Thursday February 6, 2020
Learning and understanding the much varied wisdom (EPH 3:10) of God and grace of God (1PE 4:10) takes time and humility. And so, we spend some time on pride and humility again.
The context of Peter’s exhortation for us to be stewards of the manifold grace of God was the spiritual gift that we have received. We are not studying the spiritual gifts, but rather the humility required to operate in them.
The Bible teaches that each believer receives a spiritual gift and it also differentiates between them in category. There is certainly overlapping types of work performed by each category and so it can be difficult to identify a category that God has placed you in, and this can frustrate some Christians. What is helpful is to understand that the Bible doesn’t tell us to explicitly identify a gift before we start serving God. In fact, there is no clear command to identify your gift at all. We just recall the words of our Lord to Peter when he asked about John’s ministry … “You follow Me.” When we follow our Lord, He will lead us into the works that were preordained for us to walk in, EPH 2:10, and then at some point we might find ourselves being able to clearly identify our gift from one of the three lists given in the NT. But what if we can’t? If you are following the Lord, does it matter if you have an official label for the work that you do in service of Him?
One of the important things to take from the truths related to us in God’s revelation of spiritual gifts is that we don’t choose our own gift. Whatever it is has been chosen for us by God the Holy Spirit.
Manifold grace, as Peter uses the term in 1PE 4:10, means that each of us have a particular gift from God, and though we are unworthy sinners, we exercise that gift to its fullest through God’s power.
Paul acknowledges that he is the least among the saints, yet he strives in the work of God. He understands therefore that it is not he, the least, that is performing his work for his own ends, but God, the greatest, who has commissioned Paul, gifted Paul, empowered him, and given him to go-ahead to exercise his gift, his ministry. Peter writes the same concerning all of us in 1PE 4:10-11.
Last time we read Rom 12 and saw how Paul just flat out told us to do things in the way of Christ. He did not mention confession or repentance when we fail to do it, and we conclude that his method, or rather God’s method through him, was not to focus on the changing that needs to take place in us but to more so emphasize the doing of God’s will and service. The change he did include in that passage was that we would be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and that definitely implies change, or if we use his word, metamorphosis. It also implies that we would have to agree with God about the things that need to change, which means agreeing with God as to what is sin.
We may conclude that Paul took the approach of emphasizing the positive aspect of the Christian life, what we can do and what is good and glorious to do. It is not that he never writes about what we shouldn’t do, he does plainly enough, but more so does he write about what we should do and can do through Christ and the Holy Spirit who strengthen us. The emphasis is clearly on being a person of a certain type.
The spiritual gifts given to the church are for the common good, i.e. service of others.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”
If the church was worth His blood, is it not worth our labor?
Since the believer is reconciled to God, he finds his worth in God. Reconciliation doesn’t mean the loss of self, but rather the loss of pride. Who or what is there to compete against when one is reconciled to God forever? We don’t lose our identity, we lose our pride, and when we lose our pride, we truly find ourselves. When you lose pride, you lose concern for yourself, but you don’t lose yourself.
At the last supper, Peter revealed that his pride concluded, as so many do, that human hierarchy was desirable for the kingdom of God.
And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. 25 And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called 'Benefactors.' 26 "But not so with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. 27 "For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. 28 "And you are those who have stood by Me in My trials; 29 and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
When the Lord washed the disciples’ feet, Peter protested and revealed his pride in two ways - human hierarchy and desire to possess it.
He was thinking of human hierarchy. “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus’ response made him rethink it.
And so He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?" 7 Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you shall understand hereafter." 8 Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." 9 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." 10 Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, "Not all of you are clean."
Peter’s second response betrays the fact that his pride remains despite the Lord’s instruction. “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Peter then thinks that he would desire more of a part with Jesus than the others. “Wash their feet only, but wash my head and hands.”
Peter moves from the pride of human hierarchy, that serving is beneath a great ruler, and moves to the pride of desiring to be above all others, no matter what it takes.
He immediately went from forbidding Jesus to perform an act to demanding that He perform it more so.
The Lord’s patient response to this is that they are all clean, except for Judas. This means that there is no way that any of them or any of us could have more of a part with the Lord than anyone else who has been made clean by His blood through faith in Him. “He who has bathed,” as they all did for Passover, “only needs to wash his feet,” emphasizing that they are “completely clean.” Some have interpreted this as the Lord instructing us on how to wash our feet, namely through confession of sin, but we must be careful of putting words in our Lord’s mouth. He does not say that here.
To say to a Jew attending a Passover meal that he only needs to wash his feet is synonymous with claiming that has washed and is completely clean.
And Jesus says just that; you are “completely clean.”
It is also clear that there are things that are wrong within the disciples. Things they don’t know of yet. These things they will come to know are wrong and will admit as such and they will change. That is, they will confess or acknowledge sin and repent of it, meaning they will leave it behind. Peter cannot be the leader and minister that he has been called to be and keep the pride that was in his soul that night. As we know, they all had pride, along with ignorance and fear (for these are always partners) and they could not minister in their gifts while they remained. They had to be recognized and eradicated.
And we will see Peter return to this thinking over the controversy of Jew and Gentile in the church (none of us will become consistently sinless), but he will again recognize it and repent of it.
Therefore, having these promises (2 Cor 6:16
For we are the temple of the living God;), beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
The Temple was holy. The high priest wore a sign on his turban reading “Holy to the Lord.” Nothing unclean was brought in there. The first part of the tent was called the “Holy Place,” and the inner sanctuary the “Holy of Holies.” Aaron’s sons brought unholy fire into the holy place and died. The temple of God is to be holy in the fear of God, fearing as Nadab and Abihu should have.
Pure eyes are not the possession of anyone but Christ. They have to be given to us, and they are at the moment of salvation.
Paul was the steward of this mystery along with others, and still more whom Paul would train and teach it to.
It needed sincere and devoted men, willing to be taught of God, willing to surrender every prejudice and the preconceptions of flesh and blood, in order to receive and convey to the world thoughts of God so much larger and loftier than the thoughts of men. To such men - true disciples, loyal at all costs to God and truth, holy and humble of heart - Jesus Christ gave His great commission and bade them “go and make disciples of all the nations.”
Jesus then asks them if they know what He did to them, which is interesting since He told them before He did it that they wouldn’t “realize now.”
And so when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and reclined at the table again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? 13 "You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 "Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master; neither is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
The whole point, the main point that the foot washing represents is service. He says, “I am Teacher and Lord (God). And if I am those things and I washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” That means if this situation ever happens again, where you and your brothers enter a house and there is no servant present to wash your feet, you should be knocking each other over to get the apron and the towel and the basin of water. And if that were true, then you would be serving each other in all things.