Copyright © 2008 Michael Hugh Sprawson
Fear Or Love, Which?
We may talk about trusting, and not really know just what is being discussed. It's sad, but some use language without really understanding the very words that they're actually using. So then, when we talk about trusting, just what do we mean?
Trust itself, is the conviction that something or other, is the truth. And this something could be:
- the motivation of fear, or...
- the motivation of love
Indeed, there are only two forms of motivation in life, fear or love. None other, just these two, fear or love. So what do you trust?
- that which you fear? or...
- that which you love?
Unsurprisingly, false brethren rely heavily upon the use of fear to motivate people to do whatever it is that they have in mind to get others to do. It doesn't bother them that they haven't got anything on someone, as they'll simply make something up, which they use to sully another's character.
In the 7th chapter of Matthew, Jesus is warning his audience not to pass judgement upon others by trying to "read" their minds. No one can know what another is thinking, or what their motive is; no one. When the corrupt want to damage someone they don't like, and, not surprisingly, have nothing on them, they simply make something up, upon which they hope others will be turned away from them. After all, if they have nothing on someone, it doesn't matter, not really, for all they need to do is fabricate false evidence, and just keep on with their repititious lying; as usual.
But Jesus does let his audience know that there is a way of determining the true nature of someone. And He does this by looking at the evidence of the fruit of their labours to determine the nature of their characters:
The message that Jesus is spreading, refers to anyone who has an unquenchable thirst for Love and Grace, who has mastered the art of manifesting the fruit of the spirit. You know, the very thing that Jesus was teaching in the fifth chapter of Matthew, in this same sermon on the mount; the Beatitudes no less.
The teaching that we have come to know as the sermon on the mount, isn't a collection of independent statements. Rather it is a complete lesson in and of itself. Each part of the lesson, has a connection to the lesson as a whole. And the message is of two types of people:
- those who promote fear, and...
- those who promote love
...and the beautiful life that love manifests; as expressed in the beatitudes.
This problem of lying has ever been with us. It's been with us throughout history, and it'll continue to be with us until the end of time, because this has to do with evil. The apostle Paul was challenged with this problem during his own ministry in preaching the gospel. I mean to say, you would have thought that by the time Paul wrote the Galatians letter that the message would have gotten through to the saints. But no, that wasn't the case at all, as we may find out by reading what Paul had to write to the saints at Galatia:
The Apostle Paul is our great example of what it is to be a Faithful Christian.
So, what did Paul trust in?
Did Paul trust in his preaching to save him?
No, Paul didn't trust in himself, that is, in his own nature, or whatever skills that he had, instead, he trusted in the blessings of God Himself to enable Paul to manifest the fruit of the spirit in his own life. These works that Paul did were considered Righteous by the fact that they were based upon the fruit of the spirit. Works that are without the fruit of the spirit, are the works of darkness, and darkness has nothing to do with walking in the light.
Paul understood that preaching the gospel could not and would not save him. Paul didn't put his trust in his works, that is using his scholarly background to put him in a favourable position with the God of heaven. Paul did use his earthly power to "serve" God before his conversion, he was your absolute bully, and he used this obnoxious "attribute" to get his own way with others. But, by the Grace of God, he eventually shunned the way of fear which evil people use, for he was converted by, and to, the power of Love.
Did Paul trust in his suffering to save him?
Let's be clear on this, after some have experienced hardship, there's likely to be a state of mind whereby they're convinced that because they have suffered so greatly in their service to God, that God will definitely save them. But, and it's a big BUT, Paul didn't fall for this Satanical deception, he knew exactly where he stood with his Heavenly Father. As we may read below:
It seems to me that the reason that Paul was saying it was foolish of him to boast, was because they were supposed to know him. How weird it is when those who are supposed to know a person well, are easily swayed to a contrary view by the reputation-shredders. It's not a good thing to dwell upon, but there are many who are easily led to believe that which is patently untrue concerning decent people. Why is this? Is it because they're afraid of standing up for the truth? Is it because they haven't given of themselves to loving Righteousness, simply because it's the right thing to do?
Paul, like so many of us, was distressed by the "thorn in the flesh" that was sent to keep him from thinking too highly of himself. And if a man of Paul's calibre needs to have that which keeps him from becoming "exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations" he had experienced, how much more so for the rest of us!
Maybe we should have a little (at least a little) humility in accepting the problems that seem to afflict us from time to time. We may never fully know this side of Eternity, what a blessing our frustrations have been in keeping us in the Light where Righteousness dwells in abundance. Problems which have kept us from becoming too full of our own "importance."
Did Paul trust in the personal approach by Jesus to save him?
And how many there are who think that the God of Heaven has chosen them for a great work. They only have this view of themselves, and by themselves, but Paul had someone else sent to him after the meeting with Jesus. There was a third party, Ananias, who the Lord sent to Paul. The Lord uses men to carry out His Will, and in this case it was the Lord Himself who was speaking to Ananias:
So, Ananias was sent to Paul, even though he was fearful, but the love of God led Ananias, whereupon he was able to inform Paul how he could enter into saving Grace, through baptism. However, Paul didn't look upon his "Damascus road" experience as a personal guarantee of salvation.
Did Paul trust in his position as an Apostle to save him? Let us take notice what he wrote to the brethren at Galatia:
Paul understood that being an apostle didn't allow him to be sloppy in the living of his life as a christian, even as an apostle. He knew only too well that mankind is sinful, and it's by the Grace of God, that one walks in the light by God's Grace, which is where our assurance is. It is not our fear of punishment, it's our love of the truth where the power to live the life of the Righteous has it's origin. Paul wasn't trusting in a fear of punishment, but was trusting in the fulfilling of his love of the truth as it was manifested in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ; by His Grace.
The one thing that Paul trusted and gloryfied in, was the Grace of God:
Paul was the kind of man who understood that of himself he would be pretty well out on a limb when it comes to surviving in this wicked world. And he had this delightful grasp of how much he was dependant upon others for the simple things in life. To Paul, Grace wasn't a word that had lost its meaning by thoughtless usage. To Paul, Grace was the power of God in practical terms that led him to be able to serve his Lord effectively. And, this same Grace is what led others into giving generously during his many times of personal trauma.
Paul told the Ephesians that we are saved by Grace through faith, not of your selves:
Fear, or Love? It isn't too difficult is it, when you think about it, that fear has nothing to do with Grace. Whereas, Grace has everything to do with Love. As Paul points out, "created in Christ Jesus for good works," The good works of Love that is living within the hearts of the redeemed, by His Grace of course. The world's fear, has been transcended by the Almighty's Love. And surely this is the one and only authentic motivation that has the power to manifest the Love of God in one's heart.
But what was Paul's mindset towards the end of his life?
There's nothing quite like facing eternity for bringing reality to mind. Not in all people, but at least to the fortunate "some," who face up to eternity before the end of their life. For these "some," they may experience the joy of insight. This is where we may become so clear in our thinking that it may even leave us gasping at our good fortune. This is all of God, not ourselves, it's the Grace of God. It's at times like this that we're brought to the point of seriously assessing the difference between, fear or love. Which Motivation are we likely to follow?
The choice we follow will depend upon what we've been nurturing in our hearts in our quiet moments, during the times when we are by ourselves and are reflecting upon the mercy and grace of our heavenly father. This isn't something that can be forced upon anyone, it's what we do of our own volition. This is what Paul did, and it's what we too may do, for we are following the same Loving and abiding God who is full of Grace.
How do we get into the faith? What shall we do? Let us read what Peter's answer was on the day of Pentacost:
What a day! The crowd were shocked and dismayed that they'd crucified their very own Messiah on the cross on Calvary, "Fear came on every soul...Acts 2:43a." However, Love was in the air, along with Grace, and Mercy too. The Love of God inspired the people on that day to take advantage of the Mercy of the One Who dwells in Light, and, what's more they did take advantage of it; by God's Grace.
It is in Jesus only that we have redemption:
And when people submit to the mercy of our Heavenly Father, as Paul found out, and as those who hunger and thirst after Righteousness today, may also find out, His Mercy is still available to all who are willing to take advantage of it, even in our day and age. Therefore, with the example of this extroadinary life of the Apostle Paul, his advice is surely of great worth, which is;
So, ...let us embrace Paul's exhortation to imitate his imitation of Jesus, ie, living a life of Love, as members of His Kingdom. For, this is the Faith that keeps the God of Heaven in our hearts, for our peace of mind and eternal well-being. And as the apostle John put it so clearly;
So beloved, be attentive and resolute, in that which you choose to trust in...
GROWING INTO HIS LOVE