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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Attitudes that Must Be


(Be-Attitudes Pt. 3)
Jesus considered "mercy" to be a weighty matter. He accused the Pharisees of omitting "The wightier matters of the law -- Judgment, MERCY, and faith"  (Matt. 23:23). Mercy is primarily a state of mind, or attitude. It comes from a Latin word meaning "pain of heart."
    Mercy is more than just a sentimental feeling. The merciful are touched and pained in the heart at the misfortune of others, and will seek to find ways of expression to help. The Merciful are slow to condemn, quick to serve, and quick to forgive. Religion without mercy is bankrupt no matter how doctrinally sound one may be.
    "BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART, FOR THEY SHALL SEE GOD" (Matt. 5:8). The word "pure" is from the Greek word "ka-thar-os" (English: catharsis). Two ideas are found in this word.  It describes a heart that is not divided, i.e. it is the oppisite of hypocrisy. It refers to something without mixture (in this case, the heart). James says, "PURIFY your hearts ye double-minded" (James 4:8). The pure heart is fully of sincerity. Secondly, the pure heart is morally clean. This is so closely related to the Christian character that many erroneously make "goodness" synonymous with Christianity. One cannot be a Christian and be immoral, but one can be moral and not be a Christian.
    Jesus said, "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false accusations, and slander" (Matt. 15:18-19). In Matthew 12:34, Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."  When something "impure" comes out of the mouth, it's because it was first in an impure heart.
    "BLESSED ARE THE PEACE MAKERS, FOR THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF GOD" (Matt. 5:9).  There are "Peace-makers" and there are "Piece-makers." Solomon wrote that there are 7 things God hates. Included in the list is the "PIECE-maker," i.e. "one who sows discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:16-19).
    A Peacemaker is not one who is necessarily easy going, or one who will do anything to avoid trouble. Many congregations have been plagued and stagnated with bitterness, strife and apathy because its leaders refuse to face problems for fear of disrupting the peace; so they "keep their fingers crossed," hoping the problems will just blow-over. A peace maker is not passive or neutral. A congregation will not drift into peace; peace must be made by "peacemakers."  And like the Greatest Commandment, any individual or congregation must FIRST seek to make peace with God.
    Paul said, "Give diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3).  Unity and peace is not an accident looking for a congregation to happen. Sometimes wars have to be fought in order to "make peace."  Like Abraham who demonstrated self-less-ness toward Lot, in order to promote peace and harmony in the "family" (Gen. 13:8), we too must demonstrate the same -- but NEVER at the expense of the Gospel.  For where the Gospel does not reign supreme, it will be impossible to have genuine peace with God and one another.
                                                                                                            - Toby Miller

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