Pugnacious, what does that mean? This word shows up twice in the Bible (NASB): First Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7. In both cases, Paul had listed qualifications for leaders and pugnacious is found in the lists. For example, an overseer must be above reproach, married to one spouse, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine, gentle, peaceable, and free from the love of money. Near the end of that list, Paul wrote an overseer is not to be pugnacious (1 Timothy 3:3).
The influence that one person can have over other people is nearly incalculable. Throughout history there have been men and women who, because of their lives, have impacted and even transformed the lives of generations to come. This fact, however, is never more apparent than in the contrast between Adam and Christ. Both individuals influenced the entire human race. Through one man, death entered the entire human population and through another, life was given. More specifically, “In Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Have you ever found yourself surrounded by volatile situations that threatened to scorch you? Maybe you are in the middle of a heated family battle or a work related issue. Perhaps your marriage is in trouble or you’re surrounded by a church crisis. All of us at one time will journey through the fire, but the Bible says, “When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you” (Isaiah 43:2).
I’m never more blessed than when I am flying somewhere or sitting in a coffee shop and I’m asked about my faith. Not long ago, I was flying to a meeting and was asked by the person sitting next to me what I was reading. The premise of the book concerned Christian ministry. Believing this was an opportunity to release love, listen to this person, and eventually let Jesus be evident, I took the risk to share my heart. That two hour flight went by quickly, but what the Holy Spirit did will most certainly last for a lifetime if not for all eternity.
A sobering thought came over me not long ago. I was thinking about how much activity a local church does for itself. I’m not against ministries that build up the body of Christ, but in comparison to the time spent in actually touching those who are outside of the faith, we might need to reconsider. That also includes the time that we spend praying for ourselves, our needs, and our own personal and corporate problems.
Jesus said, "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye" (Matthew 7:1-3)? The context of this passage addresses and challenges how we handle several issues such as judging, critically over analyzing, and hypocrisy. The most riveting part, for me anyway, is when Jesus stated, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye?" Why do we look at the speck? Notice that Jesus doesn't condemn the ministry of "speck removing." He stated, however, that the obscurity must be removed from our own eyes first so we would be able to accurately see the issue needing to be removed from our brother. Therefore, revealing the true motive in our heart concerning the person and the speck that we identified.
The Bible talks about how good and pleasant it is when believers dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1). In the book of Acts, we read how the early believers were together and had all things in common (Acts 2:44). There is healing and provision in biblical community, not to mention the joy of deep, authentic relationships. Biblical community provides opportunities for spiritual growth, discipleship, equipping, and deployment into the harvest fields to reach people for Jesus.
Have you ever thought about your life being a spiritual prototype?
The Bible speaks to the subject of our lives being an example for others to follow. In 1 Timothy 4:12 we read, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” Titus 2:7-8 says, “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.” Our lives are to be so beyond reproach that absolutely nothing can be found in us that would diminish our witness for Christ; absolutely nothing!
Are you willing to believe despite criticism?
Have you heard of John Kirby or Alexander Garden? What about Bishop Lavington? There might be a few who recognize these men, but most would not. Perhaps you are familiar with Shaphat and Igal? Most likely, you are not. Interestingly, each of these individuals was a critic of their peers and generally, people don’t remember critics. Sadly, some critics would not have any kind of ministry if they didn’t live to criticize others.
Who or what are you in bondage to?
In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, the apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called" (Eph. 4:1). At the writing of this letter to Ephesus, Paul was a prisoner in Rome. It’s believed during this time period that Rome was under the rulership of Nero. He was consumed with power and feared subversion so much that he had his own mother, sister, and wife put to death. Much of Rome was burned by fire due to Nero’s desire to rebuild Rome’s edifices with his own statue carved into each. The Senate summoned Nero to a trial where he was to be tried, convicted, and executed. Yet, Nero was so evil and twisted that he lied and convinced the Senate that the Christians were responsible for setting fire to the city; and, Nero made them believe that Paul was the chief arsonist.