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Chapter 39 - Let the Word 'Let' show us What is Expected of Christians
How and when to engage 'will'
There are a variety of methods to use in studying the bible. An interesting one is the 'word study'. This is a process of selecting several verses that use the same word and extracting from them a deeper understanding of how the word is used.
Radical Christianity needs a clear view of what we are supposed to do as well as what we are supposed to allow. Too often we think of the Christian life in terms of accomplishment. However, much of what we are to do is to stop interfering with the work of God in us and to act to support it. Consider how we are to let the peace of God rule in our hearts and let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. - Colossians 3:15-17
If we consider 'peace,' we can think of it as the absence of contention or conflict. From a worldly perspective this is often accomplished through negotiation, accommodation, and compromise. The peace we have with God is that we are no longer under judgment for our sins and also have life eternal. The peace of God does not buy temporary calm, but is the assurance of forgiveness and eternal life.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. - John 14:27
The peace of God can rule in our hearts to remove fear. This is a peace that transcends circumstance. As this peace is established and rules in our hearts, it becomes a solid foundation from which character qualities such as forbearance can spring.
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? - Psalm 118:6
We are also to 'let" the word of Christ can dwell in us richly which can only happen if we immerse ourselves in it and allow it to work in us. For example, we can let it work by reading and studying the bible. We are sanctified by the work of the word which is truth. As we are led deeper and deeper in truth, we grow in wisdom and understanding. We lose the ignorance that fuels the lack of unity between Christians.
Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. - 2 Corinthians 13:11
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. - John 6:63
It is easy for a Christian to forget or become distracted from the awareness of Godís work in us. Too often we take a view of the direction the bible gives us to 'let' as an invitation to a passive Christian life. The idea of 'will' and 'do' indicates that while God is in control and establishes the direction he would have us go, we are to respond in action as well.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. - Philippians 2:13
Quench not the Spirit. - 1 Thessalonians 5:19
As the concerns of our worldly life grow larger in our daily life, we can forget that there are things we are to allow, things we are to disallow, and things we need to be active in supporting. It is our distractions and focus that can bring us to frustrate and even halt the work of God in our lives.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. - Matthew 5:16
Let not then your good be evil spoken of: - Romans 14:16
Here are two verses that both deal with how other people see us. The first verse deals with how those in the world view our actions. While all too often those who claim Christ parade their works for the approval of others (sometimes giving support to the claim Christians are hypocrites), this verse deals with the other end of the spectrum, those who desire to remain unnoticed. The use of the word 'let' indicates that we are to forgo contrivance to conceal such that what we do can be seen for what it is.
The second verse uses the word 'let' to also forgo something. This use is more narrow in that it applies to that which is observed of us by other Christians. The context is 'meat sacrificed to idols', but the application might also serve for more contemporary activities such as drinking alcohol or gambling. The verse does not mean that we need to contend with other Christians for our 'rights', but that we forgo that which might offend.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. - Matthew 5:40
It can be difficult to tolerate injustice in the world, particularly when it happens to us. The admonition to 'let' (allow) others to disadvantage us is difficult to accept. However, behind it is a larger truth that it is the Lord who ultimately provides us with a 'cloak' and we should not consider our provision to solely be of our own accomplishment.
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: - Matthew 6:3
We have an admonition to not be too controlling in our generosity. By this we come to have a more reflexive charity (from the heart).
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. - Matthew 8:22
We can also see that we are not to become too involved with the activities and expectations of those who are not saved (non-Christian) because such engagements can divert us from following Jesus. The word 'let' in this instance would convey the idea of disengagement.
Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. - Matthew 15:12-14
We can also see that responding to or entanglement with those who are lost is not profitable. Those who are on their way to destruction are not on the path of light and truth. Here the word 'let' carries with it a warning in addition to the idea of disengagement.
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: - Matthew 20:26-27
Considering how often we elevate a particular person (or seek elevation ourselves), it seems that we do not often fully appreciate to what extent we harm them as well as ourselves. By insisting on honor, reverence, and prominence for one who would minister to us, we hinder him. In this, Jesus is our example as he was not a 'respecter of persons'.
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. - Romans 14:5
One of the biggest difficulties Christians have is to make allowances for differences. We are admonished to restrain ourselves from attempting to apply pressure on other Christians to conform to our practices and expectations.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; - 1 Corinthians 3:19-21
Here the word 'let' takes on a prohibitive sense. The application would be that anyone in the assembly (church) who follows the course of the world as seen in the glorification of man should be admonished and corrected. To prevent contamination by vanity and what might be called prestige within the assembly.
Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth. - 1 Corinthians 10:24
The ambitions of the greedy and self-seeking are to be curtailed within the assembly as well.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: - Ephesians 4:26
Even when we have an intense emotional reaction to something, we are not to feed or continue it so that it extends into the next day.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: - Philippians 2:5
While 'let' is sometimes a passive allowance, it also often requires our active participation. Consider that it is the objective of our Christian life to become more like Jesus. Part of this process is the transformation of our mind (thinking) to be like Jesus. We should not be found to hinder or neglect this process.
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; - 2 Corinthians 10:5
For this process to progress, we need to be engaged actively and consistently.
Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, - Colossians 2:18
We are also called to be vigilant in assessing those who would teach us. It is interesting to note that the idea here is that the individual Christian is responsible for avoiding false teaching. The idea of the 'flock' of a denomination being protected from false teaching is not presented. Such attempts to configure Christianity this way can lead to an attenuated ability to think and act individually.
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. - James 1:2-4
There are things we endure and allow to change us even though we might want to struggle against them.
It can seem difficult, especially earlier in our Christian journey, to figure out what we should allow or disallow. Sometimes we a convinced to adopt a set of rules which can seem easier. (One should consider that this did not go well of the Galatians or the Pharisees). The Christian life is not about becoming smart enough or educated enough to figure it all out. It is about allowing God to work in us to make us more like Jesus. The best way to help God with his work in us is to immerse ourselves in his word.
BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. - Psalm 119:9
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. - John 15:3-5
Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. - Psalm 119:148
As we consider the various ways we make choices in our lives based on the work God would accomplish in us, it can seem overwhelming. It is important to remember that What seems difficult is largely because we have not matured to the point where we are more proficient. A toddler might feel intimidated if he were to consider running a marathon.
Our prayer should not be so much for an easier life, but a mature life that can more easily deal with all that the Lord would accomplish in us.
The radical Christian understands that change is essential, even change that is difficult. Many struggle with Christianity because they try to follow the rules and try to do everything in their own strength. Some try to redefine Christianity to make it easier. The more difficult the Christian life looks, the more it indicates that what needs to change is that within us. The radical Christian understands that it is mostly that within us that needs to change.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. - Romans 12:1-2
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