To Grow or Wane?

At the risk of sounding overly critical and unnecessarily negative, I think our spiritual maturity is worth considering an observation from a study in Luke’s writings, His Gospel and the Acts. I found a real contrast in the way Luke uses the word “condemn”. In the Gospel of Luke, he quotes Jesus using this word 24 times, yet as Luke writes the book of Acts, he uses it only once. This word obviously has a priority in the vocabulary of Jesus Himself!  It is a strong word, meaning, To destroy, it is not simply pronouncing a negative opinion on someone, or labeling property unfit for residency. To condemn is to inflict death, or assassinate a person; for a vegetable, it is to cut off the life source and be left to rot. It is the action of executing a sentence, and Jesus uses it a lot in the gospel of Luke, It also appears quite often in Matthew!

Consider the context of Matthew 10:24-34 letting people know that even Christians who are being quiet about Jesus and God’s love, are more valuable than many sparrows. So His question is why would we refrain from letting people know how valuable we are to Him? Especially when we are facing trials, mockery, friction or stark persecution, risking death.

Sometimes we have good reason to be scared to death, such as when we have a scary accident & are in horrible pain that is in no way shape or form related to how we share our faith, or behave as a Christian. However, within the Christian’s life, our opportunities to speak about Jesus, or act like Jesus, should never be deterred by fear of what other people might think or do to us. When the disciples feared for their life on a boat in a storm, they had already seen him work miracles and heard his command to cross the lake, Mt. 8:18. What could stop that from happening? But the storm deterred them from believing the presence of Christ could help them do the job He gave them to do. So they came and woke him up saying, “Lord, save us! We are about to die!” (Mat 8:25) When the disciples feared for their life, Jesus rebuked the storm and went on to teach his disciples that their fear was based on a lack of faith. They struggled to believe in God’s power to save them through a storm in His work to cross a lake! If they do not have that kind of faith, and show it, then they will not grow as Christians, if they live in fear of this world, they will become frustrated with God, instead of being granted strength to grow their faith and do the work God is giving them. This lack of faith is why Judas Iscariot ended up being a loser and the rest of his closest disciples became apostles! (John 17:12)

The example of a growing Christian, saved by grace, can be seen in the Apostle Paul being converted from the old Saul he was. Paul was saved in more than one way, (2nd Cor. 11:23), when he could have been killed just once. But because of his growing faith in the powerful loving care of God in Jesus Christ, he was saved (1st Cor. 9:27) No Christian should view themselves as a ‘reject’ in the eyes of Christ. It is only outside of Christ that we face rejection because of our sin, not our self, we, in and of our selves, our very being, is so valuable to God. Never forget what James says, “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:12) This is one of the many ways, a Christian can prevent losing our sure salvation. Believe and share the belief that Christ can save us from the wrath of God against our sin that we become so quickly identified and adversely affected by sin’s deceptive nature. It is wise for us, from time to time, to keep fresh in our mind and heart, how often Jesus used the word “Condemn”, God is able to do that! God is love, and very rich in mercy, but do we take advantage of his grace, and neglect the sharing of our faith in His love? James says, that for him that knows to do good and does not do it, to him, it is sin.”, James 4:17. We certainly do not want to continue in that way of thinking. We sure don’t want to live that habitually. The devil is sly and can deceptively distract us on a detour from the straight & narrow path Jesus wants us to walk on. Live right in His sight and share your faith in Him.

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