The Encourager

The Encourager

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How to Get Along with Others

Sunday, August 09, 2020

How to Get Along with Others

by Jeff Curtis

     One of the challenges we have in living the Christian life is getting along with people. Jesus understood this, so He said much in the Sermon on the Mount regarding relationships. He said to merciful to others and to be a peacemaker (Matthew 5:7, 9). He encouraged each of the listeners to be a good influence (Matthew 5:13-16). He said to not be angry with a brother, but to be reconciled to him (Matthew 5:21-26). Christ even spoke on how we should relate to those who would try to hurt us (that is, our enemies) (Matthew 5:38-48). However, one entire section of Jesus’ teaching on this topic; Matthew 7:1-112. These verses have a lot to say about how to get along with others.

     Here are some of the lessons that can be drawn from out text, six essentials for getting along with others.

1; Refrain from judging: If we want to get along with others, Jesus first said that we must stop being judgmental. Matthew 7:1 says; “Do not judge.” In the original text, the word used indicates that His listeners needed to stop being judgmental. One commentary translates it as, “stop criticizing others.”

    What Jesus didn’t mean. The worldly minded and biblically illiterate know a handful of Scriptures, and this is one of them. Especially the KJV, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” These people would interpret this to mean that we are never to say that anyone else is wrong or that we are never to imply that dire consequences are waiting for the sinner who does not repent and change his ways. Is that what Jesus intended to teach?

     Since the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, Matthew 7:1 doesn’t teach that we are never to make judgments about other people. Verse 6 says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine…” We cannot obey that command without making a judgment about who are “dogs” and who are “pigs.” 

2; What Jesus meant: Jesus’ words teach that there is a certain type of judging that we must avoid.

  1. A common shortcoming is to allow our background, prejudices, and preferences to color our judgment. It’s hard to avoid this. Sociologists say that one reason many are judgmental is that they suffer from “low self-esteem.”
  2. We often judge hastily, without having all the facts or knowing all of the circumstances. We may not have complete information about what really happened. We may not understand the background.
  3. Too often we when we judge someone, we attempt to make a judgment concerning his motivation. Since we are not Jesus, who “knew what was in man” (James 2:25), there is no way we can be sure of the motives of someone else.
  4. Jesus also was condemning putting the worst possible construction on what people do instead of the best. Moffat’s translation of 1Corinthians 13:7 says that love is “always eager to believe the best.” It is true that we can know a person by what they do, but often their actions are subject to at least two different interpretations: one good and one bad.
  5. As a result of the negative approaches to judgment just mentioned, we sometimes are harsh, bitter, and hypercritical in our judgments, when we should temper our judgments with mercy and love. Peter said, “Above all keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1Peter 4:8). Getting along with others is largely a matter of spirit. On the other side, there is a harsh, unsympathetic, judgmental spirit that rejoices in seeing someone “get what he deserves.”

 

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), the influential leader in India, is said to have been greatly impressed with Christianity. He was especially impressed with the great teachings found in the Sermon on the Mount, including the Golden Rule. When asked why he was not a Christian, he replied sadly that he had not seen any Christian living by those principles. Do we live by the principles we have studied?

 

Cleansing the Temple

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Cleansing the Temple

by Jeff Curtis

   In John 2:13-3:21, Jesus cut short His initial visit to Capernaum to attend the Passover feast. The Passover feast commemorated God’s “passing over” the Israelites in Egypt who had the blood of a lamb on their door posts (Exodus 12:1-28). No doubt, Jesus had attended this feast since He was twelve years old (Luke 2:41-42), but this was the first Passover of His public ministry. This was also Jesus’ first public appearance since His ministry began. It began in a dramatic fashion, with His cleansing of the temple.

    Temple commerce had resulted from the coming of Jews from all over the world for this major Jewish feast days (Acts 2:5, 9-11). Each Jew was required to pay a yearly temple tax of half a shekel. Jewish authorities based this on Exodus 30:13, even though there is no indication that this was to be a permanent requirement. Temple authorities would not allow this tax to be paid with foreign coins, so money changers were needed. Again, each Jew was to make certain animal sacrifices during the feast days. Most who came from other lands couldn’t bring animals with them, so they had to buy them when they arrived. And so, originated as a service to world travelers, but they had deteriorated into a moneymaking scheme controlled by the priests. The transactions were evidently carried out in the court of the Gentiles. There are two Greek words for temple. One referred to the sacred part of the temple. The other referred to the temple complex as a whole, including the court of the Gentiles. The latter word is used here.

    The first public act of Jesus made a statement concerning His zeal for God’s house and God’s will. As He drove out the merchandisers, He said, “Stop making My Father’s house a place of business” (John 2:16). Later, on a similar occasion, He would say, “It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den” (Matthew 21:13).

    Jesus’ first public act also made a statement regarding His God endorsed authority (Matthew 3:17; 7:29). Upset, the temple authorities challenged that authority. The New Living Translation reads in John 2:18, “What right do you have to do these things?’ the Jewish leaders demanded. ‘If you have this authority from God, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.’”

    For those willing to see and believe, Jesus would give many signs during His ministry (John 2:23), but the most significant miracle would be His resurrection (Roman 1:4). So, He answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). He was speaking of the temple of His body (John 2:21), but His enemies misunderstood Him (John 2:20), thinking only of the physical temple of marble and gold that surrounded them. This statement of Jesus made an impression on them. Their misinterpretation of the prediction was brought up at Christ’s trial (Mark 14:58) and at His crucifixion (Matthew 27:40).

    While Jesus was in Jerusalem, He did His first public miracles (John 2:23). We are not told the nature of those miracles, but they would have included healing the sick (Matthew 4:23). (There is no indication that, at this time, Jesus was casting out demons was a new manifestation of Jesus’ power.) This group of believers began to grow (John 2:23), but Jesus knew their faith was not substantial (John 2:24-25). The Living Bible paraphrases verse 25, “No one needed to tell Him how changeable human nature is!”

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