January 23, 2017
From the desk of A.J. Higgins
A Great Difference
“Showing all meekness unto all men”
The Spirit of God frequently urges us to display various virtues with the awareness that those very same qualities have been shown to us. As such, they should motivate us to Christ-like behavior in our dealings with each other, and with society around us in general.
For example, in Ephesians we are exhorted to be “kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (ch 4:32). We are exhorted to generous giving in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, having become the recipients of the gift of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 8:9; 9:15). Humility and a care for others should mark us because He cared for us and placed our welfare before His own (Phil 2:3-8).
A review of Scripture might well show that, based on having been recipients of them, we are exhorted to display the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit in our own lives.
Here in Titus 3:2, we are reminded that, considering what we once were, we should be very slow in our harsh condemnation of others. That does not mean that we do not condemn sin or become tolerant of evil. It is rather the avoidance of a self-righteous attitude toward others, which does not take into account that it is the grace of God which has touched us and changed us. We are enjoined to meekness because we were once foolish and disobedient ourselves.
But what about His meekness? His love? His grace? His generosity? His humility? He was never the recipient of mercy and forgiveness. He was never “once disobedient and deceived,” so whence His meekness? He was never brought from “darkness to light,” so what motivated His devotion to God?
We learn that all the virtues which Christ possessed and displayed, and which we are exhorted to cultivate in our lives, were His inherently. They constitute His very nature.
Does it not amaze you and bow your heart in worship that Christ, your God, is by nature meek? That He does not struggle to be humble but that He is a self-humbling God? That He forgives, not out of a sense of indebtedness but out of the boundless grace and love of His heart? That the devotion Christ displayed was not from gratitude or an appreciation for having received something He did not merit, but out of His love for the Father and delight in His will? His love for His Father was not a love borne of indebtedness but of mutual appreciation of worth.
The spring of all His virtues was within Himself and spontaneous. We develop spiritual graces with a consciousness of being recipients of the blessings which have flowed from God’s very nature. All these virtues were inherent in Him and never needed any effort to be produced. In contrast, we who have become “partakers of a divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4), must be more conscious of the exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Pet 1:4) given to us and then to add all diligence to develop the needed virtues in our lives (v 5).
He has forgiven us, blessed us, loved us, and cared for us with no other motivation than His own very character! Divine nature and human nature stand in great contrast!
Trace other occasions when we are exhorted to display certain virtues, in light of being recipients of the same in our own lives.