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‘Therefore’ and ‘For’ March 13, 2007

Posted by Joe in Scripture Meditation.
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Lar,

Sorry I missed you yesterday brother. We checked out Zaragoza today with Erin’s parents. It was a nice time. Anyhow, that was great stuff on the not-so-little word, ‘therefore’ in Scripture yesterday. It is a word we should be on the lookout for quite often, I believe. It should definitely make us take notice of all that has gone before as the ground for that which comes after. I hope and pray that your post helps many as they search the Scriptures and pursue greater holiness.

Last week you asked me for some practical steps we should take to growing in our burden and action for social justice. Today I offer one in response to somewhat response to your ‘Therefore’ post. It might not seem obviously practical–and maybe it is not–but it is very practical nonetheless. My plan as of now is to move from the foundational practical steps to the every day, nitty-gritty actions we can take in the cause of social justice. So…..without further adieu, here is practical step number one.

First, if we want to grow in having a heart for social justice we should meditate more often on the work of Christ on our behalf.

As I said, this might not seem obviously practical, but in relationship to the cause of social justice and deeds of mercy, nothing is more important. Why it is important also relates to your ‘Threefore’ post. How you ask? Well, I am currently reading 2 Corinthians. In chapter 8, the Apostle Paul is motivating the church at Corinth to give to the needs of the church in Judea. In chapter 8:8-9 Paul says this,

“I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

Now, did you notice the little word ‘for’ in those verses? I’m quite sure you did. It’s of the same significance as the ‘therefore’ right? I’m thinking so. More verses could be cited in support for this, but I think it can be faithfully said that Christ’s work on their behalf was meant to motivate them to the same sort of work for others. And as we know, they were not to work in some ‘pay off debt’ sort of way, but in genuine love–as Paul makes plain in verse 8.

The fact that Jesus came and purchased our pardon while we were yet sinners, is meant to set the tone for the kind of life we are all to live. ‘A servant is not above his master, nor a student his teacher. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher and the servant his master.” So said Jesus in Matthew 10. And He, our Master and Teacher, came to this earth to suffer and die on behalf of us, the weakest of the weak, the poorest of the poor. We had no hope. We had no future. We were looking forward to only eternal hell and misery. We were enemies and rebels of the Most High King. Yet Jesus came and took upon Himself our poverty so that we might forever enjoy His riches.

Never can we hear enough of this message. For this is the gospel. This is the good news that not only saves us, but is used by God to sanctify us as well. We are wise to meditate on it much more than we do! And in all seriousness, this is very practical. For think about this: We will only care for the poor and needy to the degree that we recognize how poor and needy we were/are ourselves. It is only when we realize our great need and how it has been met by our gracious Savior that we will ever be set free to live a life focused on meeting the needs of others. Only the gospel can set us free by humbling our arrogant hearts and setting us on the Savior!

For those who doubt, I would humbly advise you to try it for a week. Think unceasingly about the the work of Christ on your behalf. Pray through it multiple times a day and then see how your heart enlarges to the needs of other people. O how desperate we are to be freed from our unhealthy preoccupation with ourselves (even preoccupation with our own personal holiness!)! Only the gospel can do so brother! Therefore, let us meditate upon it much more!

Seeking to take that practical step with you,

Joe

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Comments»

1. Will Bausch - March 13, 2007

Joe,

I came across this blog post that I feel contains some practical implications of this way of thinking:

http://mrlauterbach.typepad.com/gospeldrivenlife/2007/02/gospel_for_our_.html#more

Basically, if we realize that Christ’s work on this cross is our death, and that Christ’s resurrection is our resurrection, what is left but Christ? I have a friend at work who is a practicing lesbian and a practicing Jew. She and her partner have been together for 10 years. They have three children together, two from my friend’s womb and one from her partner’s. The children are all half-siblings, as the same father was used in both instances. I pray regularily for her and her partner. I wish for them to be saved. The answer they need is Christ; their lifestyle is not their problem. Their real problem is their lifelessness, the death caused by original sin. If we concentrate solely on what comes after the “therefore”s and the “for”s, their situation is hopeless and I might as well discontinue my conversation with her. However, I am equally hopless without Christ, the cause of the “therefore”! What a glorious truth that is! I can confidently proclaim the gospel to my friend without concern for how all of the consequences for her sin may get worked out. If God uses me as the conduit through which he brings her his Word and a realization of her sin, leading her to a desire for Jesus Christ, it is the Lord who leads her to salvation; therefore “therefore” will follow.

Will Bausch

2. larrylaz - March 13, 2007

Will,

Thanks again for your thoughts. I just wanted to point out something that you probably already realize, but I just wanted to clear it up for other readers. In your post, you wrote, “If we concentrate solely on what comes after the “therefore”s and the “for”s, their situation is hopeless…”

In many cases, phrases built on the word ‘for’ assume that the thing that comes after the ‘for’ is the grounds of the ‘application’ that comes before that conjunction. An example of this would be Colossians 3:2-3,

“2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Here the command to set our mind is heavenly things is grounded on what follows after the ‘for’: you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Of course he could have worded it differently: You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ; THEREFORE, set your minds on things above. Those are two different ways of saying the same thing, but they force us to look in different places to see what grounds the application.

Does that make sense? Like I said, I think you were already well aware of this, but I just thought I would make that point.

Thanks again for continuing to challenge us with your applying the truths you know at family and school!

Larry

3. Will Bausch - March 13, 2007

Larry,

Thank you for pointing that out; I didn’t think it through and didn’t read Joe’s post closely enough. Of course, as an English Teacher, I should already know this stuff!

Will Bausch

4. larrylaz - March 13, 2007

Will,

No problem; you were just experiencing what Joe and I feel all the time: our fingers type faster than we can think!

Larry


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