Joey Sparks
26Jul/120

The Easiest To Blame

The easiest people to blame are:

  1. Those who are bigger than we are and
  2. Those with whom we don't have a close relationship.

As you can expect, the bigger someone is, the easier they are to blame.

  • Governments. The bigger the political level, the worse they are.
  • Big banks, credit cards, Wall Street.
  • School systems, Boards of Education, Superintendents, school administration and staff.
  • Hospitals, Healthcare providers, insurance companies, drug companies, doctors.
  • TV shows, movies, musical artists, celebrities, news media.

I wouldn't dare suggest these always display responsibility. The bigger the stage, the greater the responsibility (Luke 12:48). They'll be held accountable for how they've occupied the world through their large influence. Which means our finger-pointing is ultimately pointless.

Blame (by FatBusinessman Flickr CC by nc sa)

The other group whom it's easy to blame is composed of those with whom we are not very close.

To test this, did you object to any of the groups I mentioned above?

If you are an educator, because of your personal passions, relationships with other educators, and your view "behind the scenes," you may object that any overall scholastic shortcomings are the fault of the system.

If you work in the healthcare industry as a nurse, doctor, or sales rep, you may be slower to gripe about your industries' shortcomings.

How many spouses in close-knit, intimate, and trusting marriages frequently blame each other? It's hard to play the "blame game" within a thriving relationship.

What does all this mean?

There's no one bigger than God. So it's easy to see why so much blame can be cast his way (James 1:13-15). Whether it's for natural disasters, a cancer diagnosis, the sudden loss of a loved one, or the rock-bottom crash of irresponsibility, it's easy to pin our trials on God because there's no one bigger. There's nothing we can do to change God's "bigness" (Psalm 139:7-12). From day one, he's forever been the Creator, Provider, and Loving Judge.

But we can close the loophole of blame by drawing closer to him daily (Hebrews 10:22; James 4:8). The more intimate we become with his heart and mind, by staying in his word and talking to him in prayer, the more we see his infinite wisdom, mercy, love, and compassion. We won't allow ourselves to blame him because we recognize his complete perfection.

Constantly drawing near to him forces us to see that He Himself has done everything possible to win us back (John 3:16; Hebrews 7:25). The only way we blame God because He seems far away is because we've distanced ourselves from His love and provision.

Blame is useless at best and destructive and debilitating to personal responsibility at worst. There are a multitude of practical reasons to eliminate it from our hearts and tongues. As we continue pruning, we must draw near to God daily to remind ourselves that He's in control. And thus, we have nothing to blame.

16Sep/110

4 Things Jesus Says About Salvation

In John 5:34, Jesus says, "Not that the testimony I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved."

Jesus spoke and taught during his ministry on earth so that we all might be saved (Luke 19:10). Because it leads to salvation, we must obey all he taught. The following are not a trite formula, but rather the simple truths spoken by Jesus:

1) Believe Him.

"I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins" (John 8:24).

The foundation of obedience is faith in Jesus as the Son of God. He is the only one through whom man is saved (Acts 4:12).

2) Repent of sin.

"No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23).

Believing Jesus illuminates our sinful state. A life of complete change from sin is the only life that can follow Jesus. We must put our old lives to death daily, or we'll experience death in the life beyond.

3) Confess Him before others.

"So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33).

Followers of Jesus must acknowledge him as the Son of God. This commitment is expected when we obey Christ and every day thereafter. The pull to deny him is strong at times, but we must always confess our discipleship (John 12:42-43).

4) Be immersed.

"Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16).

The gospel is for all. Thus, the need for baptism is for all as well. We meet Christ at his death (Rom. 6:3-4) and are born again through immersion for the forgiveness of sins (John 3:3-5).

Many well-meaning souls claim, "all we need is Jesus" to be saved. They don't want to exclude or offend others by specifics and difficult commands. Yet, the honest reading of scripture guides us to the expectations of salvation, straight from the Savior.

24Aug/073

The Active Samaritan — Bulletin Article 08.26.2007

One of Jesus’ most beloved parables is that of the Good Samaritan. Jesus tells the fictional account (Luke 10:29-37) in response to a lawyer’s attempt to justify himself regarding keeping the Law. The lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus shows that neighbors are not defined by location, background, race, or status. True neighbors are those who are compassionate.

The impact of this story is seen in many everyday settings. Centuries after Jesus spoke these words, the label “Samaritan” is synonymous with one who does good deeds. Today, it is a positive designation. However, when Jesus told it back in the first century, his use of a Samaritan in the hero role was shocking. Jews could not imagine anything good about someone from Samaria. Challenging this negative attitude was part of Jesus’ intentions.

One of the greatest lessons we can learn from the Good Samaritan is how active he was in his service to the helpless man along the roadside. Two words summarize the priest’s and Levite’s response to the beaten man’s suffering: “passed by” (Lk. 10:31, 32).

Notice some of the key phrases describing the Samaritan’s actions in verses 33-34: “came to where he was...saw him...had compassion...went to him...bound up his wounds...pouring on oil and wine...set him on his own animal...brought him...took care of him.” In verse 35, we see him take out two days’ wages to supply the man’s needs at the inn. The actions of the good Samaritan began from a good heart. But make no mistake, he did something to display his goodness. His compassion was active in nature. It was not in word only. It was not in intentions. It was not in well-wishes. It was in actions.

Sure, there was a cost to consider for the Samaritan. He risked his own personal safety to help the suffering man. The victim could have been pretending, waiting to attack someone who stopped to help. The original attackers could have been lurking by to pounce on their next victim. Taking action often means taking risks. When the well-being of others is at stake, it is worth the risk.

Twenty-first century Christians must have hearts of compassion like the Samaritan. However, those hearts must lead us to act in the best interests of those in need.

When Jesus warned his followers to be ready for the final judgment, he mentioned the charge to actively take care of those in need. Notice his words from Matthew 25:35-40: “For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me...Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

We are called to be actively serving those who need it. Jesus does not tell us to question their motives; he does not tell us to look after our personal safety first and foremost; he does not tell us to discuss the situation with someone else; he tells us to give, welcome, clothe, visit, come to the side of, and do!

Paul lends similar instructions regarding how we interact with one another in Romans 12:10-13: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

We each have a great responsibility to one another and to the world in need around us. We see a great example of active service in the good Samaritan. Above anything else, he saw the needs of the injured man, and acted in his best interest.

“You go, and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).