Jesus Christ, M.D.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3 ESV)
The fragility of our humanity is visible from birth. The moment we are born, nurses rush to bundle us in warm blankets, check our vital signs, and make us cry (to assure we can). Anxious parents await our return to their arms. Their hearts burst with joy and fear … this little life now totally dependent upon them.
I’ve learned the hard way that the anxiety of parenting doesn’t end here. It only gets harder. The older they get, the more we worry. The more we worry, the older we get.
With four children, I’ve been through my share of knee scrapes and colds. But I’ve also seen the scarier stuff. Our middle son has asthma and finds it hard to fight off germs. Once, he had strep throat for six months. Our eldest son was once hospitalized with fluid in his abdominal cavity and an extremely serious illness. Our newest baby was born with a hole in his heart (though through prayer and by grace it closed up just weeks after birth).
I’ve seen lots of sicknesses and the doctor’s office isn’t a place I enjoy. In fact, I don’t even think of it when they are healthy, but when my kids get sick, someone breaks out in a mystery rash or someone spikes a fever – I want to know what’s going on. I forget about the movie I’m watching, set aside my agenda, and realize we need the doctor.
When I face these moments, I think of how eloquently Jesus compared our physical lives to our spiritual bodies. Looking across at His listeners, Jesus declared,
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13 ESV)
When things are going our way and anxiety is far from us, we are happy to curl up on the couch of life, read our favorite book, and sip a cup of warm tea. Our ordinary way of life can grow so comfortable we don’t see the signs we need the doctor. Before we know it, we have become too busy to pray, too tired to help others. We stop going in for regular checkups.
When Jesus spoke to the masses it is easy to assume He spoke to the lost. And He did. But He also spoke to those who are found who, like we all do from time to time, forget we are not perfect. Our flaws are many. Our hearts and thoughts fail us. Our bodies become frail and weary.
We all need the Doctor, those with spiritual sniffles and those with “heart” attacks. None of us can turn up our noses at the other – we are all sinners. God wants us to be merciful to one another, remembering we are all products of imperfection.
What shape is your spiritual body in? Whether you need a check-up, a stress test, major surgery, a first-time appointment, or just want to stop in to pick His brain …
The Doctor is in and He always accepts walk-ins!
No ‘Sour Grapes’ Excuses
by Doug Stringer
As children, we all had a tendency to excuse our own bad behaviors, or to project or shift blame when we were caught doing something we shouldn’t have been doing. It’s only with maturity that we become willing to accept responsibility for our own actions. As a mentor and friend, the late Dr. Edwin Louis Cole, used to say, “Maturity is not based on age, but on the willingness to accept responsibility.”
I believe it is a lifelong challenge to decide which choices we will make and what our character will be when we are confronted with our own frailty. We all make mistakes, but what do we do after that mistake has been brought to light? If we are honest with God and with ourselves, we can grow in maturity in those moments. Or, like children, we can try to shift blame to someone or something else.
In my early years of ministry, I was intrigued with the meaning and correlation of the following scriptures:
Jeremiah 31:29-30: “In those days they shall say no more: The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
Ezekiel 18:2: “What do you mean when you use this proverb… ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?”
For the sake of brevity, I won’t attempt to go line upon line explaining all the surrounding verses that provide the context for these scriptures, though I would encourage you to take the time to read the full chapters.
That being said, I think Ezekiel 18:19-20 gives a good paraphrase of the point being made:
“Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live . . . The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”
In other words, we cannot justify, rationalize, excuse or project our own actions or sins upon others. The choices I make cannot be justified because of my parents, or my childhood circumstances, or my past. I cannot change my past, but the decisions I make each day determine my future. Yes, I may have had some challenging and difficult times growing up. Yes, society may try to tell us that we can’t help who we are because we’ve come from a dysfunctional family or difficult circumstances. Yes, there may have been sour grapes along the way, yet the decisions I make each day cannot be excused by the past. As a new creature in Christ, I’m not bound by the actions of others. Regardless of past relationships or circumstances, we are all responsible for our own actions.
When I was in the fitness business, there was a quote often used: “Success requires no apologies and failure permits no alibis.” The quote is from author Napoleon Hill. His words can be applied to just about any facet of our life’s journey. Regardless of my heritage, where I was born, my parents, background, or any other circumstance in life, I do not have to be limited by them. The choices are mine. And Scripture reminds us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
There is a great contrast between the world’s value system and the Lord’s. The danger for believers is that we can easily slip into the culture’s way of thinking without realizing that our perspective is out of line with God’s.
This is vividly illustrated in the request of James and John’s mother. She wanted greatness and honor for her sons but sought it in a manner contrary to the Lord’s ways, which caused discord among the disciples. Self-promotion isn’t the way to esteem or harmony with others. Jesus’ life illustrates the exact opposite. He didn’t come to be served but to serve and give up His life to ransom lost sinners (Matt. 20:28).
As Christians, we are to emulate Jesus’ submission to the Father and spirit of servanthood. Whether in ministry or secular employment, we must consider ourselves as servants and our work as being under the Lord’s authority. This means we are to humble ourselves and submit to those who are in charge, valuing them and even overlooking bothersome character traits or habits—we are to serve them as if we were serving Christ Himself. We may never be applauded for our work here on earth, but our reward is in heaven.
“To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure … They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him.” – Titus 1:15-16 NKJV
To some, purity is an archaic concept, not something they want to think about. They want the freedom to do what they want, what gives them pleasure.
But purity is an important Biblical concept and a central issue for Christians. In fact, purity has far-reaching implications for our lives.
Being pure changes the way we look at life. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). They see His purpose in creation and look at the world the way He wants them to see it. They develop His discernment and insights.
However, those who are not pure look at the world without purpose, direction, or the standards developed by our Creator. They think they have a license to do what they want, feeling that there are no consequences.
But the Bible continually focuses on our attitudes and perspectives. For if we are pure, “all things are pure.” We will see life through this lens. This purity reflects the attitude of our hearts and minds as we allow God to refine us, correct us, purge us of sin, and help us to shine with greater intensity.
Remember the Bible’s call to have a pure heart. Seek God’s help to be free of corrupting influences. Seek to be committed to Biblical truths. Be sensitive to the work of the Spirit. Let Him purify you.