Fishermen are busy with their fishing nets. A man appears on the shore of the lake. He begins to speak. More and more people gather around Him. Then they witness a miracle. They willingly leave their nets and, ultimately, abandon their work and follow Him.
Spur of a Moment—or Well Thought Through?
We are called to follow Jesus wherever we are
By Bernd Sengewald
Fishermen are busy with their fishing nets. A man appears on the shore of the lake. He begins to speak. More and more people gather around Him. Then they witness a miracle. They willingly leave their nets and, ultimately, abandon their work and follow Him. They give up everything that protected their livelihood and instead, without any security, decide to follow someone little known to them into an uncertain future (Matt. 4:18-22). Have you ever marveled at this story in the Gospels when Peter, Andrew, James, and John just seem to leave everything to follow Jesus? Did you ever ask yourself if you’d be willing to do the same—spontaneous and spur of the moment-like?
What’s the Model? If you’re anything like me, you would like to have a little more time to think and, above all, pray about such a far-reaching decision; and you would like to know as much as possible about the person whom you are planning to follow.
Here is good news: Peter, Andrew, James, and John did not just decide at the spur of a moment. The particular incident recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke took place around the summer of Jesus’ twenty-ninth year, roughly one and a half to two years after Jesus began His public ministry.1
This point gets overlooked easily; yet it becomes obvious from a careful study of the biblical text. In Matthew 4:12 we read: “Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.” The same reference can be found in Mark 1:14, and the context in Luke also makes it clear that Jesus had already begun His ministry in Galilee when He invited the fishermen to follow Him. Jesus was active before the arrest of John the Baptist.
However, these reports are found only in the Gospel of John. There we read of the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-12), the first cleansing of the Temple (verses 13-17), followed by the succinct words: “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did” (verse 23). John writes about the nighttime encounter with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21) and that both Jesus and John the Baptist baptized at the same time. In connection with the latter we read: “Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. For John had not yet been thrown into prison” (verses 23, 24).
When Jesus came to Galilee the second time, His popularity among the people was so great that a royal court official, living 25 kilometers (about 15 miles) from where Jesus was staying, heard that He was back in the region and traveled from Capernaum to Cana to ask Jesus to heal His son (John 4:45-47).
The four people who seemingly left everything spontaneously to follow Jesus actually had a lot of time and opportunity to get to know their Lord and Savior. They were very closely associated with Him, and they saw and experienced how He lived (John 1:35-42). They heard His preaching and saw His miracles. They even baptized on His behalf (John 4:2). Jesus Christ did not require a spur-of-the-moment decision from them. A short while after His baptism, Jesus had taken them in as part-time disciples (John 1:35-51), and now, about one and a half to two years later, He called them to full-time discipleship.2 As human beings, we usually need our time—especially for important decisions. Jesus acknowledged this fact with His disciples.
Immediately With Jesus However, there is also an “immediately” when Jesus calls. For example, as the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well became convicted that she was in the presence of the Messiah, she immediately left her water jar and went into her village. There she spoke openly and enthusiastically about her newfound faith, and consequently there was a great movement among the local population (John 4:28-42).
The demoniac of Gergesa in the Decapolis region is another example. His plea to be allowed to stay with Jesus was refused. Instead, Jesus told him to go to his family and talk about the miracle that had taken place in his life. The man left Jesus and wandered throughout the region of the Decapolis to talk about his experience (Mark 5:18-20). Sometime later, when Jesus visited the region again, 4,000 people gathered to meet Him. For three days He taught and healed them, concluding in the second account with a miracle feeding. In contrast to the feeding of the 5,000, where mostly Jews were present, in this case most of the people were Gentiles from the Decapolis region. In other words, they were from the home of the former demoniac of Gergesa, who had immediately begun to share his experience with Jesus Christ (Matt. 15:29-39).
Follow Me It’s important to take what we have learned from Jesus, immediately put it into action, and pass the blessing on to others. Undoubtedly, this is one way of responding to Jesus’ “Follow Me.” Yet Jesus Himself was careful, and His service to others was well thought through. He knows our hearts and how much He may, at times, require of us.
By the way: Have you ever noticed that Jesus’ preaching followed the same model? In Acts 1:8 He said: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” In the first year and a half of His ministry, Jesus preached only in Jerusalem and Judea. When the resistance by the Jewish leadership became too great there, He took His kingdom message to Galilee. However, on His way He stopped in Samaria (Matt. 4:12) and preached there. When the resistance in Galilee became too great (John 6:66), He ministered in areas where Gentiles lived, including in the region of the Decapolis (Matt. 16:13).3
It’s easy to overlook important links and intriguing aspects of the ministry of Jesus when we read rapidly through the Gospels. Chronology is not always easy to grasp. But everything has and takes its time, especially when it comes to human beings. Christ’s “Follow Me” still invites us today to entrust our lives completely to Jesus. He knows exactly what we need most, and when we need it.
1 The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1956), vol. 5, pp. 315, 316. Compare additional notes on Luke 4 in SDABC, vol. 5, charts on pp. 216-218 and 229-231.
At a time of national apostasy in Israel, Elijah remained faithful and obedient to God. In our last lesson we focused on the drought in Israel, God’s provisions for Elijah, and Elijah’s challenge to the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.
A Question and a Command
By Mark A. Finley
At a time of national apostasy in Israel, Elijah remained faithful and obedient to God. In our last lesson we focused on the drought in Israel, God’s provisions for Elijah, and Elijah’s challenge to the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. We marveled at God’s miraculous answer to Elijah’s prayers in the midst of almost overwhelming odds.
In this lesson we will study the perseverance of faith, the humility of faith, and, at times, the disappointments experienced by people of faith. Through it all we will discover a God of amazing compassion, abundant grace, and awesome power.
What lessons do we learn from Elijah’s trust in God’s promises, and his faith that did not give up when he didn’t receive an immediate answer to his prayers? Read 1 Kings 18:41-45.
Elijah sent his servant to the crest of the mountain to look toward the sea. When signs of rain did not appear, he sent the servant again. Elijah persevered. He sent his servant to look for rain six times. Not until the seventh time did the man see a dark cloud about the size of a man’s hand. The cloud was a sign that rain was coming and soon the heavens would open their floodgates. Elijah’s faith did not give up. He persevered in spite of all appearances. He trusted that God would fulfill His Word.
How did the apostle Paul describe the necessity of perseverance in spite of our past mistakes, current failures, or overwhelming obstacles? Read the following passages and summarize your answer in one sentence: 1 Corinthians 9:24-28; 2 Corinthians 4:7-10; Philippians 3:12-16.
Read 1 Kings 18:45, 46. As the rain poured down, making visibility almost impossible, what act of kindness did Elijah perform for Ahab? What does this say about Elijah’s character?
Elijah’s kindness in guiding Ahab’s chariot in the midst of a terrible storm reveals both his humility and graciousness. The prophet still respected the office of the king and showed compassion to someone who wanted to take his life.
Read Romans 12:20, 21; see also Proverbs 25:21, 22. What counsel did the apostle Paul give to Christians in Rome who faced persecution? How does this apply to us?
Did Elijah ever feel down? Read 1 Kings 19:1-4; describe Ahab’s threat on Elijah’s life, and Elijah’s response. After spending the entire day challenging the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, and guiding Ahab’s chariot through a fierce storm, the prophet was physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. In the face of a threat on his life from Ahab and his heathen queen, Jezebel, Elijah was ready to give up.
How did God respond to Elijah’s doubt, fear, and discouragement? Read 1 Kings 19:5-8. God did not send an angel to preach to Elijah about his lack of faith, or his need for more courage. He sent a heavenly messenger with healthful fare to strengthen Elijah’s body and the divine benediction to rest. Faith is practical. Sometimes people need a good healthy meal, some rest, and exercise much more than they need a lecture about faith.
Where did Elijah end up, and what was God’s message to the doubting prophet? Read 1 Kings 19:9-15. Elijah ended up in a cave. God met the prophet where he was; God always meets us where we are. God’s response to Elijah’s doubt was both a question and a command. The question is simple and straightforward: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” In other words: “Elijah, I have a purpose for your life, and you will never see it realized in the cave of despondency.”
The command was simple and straightforward as well: “Go out, and stand on the mountain.” In other words: “Don’t live in a cave when you can stand upon a mountain.”
God speaks to each of us, who at times have failed, become discouraged, and live in our own darkened caves: I have a purpose for your life. I have a task for you. By My grace, through My strength, come out of the cave and stand upon the mountain.
The significance of this title of Christ has been a matter of serious debate among Christians. The most basic understanding is that the incarnated Lord was born of the virgin Mary to be called the Son of God (Luke 1:32; 1 John 5:18). In sharing my understanding of the topic, I hope to motivate your continued study.
What does the Bible mean when it refers to Jesus as “the Son of God”?
By Angel Manuel Rodriguez
The significance of this title of Christ has been a matter of serious debate among Christians. The most basic understanding is that the incarnated Lord was born of the virgin Mary to be called the Son of God (Luke 1:32; 1 John 5:18). In sharing my understanding of the topic, I hope to motivate your continued study.
1. Son(s) of God: In the Old Testament the phrase “son(s)/children of God” designates three types of persons. The heavenly beings who met with the Lord in the divine council are called “the angels” (Heb., “sons of God,” Job 1:6; 2:1).1 At the moment of creation we are told that “all the angels [Heb., “sons of God”] shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). The people of God are called “the children of the Lord your God” (Deut. 14:1; see also Hosea 2:1; Isa. 45:11). They became God’s children through creation and redemption (Ex. 4:22, 23). Finally, the Israelite king was called the “Son of God” (e.g., 2 Sam. 7:14). God appointed the king as “my firstborn” (Ps. 89:27; cf. Ps. 2:7). In these cases the word “son” is used figuratively. Heavenly beings are sons of God through creation; the people of God are God’s children through creation and redemption; and the king becomes a son of God through his appointment as king. In the Bible God does not have children through natural conception and birth.
2. Eternal Sonship of Christ: Christ is the eternal Son of God. Paul wrote that “when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4). Christ was the Son of God before He was born of a woman. Through the preexistent Son, God “made the universe” (Heb. 1:2). However, the sonship of Christ is unique. Believers are spiritually born of God as children of God, but the Son is never described as being spiritually born of God; He is the Son, who came directly from the Father (John 16:28). He has life in Himself and is one with the Father in will (John 14:31; 15:10), character (John 14:8-11), purpose (John 15:16; 16:15; 17:4-8), and nature (John 8:58). Yet He is a different person. We are dealing with a metaphorical use of the word “son.”
3. Metaphorical Significance: In our humanity the image of a child conveys some obvious ideas. First, it indicates that a child is of the same nature as that of the parents; they are human beings. When Christ is called “Son of God,” we are being told that He, like the Father, is a divine being (John 5:18). Second, a child is distinguishable from their parents. The metaphor of sonship means that although Christ and the Father have the same nature, they are different persons, implying a plurality of persons within the Godhead. Third, the relationship between parents and children is unique. Their union is practically indissoluble. The metaphor is therefore a good symbol for the deep unity that exists within the members of the Godhead (John 17:5). Fourth, a human child comes from its parents through natural birth. In the case of the Godhead, however, the Son proceeded from the Father, not as a divine emanation or through natural birth, but to perform a work of creation and redemption (John 8:42; 16:28). There is no biblical support for the eternal generation of the Son from the Father. The Son came from God but was not generated by Him. Fifth, the father-son image cannot be literally applied to the divine Father-Son relationship within the Godhead. The Son is not the natural, literal Son of the Father. A natural child has a beginning, while within the Godhead the Son is eternal. The term “Son” is used metaphorically when applied to the Godhead. It conveys the ideas of distinction of persons within the Godhead and the equality of nature in the context of an eternal, loving relationship.
Ellen White wrote: “The Lord Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, existed from eternity, a distinct person, yet one with the Father.”2 This statement summarizes the main purpose of the metaphor.
Jean-Fran็ois Pina started his workday as usual.* The married father of one child drove to the hospital, parked his car, and signed in for the day.
On the Jericho Road
A tale of two Samaritans
By Michael Mace
Jean-Fran็ois Pina started his workday as usual.* The married father of one child drove to the hospital, parked his car, and signed in for the day. Pina is in the business of helping people, of saving lives. The lives of his clients depend on his readiness, his expertise, his safety and speed. Pina drives an ambulance in Lille, near France’s border with Belgium.
A Routine Call One Thursday morning Pina was scheduled to pick up 60-year-old Christian Nayet and give him a ride to the hospital. Nayet had to go to the hospital for a scan. About one hour into the drive, Nayet realized something was wrong with Pina, the ambulance driver. He seemed agitated. Finally, Pina exclaimed that he did not feel well. “My fingers are tingling,” he said. “Does the tingling go up your arms?” asked Nayet. When Pina replied “Yes,” Nayet’s first thought was heart attack. He told the Pina to stop the ambulance. For a second Nayet thought of calling Service d’Aide Medicale Urgente (SAMU) (the French equivalent of 9-1-1 in the United States), but he calculated that it would take too long for them to arrive and offer treatment. So Nayet gave the driver two medications he had in his pocket. “This one is to increase the fluidity of your blood,” he said, “and this one is to stabilize your heart’s rhythm.” Under normal circumstances this would have been completely inappropriate, but considering the urgency of the situation, and taking a calculated risk, Nayet gave Pina some of his own medications, knowing that they were suitable for someone suffering a heart attack. Nayet is not a medical professional; he is an artist and writer. But when Pina could no longer drive the ambulance, Nayet said, “Give me the keys! My life is not in danger; yours is. Don’t be afraid.” One can almost hear the voice of Jesus, who told people more than once, “Don’t be afraid; trust Me.” The patient quickly became the ambulance driver. “I will drive very fast!” “No, please, don’t drive fast,” said Pina. “You’ve never driven this vehicle; you aren’t used to it.” Despite his misgivings, Pina had to admit that he was now the one who needed medical care. He heard Nayet’s voice: “In 10 minutes you’ll be OK!” A man with terminal cancer was comforting the ambulance driver, who was having a heart attack! After playing doctor, nurse, pharmacist, and ambulance driver, Nayet assumed the role of a comforter, just as Jesus promised: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16). Behind the wheel of the ambulance, Nayet had only one thought: to go as fast as he could; after all, he was driving an ambulance. He looked for the switch to turn on the siren, but he couldn’t find it. So he flashed the vehicle’s headlights to signal traffic to make way. When they arrived at the hospital, Nayet called on medics, who had to defibrillate Pina. Within 10 minutes Pina was on an operating table. A doctor exclaimed, “Five minutes later, and it would’ve been too late!” Then the doctor told Nayet, “You saved his life.”
Surrounded by Neighbors Three hours later Nayet went to have his scan. It confirmed that cancer had spread to his liver. Still, Nayet slept well that night, knowing that he had gone beyond the call of duty. So which of these two was neighbor to the other one? Nayet was the one in need of help, yet he was the one who saved Pina, the neighbor who was supposed to help him. The good Samaritan is not always who we think it is. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). You never know; it could save your life.
The Bible says, “Do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink” (Col. 2:16, NIV); however, the symbolic and cultural idea of food extends beyond what we eat.
Power of Bread
By Jeff Couzins
The Bible says, “Do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink” (Col. 2:16, NIV); however, the symbolic and cultural idea of food extends beyond what we eat. Eating involves both biological and cultural elements, and sociologists believe that “human meal practices can be understood as a kind of language system.”1
This idea can be applied to families in the Apostolic Era, where every member of the household—family or otherwise—was subject to the authority of the father. The father was patron to all. A powerful symbolic representation of being under the headship of the father was captured at mealtimes, when all were dependent upon the father in order to eat. Consequently, some powerful practices were built up around eating and drinking.2
More Than Sustenance
The apostles’ devotion to sharing food together (Acts 2:42) can be said to describe a first-century Christian’s normal way of life.3 Here, food provides more than sustenance; it is the means to achieving a deeper fellowship between believers and their Lord.4 Furthermore, with repeated references to eating and drinking in Jesus’ teachings, alongside His desire to share meals with people marginalized by mainstream society, we get the impression that to Jesus, eating and drinking together has significance beyond its biological and cultural functions.5
When we look further, we find that food is everywhere in the Bible. It’s almost everywhere we look in Scripture. The place of food and fellowship in the Bible is sometimes overlooked when we focus on the commandments and doctrines, yet so much in the Bible seems to happen around the proverbial dining table. Are these references there just as a record of practical necessity, or is there some spiritual relevance to food and fellowship?
Food and Salvation
Food has a place in the plan of salvation. For example, it was eating the forbidden fruit that led Adam and Eve into sin through an appeal to the appetite.6 It was also through food that God taught us about the means of salvation.7 The Communion emblems are just one example of the symbolic link between food and salvation.
Another example is the Old Testament sacrificial system, which pointed to the sacrificial ministry of Christ in its varied forms and functions. For instance, all the main feasts in the Old Testament point to the ministry of Jesus. A feast isn’t just a small portion of food; it is a large meal. The main feasts were (1) the Passover, which pointed to the death of Jesus Christ; (2) Pentecost, which pointed to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; (3) Tabernacles, which pointed toward the second coming of Jesus; and (4) the Day of Atonement, which pointed toward judgment.
There was a greater purpose, however, than simply teaching about the plan of salvation through the offerings. The sacrificial system was not just to mediate forgiveness for sinners but to bring the people into fellowship with God (see Lev. 9:22). Sin offerings symbolized the confession of sin and an appeal for atonement through God’s forgiveness. Burnt offerings expressed worship, gratitude, and dedication to God. Peace offerings symbolized alliance with God and fellowship with other believers through eating the sacrifice together.8 More modern versions of the Bible (such as the NIV) translate “peace offering” as “fellowship offering,” indicating the social and cultural nature of the final offering.
The Old Testament worship service culminated in a fellowship meal, which all worshippers shared in God’s presence. Worship of God in the Old Testament was not complete until all the assembled people—prophet, priest, Levite, and laity—sat down to enjoy a fellowship meal together. And this concept of sharing food together continues through to the New Testament times as well. Jesus had finished teaching the people, for instance, before He fed the 5,000.
Food and Relationship
While food cannot save us, it can be representative of the relationship we have with Jesus Christ. For example, in Luke 24:41, after His resurrection, Jesus asked for food when He joined the disciples in the upper room. In John 21:9, after His resurrection, Jesus prepared a meal for the disciples who had gone fishing. In both instances Jesus in His resurrected form wanted to share food and fellowship with His disciples. Acts 2:42 says, “And they [the disciples] continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
The breaking of bread in this verse indicates that the disciples were sharing food and fellowship with other believers. Biblically, food and fellowship go hand in hand with teaching doctrine and praying. But we often miss that connection. Food and fellowship are not separate things added onto the worship service in church; instead, they should be part and parcel of the process of worshipping and serving the living God.
As in the Old Testament sacrificial service, we can say that worship is not complete until we’ve shared a fellowship meal with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. And fellowship extends beyond this as well. In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says that He will enter in and eat with anyone who opens the door of their heart to Him. Jesus links food and fellowship to a relationship with Himself. Scripture doesn’t just say that Jesus will keep you company. Instead, Jesus said, “I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (NIV; emphasis supplied).
Sharing food and fellowship are important aspects of human relationships, as well as our relationship with Christ. Everyone who has been saved throughout earth’s history is invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb described in Revelation 19:9.
Food and Church Services
The ultimate linking of food and fellowship with salvation, however, is found in the Last Supper. Jesus took the bread and said, “This is My body” (Luke 22:19). Then He took the cup and said, “This . . . is the new covenant in My blood” (verse 20).
Not sharing a full meal together during Communion does not detract from the fact that there is a significant connection between food and salvation. While food cannot save us, food can symbolize our relationship with God and our salvation.
First John 1:3, 4 says, “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”
Fellowship in church is more than just having a good time together. Food shared in church is more than just eating together. After all, it was only a small piece of fruit that brought sin into the world. And likewise, it’s only a small piece of bread and a small glass of grape juice that symbolize the sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross.9 Food may seem like an insignificant aspect in the wider plan of salvation, but, biblically, it could be argued that worship is not complete until we have shared food and fellowship together with one another and with God.
We see a type of this when Jesus promises to share a meal with us in Revelation 3:20 when we invite Him into our hearts. Few “acts are more indicative of fellowship and communion than partaking of food together.”10 But the ultimate expression of sharing food together is found in “the apocalyptic idea of the eschatological meal, or the messianic banquet, the feast in the coming Kingdom of heaven.”11
So since we are subject to the authority of our Father in heaven, let us share meals together, perhaps after worship service on Sabbath, in our homes during the week, or at picnics and other social gatherings. When we do so, we are also fellowshipping with Jesus until He comes.
1 Jan Michael Joncas, “Tasting the Kingdom of God: The Meal Ministry of Jesus and Its Implications for Contemporary Worship and Life,” Worship 74 (2000): 330.
2 Florence Dupont, Daily Life in Ancient Rome, trans. Christopher Woodall (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1989), p. 103.
3 Robert W. Wall, “The Acts of the Apostles: Introduction, Commentary and Reflection,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible, ed. Leander E. Keck et al. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995), vol. 10, p. 71.
4 G.H.C. Macgregor, “The Acts of the Apostles,” in The Interpreter’s Bible, ed. George A. Buttrick et al. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1954), p. 50.
5 Joncas, pp. 330, 331, 346-350.
6 Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1890), pp. 54-56.
7 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 656.
8 Siegfred H. Horn, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1980), pp. 963-966.
9 E. G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 653.
10 Francis D. Nichol, ed., The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1957, 1980), vol. 7, p. 763.
11 Ephraim Isaac, “The Significance of Food in Hebraic-African Thought and the Role of Fasting in the Ethiopian Church,” in Asceticism, ed. Vincent L. Wimbush and Richard Valantasis (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 331.
My husband and I have difficulty managing our conflicts. We knew marriage would be difficult. Ours, however, has turned out to be much more difficult than either of us anticipated. Sometimes our anger spills out in front of the children. Can you share something to help us do a better job of dealing with our differences? —Diane, Honolulu, Hawaii
by Willie and Elaine Oliver
How can you be at peace with your spouse (according to Romans 12:17, 18), yet be confrontational when you have issues that have to be resolved? Isn’t confrontation an opportunity for improvement?
Marriage is among the most challenging relationships in which humans participate. Before marriage, relationships seem rather easy to manage and negotiate. After marriage, however, relationship seem much more difficult to reconcile because of the baggage married people tend to develop with their mates.
Baggage in marriage means a couple is much more willing to admit they have differences of opinion on a particular issue or issues. And since humans, as a rule, find it difficult to change their habits and opinions, each time a couple gets to a place of difference, a potential conflict is stored in the hippocampus, a small organ that is a part of the limbic system of the brain that regulates emotions and is associated with memory.
The context of Romans 12, which you quote in your question, finds the author of the book urging first-century Christians to be different than the citizens of this world. The apostle counsels believers with the words: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2, ESV).
Christian couples must, by definition, be inspired to love genuinely (verse 9), to be like Jesus, which means to be patient, kind, and peaceful.
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, which means a sense of harmony, wellbeing, and prosperity. This concept suggests much more than simply the absence of hostility, but indicates wholeness and completeness. On the other hand, the New Testament word for peace is eirene, which is not only the absence of hostility, strife, and disorder, but also the reality of being safe and secure.
Being at peace with your spouse does not mean that you agree on every point and have no disagreements. It does mean, however, that as a child of God whose mind is being transformed into His likeness, disagreements are no reason for confrontations, which are invariably filled with venom and angst. Rather, as one who rejoices in hope, is patient in tribulation, and is constantly praying (verse 12), peace serves as a buffer to calmly share differences of opinion for greater understanding in the relationship.
To enhance communication in marriage, and in all other meaningful relationships, certain techniques must be learned and employed for maximum results. A simple technique for effective communication is to listen first and talk second. When you are more interested in understanding your spouse’s point of view than in telling your side of the story, you will be more likely to “live peaceably with all” (verse 18), especially your spouse, as you heed the counsel of Romans 12.
You and your spouse continue to be in our prayers as you internalize the principles outlined in the Bible and allow God to transform and renew your mind from within, so that peace can reside in your home.
Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE, an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, and family sociologist, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Elaine Oliver, MA, CFLE, an educator and counseling psychologist is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries. You may communicate with them at Family.Adventist.org or at HopeTV.org/RealFamilyTalk.
A small prayer group that a Seventh-day Adventist couple began in western Kenya in 2011 has grown to 400 people and witnessed the baptism of 16 pastors from other denominations during the world church’s recent 100 Days of Prayer initiative.
Looking for Legalism, Finding Hypocrisy
It’s a good idea to define our terms before we debate them.
By Joseph Olstad
Though we run the risk of appearing closed-minded, most of us don’t have time to consider every new idea or teaching crossing our religious radar. We often pick and choose what to consider based on the theological models or paradigms in our minds that serve to frame or filter information.
My own modeling helps me frame an understandable picture of God’s wrath in the Old Testament with Jesus’ teaching on forgiving one’s enemies in the New Testament. Without a model, I’m either left with a contradiction or tempted to favor/ignore one part of the Bible over another.
On the other hand, if a biblical scholar tries to tell me that Jesus wasn’t really divine, or the New Testament documents are a collection of forgeries, I’m not motivated (in most circumstances) even to consider such positions. I just filter that out and make no attempt at changing my paradigm to accommodate what I consider nonsense.
Paradigms are essential and work well until we forget we are using them. If that happens, we may begin unconsciously filtering out crucial bits of data that would improve our paradigms to reflect the truth better. It may be that some Christians, including Adventists, have unconsciously assumed, when reading the Gospels, a paradigm that has caused us to overlook some of the sharper points Jesus was making. The concept of legalism is one of these problematic paradigms that warrants a closer look.
I read and hear the contours of this model everywhere—in Sabbath schools, sermons, periodicals, and casual conversation: “Pharisees were legalists and were teaching legalism”; “Jesus rebuked the Pharisees’ legalism and taught us a new way of grace and love”; “Christians should obey the law but not legalistically”; “Obeying the Sabbath is legalism”; and so on. Within this paradigm it seems that legalism is a major threat in the Gospels; therefore, Jesus’ rebukes and teachings are seen as correcting that problem. But I suggest a different paradigm. Remembering the saying “What you focus on determines what you miss,” I believe that legalism has been focused on or assumed . . . but hypocrisy has been missed. When I started considering this distinction, I asked friends at church if they could offer a single text from the Gospels that addressed legalism. I usually received either silence or a response about “tithing dill and cumin.” Perhaps that phrase came to your mind as well. Let’s start there.
Given that legalism is usually defined as “keeping the law in order to be saved,” let’s see if Matthew 23:23 is a good example of such behavior. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”1
Here is my question: what exactly is Jesus rebuking? Is He attacking legalism as commonly understood? It doesn’t appear so. In fact, in one sense the opposite is true. He is not condemning the Pharisees’ keeping of the law, whatever their motives may be; He is condemning their neglect of keeping the law.
But Jesus doesn’t stop there. Not only does He rebuke their neglect of the law—He highlights that they are neglecting the most important matters of the law. According to Jesus, the Pharisees not only are lawbreakers, but also break the most important laws.
But Jesus highlights another dimension of their disobedience. It is this highlight that brings “legalism” to mind for many readers. They not only are neglecting the most important parts of the law, but are keeping less-important parts so that they appear to be comprehensive law keepers. This last point earns them a special designation by Jesus, but it is not the designation “legalist.” It is the designation “hypocrite,” which He uses repeatedly.
But what about their legalistic tithing of herbs? Does Jesus want them to stop tithing? Not quite. He cautions that neither the weightier matters nor the “others,” i.e., tithing, should be neglected. Jesus closes His “woe to you, hypocrites” with a startling metaphor of someone straining a tiny gnat (notice the singular) out of one’s drinking water, but promptly swallowing a large, hairy camel. The insanity of such water filtration methods is coupled with the hypocrisy of keeping lesser laws while violating crucially important ones. The razor edge of Jesus’ words did not concern the tithing (the gnat), but instead the massive deletions of the law (the camel).
He launches His next woe using a parallel metaphor of beautiful, whitewashed tombs (verse 27). But take a peek inside and the beauty is forgotten at the sight of decaying corpses. The rebukes don’t center on the whitewash and gnat, but instead on the camel and dead men’s bones, which Jesus decodes for us as “hypocrisy and lawlessness” (verse 28).
To stick with Jesus’ parable, the legalistic paradigm has caused us to zero in on the gnat and whitewash, whereas the crux of Jesus’ rebukes is centered on the camel and dead men’s bones. When all the imagery comes together, Jesus calls the picture “hypocrisy.” Legalism, in fact, may be present, but as a paradigm it skews Jesus’ rebukes to the Pharisees into something quite different than what He intended.
Who Is a Pharisee?
As I took a closer look at these passages and others like them, the typical picture of the Pharisees began to crumble. The Pharisees have been considered the epitome of legalism: those who obey every law under the sun but whose exhaustive obedience is infected with motives characterized by a meritorious, works-oriented, salvation-earning, pull-myself-up-by-my-moral-bootstraps framework. The more I read the Gospels and take each dialogue Jesus had with them into consideration, the more problematic the traditional view becomes. The Pharisees Jesus addressed2 need to be recast as classic lawbreaking hypocrites, not meticulous lawkeeping moralists.3 Ellen White’s description is not as flattering as mine. She wrote that their “outward holiness” served to conceal “iniquity,”4 and though “they were punctilious in ritual observances, their lives were immoral and debased.”5 With this distinction in view, many Bible texts converge and are better explained by a paradigm of hypocrisy. For instance, Jesus commanded the multitude to do what the Pharisees and scribes say to do, but not to follow their example, because they didn’t do what they said (verses 2, 3).
Ellen White notes that Jesus made this statement in light of a greater purpose: the “character of the . . . Pharisees must be more fully exposed.”6 They preach the law, “but do not obey the law themselves.”7 The pressing question is “Was Jesus successful at exposing the Pharisees?” or are we going to continue repeating, as a church, how perfectly the Pharisees kept the law when in fact they didn’t? One time Jesus bluntly told those trying to kill Him that “none of you keeps the law” (John 7:19). Again, notice Christ’s warning: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). John the Baptist’s evangelistic strategy in Luke 3 may shed some light on the issue. If his audience had been immersed in a “works” theology of salvation, then John missed the target in his closing appeal. After giving a stirring message of repentance, John’s listeners asked, “What shall we do?”
Here’s John’s chance to turn them away from their legalistic moralism. But no, he tells them what they need to do: share your extra clothing, share your food, be fair in collecting taxes, don’t extort money through false accusations, and be content with your wages (Luke 3:10-14). I submit that John’s closing emphasis would not be safe for a “works”-oriented crowd. What if the people thought doing those works would earn them salvation? Obviously, that wasn’t the main concern. Let’s assume that John, the one more than a prophet, knew his audience better than we do in the twenty-first century, and knew exactly how to end his sermon. They needed to repent of bad works and to start doing good works. Incidentally, John does pull the false “security blanket away from his listeners”—a blanket that very well could have been warming them into a counterfeit assurance of salvation. But that blanket wasn’t the I-keep-the-law-in-order-to-be-saved blanket; it was the I-have-Abraham-as-my-father blanket (verse 8). John’s next incisive comment implied that unless there is a shortage of rocks in Israel, one ought not to rely on ethnicity as giving automatic salvation status before God.
At this point someone may protest: “OK, I get it. Hypocrisy was a big problem. But concerning the laws that the Pharisees and others did keep, didn’t they keep them out of legalistic motives?” This may very well be true, and I wouldn’t be surprised if legalistic motivations undergirded lawkeeping back then, as may be the case today. But even if it could be shown that the Pharisees were consistently legalistic by our standard definition, isn’t it interesting that if that was the case, Jesus consistently rebuked their lawbreaking instead of trying to critique any legalistic motives? When Jesus does bring motives out on the table, the motives are in relation to appearing righteous before, or garnering praise from, people, not meritoriously gaining praise from God. Jesus said, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15), and “They do all their deeds to be seen by others” (Matt. 23:5). Ellen White concurs: “To make a show of their piety was their constant aim.”8 Jesus wanted people to do good works before the eyes of God as opposed to doing them before the eyes of others. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:1). In contrast to what one might think, Jesus desired His listeners to perform their obedience and religious devotions for and before God, because placing God as the audience of one’s obedience was the antidote for hypocrisy. The greatest sermon ever preached deals significantly with this issue. Consider Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6), where He commands the following recipe:
How to Do a Righteous Act Without Being a Hypocrite:
Pick a righteous/religious action to perform (e.g., give to the poor, pray, fast). Do it in secret or in a way imperceptible to others. Result: Only the Father will see and will reward accordingly. If desiring reward from others instead of the Father, see recipe “How to Be a Hypocrite,” in which religious duties are performed for maximum public exposure.
The crux of this rethink is that as long as legalism is seen as the massive religious issue that Jesus is dealing with, then lawkeeping, albeit with bad motives, is under attack. But if hypocrisy is the more nuanced rebuke Jesus is leveling, then lawbreaking and inauthenticity become the main issue. Why not reread the Gospels and ask yourself, “Which paradigm fits best with Jesus’ teachings and rebukes?” The model I am suggesting has the potential to free many sincere Christians to obey the law without being paranoid that they will become legalists or Pharisees in the process. On the contrary, if we are going to be paranoid, it should be concerning religious hypocrisy and its skillful and persistent lawbreaking. It’s time for the teachings of Jesus on hypocrisy to make a major comeback. Legalism has been in the spotlight for centuries now, and if it is a problem in your life or church, then by all means confess it and by God’s grace—literally, His grace—root it out. But to be honest, I don’t see people keeping the law in order to be saved as much as I see them breaking the law because they think they already are. This rings more of hypocrisy than legalism, and thus makes Jesus’ words just as relevant today as they were 2,000 years ago.
It is no accident that at the beginning, and near the end of Christ’s earthly ministry, weddings were the focal point of lessons Christ wanted to teach His followers.
Dispel the Darkness Let your light shine.
By Ted N. C. Wilson
It is no accident that at the beginning, and near the end of Christ’s earthly ministry, weddings were the focal point of lessons Christ wanted to teach His followers.
The first, at the wedding of Cana, was a lesson in faith, trust, and obedience—faith that God can supply needs, trust that He will do what is best, and obedience in following God’s instructions—even when those instructions might seem not to make sense, such as asking the servants to fill the vessels with water (see John 2:1-11), when they needed unfermented wine.1
The second lesson was brought home one evening as Jesus and His disciples sat on the Mount of Olives, where they had a clear view of the hills and valleys surrounding Jerusalem. The sun had just set, and the sky was painted with the colors of dusk.
Taking in the beautiful scene, the group noticed a home, brilliantly lit. They heard sounds of laughter and noticed 10 young women, dressed in white, and holding brightly burning lamps while standing outside. Clearly it was a wedding party, waiting for the bridegroom’s arrival.
Jesus takes in the familiar, festive scene and uses the occasion to teach His disciples throughout the ages some important lessons.
We know the story, recorded in Matthew 25:1-13, well. Often referred to as the parable of the 10 virgins, it tells the story of five wise and five foolish young women who were waiting for the bridegroom to appear. While all had lamps that were burning, only the wise ones brought enough oil to last through the night.
The Wise Ones
While this parable is full of meaning, let’s consider for a few moments the important work of the wise women. First, their lamps were lit, and they had enough oil to keep their lights shining, even through the darkest of nights.
In the Bible, oil often represents the Holy Spirit (see Zech. 4:1-6). Before we can let our lights shine, we need to be filled with this special oil. In the book Christ’s Object Lessons Ellen White beautifully explains how the Holy Spirit prepares us to shine:
“So the followers of Christ are to shed light into the darkness of the world. Through the Holy Spirit, God’s Word is a light as it becomes a transforming power in the life of the receiver. By implanting in their hearts the principles of His Word, the Holy Spirit develops in men the attributes of God. The light of His glory—His character—is to shine forth in His followers. Thus they are to glorify God, to lighten the path to the Bridegroom’s home, to the city of God, to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”2
Today a misunderstanding about God and His character enshrouds the world in darkness. God is calling each one of us to let our lights shine brightly for Him, not only for the sake of brightness, but—just as the wise women in the parable did—to light the way for others to find their way to the Bridegroom, Jesus, and to the Bridegroom’s home, heaven.
How to Let Our Lights Shine
But how do we let our lights shine? We are told, “Practical work will have far more effect than mere sermonizing. We are to give food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and shelter to the homeless. And we are called to do more than this. The wants of the soul, only the love of Christ can satisfy. . . . There are many from whom hope has departed. Bring back the sunshine to them. Many have lost their courage. Speak to them words of cheer. Pray for them. There are those who need the bread of life. Read to them from the Word of God. Upon many is a soul sickness which no earthly balm can reach nor physician heal. Pray for these souls, bring them to Jesus.”3
Take the Call
Let’s take this call from God personally and seriously. We can do nothing of ourselves. Only as we lean completely on the Lord for His direction and leading can we follow His call. Christ and His righteousness must permeate our lives.
The world is awash in existential behavior, with many people thinking that everything is relative, but it is not! There are absolutes, and they are found in the Word of God. Jesus tells us, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Rev. 3:11). We Seventh-day Adventists are called to be faithful to God.
Working Hand in Hand
I challenge you to become involved in the daily mission of the church far more than you ever have before. We are counting on you! God is counting on you! Evangelism is the lifeblood of the church. All of us are to be in involved, through personal witnessing, small group evangelism, or public evangelism in its various forms. I invite you to become involved, even if you think it won’t work in your area. Adapt your methods, but reach out. Every effort, under God’s guidance, that you make in reaching the hearts of people will bear fruit.
Church leaders and church members are to work hand in hand for mission outreach. Ellen White wrote: “The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.”4
Revolutionize Your Thinking
Let the Holy Spirit revolutionize your thinking. Take the church’s mission of outreach into your hands on a daily basis, working closely with church leaders and pastors. Let it be total participation, no one left out, everyone a missionary, total member involvement. Do something for Jesus and for others. Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t needed; the Holy Spirit will empower you as heaven’s messenger to light your neighborhood. Revival and reformation will become personal and real.
“It is the privilege of every soul to be a living channel through which God can communicate to the world the treasures of His grace,” wrote Ellen White. “There is nothing that Christ desires so much as agents who will represent to the world His Spirit and character. . . . All heaven is waiting for channels through which can be poured the holy oil to be a joy and blessing to human hearts.”5
Jesus challenges us with this truth: “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:37, 38). And in James 1:25 we are admonished to be “a doer of the work.”
The Edge of Eternity
We are at the edge of eternity. Truly, Jesus is coming soon! God wants to work in and through us. If ever there were a time to let our lights shine for Jesus, it is now (see 1 Peter 2:9)!
We are told that “it is not learned, eloquent speakers that are needed now, but humble, Christlike men and women, who have learned from Jesus of Nazareth to be meek and lowly, and who, trusting in His strength, will go forth . . . to give the invitation: ‘Come; for all things are now ready’ (Luke 14:17).”6
Jesus is coming soon! Lift your light high and share it in practical ways, pointing those around you to the One who has given us salvation and has promised to take us home soon! This is your church and your work as you lean completely on Christ, total member involvement. This is our work, entrusted to us from heaven itself. May God guide each of us in the days ahead as we “reach the world” for Christ. Arise! Shine! Jesus Is Coming!
1-See Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 149. 2-Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1900), p. 414. 3-Ibid., pp. 417, 418. (Italics supplied.) 4-Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 9, p. 117. 5-E. G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 419. 6-E. G. White, Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 36.
Like my father, I have osteoarthritis. I wonder whether I inherited this, and what I can do about it. The biggest problem is knee pain that seems to be present much of the time.
Relief From Osteoarthritis Pain
By Peter N. Landless and Allan R. Handysides
Like my father, I have osteoarthritis. I wonder whether I inherited this, and what I can do about it. The biggest problem is knee pain that seems to be present much of the time. I am 67 years old, and I have to admit that I am somewhat overweight.
You did not mention whether you are male or female. That might be of interest, because women have more osteoarthritis of the knee than do men. About 25 percent of people over age 55 have arthritis in their knees, and the prevalence increases as we age. Osteoarthritis of the hands can be inherited, along with other forms of arthritis.
Previous injury, work-related stress to the knee, and, of course, obesity all may play contributory roles in osteoarthritis. Arthritis is inflammation of a joint, and as a consequence of pain, muscle weakness can follow. The cartilage lining the bones of the joints becomes damaged, and irregular surfaces are then even more prone to damage—a typical vicious cycle.
Misalignment of a joint leads to uneven wear and tear. In the knee, most pain is experienced between the kneecap and the femur (long thighbone).
Knee arthritis typically is more painful when climbing stairs, getting out of a chair, or walking long distances. Sometimes a person complains that their knee “gave way”; this can mean a ligament or cartilage is damaged, but more often it means the muscles supporting the joint are weak. Tendons might be inflamed and cause pain that is mistaken for arthritis.
X-rays usually show evidence of arthritis, but at times pain caused by arthritis occurs in the absence of X-ray changes being visible. Blood tests are not indicated, nor are they helpful in osteoarthritis.
Relief of pain is often the most pressing problem to the patient. Studies have shown that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents are superior in pain relief to acetaminophen or paracetamol. The side effects of acetaminophen, however, are fewer than the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, so it’s preferred as a first-line treatment.
Injections of hyaluronic acid into the joint do not seem beneficial. Injections of corticosteroids, while relieving pain, tend to degrade the bones of the joint and so are limited in their scope. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are commonly used for pain relief. And while studies have found little toxicity, the evidence on these substances suggests no efficacy over and above a placebo (the “feel good” effect that occurs through the perception that the treatment may or will help).
In our opinion, exercise to strengthen the muscles around the knee will improve pain in many circumstances and will promote stability of the joint. Exercises should be aimed at improving the functions a person performs on a daily basis, such as bending, climbing stairs, flexing the knees while lifting weights, and improving balance.
Weight loss, combined with strengthening exercises, has been found to be superior to exercise.
If the joint is found to be poorly aligned (deformed), sometimes a brace can be helpful.
Southeast Asians seem to have reduced inflammatory flare-ups of osteoarthritis; whether this is genetic or related to dietary composition has not been answered. Some claim turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, and there is some limited data supporting this. A major study would be required to permit the recommendation of turmeric for arthritis as a fully tested therapy.
We suggest that you lose some weight, strengthen your muscles, and perhaps have a physical therapist oversee your exercise program. Simple lifestyle interventions are often the most effective!
Surgical approaches have not been covered. These should be discussed with a joint specialist.
Our prayer is that the Lord will strengthen you and, as you seek help and apply the advice given, that you will experience wholeness in Christ and relief from discomfort.
Some time ago a friend and I were reminiscing about our first year in college, when everything seemed so fresh, new, and exciting. There we were, on a huge campus, with hundreds of new people we could meet every day.
Being Grown-up Christians
A Christlike character begins with taking care of ourselves
By Elizabeth Camps
Some time ago a friend and I were reminiscing about our first year in college, when everything seemed so fresh, new, and exciting. There we were, on a huge campus, with hundreds of new people we could meet every day. The possibilities had seemed endless, and we were excited, to say the least.
My friend and I also talked about all the things we experienced for the first time when we came to college. From living in a dorm room with a roommate to cooking our own meals and remembering to do a load of laundry every now and then so we had clean clothes.
Something else was significant. For the first time, we were responsible for ourselves in every way. We were truly on our own; we no longer had Mom and Dad waking us up every morning, making sure we ate regular and healthy meals, and pushing us to go to bed early every night. Now in college, for the first time, we decided when to wake up, when to eat, and when to go to bed. Although we may not have realized it at the time, being completely accountable for oneself is a big responsibility! In the same way that we had full responsibility over ourselves as young adults, God has entrusted us with the full responsibility of taking care of our bodies.
Being Adult Christians
The phrase “Christian behavior” evokes a number of ideas and concepts. We may think about how we should treat and interact with others. We may also think about how we are a reflection of God and the church whenever we interact with those who have never heard the three angels’ messages. Because of this, we often pay careful attention to how we act, and keep in mind to always be a positive influence. But if we take a closer look, we can find that the concept of Christian behavior does not refer only to our relationship with others but also to the way we treat ourselves.
A quick review of the actual wording of fundamental belief 22 is instructive. “We are called to be a godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with biblical principles in all aspects.” In other words, we practice being followers of Jesus in every part of our lives. This involves not just our interaction with others but also the way we dress. We recognize that clothes can transform appearance, but can never change our character.
This Christlike character does not only represent inner beauty; it also involves our own bodies. It seems that God wants us to not only treat others in a Christlike way but also treat ourselves in a Christlike way.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20, we read that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, meaning that Jesus lives in us and is represented to the world through us. We are called to honor God with our bodies.
How better to honor God than by taking care of this temple He has entrusted to us? This means taking care of our basic health needs, such as making sure we get enough sleep every night, eating well, and drinking enough liquids throughout the day. Paul emphasizes the necessity of taking care of our physical needs in 1 Corinthians 10:31, saying, “If you eat or drink, or if you do anything, do it all for the glory of God.”* Eating and drinking has something to do with our walk with Jesus.
Being an Adult Is Hard
When I entered college as a young adult, the last things on my mind were my sleeping and eating habits. In the hustle and bustle of brand-new classes, work, and many new responsibilities, I often forgot about getting to sleep at a reasonable hour. Sometimes I wouldn’t go to bed until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. It was a similar story when it came to my eating habits. I got so caught up with all the busyness of life that I forgot about food and neglected to consciously plan my eating. I just bought or made something that kept me going—quickly.
Even after college, taking care of ourselves is often not our first priority, and it proves to be just as difficult. Our lives become even busier with work projects, families, and church events that keep us occupied. It seems that no matter what stage of life we are in, we have to fight to care for our bodies.
Yet in the midst of all the responsibilities of life, I am drawn to John 14:15: “If you love me,” Jesus tells me, “you will obey my commands.” My motivation for living a Christlike life involving my character, my body, and my mind must be love-driven. If we love God, we will want to honor Him; and God has asked us to honor Him by caring for our bodies. By focusing on God and loving Him, we will have the desire and willingness to care for ourselves.
It’s good to know that God cares about every part of us: the spiritual, the emotional, and the physical. He thinks of even the smallest details for us, and reminds us of it again and again in the Bible, His love letter to us. So when He calls us to live a Christlike life, we must remember that it not only touches those around us—it affects us as well.