Local Church Membership Covenant

Having received Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord and having been baptized as a follower of Christ, I commit myself to God and to the members of my local Church to do the following:

  1. I will protect the unity of my church … by acting in love toward other members, by refusing to gossip or slander others and by supporting the leadership God places in it.
  • “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3).
  • “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19).
  • “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” (I Peter 3:8).
  • “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).
  • “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (romans 16:17-18).
  • “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
  • “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).
  • “These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage” (Jude 16).
  1. I will share the responsibility of my church …by praying for its members … for its growth; by attending faithfully and by financially supporting it.
  • “To the church…we always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers” (I Thessalonians 1:1-2).
  • “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
  • “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:12-13).
  • “Let us not give up meeting together…let us encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25).
  • “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income” (I Corinthians 16:2).
  1. I will serve the ministry of my church …by developing a servant’s heart …by using my gifts and talents and by being equipped to serve by my pastors
  • “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty’” (Luke 17:10).
  • “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who… [took on] the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:4-5,7).
  • “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (I Peter 4:10).
  • “It was he [God] who gave…some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up”… “From him (Christ) the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:11-12, 16).
  1. I will support the testimony of my church …by living a godly life in my actions, attitudes and words, by warmly welcoming visitors and by bearing witness to Christ and making disciples.
  • “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).
  • “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:14-16).
  • “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (I Peter 4:9).
  • “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Please feel free to use this as a teaching tool in your local Church. Simply note the source as (Wisdomforlife – http://www.thinkpoint.com).

Steve Cornell

What pastoral care looks like

 

Here’s a great illustration for deeper discussion about pastoral ministry:  

“Roberta (not her real name) is a bright woman in her forties with a highly charged emotional attachment to Jesus. Roberta loves to sing in church, and her passion for worship infuses those around her with a desire to know God more deeply. Unfortunately, Roberta’s family background has set her on an apparently irreversible course to relational confusion and heartache. After a failed marriage, Roberta lived with a sister for more than a decade, spending hours each week involved in various charitable causes. The sister’s death brought to the surface a host of family and financial crises.”

“Roberta’s grief process was highly intensified due to years of dysfunctional family relationships. She was dangerously despondent. It was clear to us that Roberta needed outside help in order to gain a proper perspective on herself and the world around her. Roberta’s current money problems were only the latest in a history of such fiscal fiascoes, suddenly intensified by a squabble with her surviving siblings over their sister’s estate.”

“Roberta is loved and highly appreciated by our church family. Our leaders sincerely desired to do something tangible to help Roberta get on her feet again, both emotionally and economically. We offered to meet the most pressing financial needs immediately. But we knew that our assistance would benefit Roberta only if accompanied by several nonnegotiable conditions.”

“We informed Roberta that the money would be hers if she met three conditions. (1) She would see our staff [counselor] (initially at the church’s expense) on a weekly basis in order to find short-term support and guidance in dealing with the loss of her sister. (2) She would meet with a financial adviser who is a member of our congregation (again, pro bono) to come up with a game plan to dig herself out of debt. (3) She would agree to attend church regularly and partner with others in the church family in some area of ministry.”

“What we asked of Roberta was really quite straightforward: relational accountability. We challenged Roberta to quit trying to find her way through life as an isolated individual and, instead, to take advantage of the guidance, community, and accountability offered by her brothers and sisters in the family of God. Only in this way would Roberta begin to grow up to become the healthy person God had designed her to be.”

“Roberta declined our offer and rejected our advice. Like many people in our churches, she chose to chart her own course and to bear her pain alone rather than to integrate herself into the body of Christ through the vehicle of strong relational accountability. We no longer see Roberta at Oceanside Christian Fellowship anymore.”

American Individualism and a Church in Crisis

“A story like Roberta’s impacts more than just the individual involved; it takes its toll on a whole church family. On more than one occasion I spent a great deal of time with Roberta on the phone as the above crisis unfolded. We also dedicated an hour or so of our elder board’s precious meeting time in our efforts to carefully craft the three conditions (see above) for the financial assistance that she requested.”

“We have free assistance available through professional counselors and financial planners who are graciously willing to donate their time. And we have a church body ready to receive and encourage anyone willing to embrace our oversight and our guidelines. But Roberta benefited from none of these resources since she foolishly chose to sort out her problems on her own, apart from input from her brothers and sisters in Christ. And we are all the worse for it” (Joseph Hellerman, “When the Church was a family”).

 

One Life Together

We are called to be humble, loving, truth-telling Christians in community – living out mutual affection and honor for one another. Like our Savior, our life together should be “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (Romans 12:10, NLT).

When our Churches are filled with people who treat each other with this kind of honor and with humble foot-washing love, we’ll offer a positive subversion to narratives of life without God.

When we live the gospel by practicing the mind of Christ in community (see: Philippians 2:3-8), we authenticate the message in a way that postmodern culture cannot deconstruct.

What does this community look like?

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12-14).

4 Questions for conversation

  1. How does the description of “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” lead to the clothing of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”?
  2. Are there deeper identity issue for those inappropriately dressed? (chosen, holy and dearly loved)
  3. What piece of clothing is missing from your wardrobe? (Compassion? Kindness? Humility? Gentleness? or Patience?)
  4. Does Colossians 3:12-14 describe the clothing of the poor in spirit who inherit the Kingdom of Heaven? (Matthew 5:3)

3 Action points

  1. Share this with your leadership team and your entire Church.
  2. Emphasize this attire as necessary to gospel-centered community.
  3. Study Philippians 2:1-11 in light of this truth (practicing the mind of Christ in community).

For discussion

“The witness of a single life lived under Christ’s rule is powerful. But the skeptic will discount it. He or she will explain it away as being a mutation: ‘She was born a caring person. That can happen.’ But as kingdom citizens live their lives together, actually loving one another, it becomes a different matter. Such a community – whether it is a family, a few believers in a neighborhood, a network of business people, or a church congregation – makes a persuasive statement to an on-looking world that the kingdom, indeed, is among them. The message of the kingdom is amplified as its citizens live out their unique calling in community. As they do, the kingdom grows.” (The Insider, pp. 33-34)

Steve Cornell

Is pastor appreciation month a good idea?

pastor_appreciation_day

Is it helpful to set aside a special month for pastor appreciation? October is the month designated “Clergy Appreciation Month.” But what are the possible downsides to such an occasion?

Church members are clearly taught in Scripture to show appreciation for their pastors. And I have no doubt that the health of many congregations would improve if church members took more seriously the call to, “…honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other” (I Thessalonians 5:12-13).

There’s a clear connection between congregational response to leaders and how it affects the life of a congregation and a leader’s work. “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you” (Hebrews 13:17).

Pastors often battle discouragement in their work. Clergy burnout is a serious problem and we know that a pastor’s appreciation month will not correct it. This doesn’t mean that an annual reminder to appreciate pastors is a bad idea. But what happens when people don’t take it seriously — or as seriously as a pastor thinks they should? Is this a set up for pastors to wrongly measure appreciation or to focus too much on being appreciated?

I pastor a large church yet I receive very few cards or expressions of appreciation in relation to pastor’s appreciation month. Does this mean I am not appreciated? I choose not to see it that way. We don’t promote the emphasis and I don’t think it’s wise to measure appreciation by what happens during one month. Too much focus on being appreciated is a dangerous trap for anyone. It’s easy to feel unappreciated but a desire for appreciation can become an idol that controls you in harmful ways.

Some pastors are given many gifts and cards during pastor’s appreciation month. These Churches tend to put a greater emphasis on the occasion. But when other pastors (whose churches don’t do much for them), hear about the way others experience appreciation, they’re easily tempted to feel unappreciated. I realize this cannot be blamed on an effort to encourage pastor appreciation with a special month. Yet we must be aware of the traps associated with it. It’s all too common to feel as if you’re taken for granted as a pastor.

We all value and need encouragement and my work would be a bit harder without it. Yet if a leader depends too much on being appreciated and encouraged, he will risk compromise. The many hours pastors pour into individuals are unseen by most people and frequently invested with little tangible appreciation. Sometimes this is true because people feel you are supposed to be there for them or they think you’re being paid to help them. Others are so consumed with their own problems that they fail to show appropriate gratitude. Always remember that only one leper returned to our Lord to give glory to God for healing him (Luke 17:11-17).

Final thoughts

Churches should be taught to appreciate their leaders and leaders must not allow a desire for appreciation to rule their hearts. Leaders who rely too much on being appreciated or on approval ratings will likely abrogate their roles when needed most. I recommend that you stay out of leadership if you need the affirmation of others to feel good about yourself.

As a leader, I have been deeply appreciated and fiercely criticized — even hated. Leadership in the footsteps of Jesus will always involve mixed response.

Effective leaders need a tough hide and a tender heart. If your hide is too tough or your heart too tender, you’ll get hurt and possibly compromise your calling (see: Colossians 3:23; I Corinthians 10:31).

Scriptures to protect you from misguided perspective

  • “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty’” (Luke 17:10).
  • “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
  • “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10).
  • “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms…. so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4:10-11).

Steve Cornell

Confession of a senior pastor

In a recent Facebook post, I wrote:confession

“As senior pastor of a large Church, I often wish I could be more directly involved with many needs in the body, but I am grateful that God has raised up so many people who minister compassionately and effectively at our Church. This is the way God planned for His Church to grow. As I’ve answered my calling over the years to “equip his people to do the work of the ministry, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12), I find great joy in continually hearing about how many among us do those works of ministry.”

“I am also grateful for the pastoral staff and elders God raised up. As my focus has shifted to ministering to and through these leaders, I have watched God multiply His work in many places. Although I cannot be directly involved in all the areas of need and with each person, I am grateful to minister through others as they reach out. My fellow leaders do a great job keeping me informed about important needs and other areas of ministry as we pray together for the Church. Whatever our role in God’s work, it is to be done “so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (I Peter 4:11).

Response from a member

It is a good thing that you have been able to delegate this responsibility otherwise I cannot see how you would last more than a few months without complete burnout let alone all the years that you have been faithfully serving Millersville Bible Church.

My response

So true, but sadly this perspective is not always widely understood. Although I have the privilege of ministering to everyone each week through pulpit teaching, I cannot be personally involved with each area of ministry in the church. Some place misguided expectations on senior pastors to be there for all situations and they wrongly criticize them as uncaring when they cannot personally be involved. Thankfully, I don’t get much of this criticism because we’ve worked hard to teach people God’s plan for the Church based on Ephesians 4:11-16. When it does come my way, God has kindly granted me grace not to take it personally but to use it as an opportunity to teach. If I allowed myself to be controlled by the misguided expectations and demands of people, I would burn out in a short time and the Church would suffer as a consequence.

Additional thoughts — two dangers

As I am soon at the 30 year mark at our Church, I’ve observed two dangers with longevity of ministry. First, you can expect to be taken for granted. The old saying is true, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” But it’s not always contempt. Sometimes it’s more an issue of complacency and assumption. When this happens, it can hurt or even offend, but I must guard my heart lest I think more highly of myself than I ought (Romans 12:3). I must hear Jesus words, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty'” (Luke 17:10).

Secondly, there is a danger in me taking for granted the many blessings that come with longevity. I too could become complacent and allow assumption to breed ingratitude. I must remind myself of God’s call to be extravagantly grateful — “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ” (I Thessalonians 5:18).

Someone warned that it’s a sign of mediocrity when you express gratitude with moderation. A moderately grateful person is not one who does the will of God. G. K. Chesterton said it well, “Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

When we take things for granted we lose the wonder of it all. I must heed the wise warning from Clyde Kilby, “Stop being unamazed by the strange glory of ordinary things.” “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

At the same time, people must be taught to, “honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other” (I Thessalonians 5:12-13).

Steve Cornell

Plank eye disease

Plank-Eye-Disease-4x3

Are you quick to see (and talk about) ways others don’t measure up while overlooking failures and sins in your own life or family?

A recent survey of 20 somethings indicated that 9 out of 10 think of Christians as judgmental. While this is often inaccurate and likely a result of a culture with deep aversion to absolute truths, we should be aware of the perception. Understanding Jesus’ warning against judging is an urgent matter related to Christian witness.

But what did Jesus mean when he said, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” These words might be the most well-known of all that Jesus said. They’re commonly used to keep people from making moral judgments about others. And some use Jesus command to excuse themselves from making judgments. “Who am I to judge?” they ask. “After all, Jesus did say, ‘Judge not…’”

  • What exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke these words?
  • Was he advocating a mind your own business policy?
  • Was he forbidding all judgments about the actions of others?

John R. W. Stott asked if obedience to these words required us to “…suspend our critical faculties in relation to other people, to turn a blind eye to their faults (pretending not to notice them), to avoid all criticism and to refuse to discern between truth and error, goodness and evil?”

 Consider the context

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure      you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:1-6).

Obviously, Jesus is not renouncing all judging. If we stopped at 7:1, we might conclude that all forms of judging are wrong. But the context as well as verses 15 and following, indicates a clear need for judging. Hypocritical or self-righteous judgment is what our Lord condemns.

In the larger context of the sermon on the mount, our Lord’s warning seems unexpected. C. S. Keener sated it well, “The graphic language of Jesus teaching so far (5:3-6:34) challenges its hearers to a radical personal commitment to God’s kingdom and righteousness that should scare them into attending to themselves. But just in case the hearers had been too obtuse to grasp that point, Matthew renders it explicit in 7:1-5.” (A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, p. 240).

Summary points

  • Jesus forbids hypocritical judgments by insisting that we get the sin out of our own lives first.
  • Jesus actually encouraged involvement in other people’s lives, but only after careful self-examination and self-correction.
  • Jesus is not telling us we cannot speak to others about sin in their lives. This would contradict Matthew 18:15-17.
  • He is telling us that we are not to be hypocrites. We are not to operate with a double standard.
  • Those who judge their own sin will approach others with a different spirit because they will know and cherish grace and forgiveness from God.
  • Those who don’t think they have any sin to deal with will approach others in a self-righteous judgmental way. Those who deal honestly with their sin first will approach others with love, mercy, grace, and patience – as God has been gracious to them.
  • Jesus’ words could be used to make some people feel that they are always inadequate to speak into the lives of others. But our Lord is not offering a reason to remain aloof in our concern for others but to simply deal with ourselves first so that we might see clearly to help our fellow believer.
  • In verse 6, Jesus is obviously teaching a need for judgments that will help us use discretion in ministry to others (see my post: Don’t waste your ministry on dogs and pigs).

Hear these words: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:1-4).

“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:4,10).

Jesus warned about a reciprocal principle in the way we make judgments – (measure for measure – v. 2) (see also: 6:14-15; 7:12; 18:21-35).

  • “judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful” (James 2:13).
  • “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1-2).
  • “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

When we honor the distinction between watching others and watching out for them, we’ll be far better postured to avoid wrongful judging. The first (watching others) is prideful and pharisaic; the second (watching out for) is humble care for the wellbeing of others. Let’s live and teach this distinction to ensure we obey Jesus’ command, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” But remember that we cannot watch out for each other if we have plank eye disease.

Steve Cornell

New Identity – New Relationships

There’s a profound connection between personal identity and transformed relationships. How we see ourselves affects the way we relate to others.

Take a close look at three verses that could change your understanding of yourself and the nature of your relationships.

What did the apostle mean when he wrote,

“Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:11-13)?

The word – “Here” likely refers to the Church, the gathering of God’s people.

Here — among Christians, the distinctions that fiercely divide social and religious life (Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free), have no place.

Among those who have been forgiven through Jesus Christ, a new identity has been formed that overcomes differences that separate people from each other. Our new identity also leads to a transformation of the ways we relate and respond to other people (“compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”). 

The apostle is saying that our race, religious background or social status no longer define us. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you are distinguished by three powerful identity markers. You are:  

1. God’s chosen people: we are the “elect of God”

God’s choosing of his people reminds us of His gracious initiative in drawing us to Himself and making us His very own people (cf. Matthew 11:26-31;John 6:44, 66). It is a precious and inspiring truth that traces from Old Testament through New Testament. God’s choice of us to be His people is based on love and grace (1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Scriptures on Election: Deuteronomy 7:6;John 15:16 “You have not chosen Me, but I chose you”; Romans 8:31-39; Ephesians 1:3-7.

2. Holy – set apart for God by God

We will misunderstand this word if we do not first hear it as a relationship before it becomes a way of life. Holy is a word that refers to people who are set apart for God by God. Living a holy life must be based on what it means to be chosen by God — “to be His people, His treasured possession” (Deuteronomy 7:6).

We become God’s people only because we were “bought at a price” and this is the basis for being called to “honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:14-19). 

3. Dearly loved – recipients of God’s sacrificial redeeming love in Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:8 – “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins…. We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:9-10,19; cf. Romans 8:35-39).

We must mediate deeply and often on what it really means to be loved by God. Being loved by God is what empowers us to love others with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

The three identity markers above (chosen, holy and dearly loved) are all received as gifts of God’s grace to underserving sinners who call on the Lord for forgiveness and salvation. We cannot earn or deserve these identities. They can only be received by a God who graciously places them on us. Interestingly, although each identity distinctively belonged to God’s people in the Old Testament, they now belong to believers of all backgrounds (Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free).

Five qualities

What would our churches and relationships be like if they were described by the five qualities below? A taste of heaven on earth? Yes. 

Because of our distinction as God’s dearly loved people — those who have had God’s love “poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5), five character qualities or responses should distinguish our ways of responding to others. Like clothing, these five qualities should be plainly evident among us. If a group of believers is characterized by these qualities, a powerful witness will be evident! 

  1. compassion
  2. kindness
  3. humility
  4. gentleness
  5. patience

Imagine a friendship or marriage where these were the dominant qualities! Too idealistic? Verse 13 takes it to real life! 

  1. compassion: actually “a heart of compassion” or “deep feelings of mercy” It’s a response of sympathy or empathy.
  • Ephesians 4:4–“Because of His great love for us God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ.”
  • Luke 6:36—Be “merciful just as your Father is merciful.”
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3—“The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.”
  • Philippians 2:1 calls for tenderness and compassion to be part of their fellowship.
  • Psalmist (Psalm 103:8) “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.”
  • Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:17) “You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.” “I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow in anger and abounding in love” (Jonah 4:2).
  • Moses (Exodus 34:6) “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love.”

    2. kindness: compassion in action, a response of grace and generosity. What do we mean when we say, ““He’s so kind”? 

  • Ephesians 4:32—“Be kind and tenderhearted (compassionate) to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4—“Love is…kind.”
  • Galatians 5:22—fruit of the Spirit is ….kindness…
  • Ephesians 2:7— the incomparable riches of His grace expressed in His kindness to us in Christ.
  • Titus 3:4—“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us…”
  • Romans 2:4-5; 11:22 
  1. humility: a lowliness of mind demonstrated in a refusal to demand one’s rights, a servant mindset.
  • Ephesians 4:2—“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
  • Titus 3:2 exhorts us to “show true humility to all people” because “…we too were disobedient, deceived and enslaved…”
  • Philippians 2:3-8—Jesus is the supreme example.
  • John 13; Romans 12:3; 1 Peter 5:5; 1 Corinthians 1:27-28
  1. gentleness: meekness, considerate of others, willing to waive one’s rights out of consideration toward another.
  • Matthew 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.”
  • Galatians 5:23; 6:1— meekness is the fruit of the Spirit
  • James 3:13— meekness is part of the wisdom from above
  1. patience: (makrothumia) long-tempered, not short-fused; slow to anger; restraining retaliation in the face of provocation; capacity to absorb wrong without retaliation
  • Used of God (Romans 2:4)
  • Required of us (Romans 12:17-21)
  • 1 Peter 3:8-9 “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

This final quality of patience fits well with the closing two participles that are presented with as commands (with imperatival force) in the present active tense: “Bear with each other and forgive one another…”

Our new identity as God’s chosen, holy and dearly loved people overcomes differences that separate people and set people against each other. Our new identity also leads to a powerful transformation in the ways we relate and respond to other people. This is the life!

Steve Cornell