Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 22
Thesis: Let God form His sympathy for the plight of others in you.
Introduction: In the Kingdom of God, three practices dominate: loving, doing good, and meeting needs. Jesus presented these activities as the "highest" forms of making the character of the King manifest. For disciples, then, there is no greater calling.
But, this calling is not only very high, it is also very difficult. The making of disciples is not a process in which God takes pure virgin clay in hand to mold some beautiful work of art. Instead, He takes polluted, heavily invested, human beings who, for the most part, have spent the vast majority of their time pursuing and developing contrary character and objectives, and presses them into His discipleship program to become vessels of great honor and glory in the Eternal Kingdom that is rapidly approaching.
This, as we have already seen, is a "grace" thing. It begins with "enemies" who do not have the capacity to even understand grace, let alone respond to it properly. From there it moves to a "summons" to discipleship by means of being shown "love", "goodness", and/or "the meeting of a great need". When a person responds to that "summons", there is a kind of "grace" that is implanted within that enables the highest and most difficult fulfillment of the summons.
But, that leads to this question: what "form" does this implanted grace take? Is there some root that undergirds the "loving", "doing good" and the "meeting of needs"? I believe the answer is "Yes" and I believe that Jesus revealed it in the opening statement of His next "set" of exhortations. These are contained in Luke 6:36-38, and they begin with the words, "Be merciful...". If you and I are going to wield the highest instruments of spiritually successful effort, it will only be a consequence of a legitimate response on our part to this command. So, let us, this morning, pursue a clearer understanding of this root to our calling.
March 9, 2008
- I. The "Connection".
- A. We have already seen Jesus' deliberate reference to being the "sons of the Most High".
- 1. If, as we argued last week, the reference to "the Most High" is actually designed to get us to think in terms of the most powerful methods of the Kingdom of God, we already know that, as disciples, we are to apply ourselves to the pursuit of the great reward of the King by making use of these methods of the divine Plan.
- 2. Given the enormous impact of omniscience-based wisdom upon Jesus' use of words, we have been given the "secret" to success as disciples of the Kingdom.
- B. But, from that deliberation, Jesus immediately went to another "...just as your Father is..." statement.
- 1. There is a shift from "the Most High" to "your Father".
- 2. This shift indicates a turning from a kind of "utilitarian" focus ("the Most High" tends to create a sense of "power to accomplish") to a more basic "relational" focus.
- a. This is a movement from a kind of "How?" focus (you can acquire a great reward from the King of the Kingdom of God if you pick up these instruments of success).
- b. This is a movement to a kind of "Why?" focus (your "Daddy" wants you to do this).
- 3. But, all in all, this one reality remains: Jesus is calling upon His disciples to think in terms of being "sons of their Father".
- II. The "Command".
- A. This is an imperative of a deponent verb.
- 1. Deponent verbs have, in a sense, a "passive" form with an "active" meaning, but this seems to indicate that there is a sense that two things are happening together with one of them being the initiative of the "actor" and the other of them being the influences that are being imposed on that "actor" by someone/thing not himself.
- a. This is, theologically, precisely what Jesus was telling His disciples when He tied their "active behavior" to the question of the "kind of grace within you": they were to exercise initiative but to understand that its power was not "of" them.
- b. The particular verb in this case is one that refers to "becoming" (as opposed to "already being").
- 2. As an imperative, it is something to which we must respond.
- a. "Faith" is always the proper response that is called for by the words that form its content.
- b. But the content of that "faith" must be beyond our own resources at all times.
- B. The matter at issue: how shall you be formed into what your "Father" is?
- 1. The "becoming" implies a "step by step" process that builds upon itself.
- 2. The input of the "Father" achieves the "final objective" of the step by step process.
- C. As a "command" the issue is an insistence that you permit God to be more active than yourself.
- III. The "Focus".
- A. Jesus chose a relatively "rare" word; the translators chose to blur His meaning [Note Romans 9:15 for a text where they could not do that].
- B. The meaning of the word shows most clearly in James 5:11 and Hebrews 10:28.
- 1. By way of contrast, Hebrews 10:28 shows that the "opposite" of the word's meaning has to do with dropping the full weight of Justice upon a violator of its character.
- a. Since the focus is upon "violation" of Justice, there is a significant sense of the imposition of a terrible penalty.
- b. Since the characterization is of "mercilessness", there is an indication that this concept involves no permission of "feeling" to address the situation.
- 2. By way of direct illustration, James 5:11 appeals to God's final response to Job's enormous difficulties.
- a. Since the illustration is of "telos" (the final end result) things, the indication is that the word does not mean an "interruption" of what is going on and why.
- b. Since, in the "telos" there is a complete reversal of all that was so terrible, there is a significant implication that there were some "feelings" present, but temporarily denied, that were to be "unleased" when the "telos" was accomplished.
- C. The meaning also, however, has some clarification in 2 Corinthians 1:3 where "the Father of Mercies" is conjoined to "the God of all Comfort".
- 1. The "God of all Comfort" is not, at least in the process, "comforting" or "comfortable".
- 2. But, again, there is the "telos" issue: a real and permanent accomplishment that will ultimately result in all that is "comforting".
- D. And, finally, there is the implication of Philippians 2:1 where the "bowels" are tied to the issue.
- 1. This puts the issue directly into the domain of "feelings" that erupt as a part of the core-character.
- 2. This is the essential perspective that sons must have of their "Father" if they are to allow His work in them (Romans 12:2).
- IV. The Result.
- A. There will be no real "love" for the enemy, no real "doing of the good" to those who hate, no real "lending" to those in real need unless there is a core-characteristic called "compassion" or something like that.
- B. But if the "Father" is permitted to produce Himself in His sons and daughters, they will afterwards act as He does.