Daily Scripture Reading1 Peter 4

Verse of the Day – 1 Peter 4:8-10

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Devotional Thoughts
Recovering a Right View of Others

Jesus taught plainly that the whole of the Law and Prophets (the Word of God) can be summed up in two commands. That sounds simple until we understand the terrific implications of what it is that we are commanded to do in order to keep all the Law. The greatest command of all is of course to love God with all that we are. Jesus stated it this way:

‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

And the second command, the second component that defines all of our relationships with other people is just as broad:

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

So we see that in recovering a right perspective, as we see God, worship, self, and sin as they really are, then we must complete the picture by seeing others as we should. It is not enough to see God rightly, or to see self and sin rightly. We must see this perspective carry through so that we love God with all we are and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

This kind of love for others, where Jesus defines our neighbor as the person we least want to love, stands in stark contrast to how we usually see others. It is usually the case that when we meet someone new or when we are around others we have known for a long time, we tend to judge them. We judge them by the standard of self. We compare others to ourselves. Do they measure up to us in looks, intelligence, wit, charm, etc? It is true that we know when to admit that someone is smarter than we are or better looking. But even then is it quite typical to find some flaw, some weakness, some area where we are better than they are.

This is truly our view of others most of the time. We are constantly running a comparison in our minds, even with our friends. Do they meet our standard?

This clearly is contrary to what the Bible teaches. We are to humbly view all others as better than we view ourselves. Sounds simple – but it is as hard as ever to think like this. It runs contrary to our fallen flesh. I mean all sin can be traced back to 3 roots, the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. That means that all sin is about satisfying our own desires in some area of another. We as sinners seek to sin! To satisfy self in every way possible. So why wonder why it is so difficult to view others properly?

But we are given in Scripture specific perspectives to maintain with all people. And we are to esteem them all as better! Not equal, not less than. Better.

In the church especially we are to be known for our love for one another. In examining the “one anothers”, those things we are required to do for one another in the body of Christ, we see that we are truly responsible to view others rightly!! Here is a short list of what the Bible lists as our duty to one another in fellowship:

Our Duty to One Another in Fellowship
a. Kind Affection – Rom 12:10
b. Be of the Same Mind – Rom 12:16; 15:5
c. Do not Judge – Rom 14:13
d. Edify – Rom 14:19; 1 Thess 5:11
e. Receive One Another – Rom 15:7
f. Admonish – Rom 15:14; Col 3:16
g. Greet – Rom 16:16; 2 Cor 13:12; 1 Peter 5:14
h. Have the Same Care – 1 Cor 12:25
i. Serve One Another – Gal 5:13
j. Do Not Bite and Devour – Gal 5:15; James 4:11
k. Do Not Provoke or Envy – Gal 5:26
l. Bear with One Another – Eph 4:2; Col 3:13
m. Be Kind and Forgive – Eph 4:32
n. Speak – Eph 5:19
o. Submit – 1 Peter 5:5; Eph 5:21
p. Do Not Lie – Col 3:9
q. Comfort – 1 Thess 4:18
r. Exhort – Heb 3:13; 10:25
s. Do Not Grumble – James 5:9
t. Confess – James 5:16
u. Have Compassion – 1 Peter 3:8
v. Have Hospitality – 1 Peter 4:9
w. Minister To – 1 Peter 4:10
x. Love – 1 Peter 1:22; 4:8; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11; Rom 13:8; 1 Thess 3:12; 4:9; 2 John 1:5

This list is not complete, and yet look at this – we are talking about a full time job here just in the way we relate to others in the Body. What if we expand the search parameters though? What is our view to be toward everyone else in the world that we come in contact with? Well, understanding what we are responsible to do for others in the Body of Christ helps us see a little of how we are to view others throughout the world. Let’s see what the Bible says.

Seeing People for Who They Are

If we are to have a right perspective and a right view of others then we need to see how the Bible views them. We have seen of course that all are sinners. That is not a means of condemnation though as though we should now hate and work against sinners. No, we are all sinners. And as such we need to be reconciled to God. So the Bible actually shows us how to put people in the right categories. We view them as fellow members of the Body of Christ and relate to them by fulfilling our duty in fellowship, or we see that they are not in the body, they are lost and doomed, and so we work as ambassadors for Christ, striving to reconcile these men to God.

Either way, our perspective is one of acknowledging the need of all men to repent of their sin, trust in Christ, and in so doing obey the gospel command and be reconciled to God.

The Parable of the Soils gives us a good place to start as we want to see men as God sees them. Let’s look today at Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23.

1 On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Here we have a simple parable, a picture painted with words that shows us how God views every man, woman, and child. And from this we can learn how to have a right view of others, to see them as God does.

The first kind of person mentioned here is represented by soil that is by the wayside. This is a walkway, a sidewalk so to speak, that runs around the edge of the field being sown in by the farmer. As he sows the seed, some falls on the walkway. It is hard, compact, trodden down, and does not receive the seed. As a result, the seeds sits exposed above the ground and is eaten by the birds.

The second kind of person mentioned here is represented by soil that is stony. It is rocky soil, some dirt, some vegetation, but mostly rocks. The seed does find soil to begin to grow and a plant springs up, but since the soil is shallow and rocky the plant soon withers. With no depth or root, the sun scorches the plant and it dies.

The third kind of person mentioned is represented by thorny ground. While the seed starts to grow, the thorns, the weeds, choke the life out of the plant and it dies.

The fourth kind of person mentioned is represented by good soil. It is soil that has room for the seed to germinate unhindered and to grow and bear fruit.

What we need to see is that every person we come in contact with is one of these soils! Everyone relates and responds to the seed of the gospel, to the Word of God, one of these 4 ways. Let’s examine what these soil types tell us about people then.

The first person, the wayside, is hard and unresponsive. They do not care about the gospel at all, and in fact, the text tells us that they do not even understand the gospel. That is the problem. No understanding and so the devil, represented by birds in the parable, comes and takes the seed away. Satan works to prevent people from understanding the Word of God, taking away what they hear and robbing them of the truth! When we talk about having a right view of this kind of person, we need to pray for them that they would hear and understand the Word of God. That means we need to be sharing the Word with them, working to explain it so that they understand and benefit from it. This person is not saved.

The second person has no depth, no root. They receive the Word of God gladly at first. They are eager in embracing Christ. But often they are just adding Christ to a long list of things they have tried to find peace or belonging. This is a selfish person, wanting Christ for what they can get as an immediate benefit. And as soon as hard times come along, the sun comes out, because there is no root, no actual growth in the soil, their pseudo faith dries up and dies. These need to have roots. They need depth. They need to see Christ not as a means to meet their needs, but they need to see the gospel as a command to be obeyed. These people are so self centered that they often make big decisions quickly with little thought to any long term consequence. And as soon as their “faith” fails them they are ready to move on to the next drug of choice! This person is not saved.

The third person is overwhelmed with worldly concerns. They hear the gospel and add it to all the other things that they have, but there is no repentance, no forsaking of sin, no abandonment of self to Christ. They fall for the gospel of easy believism and think they can have God and their sin at the same time, enjoying whatever benefits they can from this dual alignment of allegiances. But Jesus is clear. No one can serve two masters. No one can follow God and money. No one can hold on to Christ with one hand and the things of the world with the other. These people need to be told the cost of following Christ. It will cost a man his life to follow Jesus. What benefit is it then if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? This person is not saved.

The fourth person hears, the Word is made effective by the Holy Spirit, and they repent, trust Christ, and bear fruit. This good soil is the person that is bearing spiritual fruit day in and day out. We can see and measure the fruit and it testifies to us of their walk with God. This person is saved.

So how do we relate to these people? Well we start by understanding that they are all a neighbor. Then we understand that our call, our command is to love them as we love ourselves. To put them first and esteem them highly in love. And we need to see what kind of soil they are!! Do they need us to patiently explain the Word to them so that they understand it? Do they need depth? Do they need to forsake worldliness and selfishness? Or do they need to be encouraged to bear even more fruit?

Anyway we look at it, each person we meet needs to hear the Word of God and needs to be encouraged to understand, apply, and live it! We can look at others this way when we through love see their need for Christ and their need to hear and obey the Word.

Do you see people as soils? Do you see their need for Christ? Do you see what in their own life is fighting the seed of the Word? Pray for them. Love them enough to tell them the truth about themselves and about the gospel. Witness with your life, attitudes, actions, and words. Point them to Christ.

Ultimately we love our neighbor as ourselves because each person we meet needs Christ. They need to know Him. They need to grow in their relationship with Him. They need to be faithful to Him more and more each day.

If we judge others, and condemn others, and fail to love others we will never see their need. When we do that, we fail to be what God has called us to be – ambassadors for Christ. That is our chief calling. We are to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and in the process, love our neighbor enough to serve as an ambassador – representing Christ for them and working to bring them to Him.

We know that we cannot save anyone. Paul says we plant and water – but only God gives the increase. He causes growth and fruit. We have the task of being fruit inspectors and sowers of the seed. As soon as we forget that we are working to reconcile sinners to God we have failed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We have failed to obey the Great Commission. We have failed to obey and love our God.

Look at people today and try to discern what kind of soil that they are, remembering all along that we do this so that we might understand how to preach the gospel to them and in so doing impart grace to the hearers (Eph 4:29).

How do you see others? How do you see sin? How do you see yourself? How do you see God and worship? Hopefully this week we have been able to correct our perspective. If so, it will be out of whack again soon enough. So we must strive daily to deny self, take up our cross, and follow Christ! We must work at having a right perspective. When we do not, we cannot see what God is doing around us, nor can we join Him in the work. Seek to see rightly, to have a proper perspective. And seek to glorify God in everything!

Bible Reading For Further Study
Rom 12:10; Rom 12:16; 14:13, 19; 15:5, 7, 14; 16:16
1 Cor 12:25; 2 Cor 13:12
1 Thess 4:18; 5:11
Col 3:9, 13, 16
Gal 5:13, 15, 26
Eph 4:2, 32; 5:19, 21
Heb 3:13; 10:25
James 4:11; 5:9, 16
1 Peter 3:8; 4:9-10; 5:5, 14
1 Peter 1:22; 4:8; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11; Rom 13:8; 1 Thess 3:12; 4:9; 2 John 1:5

Recommended Songs for Worship
Sow in the Morn Thy Seed
We Plough the Fields

Recommended Sermons
Go Labor in the Field – John 4:27-38
Repentance or Ruin – Mark 10:17-27