JOHN SHIRK – Hospitality can be defined by a generous or cordial reception of guests. Another way of looking at the heart of hospitality is “love of strangers.”
First Peter 4:9 says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” The love of Christ will be expressed to strangers in the outreach of a cheerful heart. The New Living Translation says it this way: “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.”
There are some practical ways to live this verse out. Look for ways to reach out to a new neighbor. We can welcome them to the neighborhood by taking them a meal or just dropping by to introduce ourselves. If a person visits our church, we can invite them to eat dinner with us. Another idea is to set up a guest room for missionaries or others who travel a lot. Hosting a foreign exchange student or foster parenting can be seen as a form of hospitality. We can also be considerate of those who live alone and invite them to spend a holiday with us. There is great potential to make new friends when we are compelled by God’s love to extend ourselves in these ways.
What are some ways that you have reached out with hospitality or been blessed by the hospitality of others?
Being hospitable is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Commitment can be defined by a pledge or promise to do something.
God’s love is what motivates Christian commitment. Without His love in the equation, commitments would easily turn into legalism. With God’s love as the prime motivator, we gladly give our lives to the cause of the Gospel. We are compelled by God’s love to do God’s will, and to finish what He started in us. In the course of pursuing our commitments, we can expect opposition and hardship, just like Jesus did. In Hebrews 12:3, we are challenged to “consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men”, so that we will not grow weary and lose heart. Our incentive to serve God will increase when we keep our focus on Jesus, who was faithful to carry out His rescue mission on our behalf. In view of His death for us, we have a reason to live for Him.
Psalm 76:11 says, “Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them.”
Commitment is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Meditation can be defined as focusing one’s thoughts on; to reflect or ponder over. Biblically, it means taking a passage of Scripture and chewing it over for a while.
Psalm 1:2 describes the man who is blessed as someone whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
Meditation includes thinking, remembering, understanding, and living out what we have learned. Throughout the day, we are wise to think about life’s instructions that God has given us, and then live them out. The best focus for our thoughts is Jesus, who lived a sinless life, and is full of grace and truth.
A meditative mind is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Today is an opportunity to grow toward Christ by being clothed with reflection.
One definition of “reflection” is something like a light or image that is reflected. Another definition of “reflect” is to make manifest or to show. That is interesting, because the Bible calls us to be reflectors of Jesus. He is the light of the world, and He calls us to be the light of the world. We are not the source of light. He is. And so, as we reflect the light of Jesus to the world through our words, actions, and attitudes, we are giving others the opportunity to have an encounter with Jesus. That is because we are shining light for Him, rather than for ourselves. Vonette Bright says, “That’s our mission, dear friend: to be a reflection of Jesus in the same way He’s a reflection of the Father.”
In Matthew 5:16, Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” With the talents, skills, and resources that God has given you along with the people He has placed in your life, those are opportunities to reflect the light of His love so that others might be moved to glorify God.
Reflection is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Today is an opportunity to grow toward Christ by being clothed with loyalty.
Loyalty is characterized by faithfulness to commitments, vows, and allegiance.
Dogs are known for various characteristics. One of their more lovable reputations is their loyalty to their owner. That is one lesson we can learn from dogs-to be loyal to our Owner.
In our relationship with God, loyalty can be described by having an undivided heart. We don’t serve two masters. With a loyal heart, we are fully committed to Jesus, and desire to serve Him. We are responsive to His Word, receptive to His grace, and respectful of His authority over us. In response to His loving leadership, loyalty gives us a single purpose to be an instrument of God’s grace in the world.
Oswald Chambers writes that “the idea is not that we do our work for God, but that we are so loyal to Him that He can do His work through us.” Before King David died, he prayed in First Chronicles 29 that God would keep the hearts of the people loyal to God. That can be our prayer for the church today, so that the name of Jesus would be distinctly honored by a unified body of undivided hearts.
Loyalty is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Today is an opportunity to grow toward Christ by being clothed with discernment.
Discernment can be defined as having keen insight and exercising good judgment. With discernment, we are able to distinguish the difference between good and evil, and by God’s grace, make wise choices.
First John 4:1 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Being able to discern the real from counterfeit teachings can be compared to a bank teller, who learns to detect a counterfeit because of their familiarity with the real thing. In Acts 17, the Bereans were commended for their discernment. They, too were familiar with the real deal. They received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
With daily saturation of God’s Word, we will be better equipped to evaluate the ideas being promoted in the world and in the church today.
Discernment is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Today is an opportunity to grow toward Christ by being clothed with Compassion.
Colossians 3:12 says, “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion.”
Compassion can be defined as “having sympathy toward the distress of others and the desire to alleviate it.”
This was the way of Christ who saw people in distress, and was motivated to provide healing and deliverance, according to their individual needs. The exercise of compassion is a neighborly thing to do. The story of the Good Samaritan, taught by Jesus was intended to answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Three people saw a man lying on the road to Jericho. Two went by. But the Good Samaritan saw him and took pity on him. He went to him, bandaged his wounds, poured on oil and wine, and then took him to an inn to take care of him. That is the kind of compassion that attends to someone’s needs.
Compassion is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Today is an opportunity to grow toward Christ by being clothed with a willing heart.
A willing heart can be defined as “being ready to act gladly.” The picture of God’s love toward us is not one that is reluctantly given, but gladly given from a willing heart.
The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us “the LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, and rejoice over you with singing.”
Just as God delights in loving His people, He wants us to delight in serving others. Christian leaders are urged to serve as overseers in the church, not because they must, but because they are willing as God wants them to be. It is also God’s will for us to be generous with a willing heart. Second Corinthians 9:7 tells us that “each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” The difference between a willing heart and a reluctant heart is the difference between joyful enthusiasm and just going through the motions.
A willing heart is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Today is an opportunity to grow toward Christ by being clothed with humility.
Humility can be defined as “having a modest estimation of one’s own importance.” With Biblical humility, we recognize that God considers us valuable, and He also considers the person next to us as valuable. We are not better than anyone else. Whatever good flows out of our lives is a result of God’s effective grace. With a humble heart, we are grateful to God for His blessings and seek to bring Him glory. We acknowledge the supremacy of Christ over us. His plan for our lives becomes our desire. Part of His teaching includes the Golden Rule, which implies reaching out in love with humility. “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” Philippians 2:3 and 4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Humility is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Vigilance can be defined by keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties. After a terror attack in Stockholm, Sweden in December, residents were urged to remain vigilant, to keep their eyes open to possible dangers, so that any future attacks might be thwarted.
Spiritually, we are facing an adversary who seeks to deceive and destroy us. While it is unhealthy to be preoccupied by thoughts of the devil, it is also unwise to pretend as though he does not exist. A good perspective is to be aware of the devil, but to be impressed by God. The Apostle Paul said about Satan in Second Corinthians 2:11, “We are not unaware of his schemes.”
The Apostle Peter wrote in First Peter 5:8, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” Vigilance is aware that a battle is taking place, and we keep our eyes open to the dangers of the battle, so that we might not surrender to the control of the enemy.
Vigilance is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.