Love

Duty Is Not the Opposite of Love

In preaching, teaching and writing, our good intentions are often defeated by an avoidable poor choice of words. Sometimes these inapt wordings gain popularity among Christians and become proverbial. Without thinking, we repeat them for the amens.

One example is the popular habit of speaking of duty and love as though they’re two competing and incompatible dynamics in the Christian life.

I can’t be the only one who has heard this, over and over, and wondered, over and over, what Bible people are reading. Consider Jesus’ state of mind and heart as He approached the cross.

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb 12:2)

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:35–36)

There is clearly love here. And there is clearly duty. Jesus isn’t “happy” to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He was aware of the coming beating, mockery, and death (Mark 10:33-34). He wanted to go through with it (Gal 2:20), and he didn’t want to go through with it (“not what I will”).

So, if we ask, “Was it love or was it duty?” The question appears to be nonsense.

838 reads

What if We Loved Them Both? The Christian case for the letter and spirit of the Bill of Rights.

“Due process is just, and it’s indispensable to the pursuit of justice. It is the answer to the question at the start of this newsletter—in the most fraught of claims and the most vicious of crimes—What if we loved them both? What if both accused and accuser were of equal worth?” - David French

558 reads

“We live in a strange time when fighting for fundamental liberties while treating other human beings respectfully is seen as a sign of weakness.”

"If a person despises me for defending life, filing lawsuits to protect the First Amendment, or deploying abroad to play my own very small part in battling vicious terrorists, then so be it. That’s what some on the Left have done. Some on the new right, however, seem to despise me for not mocking my opponents, not insulting them, and not treating them as less-than-human." - David French

1329 reads

No Squishy Love, No Brutal Truth

"The Bible calls us to both truth and love—not some squishy love that refuses to name error, but also not some truth that is harsh and brutal....This love is gentle and forbearing (because God is gentle and forbearing). This love is willing to move slowly and to rejoice at small gains (because God is willing to move slowly and to rejoice at small gains). It doesn’t give up easily, doesn’t have unrealistic expectations, and doesn’t assume ill motives." - Challies 

790 reads

Arthur Brooks on Rejecting Contempt: “If you have contempt for ‘them,’ more and more people will become ‘them.’”

"We are called to find common ground where it genuinely exists, improve our own arguments, and win over persuadable Americans by answering hostility with magnanimity, understanding, good humor, and love. We cannot do that while hiding in our narrow ideological foxholes." - National Review

1002 reads

Pastors Need People Skills

Editor’s note: This article is part of Dean’s Pathways to Preaching series, aimed at young men considering pastoral ministry. I believe there’s plenty here also for “not-young” men, already in ministry, perhaps as a reminder (2 Pet. 3:1).

With any vocation, a set of skills is necessary to do your work. Is this true for pastors too? Doesn’t God enable a pastor to do his work? Yes, He does. He makes you able to do what you could not do in your own knowledge and strength. But there is a human side to pastoral work as well. A pastor grows in his understanding of how to do pastoral work and in his skill at performing the work.

My focus here is not so much how to preach, how to share the Gospel, how to perform a wedding, etc. Of course you need to learn those too. What I’m talking about here are finer points of conducting yourself in your pastoral responsibilities. One of these areas is people skills.

Some people skills can be learned, but …

There must first be a genuine love for people in your heart.

I was talking with a neighbor couple recently about my work. I explained to them I am equipping a new generation of pastors. The sweet, elderly lady said, “Oh, they need to love people!” She’s right.

2920 reads

Love & Hurt Feelings – Refresher

Reposted from The Cripplegate.

Insurance companies amaze me. One little speeding ticket or a minor fender-bender, and everything changes. Your monthly payment sky-rockets. They no longer trust you. Simply for doing the human thing of making a mistake, you henceforth are placed on insurance detention. They not only record the minor mishap, but your previously good relationship with them goes sour from merely one mistake. One little blunder results in a tarnished relationship.

Too often we can be the same way in our relationships with one another. Someone commits a few small sins against us and look out; like the graceless insurance company, the relationship gutters. We place them on our spiritual detention list for relational prosecution. We are no longer trusting, but suspecting. We are no longer caring, but gossiping. We are no longer inviting, but ignoring. We are no longer loving, but judging. And we are sinning.

Love … does not take into account a wrong suffered. (1 Cor. 13:5)

In the Greek, there is one word translated, “take into account.” It describes someone who keeps a mental record of events for the sake of some future action (Louw & Nida, 1:345). The word also was used in ancient Greek as an accounting term; the act of keeping track of debts and expenses. The idea, then, is that love does not act like a meticulous accountant who precisely records and holds onto every wrong-doing of others. Love does not cling to its hurt feelings.

1393 reads

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