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The Third Century Christian historian Eusebeias writes of early Christians: "The good among them joined as families to journey to distant lands to spread the News." Some Friends of the Nazarene may choose to live permanently together as families in a Christian commune with the purpose of mutual support in spreading the News.
These may choose to pool their resources after the manner of those Saints in the Book of Acts, chapters one through six. Other house churches or congregations may wish to assist them materially. (Ph 4.15) The elders may take the humble lead in this with the assistance of deacons. These missionary-minded Saints know they serve their fellows and should accept no particular honors for their zeal to travel to another area to make known the News.
The degree and extent of their communal living is a matter to be determined by themselves as independent missionaries. Nothing limits this sharing association but the imaginations of those participants. Let them find in the Scriptures those principles by which they will be guided by the Lord. Only let this commune be an example of Christian charity, hospitality and virtue.
Each of us is infected with Adams sin. Each of us will sin. As a group, large or small, we will sin. Sin will bring with it those temptations and tests which divide men and women. How is an association of Friends of the Nazarene to maintain harmony despite these imperfections? The association of Friends of the Nazarene will be as strong and unified as those individuals which make it up.
Jesus the Nazarene taught, "So, you be perfect just as your Heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt 5.48) Thus, he encouraged spiritual perfection. His Beloved Apostle wrote, "Everyone with this (heavenly) hope upon him must purify himself just as that One is pure." (1 Jn 3.3) Peter writes, "According to the Holy One who called you -- you also become holy in all your conduct, even as it is written, You must be holy because I am holy." (1 Pe 1.15, 16) Paul also adds, "We should cleanse ourselves from every pollution of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in fear of God." (2 Co 7.1)
Four of the spiritual giants of the Christian Bible exhort to spiritual perfection in Christian character. To aid in such development of the spiritual person we consider the twelfth chapter of the Letter to the Romans by the apostle Paul. In doing so we will compare three dozen characteristics which mark the true Nazarene Saint found in verses 9 to 21.
Paul begins his exhortation for Christian unity and harmony with an appeal to compassion and reason. Romans 12.1: "So, I plead with you, brothers, by the compassions of The God as part of your logical worship, to offer your bodies a living and holy sacrifice." The Greek phrase logicen latreian has the word "logic" buried in it. Other renderings are: ABUV: rational service; ASV: spiritual service; CON: reasonable worship; PME: an act of intelligent worship; NW: service with your power of reason.
Since God is the Creator of our bodies it is only logical we use them in His service as part of our worship. Our bodies become a living sacrifice to be used in reasonable worship.
This calls for a transformation as Paul continues in Romans 12.2: "Do not be fashioned after this Age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so you may discern the good, perfect, and acceptable Will of God." The Greek for "fashioned" is syn-schematizesthe and contains "schematic." Various renderings are: RHM: configuring; NOR: fashions; GDSP: customs; PME: dont let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.
The Greek for transformed" is meta-morphousthe or "metamorphesis." It is related to the word used in the Transfiguration Vision. (Mt 17.2, metemorphothe) Various renderings are: ALF: transfigured; PME: remold. The Greek for "renewing is ana-kainosei or literally, "another time, season." Various renderings are: GDSP: new attitude; WMS: new ideals; TCNT: complete change.
Pauls counsel is to not be molded by the world (or, age) around you but let your mind undergo a transformation. Only after this can the Nazarene disciple discern the perfect will of God. People who remain "worldly" or whos lives are based on a schematic patterned according to the characteristics of the Roman Age will not likely create a harmonious community.
Is it clear that a real change must come about when one becomes a Christian or Nazarene Saint? How do these changes or transformations affect the structured part of the Christian community? There are certain key fundamentals necessary for a group of people to work in harmony for their mutual purpose and encouragement. First, Paul discusses certain attributes or characteristics which would apply to all within the Nazarene community.
Two important qualities for community harmony are required and both deal with "thinking." Paul speaks to the entire community of Friends of the Nazarene: "By the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think." (Ro 12.3 RSV) Having appealed to the disciples for a transformation in thinking he strikes right at the root of any problem with harmony and unity: thinking too much about oneself! In harmony with his theme of the transformed mind he first discusses "thinking" which is a faculty of "mind." Paul begins with the fundamental problem or obstacle to joint-harmony: pride.
This phrase is variously rendered: GDSP: not to think to highly of himself; WEY: not to value himself unduly; WMS: not to estimate himself above his real value; PME: dont cherish exaggerated ideas of himself or your importance.
Nothing could ruin the unity of a group more than an individual or individuals who take themselves too seriously, estimating their personal worth above their associates. This problem is common to human nature because of our built-in sense of centerednss or ego-centrality for we were made in the image of God, the True Center. Paul could well have drawn his thoughts from Proverbs 16.18, 19: "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better be humble with the poor than share the booty with the proud." (NJB)
Failure to apply Pauls counsel to the Corinthians is what has caused the ongoing fragmentation of the Christian Church for two thousand years: "I have used myself and Apollos above as an illustration, so that you might learn from what I have said about us not to assess a man above his value in Gods sight, and may thus avoid the friction that comes from exalting one teacher against another." (1 Co 4.6 PME) In the very context of teachers, Paul writes: "If a man thinks he is somebody, he is deceiving himself, for that very thought proves that he is nobody. Let every man learn to assess properly the value of his own work and he can then be glad when he does something worthy doing without depending on the approval of others. ... The man under Christian instruction should be willing to contribute toward the livelihood of his teacher." (Ga 6.2-4 PME)
Here is the basic or fundamental solution to any discord or disunity. Pride is at the root of disharmony. Two things are dangerous: a lack of humility or modesty and two much introspection. If all are truly humble and selfless joint-harmony will be the fruitage.
The second aspect of thinking is balanced or sober thinking: " .... but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." (Ro 12.3 RSV) The key Greek word has the idea of sober-minded. The phrase is variously rendered: ASV: think soberly; GDSP: think reasonably; MOF: a sane view of himself; WEY: a sober estimate; PME: a sane estimate of your capabilities.
"Think" is the key -- right thinking, not on self, but on others, so joint-harmony is maintained. When one withdraws into self or isolation (PR18.1) and focuses his thought on his own interests (LK12.17), forsaking or limiting the needs of others (PH2.4, 21), it begins a spiritual cancer which breeds egotism and contentiousness. (PH2.3; GAL5.26) A sound mind involves healthy thinking -- thinking Gods thoughts as in the mind of Christ. (MT16.23;1COR2.16) Having the "same mind" creates joint-harmony and unity. (1COR1.10) Paul here uses one of his stylistic stresses for emphasis by using the word "think" three times in this verse -- this is a common pattern in his writings.
Attention is drawn to the expression "each one" to show no one is overlooked. One may measure or value himself by the size or strength of his faith. This leaves no room for drawing comparisons with others and thus discordant harmony. Jesus taught there were sizes and strengths to faith. It is not as though God gives only a limited measure of faith to each individual and then such a one is preordained to be one of "little faith" or "great faith." Faith is an attribute which can be strengthened or enlarged or heightened depending on the faith-strengthening nourishment imbibed and the faith-enlarging experiences of the Christian walk. Irrespective of the size or strength, faith is a gift. (1COR12.9) A people with "one faith" will be "harmoniously joined together in love."
Having isolated the type of thinking which will maintain body harmony Paul makes it clear that all in the community do not have the same function. Verses 4 and 5 read: "For as in on e body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function (performance), so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another." (RSV)
Comparing the human body to the Nazarene community is common to Paul. (1 Co 12.12; Ep 4.4) Paul uses the Greek soma as a comparison to the unity in the Nazarene community or congregation. He uses the word 44 times in 1 Corinthians and only again in Ephesians 4.4, Colossians1.18,24 and 3.15. Perhaps nothing illustrates joint-harmony better than the human body. The Greek soma is the basis for the Latin corps which is the root for "corporation" or "corporate." He does not frame ergon (work) in such a way as to create organization but the meaning is the same: a working body of people united for a single purpose. Such a definition is found in Ephesians 4.12,16. He begins with the expression "function" and the idea of different or varied "use" in the Greek word prazin so that irrespective of the body "member" it functions for the common whole. Somatic or bodily harmony is his theme and the sum of his entreaty in verse one. The warm thought that we "belong individually to one another" ought to be a force for joint-harmony realizing that none can function or succeed without the other.
Paul goes on to list these seven "differing gifts." Paul has not discussed "gifts" yet but they are inferred by the word "function" or "use" in verse 4. Differing gifts may also be a cause for disunity as the Corinthian congregation illustrates. Because these gifts vary there is the tendency with weaker individuals to draw comparisons and start a hierarchy of degrees or status. Such a mentality is not conducive to joint-harmony. These gifts are possessed by Gods undeserved kindness and however charismatic (or, gifted) a person may be it is because he has received the gift from God not out of his own doing. Jealousy is always a danger in such an environment.
GIFT # 1 -- PROPHET. Verse 6b reads in the King James Version: "whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith." The Greek word prophetes means to "speak out" or "speak before." The phrase is variously rendered: TCNT: if our gift is to preach, let our preaching correspond to our faith; NEB: the gift of inspired utterance, for example, in proportion to a mans faith.
Peter says something similar: "When any one speaks, let him speak as one who is delivering the oracles of God." (1 Pe 4.11TCNT)
The subject of "prophet" and "prophecy" may be studied under different headings for the varied details regarding this gift. However, for practical purposes it may be considered here as a speaker before anaudience, or a spokesman. In a general sense all Christians share this gift as preachers and teachers of the Kingdom. For Paul says, "I believe and so I spoke." (2 Co 4.12, 13) Some are gifted by assignment or application and will be evident by their speaking before audiences of varying sizes. They should apply their gift as evidence of the faith proportioned to each one. Their gift can greatly enhance joint-harmony.
According to Paul this would not include women for he writes what he calls the "Lords commandment" when he says: "As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak. Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man." (1 Co 14.33; 1 Tm 2.11, 12 RSV) This church-wide rule should not create disharmony for women are free to perform the more important obligations of a Christian -- the physical care of others as shown in the next gift listed by Paul. (Mt 25.31-46)
GIFT # 2 -- SERVICE. Verse 7a reads in the King James Version: "Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering." The Greek word diakonia means "service" to others. The phrase is variously rendered: MOF: if it is practical service, let us mind our service; LB: if your gift is that of serving others, serve them well; PME: if it is serving others let us concentrate on our service.
The Nazarene encourages the same service in imitation of his own life: "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. Just as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve and give himself a ransom for many." (Mt 20.26, 28) Peter writes in the same vein: "If anyone is serving others let him do so in the strength supplied by The God." (1 Pe 4.11)
This gift has stronger reference to service in a physical sense than the preaching connotation it is often given. A survey of the word as well as the Greek from which it is drawn lays emphasis on service done to others regarding their material needs, sometimes in an organized manner. Clearly such a gift, used rightly, goes a long way in creating a spirit of harmony and love among the brotherhood. (Compare 2 Co 8.1-4; 9.1, 2, 11-13)
GIFT # 3 -- TEACHER. Verse 7b reads in the King James Version: "or he that teacheth, on teaching." This phrase is variously rendered: CON: let the teacher labor in teaching; MOF: the teacher must mind his teaching; MON: let the teacher give himself to his teaching.
Paul mentions elsewhere hard-working teachers who deserve some financial help. (1 Tm 5.17; Ga 6.6) There are different degrees of Christian teachers though all should be teachers in time. (He 5.12; Mt 28.19) Pauls entreaty is that the teacher be about his teaching and not be distracted. Also, if he teaches in a good and godly manner he will be a tower of strength to those endeavoring to be joined harmoniously together. (Compare Ep 4.11,16) Teaching in a general sense could also be done by all Christians. Official "teachers" do so under a heavier judgment. (Ja 3.1-3)
GIFT # 4 -- EXHORTER. Verse 8a reads in the King James Version: "Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation." The Greek paraklesei carries the idea of encouragement or comfort. The phrase is variously rendered: PME: and if our gift be the stimulating of the faith others let us set ourselves to it; NEB: the gift of stirring speech; BECK: if you can encourage, encourage; LB: the preach should see to it that his sermons are strong and helpful; WEY: and the pastors in his exhortation.
To the Greek the exhorter was one who could move the men in the army to rousing feats of martial art and high morale. Some are particularly gifted as speakers and one is always encouraged to hear them. But, all can encourage in one degree or another. (ROM1.11) This gift can be a unifying factor in joint-harmony.
GIFT # 5 -- GIVER. Verse 8b reads in the King James Version: "he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity." The phrase is variously rendered: NW: he that distributes let him do it with liberality; TCNT: let the man who gives in charity do so with a generous heart; MON: he who gives, let him do it with singleness of mind; LB: if God has given you money, be generous in helping others with it.
Both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures encourage giving. "For someone poor will never cease to be in the midst of the land. That is why I am commanding you, saying, 'You should generously open up your hand to your afflicted and poor brother in your land.'" (De 15.11 NW) "The generous soul will itself be made fat, and the one freely watering [others] will himself also be freely watered." (Pr 11.25 NW) "But as to this, he that sows sparingly will also reap sparingly; and he that sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Co 9.6, 7 NW)
Though this has application to giving in general and doing so without an envious eye -- but with a simple eye -- there were those occasions where men were assigned to make a distribution in the common sharing of the Christians. (Compare Ac 4.35; 6.1,2) Indeed, it was this distribution which raised the first disharmony among the Christian brotherhood when, due to the difference in language only, some widows were overlooked in the daily distribution of food! Those assigned such tasks are encouraged to do it liberally or generously. One of the single most grievous causes of disharmony is the unequal distribution of wealth among Christians. This Paul addresses to the Corinthians when he encourages an "equalization." (2 Co 8.8-21)
GIFT # 6 -- PRESIDENT. Verse 8c reads in the King James Version: "he that ruleth, with diligence." The Greek is proistamenos meaning "standing before" and indicates one who presides before the congregation. Various renderings are: TCNT: let him who is in authority exercise due diligence; NEB: if you are a leader, exert yourself to lead; NJB: if you are put in charge, you must be conscientious; NW ftn: "act as leader."
Congregations, like synagogues before them, had a single presiding elder or group of presbyters. (Ac 13.5; 18.8, 17;1 Th 5.12; 1 Pe 5.2) Nothing is more disheartening that a presiding elder or a leader who lack enthusiasm and industriousness. A true leader who does so, not out of ambition or vainglory, but out of genuine zeal, can help harmonize any group or congregation. The Greek carries the idea of "speed up" so he gets his work done quickly and efficiently yet in loving warmth. (He 13.7, 17)
Paul gives two lists of requirements for an overseer or elder containing more than a dozen characteristics. (1 Tm 3.1-7; Ti 1.5-10)
GIFT # 7 -- CHARITY. Verse 8c reads in the King James Version: "he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness." The Greek word here for "mercy" eleon is often misunderstood. It has more to do with charity or giving than with judicial forgiveness. Various renderings are: LB: if yours is the gift of kindness to others, do it cheerfully; CON: he who shows pity, let him show it gladly; WEY: one who gives help should do it cheerfully; NJB: if you do works of mercy, let it be because you enjoy doing them; PME: let the man who feels sympathy for his fellows act cheerfully.
The Nazarene teaches the same kind of charity or giving: "Blessed are the merciful (or, charitable) for they will receive mercy." (Mt 5.7) Jesus gave specific instructions to his "little flock": "Sell your possessions and give the money away." (Lk 12.33 PME)
The word "mercy" has less to do with judgment and forgiveness than with material giving or charitable assistance to the poor and needy -- a proof of pure worship. (JAS1.27) Jesus instructed his disciples not to fear but "sell everything and give gifts of mercy" if they wanted to inherit the Kingdom. (Lk 12.32, 33) Nothing discourages more than one who gives begrudgingly or who has the wherewithal but refuses. (JAS2.15,16; 1JN3.17) Again, a divisive factor among Christians is the attitude developed by both the poor and rich toward one another in their social castes. Ultimately Christians will be judged either sheep or goats on the basis of their charity and hospitality. (Mt 25.31-46)
What are those new characteristics which ought to identify the true disciple of Jesus Christ the Nazarene? What attributes would make for a harmonious association of Christian disciples? We move to a partial discussion of two dozen attributes within verses 9 to 21.
CHARACTERISTIC #1 -- UNHYPOCRITICAL LOVE. Verse 9a reads in the Authorized Version: "Let love (AGAPE) be without dissimulation." Literally in Greek this is, "The love unhypocritical." The phrase is rendered variously: ASV: without hypocrisy; TCNT: sincere; ABUV: unfeigned; GDSP: your love must be genuine; PME: let us have no imitation Christian love.
Fittingly this type of love is at the top of Pauls list in harmony with those teachings of the Nazarene. But, it is a special kind of AGAPE: it is not hypocritical or two-faced. Others render this: sincere, unfeigned, genuine. True, Christian AGAPE must be lacking any agenda or motive other than the desire to see the very best take place for our neighbors.
Pauls words show that AGAPE or "love" can be hypocritical. The word AGAPE is essentially "interest" or "concern" but with two driving engines: a) principle; and, b) motive. If the principle be right and the motive wrong it is hypocritical. If it be rightly motivated but on wrong principle, it is misplaced. This word "hypocrisy" occurs often in the Christian Bible. It is the combination of "under" + "judge" and is drawn from those fake faces actors wore which have become symbols for the theater itself: the one sad, the other happy. People lacking the Transformed Mind -- and any effort to perfect the Christian character -- often wear two faces and it becomes difficult to tell who they really are.
The Nazarene is described as "guileless" (He 7.26) and this is the way the Nazarene Saint ought to be. (Ro 16.18; 1 Co 13.4; 1 Tm 1.5; Js 3.17; 1 Pe 1.22) True and pure AGAPE thinks only of anothers interest in seeking the highest good of both neighbor and enemy. Paul describes this love without ever using the word: "Seek not for self, but for others. ... Not looking after your own interests but those of others." (1 Co 10.24; Ph 2.4) This must lack a selfish motive or hidden agendas.
Friends of the Nazarene ASK: Is my love free of hypocrisy? Is my concern for another attached with hidden agendas? Is there a hidden motive behind my concern for another, perhaps what I may gain by this display of concern and interest? Dare I ever become two-faced so that my smile and warm embrace camouflages secret intent? Remember the kiss of Judas! (Mt 26.48, 49)
CHARACTERISTIC #2 -- ABHOR WICKEDNESS. Verse 9b says according to the King James Version: "Abhor that which is evil." The literal Greek is: "Abhorring the evil." (UBS) Others render this: WEY: regard evil with horror; GDSP: hate what is wrong; PME: let us have a genuine break with evil.
Wickedness or evil is not defined here and it can mean different things to a variety of persons. The only way to truly judge evil is by using a Divine Standard, that is, Gods viewpoint. The Nazarene made a list of those things which could defile a person: "wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, fornications, thieveries, false testimonies, blasphemies." (Mt 15.19 NW) Mark gives a similar list with a few additions: "fornications, thieveries, murders, adulteries, covetings, acts of wickedness, deceit, loose conduct, an envious eye, blasphemy, haughtiness, unreasonableness. All these wicked things issue forth from within and defile a man." (Mk 7.21-23 NW) This should provide a considerable list of those things which the Nazarene Saint ought to abhor while remembering the King "hates lawlessness." (He 1.9) However, abhorrence of wickedness is not enough.
Friends of the Nazarene ASK: Do I have difficulty in determining what is evil or wicked? Do I agree that what God determines to be wicked is so no matter my own view? Do I react to what is clearly wicked with great distaste or abhorrence?
CHARACTERISTIC #3 -- CLING TO THE GOOD. Verse 9c read in the King James Version: "cleave to that which is good." The Greek is literally, "Glue yourselves to good things." (KIT) Others render this: TCNT: cling to right; WMS: keep on holding to what is right; PME: a real devotion to good. Righteousness may be defined as obedience to law, while goodness, or moral excellence, goes beyond the letter of the law. The Righteous Person may be illustrated by a driver obeying the speed limit; while the Good Person is the one who obeys the law but seeing a driver with a flat tire stops to offer help. Compare the Nazarenes parable of the "good" Samaritan. (Lk 10.29-37) Note Pauls contrast between the good and righteous person. (Ro 5.7)
The Beloved Apostle John uses a similar thought in his first epistle. In discussing how to know one who is God-born he lists not only the practice of righteousness (obeying law) but also refraining from being a habitual sinner. (1 Jn 3.4-18) So, it is not enough to obey law as a righteous person, but the inner person, that Transformed Mind, the Christian character, must cling to, or grab to ones breast, what is morally excellent. The hatred of evil may cause one to refrain from certain conduct or attitudes. Clinging to the good requires a positive action which generally involves kindness to others and what is morally virtuous.
This goodness is demonstrated in the following texts. Matthew 25.35-40: "Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. For I became hungry and you gave me something to eat; I got thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you received me hospitably; naked, and you clothed me. I fell sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous ones will answer him with the words, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and receive you hospitably, or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to you?' And in reply the king will say to them, 'Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
"Then he will say, in turn, to those on his left, 'Be on your way from me, you who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I became hungry, but you gave me nothing to eat, and I got thirsty, but you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not receive me hospitably; naked, but you did not clothe me; sick and in prison, but you did not look after me.' Then they also will answer with the words, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them with the words, 'Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did not do it to one of these least ones, you did not do it to me.' And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life." (NW)
James 2.15-17 asks: "Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, yet a certain one of you says to them: "Go in peace, keep warm and well fed," but you do not give them the necessities for [their] body, of what benefit is it? Thus, too, faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself." When James defines "pure religion" (KJV) it is interesting to note what he includes and what he omits: "If any man seems to himself to be a formal worshiper and yet does not bridle his tongue, but goes on deceiving his own heart, this man's form of worship is futile. The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world." [NOTE: Slander, or even gossip, may render all service to God worthless no matter how others praise such a pretender.] The person who professes discipleship of Jesus Christ and refrains from humane care of a neighbor is practicing a religion which is a complete exercise in futility. With this John agrees: "But whoever has this world's means for supporting life and beholds his brother having need and yet shuts the door of his tender compassions upon him, in what way does the love of God remain in him?" (1 Jn 3.17 NW) The Nazarene Saint who does not "cling to the good" is worshipping God in vain! (Mt 15.3-11)
Friends of the Nazarene ASK: Am I characterized by others as a "good person"? Do I treat goodness as something to embrace and never let go?
CHARACTERISTIC #4 -- BROTHERLY AFFECTION. Verse 10a reads in the King James Version: "Be kindly affectioned one to another." The above harmonizes with this phrase, for clinging to good involves a deep care for ones fellows. Others render this phrase: ASV: in love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned to one another; GDSP: be affectionate in your love for the brotherhood; KNX: be affectionate towards each other, as the love of brothers demands; NASB: be devoted to one another in love; BECK: love one another tenderly as fellow Christians; PME: let us have real warm affection.
Some would limit this "affection" to those within ones own cult, sect, church, or religion. But this would contradict the spirit of the Nazarenes words: "Love your enemies ... and show yourselves real sons of your Father in heaven. ... For if you only love your friends, what reward do you have?" (Mt 5.43-48) The Nazarene Saint must view all those who confess "Jesus is Lord" to be within the Masters "field." (Mt 13.37) So, the true disciple, not only demonstrates that quality of AGAPE toward others, but also philadelphia in true philostorgoi toward all "those who are related in the Faith." (Ga 6.10)
Friends of the Nazarene ASK: Do I think like some who say, "I have to love my brother but I do not have to like him"? Do others characterized me as an a "loving" person? Do I pray that my affection my grow toward all?
CHARACTERISTIC #5 -- TENDER AFFECTION. Verse 10b reads in the King James Version: "with brotherly love." This Greek word philostorgoi is variously rendered: GDSP: be affectionate; NASB: be devoted to; BECK: love one another tenderly. This unique word occurs only here and means "loving tenderly, prone to affection." (UBS) That phrase, "prone to affection," is such a gentle one. It indicates someone is characterized by such tenderness. This characteristic ought to identify a Nazarene Saint. For not only must he be known for his AGAPE love (that "love" which is rightly principled and well motivate, but not necessarily having any warm emotion to it), but also this tender quality. This causes men who feel appointed as elders to be characterized by such "tenderness." Paul warns that the day would come after his departure that religious men would arise and "not treat the flock with tenderness." (Ac 20.29 NWT)
This means there must be more to the Christians character than an unfeeling officiality, as if one were going through the motions of some kind of cold AGAPE with mere exterior smiles and mannerisms in some false front. Religious men can walk about in dark suits and dour looks of authority, much like the Pharisees did, and occasionally give the appearance of what they would call "love." Friends of the Nazarene must not only love (AGAPE) one another, but these should be "prone to affection" manifested in the warmth of a smile, as well as genuine attitude and action.
Friends of the Nazarene ASK: Do I really feel tender and affectionate toward others? Do others characterize me as an affectionate person?
CHARACTERISTIC #6 -- RESPECT OTHERS. Verse 10c reads in the King James Version: "in honour preferring one another." This is variously rendered: KJ: in honour preferring one another; CON: set his neighbor above himself; TCNT: in showing respect, set an example of deference to one another; GDSP: eager to show one another honor; RSV: outdo one another in showing honor; PME: a willingness to let the other man have the credit.
We all enjoy respect from others. This is usually shown by speech in one form or another. It is also demonstrated in refraining from treating others disrespectfully. Particularly is this so with those who might be considered "inferiors." Rather your human decency should reflect that humility reflected in Christ himself.
In the Scriptures there are certain relationships which call for particular respect. (La 2.6; Mt 21.37; Ep 5.33; He 12.9; 1 Pe 3.2; 3 Jn 9, 10) There are some men, particularly those with authority, who respect no one. (Lk 18.2, 4)
There is an area of respect often ignored in religious contexts: when defending ones faith. Note how Peter encourages a respectful defense of ones belief: "Hold the Lord Christ in reverence in your hearts. Be always ready with your defense whenever you are called to account for the hope that is in you with modesty and respect." (1 Pe 3.15 NEB) A lack of respect for others and honor for people of all kinds is demonstrated on the Internet. This shows up at those web sites which are either anti-something or x-something, often with language and manners uncharacteristic of any Christian.
In daily life this can manifest itself with family members, work mates, school associates, including, of course, Christian brethren, and those people met throughout the day. The tenderness in the previous point ought to move us in all our contacts to be respectful in honoring others.
Friends of the Nazarene ASK: How do I respect and honor others? Do good manners characterize my dealings with others? Would anyone say of me, "Now there goes a well-mannered person"?
CHARACTERISTIC #7 -- HARD-WORKING. Verse 11a reads in the King James Version: "not slothful in business." It is literally, "in zeal not lazy." (UBS) This phrase is variously rendered: CON: let your diligence be free from sloth; TCNT: never flagging in zeal; WMS: never slack in earnestness; KNX: unwearied in activity; NASB: not lagging behind in diligence; LB: never be lazy in your work; NJB: In the service of the Lord, work not half-heartedly; PME: let us not allow slackness to spoil our work.
Christians are hard workers, particularly as they carry the Christ residing within into their daily lives. It was because of this complete lack of sloth that the early disciples of the Nazarene spread the Gospel over the known world. Laziness was not part of their character. (Pr 13.4)
Even the former thief was encouraged: "Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work, that he may have something to distribute to someone in need." (Ep 4.28 NWT) Thus, Christians themselves were taught: "But we desire each one of you to show the same industriousness so as to have the full assurance of the hope down to the end, in order that you may not become sluggish." (He 6.11, 12 NWT)
Friends of the Nazarene ASK: When people think of me do they associate me with an industrious, hard-working person? Or, do they whisper behind my back, "There goes one lazy fellow"?
On to Part 3 of 3
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