Envy is common. But it must not be our meal, especially in the household of God. An envious life is a cancerous life.
If there's a temptation to be envious of thy neighbour, then, make an effort through the finished work of Christ Jesus to transform it into an incentive to admire your neighbour as a healthy motivation to reach to whatever stage they are in life, yea, God-honoring endeavours.
“It is against nature to envy.”
When Christ charges us to "love our neighbour" It's as if He exhorts us in the versa, "Be not envious of your brother and sister but love them in and through Me" (i.e., Christ).
A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
– John 16:33, The Words of Jesus Christ.
The Canadian preacher, James Coates, was arrested mid-last month (by the Canadian authorities) for allegedly holding a church service ('for violating Covid rules').
He preached through Romans 13.
As I write this, pastor James, is in a solitary confinement [according to different sources].
And also, I've just learned that, "Coates is the first religious leader to be arrested for preaching in Canada in nearly 200 years." Many people, yea, Christians, might wonder why these happenings should interest them, right?
Well, every concerned Christian should be VERY concerned. Pastor James will only be released if he adheres not to hold a church service again and preach, because of "COVID-19", so they say. He has refused and has "chosen rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Heb. 11:25).
We live in an age of (some) professing Christians only, never doing. And, dear beloved, when human governments seek to do away with freedom of worship, i.e., of our blessed Lord, Christ Jesus, then, we know we need to speak up and pray that God would step in to help us. He is ever faithful!
I'm duly encouraged by the stand of, James Coates. And I pray and thank God for men like him. Faithful men do exist, Christian! Men who fear men little, but God, the greater. Many awful things have been said about, James and his family. But we know that their validation does not come from man but God.
When one member of Christ suffers, we all suffer. We are one in Christ Jesus. Redeemed by His precious blood. Pardoned before God that we may approach the throne of grace and obtain mercy in our time of need.
As we approach the mercy seat of God; I'd beseech us to carry James Coates and his wife, yea, his children, to the throne room.
Pray for grace. Pray that James Coates will be comforted in the gospel truths he has been so faithful to preach all through. Pray that this season will serve to remind him of the faithfulness of God throughout Church History. Pray that the gospel will continue (through him) even in his chains. Like Paul,
Vanity! With the constant crave of applause [around], O LORD, amongst the watching world, would you make me humble enough to the point of abandonment when man's attention seems to be the feast.
I desire nothing else but to make your name and course known to the ends of the earth. Help me, O LORD, to be a mercy of use to Your Church.
Keep my countenance from that enticer called pride. You have given me this gift, i.e., to write. And it is only that, "given." And if given, lo, may I be a faithful steward till my grave-day. I have nothing that I possess but what is come from your hand.
You, O LORD, know of my weaknesses. And I'd implore you because Thou art my Father, MY FATHER! MY FATHER! Yes, MY FATHER! Help me to hate sin and to love those things which only please you.
It is the cry of this present struggling pilgrim. Amen!
Ever woke up feeling useless, dear Christian? Sad? Melancholy? Hopeless? If so, fret not. Even in that uselessness God in Christ Jesus is there with you. We forget. Yes, [our feelings] may bring us low, but God is ever present to bring us back up to Him.
The "G" in a lasagna is not useless but necessary to make the word complete.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
– John 4:25, 27, KJV.
Those familiar with history will attest that being a woman in the first century was not easy. Women were thought of as less. Weak, not "as a weaker vessel" as it is written in the Scripture. Today, [sadly some] think of women as gratifying sexual objects. But what of, Jesus? What does He think of women? How did He treat women?
If there's anyone who deserves and is worthy of the title "Gentleman" then, Jesus Christ, is that One Man. A true gentleman. Yea more than a gentleman, a Savior! We have the narrative of John's Gospel [Jesus Christ] discoursing with a certain Samaritan woman at Jacob's well (See John 4).
It was very rare, almost unheard of to see a Jew, especially a man of that kindred, talking with a woman.
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
– John 4:9, Emphasis mine.
And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
– John 4:27, Emphasis mine.
The disciples were marvelled because it was contrary to their custom, i.e., of eastern countries; and "there are many canons, among the rabbins, against it." Jesus treated women with respect. He did not turn them away by abuse. He did not take advantage of them. He loved them to the point of death, yes, "even death on a cross." Christ died for man as well as the woman (Rom 5:8).
Behold your great example, O minister of the Gospel! The world will fail. Many will preach out of impure motives. But Christ has proven and remains to be the best example for mankind, especially of His compassion towards women. Behold, Christ! The Gentleman's gentleman!
But the minister of the gospel must be reminded of that timeless truth from an old Puritan preacher,
“Converse sparingly, if at all, with women and never alone.”
Should a Christian take alcohol beverages? We must not shun those things which are spoken of in the Scriptures. If what the Bible says is true, our sophisticated opinions do not matter. Our theology must come from the Bible, not our experiences [or that of others].
The Christian view on alcohol has been long discussed, even to the point of breaking parts. And there are many reasons for it. The question is normally this, "Is drinking a sin?" Now, that question ties and demands an answer. There is burden of proof. If yes, then, all that do, are doomed. If no, then, all that take, are hypocrites.
The Bible speaks of alcohol (or wine) in both positive and negative terms. First, God blessed man with wine. And it was very good! And then man, at some point, made wine his worst downfall. Very bad! Man takes everything that is good and prostitutes it with evil.
Alcohol is viewed in our society (as of 4th August 2020) as extremely accessible, and drinking it is just as socially acceptable as drinking tea or water. However, unlike other beverages, alcohol is in fact a drug, and it's "dangerous", it's addictive, and consuming it can have extremely negative - and even deadly - consequences.
The Bible, too, has some view. I'll only pick two verses. Note, these are in the negative sense.
Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.
– Proverbs 23:20.
In another place it says,
Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine.
– Isaiah 5:11.
These verses are as clear as day. But there is a problem if we isolate texts from the whole message of the Bible. There are some men who will read this and then they will immediately rant out to their wine lover neighbor. Now it doesn't matter if your spirit is Vodka, Gin, Whiskey (Bourbon, Rye and Scotch), Rum, Tequila and Mescal, or Bitters.
What of the positive texts about wine (alcohol) found in Scripture? Note:
Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
– Proverbs 3:9, 10.
Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
– Ecclesiastes 9:7.
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom.
And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
– John 2:1, 11.
The Bible does not explicitly forbid drinking alcohol, but it does condemn drunkeness. Drunkeness is a sin. And it is drunkeness that has caused much harm, i.e., broken families, relationships, etc.
I'll only provide the reader with some different views which has been debated over for thousands of years and hopefully, every sane mind will be able to come to their own judgement. There are at least three views.
(1) The Moderation View, (2) The Absentionism View, and (3) The Prohibitionism View. Observe:
(1) The Moderationism View.
This position is held by Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, and within Protestantism, it is accepted by Anglicans. Jehovah's Witnesses also support. Moderationism argues that, according to the biblical and traditional witness, (1) 'alcohol is a good gift of God that is rightly used in the Eucharist and for making the heart merry, and (2) 'while its dangers are real, it may be used wisely and moderately rather than being shunned or prohibited because of potential abuse.'
Moderationists reflect the Hebrew mindset that all creation is good.
(2) The Absentionism View.
The absentionists position is held by many Baptists (Yes, Baptists!), Pentecostals, Nazarene Methodists, and other evangelical and Protestant groups including the Salvation Army. Key figures that support this position are: Billy Graham, John F. MacArthur, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., and John Piper.
Some reasons commonly given for voluntary abstention are:
• The Bible warns that alcohol can hinder moral discretion. Proverbs 31:4-5 warns kings and rulers that they might “forget what is decreed, and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.” Some abstentionists speak of alcohol as “corrupt[ing]” the body and as a substance that can “impair my judgment and further distract me from God’s will for my life.”
• Christians must be sensitive to the “weaker brother”, that is, the Christian who believes imbibing to be a sin. On this point MacArthur says, “[T]he primary reason I don’t do a lot of things I could do, including drinking wine or any alcoholic beverage, [is] because I know some believers would be offended by it … [M]any Christians will drink their beer and wine and flaunt their liberty no matter what anyone thinks. Consequently, there is a rift in the fellowship.”
• Christians should make a public statement against drunkenness because of the negative consequences it can have on individuals, families, and society as a whole. Some abstentionists believe that their witness as persons of moral character is also enhanced by this choice.
(3) The Prohibitionism View.
This group holds that the Bible prohibits the taking of alcohol altogether, 'with some arguing that the alleged medicinal use of wine in 1 Timothy 5:23 is a reference to unfermented grape juice.' "They argue that the words for alcoholic beverages in the Bible can also refer to non-alcoholic versions such as unfermented grape juice, and for this reason the context must determine which meaning is required."
Prohibitionists also "accuse most Bible translators of exhibiting a bias in favor of alcohol that obscures the meaning of the original texts."
There, then, you have the different views. But I must comment on one more thing. Again, our theology must be informed by what the Bible says. Let us not be quick to make things secondary, primary. Let us be wise not to cause a stumbling block to the weak brother and sister in Christ Jesus.
What "works for you" is not a rule for another. That is, in areas of Christian liberty, let us be wise. Do you take wine in moderation? Glory to God. Have you vowed to abolish wine from thy house? Glory to God! Are you a prohibist? Again, glory to God!
Remember that drunkness is a sin. But not that wine, in and of itself, is absolutely forbidden by God. [I've written this at the risk of being misunderstood]. Now,
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Gossip is the leprosy of the tongue. And it is a kind of leprosy whereby it is mixed with a kind of sweetness, but bitter sweetness. A man may enjoy to slander, but his slander is a ruin of another.
It is a common practice today that gossip is no longer called gossip openly, but "a checking up on so and so." I mean, an enquiry to acquire information for more gossip, and not, indeed [for some] to care.
And it is heinous that this charge can be found among the saints of God. And, I think, in the altar of many conversations, gossip is the cup of tea. The main meal. Alas!
If thy tongue be much on gossip, slander, and degrading of thy neighbor, then, pray that God would help thee to see grace in their area of life that thou lackest.
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.
The Puritans are my friends, I think. I give thanks to God that He exposed me to the writings of these men at a tender age. Mercy alone! And that, thanks to my late grandpa. A faithful Christian.
I think every concerned Christian should love the Puritan authors, but Jesus more. Now, mark you, I say this not as a command but a concession. That is, "The concerned Christian should love the Puritans."
One sentence from the Puritans is worth more than all the contemporary authors combined. Seriously. These men bled the Bible.
My grandpa would always say, "When you become of age, Thompson, you'll notice these men (Puritans) truly care for your soul. Pay heed to them, but listen to Jesus the more."
A lot can be said about the Puritan authors. I'd charge the Christian to get close to them. I feel bad at the reputation these men get, i.e., "They are killer-joyisms," etc. Those who conclude that DO NOT know the Puritans nor read them well.
I can understand those that say, "They are hard to read," etc. But to say they are killer-joyisms, that, my friend, is false!
If you'd read and study anything all your life [other than the Bible], let the Puritan authors be your choice. People listen to dead men.
When you die people recall your words, not so much whilst alive. Strange, indeed!