GUARDING OUR ATTITUDES
Lord, we fear God rather than other humans.
Read LUKE 12:1–12
Warnings and Encouragements
12 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be[a] on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
a Luke 12:1 Or speak to his disciples, saying: “First of all, be
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Jesus often spoke about things we prefer to gloss over. We can cope with the insistence on transparency and integrity (1–3); and we certainly like it when we are told how much we are worth to God (6, 7). We like it less, however, when he goes on to stress fearing the God with the power to cast into “hell” (or Gehenna, the place of exclusion and disintegration; 5). It is striking that whenever Jesus speaks of Gehenna, it is to his disciples rather than the crowds (1) or even his enemies. Jesus is not a hell-fire preacher. This is not the language of threat but of warning: living in certain ways has grave and destructive consequences. The severest consequence is to be disowned by the Son of Man on the other side because we are ashamed of him on this side (9). When it comes to this issue, fear is both rational and well placed. Above all, avoid being disowned by the only one who can mediate between the Father and you! Rather, come to him and let him give you rest.
It is significant here that Jesus honors the Spirit even above himself – those who speak against himself will be forgiven, but not so with the Spirit. Occasionally there are disciples who fear that they may have excluded themselves from grace by inadvertently blaspheming against the Spirit (10). This kind of fear is based on misunderstanding. It is through the Spirit that forgiveness comes to us, so to reject the Spirit has consequences. It has been said, ‘Only the rejection of forgiveness is unforgivable’. This sin involves a hardened and persistent denial of the Spirit of God. Those sensitive souls who have even a hint of fear that they have done this are not likely actually to have done so.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us.” (Romans 8:26)
Lord, we thank You for the grace imparted by the Spirit of God, and we acknowledge that we stand here saved due to the Father’s forgiveness.
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