In our culture, we detest being conned. We’re suspicious of everyone because anyone can mistreat us. Before we make commitments to another, we question why we should care about and respect the person. We even do this with God. “Why should I care? What’s in it for me? Why should I respect God?”
Paul asserts God’s desire for “everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” These verses support accurate knowledge of the gospel and makes note that Paul is a “teacher . . . in faith and truth.” As we come to this knowledge, we experience benefits in committing to God. The first: A changed attitude toward others. Paul instructs, “Pray for everyone, including kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” This is a Christ-alive-in-me prayer that hugs those we like as well as those we dislike. This prayer is the benefit of a changed attitude. It’s Christlike.
Christ-thinking desires that everyone come back to God. The second benefit is a changed heart for the eternal well-being of others. Human nature has little interest in the everlasting welfare of anybody. But Paul calls us to demonstrate genuine concern for our neighbor’s well-being. It’s Christlike.
Christ-thinking cures our faultfinding. The third benefit is a changed message, one that dispenses empathy: “There is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus . . . who gave himself a ransom for all.” The beneficial message offers a remedy of healing and hope. It’s Christlike.
Why should we care? What’s in it for us? Why should we respect God? By respecting God, we receive a changed attitude, a changed heart, and a changed message. Thus, our respect for God moves us to respect others and ourselves.
Father, may I desire truth. Help me develop a healthy respect for the benefits I have in Jesus. Amen.
Three of the texts for this Sunday deal with intercession; although they certainly will not make praying any easier, they may make it more hopeful. The readings from both Jeremiah and the psalm depict the anguish of one who identi es with the pain of God’s faithless people. Prophet and psalmist grieve with and for the people and join in the persistent and impatient plea for health and renewal. But God turns out not to be an impassive or distant deity but one bound up with the anguish of the prophet and the anguish of the people. Likewise, the psalmist discovers that the God who refuses to tolerate Israel’s faithlessness nevertheless cannot nally abandon the chosen community. First Timothy also challenges readers to offer prayers of intercession and speci es that they be made for those in positions of political leadership.
• Read Jeremiah 8:18–9:1. Jeremiah weeps for the self-will and disrespect of his people toward God. What do you see in the contemporary world that causes you to weep?
• Read Psalm 4. How do you, like David, acknowledge God’s guidance in your life?
• Read 1 Timothy 2:1-7. Paul reminds us to pray for everyone, no matter their relation to us. How can you be more inten- tional in praying for others?
• Read Luke 16:1-13. In what ways can you take more per- sonal responsibility in being a steward for the things God bestows to humanity?
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