Ray Ortlund Jr. once posted a provocative blog entitled, “One Anothers I Can’t Find in the New Testament.” His list is both somewhat amusing and gut-wrenching:
sanctify one another
humble one another
scrutinize one another
pressure one another
embarrass one another
corner one another
interrupt one another
defeat one another
sacrifice one another
shame one another
judge one another
run one another’s lives
confess one another’s sins
intensify one another’s sufferings
point out one another’s failings
How often are we Christians really good at doing these “one anothers”? I know. It’s sad.
But if the church is going to be a harbinger of the new heavens and the new earth, not only do we need to jettison the list above, we have to excel at the list below: the true “one anothers” of the New Testament.
Here are the top 5 most frequent “one another” commands:
5. Forgive one another (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13)
Live in peace with one another (Mark 9:50; 1 Thess. 5:13)
Bear in love with one another (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:13)
Have Compassion with one another (Eph. 4:32; 1 Pet. 3:8)
4. Be humble with one another (Eph. 4:2; 1 Pet. 3:8; 1 Pet. 5:5)
3. Greet one another (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Pet. 5:14)
2. Encourage one another (2 Cor. 13:11; 1 Thess. 4:18; 1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 3:13; Heb. 10:25)
And #1 on this list, the “one another” command most frequently given is...
1. LOVE ONE ANOTHER (John 13:34; 15:12; 15:17; Rom. 13:8; 1 Thess. 4:9; Heb. 13:1; 1 Pet. 1:22; 3:8; 4:8; 1 John 3:11; 3:14; 3:23; 4:7; 4:11; 2 John 5)
The church that is able to consistently practice just these, will be creating a culture of “Gospel + Safety + Time” and giving people a taste of heaven!
God, for the glory of your Son, Jesus Christ, make it so of us!
Work makes up a significant portion of our lives. One would hope God’s Word would help us think about and approach our work in healthy ways. It does.
Four God-Honoring Ways to Approach Work:
1. We were made to work
God made galaxies, animals, plants, and human beings. All of it is called his ‘work’ (Gen. 2:2-3). We were made in the image and likeness of a working God (Gen. 1:26-27). Therefore, we are made to be workers. Work is not a product of the fall. Work was part of the original paradise, the Garden of Eden.
2. We were made to do excellent work
There are two different Hebrew words for ‘work’ in the Hebrew language. One is used to describe raw and unskilled labor. The other describes refined and meticulous work and that’s the word that’s used here in Genesis 2:2-3. God’s work in creation is excellent, skilled, and meticulous work.
We are not only made in the image and likeness of a working God, we are made in the image and likeness of a God whose work is scintillating. We are not only made to work, we are made to do excellent work, stellar work.
So here’s my exhortation to you: whatever your responsibilities are during the week; maybe you’re a construction worker or an accountant or school teacher or a stay at home mom or dad, whatever it is: do your best to be the best at what you do. We were made not just to work, but to do excellent work.
3. Work is a way to love your neighbor
The two greatest commands are to love God and love neighbor (Matt. 22:34-40).
How many different ways can you think of to love your neighbor as yourself? If we started listing as many different practical ways of loving our neighbor the list would be long: shoveling somebody’s driveway for them; cooking or providing a meal; watching somebody’s kids; giving gifts.
How often do your see the work you do as a way to love your neighbor? Think about this: God cares for, feeds, clothes, and supports the human race through your work.
Take the work of a custodian. What would happen to our world if all the custodians suddenly disappeared? Assuming nobody took up their work for them, our planet would eventually succumb to sickness and disease from the putridness that would accumulate. What a custodian does is an act of love.
What kind of financial chaos would ensue if all the accountants in the world stopped doing their work?
What would happen if all the musicians and artists in the world suddenly stopped doing their work? We would be robbed of the experiencing the joy and beauty of music and art that serves to enrich our lives.
Work is a way to demonstrate the love you have for your neighbor.
4. Work is a way to worship God
"They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly" (Ex. 1:14).
This describes the backbreaking labor the Israelites had to perform while slaves in Egypt.
"Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the Lord, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it" (Ex. 35:24).
This verse describes the work of the artisans who were meticulously constructing the Tabernacle.
The word in the Hebrew language used to talk about work is the same in both instances. Now, let me show you another place in the OT where this word is used:
"In keeping with the ordinance of his father David, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their duties, and the Levites to lead the praise and to assist the priests according to each day’s requirement”
(2 Chron. 8:14).
The word used to describe ‘work’ in the OT is used here to describe the ‘duties’ of the priests the bulk of which revolved around the sacrificial system. The duties of the priests were all about Israel’s worship. So the OT writers present to us a seamless understanding of worship and work. Whether it was the backbreaking labor of making bricks, or building the tabernacle, or overseeing worship, in God’s eyes there was great continuity in that work. God doesn’t see your job as just a job, he sees it as a venue for you to worship him.
Two Pitfalls to Avoid:
1. Approaching work as a necessary evil
Often people look at work this way. It’s a means to earn money to provide for their needs. Obviously, that’s not the Bible’s take on it. God doesn’t see work as a necessary evil. If you do see work in that light you’ll face a couple of temptations.
First, if work is just a means to make money, you’ll see lower paying jobs as an assault on your dignity. In our culture, the jobs and careers that are most dignified are those that make the most money. That’s not a biblical worldview. The Bible does not deem certain occupations as more important than others because of how much money those jobs pay. If we see work through God’s eyes we will see all work is good work.
The second temptation you’ll face if you think work is a necessary evil to make money is: you’ll be tempted to pursue careers that pay well, but aren’t a fit for your passions and gifts. If work is about the money you make or the prestige your job has in society, you may chase after jobs that pay well but aren’t a fit for you. In God’s eyes all work, except that which is immoral or harmful, is good work. Therefore, the work you pursue ought to be work that you are gifted for and passionate about.
There are some very easy signs to look for and there are some very subtle signs difficult to detect. The easy ones: you’re consistently working very long hours and as a result your relationships are deteriorating. Your relationship with Christ is languishing. Your relationship with your family is hanging by a thread. That’s an easy sign of workaholism. Another easy sign: mentally you’re at work while physically doing other things. Maybe at the dinner table or in conversation with family or friends or doing odds and ends around the house, but you’re thinking about your work.
Workaholism can be much subtler. Why do you work? What’s your motivation for working? Workaholism can be driven by our pursuit of the American dream of material comforts and financial security. Workaholism can also be born out of a desire to show everybody how successful we’ve been. These are more difficult to detect. They require taking a leering look into why you work.
The gospel really does speak to the workaholic. To the workaholic, when you look to the cross, you’re given a glimpse into Jesus’ opinion of you. He considers you valuable enough to willingly lay down his life for you to save you. How much must you be worth to him for him to do that for you? You might have a stellar track record in your work, but nobody is going to make as big a deal of you as Christ did when he went to the cross for you. If you learn to rest in his approval, you won’t feel like you have to work your head off to garner the approval of those around you. Additionally, what Christ has given you is worth far more than any career can pay because on your deathbed your career will be worth nothing. What Christ has done for you and how you’ve responded to him will count for everything.
Anxiety and anger are staples in our lives. There probably isn't a day that goes by where we don't feel a twinge of worry or some shred of underlying irritation. Why is that? And what do we do about it?
1. The anatomy of anxiety and anger
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear...Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25, 34).
Do you see how Jesus links anxiety to the future? Anxiety is this: there’s something out there we think we need or want, but we’re not sure we’re going to get it. You have a meeting this week and in your mind you have it mapped out how you would like it to go, but you’re not sure it’s going to go the way you want it to. And so you feel a twinge of anxiety over it.
Anxiety looks out into the future with longing for something, but because there’s uncertainty about whether or not we’ll get what we long for, we feel anxiety.
What about anger?
James puts his finger on it:
"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill" (James 4:1-2a).
Do you hear the anger in these verses? Where there are fights and quarrels there is bound to be anger. Where does anger come from? “Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill."
Notice the similarity between anxiety and anger. Rather than looking into the future with a longing for something, anger looks into the present or the past. There’s something you think you need or want, but someone or something has blocked you from getting that thing and you respond with anger.
Anxiety - “I want, but might not get…"
Anger - “I wanted, but didn’t get…"
Do you see the connection?
At the root of anxiety and anger is: I want…I long for…I desire…I love...
2. The antidotes to anxiety and anger
a. Grow in your knowledge of your sin
At the root of anxiety and anger is: I want, I long for, I desire, I love…and believe I should get. Do you hear the entitlement in these words? At the root of anxiety and anger is the belief that I’m entitled to what I want, long for, desire, and love. At the root of both anxiety and anger is pride.
Might it be we perpetually walk around thinking we deserve more than we actually do? Might it be we overestimate what we’re entitled to?
The stronger our desire to get what we want, the more often we’ll battle anxiety and anger and the more rigorous those battles will be. And that works in the opposite direction as well. The more often we find ourselves contending with anxiety and anger, the stronger our desire to get what we want really is. At the root of both anxiety and anger is pride. We need to be humbled.
A fantastic passage to meditate on is Romans 3:10-18.
b. Grow in your knowledge of Jesus
The famous story of Jesus calming the storm fits this perfectly. The disciples are rowing across the Sea of Galilee. Jesus is asleep in the boat. A massive storm comes upon them which must have been serious because even the professional fishermen in the boat are freaking out over it. In their plea for Jesus to wake up there’s a combination of anxiety and anger. They want to live, but they’re not sure they’re going to. They’re looking out into the future, but they’re not sure they’re going to have one. And additionally, they’re agitated with Jesus because his nap seems to indicate he doesn’t really care about what’s going on.
In their anxious and angered panic, they wake Jesus. Jesus calms the storm and then turns to them and says, “Where is your faith?” In other words, Jesus is saying, “The way you responded to this storm is a problem. You wouldn’t have responded this way if you had faith."
Notice the disciples’ response: “Who is this?”
That question explains why the disciples reacted to this storm the way they did. That question explains why the disciples reacted to this hardship with anxiety and anger. They didn’t really know Jesus.
In fact, the two questions put together make a profound statement: “Where is your faith?” and “Who is this?” Faith isn’t an energy we try to well up within us. It’s not a force we try to create through an act of our willpower. Faith is a byproduct of knowing Jesus.
We'll never make progress in experiencing freedom from anxiety and anger unless we're taking proactive steps to grow in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Trusting Jesus is an antidote to anxiety and anger. But trusting Jesus is a byproduct of knowing Jesus.
c. Grow in your knowledge of God's love
Both anxiety and anger are rooted in: “I want…I long for…I desire…I love” And whatever it is we want, long for, desire, and love we also think is good for us. If it wasn’t good for us, we wouldn’t desire it. We want that thing, we long for that thing because we think it will be good for us. It might be a bigger paycheck; a nicer house; a more reliable car; better behaved children; a job we like. It might be something smaller: a hot meal on the table, self-assembling toys for our kids. We feel anxiety or anger when something threatens or blocks us from getting what we think will be good for us.
So here’s the million dollar question: to what extent does God want what’s good for you? How do you know God is really invested in securing for you what’s good? The less I’m convinced God is really invested in securing for me what’s good for me, the more vulnerable I am to anxiety and anger.
The answers to these questions are magnificently portrayed in the cross of Jesus Christ. Not only does the cross depict what we deserve, but aren’t getting: condemnation; the justice of God. It also depicts what we don’t deserve, but are getting: the lavish love of God poured out for us. On the cross, Jesus is demonstrating the lengths he’s willing to go to in order to secure for you what is ultimately good for you.
How invested is God in securing for you what’s good for you? There can be no more emphatic answer to that question than the cross of Jesus Christ.