|Volume 22 Number 7 July 2020||
Faith is good, and it is clearly defined in the Bible as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is required for answered prayers (Matthew 21:22) and before one is pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). However, faith without virtue is useless. Virtue is good, for without holiness no one will see God (Hebrew 12:14). Yet, virtue without knowledge is destructive. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6a).
Christians are God’s people through obedient faith in Christ. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). We, as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (1 Peter 2:9), should add to our faith virtue and to virtue, knowledge. Knowledge is required in all things for success to smile on us. To break the depths and to permit the clouds to drop down the dew, God employed knowledge. The knowledge of the Holy One, which gives accurate direction and injects meaning to living and life, can be acquired through constant reading of the Bible (John 5:39; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 2:15).
By hearing the inerrant Word of God, we grow in knowledge and in His grace. By careful study of it, we have the intimate and profound power of God. The sincere student of the Gospel who uses the Word daily is insightful and powerful (2 Timothy 1:7). He or she gets power and superb understanding that the world cannot resist. Never fail to attend fellowship regularly and punctually to listen attentively to God’s infallible Word. Don’t engage anyone in side-talk, and don’t allow any person to distract your attention. Absolute concentration in service implies respect, and respect brings blessings. As a child called to inherit blessings (1 Peter 3:9), let your mind and soul be attentive to God’s Word always. “…giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge” (2 Peter 1:5).
The Heart of the Law
God has always expected His people to care for one another. In the New Testament, this is evident by the way the early Christians cared for one another’s needs. The closing verses of Acts 2 present a picture of an assembly of people sharing as anyone had need. They didn’t hoard their possessions or look out only for their interests. We read, “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” This pervasive attitude among Christians to care for other Christians shouldn’t surprise us. We know Christ promised that our loving Father in Heaven would also hear our prayers and care for our needs. Often that care comes through the hands of His obedient servants.
Even in the Old Testament, the Law set forth standards of caring for those who were in need. In Deuteronomy 15, Moses taught the children of Israel to lend to their brothers and sisters (Israelites) who were in need. Also, they were to loan this money at no interest. Furthermore, every seventh (or sabbath) year, all debts among Israelites were to be canceled. In this way, God provided for the poor through the blessings of the rich.
Because of this law about a loan getting canceled, God also gave this command:
Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, “The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,” and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. (Deuteronomy 15:9-10)
God doesn’t want servants who only serve Him when it is in their own interest, nor even when it doesn’t “hurt too much” to do so. Instead, God wants people who genuinely believe they can never out-give God. So, God’s people rejoice when they can give and expect nothing in return.