up and throw yourself into the sea', it will happen! Everything you ask for in prayer, if you have faith, you will receive."
Mark 1:35 - .... in the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a deserted place, and there he prayed.
Mark 11:25 - "... whenever you stand praying, you must forgive anything that you are holding against anyone else, and your Heavenly Father will forgive you your sins."
Luke 11:2b-4 - Luke's version of the Lord's Prayer:
'Father, may your name be honoured - may your kingdom come!
Give us each day the bread we need,
and forgive us our sins, for we forgive anyone who owes anything to us;
and keep us clear of temptation.'"
John 14:13-14 - "Whatever you ask the Father in my name, I (Jesus) will do - that the Son may bring glory to the Father. And if you ask me anything in my name, I will grant it."
John 16:23b-24 - "I assure you that whatever you ask the Father he will give you in my name. Up to now you have asked nothing in my name; ask now, and you will receive, that your joy may be overflowing.
Prayer - continued
Romans 8:26-27 - The Spirit of God not only maintains this hope within us (of being children of God), but helps us in our present limitations. For example, we do not know how to pray worthily as sons of God, but his (Holy) Spirit within us is actually praying for us in those agonising longings which never find words. And God who knows the heart's secrets understands, of course, the Spirit's intention as he prays for those who love God.
Romans 12:12c - .... steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer.
Ephesians 6:18 - Pray at all times with every kind of spiritual prayer, keeping alert and persistent as you pray for all Christ's men and women.
Philippians 4:6-7 - Don't worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 4:2 - Always maintain the habit of prayer: be both alert and thankful as you pray.
James 1:5-8 - .... if, in the process (of undergoing trials), any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God (in prayer) - who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty - and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. But he must ask in sincere faith without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God's help or not. The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next. That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from God, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn.
Prayer - continued
James 4:2b-3 - You don't get what you want because you don't ask God for it (in prayer). And when you do ask he doesn't give it to you, for you ask in quite the wrong spirit - you only want to satisfy your own desires.
James 5:13a - If any of you is in trouble let him pray.
James 5:16b-18 - Tremendous power is made available through a good man's earnest prayer. Do you remember Elijah? (in 1 Kings 17-18). He was a man like us but he prayed earnestly that it should not rain. In fact, not a drop fell on the land for three and a half years. Then he prayed again, the heavens gave the rain and the earth sprouted with vegetation as usual.
1 Peter 3:7 - .... you husbands should try to understand the wives you live with, honouring them as physically weaker yet equally heirs with you of the grace of eternal life. If you don't do this, you will find it impossible to pray properly.
1 Peter 4:7b - ... you should .... be calm, self-controlled men of prayer.
1 John 5:14-15 - We have such confidence in him (God) that we are certain that he hears every request that is made in accord with his own plan. And since we know that he invariably gives his attention to our prayers, whatever they are about, we can be quite sure that our prayers will be answered.
PRAYER BOOK TEXTS
- Well-known and often beautiful verses used in much church worship. All of them from the first two chapters of the Gospel of the Gentile Luke:
Luke 1:28b, "The Ave Marie" - "Greetings to you, Mary. O favoured one! - the Lord be with you!" (A more traditional rendering is "Rejoice highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women".)
Luke 1:46b-55, "The Magnificat" - "My heart (Mary carrying the unborn Jesus) is overflowing with praise of my Lord, my soul is full of joy in God my Saviour. For he has deigned to notice me, his humble servant and, after this, all the people who ever shall be will call me the happiest of women! The one who can do all things has done great things for me - oh, holy is his Name! Truly, his mercy rests on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has swept away the high and mighty. He has set kings down from their thrones and lifted up the humble. He has satisfied the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away with empty hands. Yes, he has helped Israel, his child: he has remembered the mercy that he promised to our forefathers, to Abraham and his sons for evermore!" (A canticle, or song using Biblical text, known as "The Magnificat" in Christian prayer-books. The full title in Latin is "Magnificat anima mea Dominum" - "My soul magnifies the Lord.")
Luke 1:68-79, "The Benedictus" - (Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist prophecies ...) "Blessings on the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has turned his face towards his people and has set them free! And he has raised up for us a standard of salvation in his servant David's house! Long, long ago, through the words of his holy prophets, he promised to do this for us, so that we should be safe from our enemies and secure from all who hate us. So does he continue the mercy he showed to our forefathers. So does he remember the holy agreement he made with them and the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, to make us this gift: that we should be saved from the hands of our enemies, and in his presence should serve him unafraid in holiness and righteousness all our lives.
"And you (John), little child, will be called the prophet of the most high, for you will go before the Lord (Jesus) to prepare the way for his coming. It will be for you to give his people knowledge of their salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. Because the heart of our God is full of mercy towards us, the first light of Heaven shall come to visit us - to shine on those who lie in darkness and under the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the path of peace." (A canticle known as "The Benedictus" in Christian prayer-books. The full title in Latin is "Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel" - "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel.")
Luke 2:14, "The Gloria" - "Glory to God in the highest Heaven! Peace upon earth among men of goodwill!" (A hymn of angelic praise to the Shepherds in the field at the birth of Jesus. Known as the "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" - "Glory be to God in the Highest.")
Luke 2:29-32, "Nunc Dimittis" - (The elderly Simeon, holding the baby Jesus and knowing him to be the long awaited and promised Christ, is now ready to die .....) "At last, Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, as you promised! For with my own eyes I have seen your salvation which you have made ready for every people - a light to show truth to the Gentiles and bring glory to your people Israel." (A canticle known as the "Nunc Dimittis" - "Now let depart ....")
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 - .... when I (Paul) came to proclaim to you God's secret purpose, I did not come equipped with any brilliance of speech or intellect. You may as well know now that it was my secret determination to concentrate entirely on Jesus Christ and the fact of his death upon the cross. As a matter of fact, in myself I was feeling far from strong; I was nervous and rather shaky. What I said and preached had none of the attractiveness of the clever mind, but it was a demonstration of the power of the Spirit! Plainly God's purpose was that your faith should not rest upon man's cleverness but upon the power of God.
1 Corinthians 14:3-5,18-19,22-25,29-33 - .... he who preaches the word of God is using his speech for the building up of the faith of one man, the encouragement of another or the consolation of another. The speaker in a "tongue" (a language not previously learnt, but requiring interpretation if the message is to be understood) builds up his own soul, but the preacher builds up the Church of God. I (Paul) should indeed like you all to speak with "tongues", but I would much rather that you all preached the word of God. For the preacher of the word does a greater work than the speaker with "tongues", unless of course the latter interprets his word for the benefit of the Church. ....
(Verse 18 ....) I thank God that I have a greater gift of "tongues" than any of you, yet when I am in Church I would rather speak five words with my mind (which might teach something to other people) than ten thousand words in a "tongue" which nobody understands. ..... (Verse 22) .... tongues are a sign of God's power, not for those who are unbelievers, but to those who already believe. Preaching the word of God, on the other hand, is a sign of God's power to those who do not believe rather than to believers. So that, if at a full church meeting you are all speaking with tongues and men come in who are both uninstructed and without faith, will they not say that you are insane? But if you are preaching God's word and such a man should come in to your meeting, he is convicted and challenged by your united speaking of the truth. His secrets are exposed and he will fall on his knees acknowledging God and saying that God is truly among you! .....
(Verse 29 ....) Don't have more than two or three preachers either, while the others think over what has been said. But should a message of truth come to one who is seated, then the original speaker should stop talking. For in this way you can all have opportunity to give a message, one after the other, and everyone will learn something and everyone will have his faith stimulated. The spirit of a true preacher is under that preacher's control, for God is not a God of disorder but of harmony, as is plain in all the churches.
1 Timothy 6:5b - ... men (false teachers) of warped minds who have lost their real hold on the truth ... hope to make some profit out of the Christian religion.
Luke 18:9-14 - Then (after Jesus had told the story of the "persistent widow") he gave this illustration to certain people who were confident of their own goodness and looked down on others: "Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one was a Pharisee, the other was a tax-collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed like this with himself, 'O God, I do thank you that I am not like the rest of mankind, greedy, dishonest, impure, or even like that tax-collector over there. I fast twice every week; I give away a tenth-part of all my income.' But the tax-collector stood in a distant corner, scarcely daring to look up to Heaven, and with a gesture of despair, said, 'God, have mercy on a sinner like me.' I assure you that he was the man who went home justified in God's sight, rather than the other one. For everyone who sets himself up as somebody will become a nobody, and the man who makes himself nobody will become somebody."
James 1:5-8 - ... if, in the process (of undergoing trials), any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God - who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty - and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. But he must ask in sincere faith without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God's help or not. The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next. That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from God, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn.
James 5:13a - If any of you is in trouble let him pray.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR APOSTLES
Matthew 4:18-22 - While he was walking by the lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon (Peter) and Andrew, casting their large net into the water. They were fishermen, so Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will teach you to catch men!" At once they left their nets and followed him. Then he went further on and saw two more men, also brothers, James and John. They were aboard the boat with their father Zebedee repairing their nets, and he called them. At once they left the boat, and their father, and followed him.
Matthew 9:9 - Jesus left there (Capernaum) and as he passed on he saw a man called Matthew sitting at his desk in the tax-collector's office. "Follow me!" he said to him - and the man got to his feet and followed him.
Matthew 10:2a,4a - The names of the twelve apostles were: .... (Verse 4a) .... Simon the Patriot (or Zealot, probably a terrorist or resistance fighter depending on point of view) .....
Mark 3:16a,17 - These were the twelve he appointed: .... (Verse 17) .... James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother (He gave them the name of Boanerges, which means the "Thunderers" - possibly of "fiery disposition").
Romans 13:13 - Let us live cleanly, as in the daylight, not ....... in quarrelling ......
Matthew 7:12 - (The Golden Rule in its positive form ...) "Treat other people exactly as you would like to be treated by them - this is the essence of all true religion."
Matthew 7:17-20 - "Every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree is incapable of producing bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. The tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down and burnt. So you may know men by their fruit."
Luke 10:36-37 - "Which of these three (Jesus asked the expert in the Law after the story of the Good Samaritan) seems to you to have been a neighbour to the bandits' victim?" "The man who gave him practical sympathy," he replied. "Then you go and give the same," returned Jesus.
Romans 2:28-29 - I (Paul) have come to the conclusion that a true Jew (or Christian) is not the man who is merely a Jew (Christian) outwardly, and a real circumcision (conversion) is not just a matter of the body (and its observances). The true Jew (Christian) is one who belongs to God in heart, a man whose circumcision (conversion) is not just an outward physical affair but is a God-made sign upon the heart and soul, and results in a life lived not for the approval of man, but for the approval of God.
Galatians 5:6b - .... it (freedom in Christ, instead of circumcision as a Jew and observance of the Law) is a matter of faith, faith which expresses itself in love.
Ephesians 2:5b,8-9 - ... it is .... by grace and not by achievement that you are saved .... (Verse 8) It was nothing you could or did achieve - it was God's gift to you. No one can pride himself upon earning the love of God.
Hebrews 13:15-16 - Our constant sacrifice to God should be the praise of lips that give thanks to his name. Yet we should not forget to do good and to share our good things with others, for these too are the sort of sacrifices God will accept.
James 1:27 - Religion that is pure and genuine in the sight of God the Father will show itself by such things as visiting orphans and widows in their distress and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world.
REAPING WHAT WE SOW
Luke 6:38 - "Give and men will give to you - yes, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will they pour into your lap. For whatever measure you use with other people, they will use in their dealings with you."
Galatians 6:7-10 - Don't be under any illusion: you cannot make a fool of God! A man's harvest in life will depend entirely on what he sows. If he sows for his own lower nature his harvest will be the decay and death of his own nature. But if he sows for the Spirit he will reap the harvest of everlasting life by that Spirit. Let us not grow tired of doing good, for, unless we throw in our hand, the ultimate harvest is assured. Let us then do good to all men as opportunity offers, especially to those who belong to the Christian household.
Matthew 5:23-24 - " .... if, while you are offering your gift at the altar, you should remember that your brother has something against you, you must leave your gift there before the altar and go away. Make your peace with your brother first, then come and offer your gift."
Ephesians 4:26b-27 - Never go to bed angry - don't give the devil that sort of foothold.
Matthew 7:21-23 - "It is not everyone who keeps saying to me 'Lord, Lord' who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the man who actually does my Heavenly Father's will. "In 'that day' many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we preach in your name, didn't we cast out devils in your name, and do many great things in your name?' Then I shall tell them plainly, 'I have never known you. Go away from me, you have worked on the side of evil!'
1 Corinthians 10:1-12 - ... I should like to remind you, my brothers, that our ancestors (during the Exodus from Egypt) all had the experience of being guided by the cloud in the desert and of crossing the sea dry-shod. They were all, so to speak, "baptised" into Moses by these experiences. They all shared the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink (for they drank from the spiritual rock which followed them, and that rock was Christ). Yet in spite of all these wonderful experiences many of them failed to please God, and left their bones in the desert. Now in these events our ancestors stand as examples to us, warning us not to crave after evil things as they did. Nor are you to worship false gods as they did. The scripture says - 'The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.'
Neither should we give way to sexual immorality as did some of them, for we read that twenty-three thousand fell in a single day! Nor should we dare to exploit the goodness of God as some of them did, and fell victims to poisonous snakes. Nor yet must you curse the lot that God has appointed to you as they did, and met their end at the hand of the angel of death.
Now these things which happened to our ancestors are illustrations of the way in which God works, and they were written down to be a warning to us who are the heirs of the ages which have gone before us. So let the man who feels sure of his standing today be careful that he does not fall tomorrow.
Matthew 23:13-36 - Excerpts from the seven "woes":
1. "..... play-actors that you are! You lock the door of the kingdom of Heaven in men's faces; you will not go in yourselves neither will you allow those at the door to go inside.
2. "..... You scour sea and land to make a single convert, and then you make him twice as ripe for destruction as you are yourselves.
3. ".... you blind leaders! You say, 'if anyone swears by the Temple it amounts to nothing, but if he swears by the gold of the Temple he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools, which is the more important, the gold or the Temple which sanctifies the gold? .....
4. ".... you utter frauds! For you pay your tithe on mint and aniseed and cummin, and neglect the things which carry far more weight in the Law - justice, mercy and good faith. These are the things you should have observed - without neglecting the others. You call yourselves leaders, and yet you can't see an inch before your noses, for you filter out the mosquito and swallow the camel.
5. "What miserable frauds you are ....! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, while the inside is full of greed and self-indulgence. Can't you see, Pharisee? First wash the inside of a cup, and then you can clean the outside.
6. "Alas for you, you hypocritical scribes and Pharisees! You are like white-washed tombs, which look fine on the outside but inside are full of dead men's bones and all kinds of rottenness. For you appear like good men on the outside - but inside you are a mass of pretence and wickedness.
7. "What miserable frauds you are ....! You build tombs for the prophets, and decorate monuments for good men of the past, and then say, 'If we had lived in the times of our ancestors we should never have joined in the killing of the prophets.' Yes, 'your ancestors' - that shows you to be sons indeed of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead then, and finish off what your ancestors tried to do! You serpents, you viper's brood, how do you think you are going to avoid being condemned to the rubbish-heap? ..... Yes, I tell you that all this will be laid at the doors of this generation.
Colossians 2:16-17 - .... don't let anyone worry you by criticising what you eat or drink, or what holy days you ought to observe, or bothering you over new moons or sabbaths. All these things have at most only a symbolical value: the solid fact is Christ.
Colossians 2:20-23 - ... if, through your faith in Christ, you are dead to the principles of this world's life, why, as if you were still part and parcel of this world-wide system, do you take the slightest notice of these purely human prohibitions - "Don't touch this," "Don't taste that" and "Don't handle the other"? "This", "that" and "the other" will all pass away after use! I know that these regulations look wise with their self-inspired efforts at worship, their policy of self-humbling, and their studied neglect of the body. But in actual practice they do honour, not to God, but to man's own pride.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR OTHERS
Romans 14:13 - Let us .... stop turning critical eyes on one another. If we must be critical, let us be critical of our own conduct and see that we do nothing to make a brother stumble or fall.
Romans 14:21 - We should be willing to be both vegetarians and teetotallers if by doing otherwise we should impede a brother's progress in faith.
Romans 15:1-2 - We who have strong faith ought to shoulder the burden of the doubts and qualms of others and not just to go our own sweet way. Our actions should mean the good of others - should help them to build up their characters.
Romans 15:14 - ...... I feel certain that you, my brothers, have real Christian character and experience, and that you are capable of keeping each other on the right road.
1 Corinthians 8:4-13 - In this matter, then (Paul in response to a question from the Corinthians ....), of eating meat which has been offered to idols, knowledge tells us that no idol has any real existence, and that there is no God but one. For though there are so-called gods both in heaven and earth, gods and lords galore in fact, to us there is only one God, the Father, from whom everything comes, and for who we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom everything exists, and by whom we ourselves are alive. But this knowledge of ours is not shared by all men. For some (previously pagans), who until now have been used to idols, eat the meat as meat really sacrificed to a god, and their delicate conscience is thereby injured. Now our acceptance of God is not a matter of meat. If we eat it, that does not make us better men, nor are we the worse if we do not eat it. You must be careful that your freedom to eat meat does not in any hinder anyone whose faith is not as robust as yours. For suppose you with your knowledge of God should be observed eating meat in an idol's temple, are you not encouraging the man with a delicate conscience to do the same? Surely you would not want your superior knowledge to bring spiritual disaster to a weaker brother for whom Christ died? And when you sin like this and damage the weak consciences of your brethren you really sin against Christ. This makes me determined that, if there is any possibility of meat injuring my brother, I will have none of it as long as I live, for fear I might do him harm.
Responsibility for others - continued
1 Corinthians 10:27-33 - If a pagan asks you to dinner and you want to go, feel free to eat whatever is set before you, without asking any questions through conscientious scruples. But if your host should say straight out, "This meat has been offered to an idol", then don't eat it, for his sake - I mean for the sake of conscience, not yours but his.
Now why should my freedom to eat be at the mercy of someone else's conscience? Or why should any evil be said of me when I have eaten meat with thankfulness, and have thanked God for it? Because, whatever you do, eating or drinking or anything else, everything should be done to bring glory to God.
Do nothing that might make men stumble, whether they are Jews or Greeks or members of the Church of God. I myself try to adapt myself to all men without considering my own advantage but their advantage, that if possible they may be saved.
Galatians 6:1 - Even if a man should be detected in some sin, my brothers, the spiritual ones among you should quietly set him back on the right path, not with any feeling of superiority but being yourselves on guard against temptation.
Philippians 2:4 - None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people's point of view.
James 5:19-20 - My brothers, if any of you should wander away from the truth and another should turn him back on to the right path, then the latter may be sure that in turning a man back from his wandering course he has rescued a soul from death, and his loving action will "cover a multitude of sins".
1 John 5:16a - If any of you should see his brother committing a sin (I don't mean deliberately turning his back on God and embracing evil), he should pray to God for him and secure fresh life for the sinner.
Jude 22-23 - For some of these men (who waver in their faith) you can feel pity and you can treat them differently. Others (whose faith has gone) you must try to save by fear, snatching them as it were out of the fire while hating the very garments their deeds have befouled.
REST FOR THE WEARY
Matthew 11:28-30 - "Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Matthew 5:38-40 - "You have heard that it used to be said 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth', but I tell you, don't resist the man who wants to harm you. If a man hits your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If a man wants to sue you for your coat, let him have it and your overcoat as well.
Romans 12:17a,19 - Don't pay back a bad turn by a bad turn, to anyone. .... (Verse 19 ....) Never take vengeance into your own hands, my dear friends: stand back and let God punish if he will. For it is written: 'Vengeance is mine. I will repay'.
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J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate