How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand…
—Psalm 139:17, 18
It's All About Motives
Reading: 2 John
I suppose I could be accused of seeing the Ten Commandments everywhere I look these days. That’s the natural outcome of preparations for the series that I am teaching beginning in January. But honest, I saw them again as I was reading 2 John this morning.
Traditionally, we see our relationship to God in the first four commandments:
·No other gods
·No misuse of God’s name
·Honouring the Lord’s Day.
We consider that the last six of the Ten Commandments have to do with our relationship with others:
·Honour your parents
·Don’t commit adultery
Keeping the rules turns into legalism if the proper motivation for keeping those rules is not in place and John, who seemed to turn from crusty, fire-breathing fisherman to the apostle of love after his encounter with Jesus, addresses the motivation factor which turns the potential for legalism into Christ-honouring lifestyle.
“…I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love” (2 John 5b, 6, NIV).
When we look at these verses and compare what John is saying to what God handed down to Moses, we can see the vertical and horizontal connections between the two. Vertically, we show our love to God and honour the first four commands by walking in obedience and giving God the respect that He deserves. Horizontally, we honour the last six by walking in love. We do nothing that would harm our neighbor.
The motivation makes all the difference in the world.
Matthew 24 ends with some pointed advice from the Lord about being watchful. This last “sermon” of His, called the Olivet Discourse, covers some details about the future of Jerusalem and information on Christ’s return to earth, which we call the Second Coming.
The message on being watchful is based on His caution to His followers that no one knows when all this is going to happen and because of that, they need to live as though it could happen at any moment.
“Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come...you also must be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:42, 44).
Jesus gives the illustration of two women grinding grain and two men working in the fields. One will be suddenly taken and the other left. He also says that life will be going on as normal when the Lord returns. No one will be standing on a mountaintop dressed in white with one eye raised to heaven and the other on a watch counting down t…
I can’t say that John the Baptist was exactly the most welcoming of preachers. He was your “fire-and-brimstone” kind of guy.
Imagine him standing by the shores of the Jordan, fiery, penetrating glance scanning the crowd that gathered. Many were curious. Who wouldn’t be? This crazy-looking self-proclaimed prophet appears from the desert regions dressed in camel hair. Weird enough, but then they find out about his diet…well, that would have sent a few people running!
Apparently there were enough among the people who came to hear him that responded to his message to attract the notice of the authorities, both political and religious. The message? “…a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” writes Luke in his Gospel (3:3). There were tax collectors and pious Jews, soldiers and the common folk, who came to hear what he had to say—and John had plenty to share! When asked, he informed each segment of his immediate society exactly what was required of them (Luke 3:10-14).