The 5th L

Well, I felt like I was missing something after writing the last post.  I just had this nagging feeling that there was one more L.  And I finally realized what it was.

Litigate – Now, before you stop reading, it isn’t what you think.  We live in a litigious society.  Everyone is always ready to sue someone for something either real or imaginary.  This is not the purpose of this particular L.  I understand the Bible tells us not to be litigious, so just stick with me.

I am using the word litigate because it is the only L word that is a synonym for “sue”.  And since I think the 5 L’s are a good mnemonic device and especially since I am writing the article (little joke), it’s what I decided to use.

So, why would litigate go with the other four L’s (Learn, Love, Labor, and Lead)?  Doesn’t seem to fit in, does it?  Well, I must admit that I am somewhat of a word-lover.  Especially when it comes to old and underused words.  But, I also like simple everyday words that have had their meanings changed over the years.  I like to learn those old, obsolete meaning to everyday words and use them.  Call me idiosyncratic…

One of those deprecated definitions is a definition for the word “sue”.  One of the definitions of the word “sue” that rarely gets used anymore is “to make petition or appeal to”.  I love this definition of the word.

In Philippians 4:6  we are told “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”  In other words, we are to make our petitions to God in prayer.  Or, to be shorter, we are to “sue in prayer”.  Isn’t it wonderful that we have a living God that we can sue for favor.  That we can ask and if it is his will, he will grant it.  But, it’s the next verse that is my favorite.

Philippians 4:7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

In today’s society, where there is so much to worry about, having peace that passes all understanding is very welcome.  We desire to have that peace, do we not?  Well, all we have to do is sue for it and it will be given.  We just have to let go of the things of this world and put it all on God and we can have that peace.

Now, just one quick side note on the phrase “Be careful for nothing”.  This means not to be anxious or solicitous about the things of the present life.  Now, I’m no Greek or Hebrew scholar, but I did sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night, and I happen to have a pretty good Greek and Hebrew dictionary as well as a decent Bible commentary, so I would like to expound on this phrase just a little.  The word used here is “merimnate”.  I am told by my commentary that it “does not mean that we are to exercise no care about worldly matters – no care to preserve our property, or to provide for our families; but that there is to be such confidence in God as to free the mind from anxiety, and such a sense of dependence on him as to keep it calm.”

This is similar to Matthew 6:25 which says “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.  Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”

The phrase “no thought” used to mean something different than it does today.  If we actually gave “no thought” to eating or drinking, we would all be dead.  If we actually gave “no thought” to what we would put on, we would be in violation of several decency laws.  If we actually gave “no thought” for our lives, going into places like Nigeria may be the last trip we made.

A better translation for that section of the verse is “do not be anxious about your life”.  “Thought” about the future is fine.  There is a certain amount of “thinking” about the things of this life that is proper.  We just need to make sure that all we do we do in the will of the Lord.  We can see this explained clearly in James.

James 4:13  You should know better than to say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to the city. We will do business there for a year and make a lot of money!”
James 4:14  What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears.
James 4:15  You should say, “If the Lord lets us live, we will do these things.”

We see here that it is fine to make plans and have concern for things like business as long as we do it within God’s will.

So, that is the 5th L.

Our Christian Duty in an Increasingly Non-Christian World

On the second and fourth Thursday night of each month, I meet with a group of men at the church I attend and we have a Bible study.  This past Thursday, a discussion started that I thought I would share with everyone.

We were discussing Acts 4.  In this chapter, Peter and John are arrested for teaching about Jesus.  They are questioned by the High Priest and told not to teach these things any more.  We had a very good discussion about this.

One of the men made the observation that the Jewish leaders in this chapter had complete proof that these men were from God through Jesus and that what they said was true yet, they chose to ignore it.  He commented that what happened then was very similar to what is going on in our country today.  He asked what we, as Christians, could do to turn our country back to God.

What followed was a discussion about answers to that question.  I spent the last few days thinking about that discussion and I feel like the following covers the topics that were discussed.  I call them the “4 L’s”.

Learn – 2 Timothy 2:15 says “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  There are two reasons to study the word.  First, we need to study so that we know what is truth.  We have to understand what God wants us to do for Him.  Secondly, we need to study so that we will have a ready answer to anyone who asks us about God.  So that we can share God with others.

Those are the two reasons that we have the men’s class.  Firstly, to learn the word of God more perfectly and secondly, to make us able to teach others.

The Bible asks in Luke 6:39  “Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?”

If we hope to lead others to Christ, we must first make sure that we have learned the correct thing to do.  We must make sure that we are not “blind”.

Love – This is the central theme of the Bible, isn’t it?  God loved us enough to send His only Son, and we should love Him enough to do what He tells us to.  Every word of every page of the Bible is a story of love.  Jesus was our perfect example of love.

Now, it’s easy to love people who love you, but the Bible says:

(Mat 5:43)  Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
(Mat 5:44)  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

If we are to love our enemies, then it stands to reason that we should love everyone else.  That we should care enough about everyone’s soul and eternal life that we want them to have what we have.  We should have a loving care in our hearts for people who don’t know Jesus and help them find Him.  We need to constantly pray that God helps us have that love and concern for everyone.

Labor – This is the most important point.  Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he gave what has become known as the Great Commission.

(Mat 28:19)  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
(Mat 28:20)  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Our mission, our work, our goal is to teach others.  We are supposed to bring others to Christ.  It is our duty.  Our life should be given over to teaching others, to laboring for the glory of God and to helping others find Him.  Furthermore, we should strive to teach those we bring to Christ how to teach others themselves.  This should be an ongoing process.  If we continue to labor like this, it should be an exponential return.

One of the men in the study told us about a discipleship program that he is going through with these goals in mind.  I can’t remember the name of it, but I will post the web site when I find it.  He brought up the point that if we teach others and they, in turn, teach others, it won’t take long to increase our numbers dramatically.

He is exactly right.  What this country needs more than anything else is more Christians.  We started as a country of Christians but we have failed to stay that way.  We need to work diligently to convert more people to Jesus.

Lead – Finally, we must lead.  1Ti 3:1 tells us “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”  Men are told to strive to become teachers and leaders.  But, we must realize that everyone is called to be a leader.  Jesus says the following in the sermon on the mount:

(Mat 5:14)  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
(Mat 5:15)  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
(Mat 5:16)  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

This tells us that we are all leaders whether we want to be or not.  We either lead in a good way or in a bad way all the time.  We need to make sure that we lead in a good way, that our light always shines for Jesus, and that we always try to set the example that God wants us to set.

But, there is another aspect to leading.  And that is one possible answer to the question that was posed about how to turn our country back to God.  At the same time we are Learning, Loving, and Laboring to bring others to Christ, we must identify and encourage Christian men and women who would be good leaders to think about becoming the leaders this country needs.

So, what kind of person makes one of those good leaders?  Well, unfortunately and fortunately, it is usually someone who doesn’t want to do it.  I call this type of person a “reluctant leader”.  Typically, the people who want to be leaders, want to do it for power or because of ego.  The people we actually need to lead are the people who don’t want to do it for self.  These “reluctant leaders” want to lead so that they can help others.  They truly care for the well-being of others and want to make sure that the right things are being done.  In other words, they are more interested in serving than in leading.

Many times, these “reluctant leaders” have to be encouraged to pursue positions like this because they don’t wish to be in the lime light.  They often don’t feel like they are good enough for the job.  But, usually, these are exactly the people we need.  When you run across one of these people, encourage them, help them, and uplift them.

So, now, it is up to us.  If we want to turn our country back to God, we must learn, love, labor, and lead.  Each builds on the last and all are equally important.  If you don’t learn, you can’t appreciate the love that God has for us.  If you don’t love, you will have no desire to labor.  And finally, if you don’t labor to increase the size of God’s Kingdom, no amount of good leadership will matter.  We need to pray to God that he helps us each day to remember and follow these four L’s.