Category Archives: Christian Living

Violence in the Bible

Peter Ditzel

Violence in the Bible. The battle of Ai in a painting showing Joshua holding a sword and buckler with a skeleton holding a spear and fighting beside him.
This fanciful painting of the battle of Ai depicts death as fighting alongside Joshua. John Trumbull: Joshua at the Battle of Ai – Attended by Death Public Domain

Christians and non-Christians alike have often pondered the question of violence in the Bible. Many see God’s commands to kill the inhabitants of Canaan (e.g. Joshua 6:21; 10:40; 1 Samuel 15:3) as sanctioning Christians fighting in wars. Others view such statements as “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) as prohibiting Christians from acts of violence. Nonbelievers say these Scriptures contradict and use them to ridicule the Christian faith. Some Bible teachers have tried to reconcile these discrepancies by asserting a middle ground in which Christians are to seek peace when possible while understanding that certain circumstances allow for violence. How are we to understand the fact that the Bible appears to condone and even command brutal violence while also calling for peace and nonviolence?

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You Are My Disciples, If You Have Love for One Another

Dark trees lining a path leading to bright light, captioned with the words of Paul from 1 Corinthians 12:31, "I show a most excellent way to you." As Jesus said, "You Are My Disciples, If You Have Love for One Another"
The most excellent way that Paul is introducing here is love. As we read in 1 Corinthians 13, if we don’t have love, we have nothing. Original image by Joe from Pixabay

Jesus gave a very clear sign by which the world would identify His disciples: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). In “The Antidote to the Love of Money: The Love of God Poured Out in Our Hearts,” we saw that the first-century disciples lived out this sign. The most obvious way they did this was by having all things in common so that they had an equality of goods. But what about us? As the question goes, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Let’s take a further look at this Christian way of life called love.

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Do “No King but Jesus,” and “Honor the king” Contradict?

Flowers, a black and white union jack, and a picture of Queen Elizabeth II left outside of Buckingham Palace. Do “no king but Jesus,” and “honor the king” contradict?
Flowers left outside Buckingham Palace by mourners after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Is showing such honor wrong? Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

As Christians, we recognize Jesus Christ as our King. Yet, undeniably, Peter instructed his readers to “honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17), meaning their earthly king. Paul also clearly taught that we should honor and pray for all in authority, including kings (1 Timothy 2:1-2; see also Titus 3:1 and Romans 13:1-8). As citizens of heaven, where Jesus only is our King (Philippians 3:20; Revelation 17:14; 19:16), what are we to make of this? Do “No king but Jesus,” and “Honor the king” contradict?

I’m writing this on 10 September 2022, two days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. I was stirred to this article by reading some of the most appalling verbal attacks by professing Christians against other Christians I have ever seen on social media. Almost invariably, these assaults were launched by Americans who have long identified themselves on social media as Christians. Those on the receiving end of these barrages were usually British Christians who had in any way posted something that showed respect or a sense of loss for their late Queen.

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The Antidote to the Love of Money: The Love of God Poured Out in Our Hearts

A picture of barley field grains overlain with the words of Acts 2:42-47, illustrating that the antidote to the love of money is the love of God poured out in our hearts.
Acts 2:42-47 tells us that the early Christians held everything in common so that no one had need. This was their expression of God’s love for one another. Picture of Barley Field Grains from Pixabay

In “The Love of Money is a Root of All Kinds of Evil,” we examined the love of money and found in Scripture that the early brethren avoided it by living according to principles of love. In “The Love of Money: A Hallmark of Our Times,” we looked into the love of money that fuels our twenty-first-century economic system. We also saw that this short-sighted greed is driving the world toward several potential disasters that could mean the ruin and death of millions of people. Now, let’s take a closer look at just how the first-century saints showed the love of God in their lives by loving one another rather than loving money.

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The Love of Money: A Hallmark of Our Times

A composite of two images. Top: A heap of gold ingots and coins. Bottom: The barefoot legs of a homeless person lying on a concrete bench. Such disparity illustrates that the love of money is a hallmark of our times.
We’re living in a time of vast wealth inequality characterized by economic instability and the decline of democracy. The short-sighted love of money by the super wealthy has created numerous crisis points that could suddenly flare into disaster. What is our place as Christians in this situation? Top: Pexels. Bottom: Tomas Castelazo on Wikimedia Commons, (CC BY-SA 3.0).

In “The Love of Money Is a Root of All Kinds of Evil,” we saw what the Bible says and doesn’t say about the love of money. We also reviewed how the first-century saints avoided this root of evil by loving each other instead. Now, let’s look at the love of money as the hallmark of our times and the driving force of the world’s economy.

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The Love of Money Is a Root of All Kinds of Evil

A man sitting dressed in fine, seventeenth-century clothes sitting at a table covered with gold coins and moneybags. How is the love of money a root of all kinds of evil? The Miser by Hendrick Gerritsz Pot (circa 1580-1657).
Paul wrote, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” and Jesus said, “You can’t serve both God and Mammon.” Yet, not only those in the world but even professing Christians live their lives in pursuit of wealth. Painting: The Miser by Hendrick Gerritsz Pot (circa 1580-1657). Public domain.

Most of us are familiar with the saying from the Bible, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10a). But I wonder if we’ve considered what those evils are and how we can avoid getting caught up in them. This seems particularly relevant right now as the rich get ever richer while raging inflation far outstrips wage increases, begins to eat into savings, and throws some people into debt just to pay bills. And, now we’re hearing that the economy may plunge into recession. Under such circumstances, the temptation to obsess on money can easily raise its head. What I want to do is help us keep our focus where it belongs by pointing out some of the ways in our society and our personal lives that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

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God Will Never Give You More than You Can Handle: True or False?

Peter Ditzel

Is it true that God will never give you more than you can handle? Illustrated by a woman sitting at a laptop covering her face with her hands while multiple arrows point toward her.
Are we really doing the right thing to comfort people with the idea that God will never give you more than you can handle?
Pixabay

“Don’t worry. God will never give you more than you can handle.” This belief is so common that I’m sure you’ve heard it, and maybe you’ve even comforted other brethren with it. But is it true? Are we really helping others by repeating this idea, or are we spreading a heretical lie?

The concept that God will never give us more than we can handle seems to sound right initially. God loves His people, so He won’t give us more than we can handle. But, if we give it further thought, we find it is a notion that is in direct conflict with the Gospel.

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The Devil’s Two Goals

Peter Ditzel

The devil has two goals. False teaching is a way that the devil keeps people from finding the true Gospel. An illustration of Dante's Divine Comedy by Giovanni Di Paolo, 1440s.
False teaching is a way that the devil keeps people from finding the true Gospel. An illustration of Dante’s Divine Comedy by Giovanni Di Paolo, 1440s.

We have a tendency to blame the devil for everything from unemployment to accidents to wars, and maybe even pandemics. But the Bible indicates that the devil is really working on only two goals to achieve one overall plan. These two goals are the arms of a pincer movement to achieve his objective. Don’t worry. The devil doesn’t have a chance in hell of succeeding. Jesus has already defeated him (John 12:31; 16:11; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8). But, like a snake that continues to whip around after its head is cut off, he’s still trying; and he can cause problems for those who aren’t aware of his tactics. So, it can help us to know what the devil’s two goals are so that we can recognize them and not become discouraged. Let’s take a look.

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A Brief Rebuttal to Churches that Continue to Meet During the Pandemic

Peter Ditzel

Image by rise-a-mui from Pixabay

I have to admit that I’m surprised. I didn’t expect churches would continue to meet as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. But the issue has even grown and become very divisive. I wrote my opinion on the subject here: “Love Your Neighbor in the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Briefly, my position is that, because of the high risk for spreading a deadly contagion, showing love to our neighbor means that we must not meet. We are also to obey the civil authorities (Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1), and these authorities are telling us to stay home. Yet, some pastors stubbornly refuse to close their churches. So, I want to briefly give a rebuttal to the churches that continue to meet during the pandemic.

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Love Your Neighbor in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Peter Ditzel

How not to love your neighbor. A picture of empty meat bins.
Empty meat bins in my local Walmart Supercenter. The shortages we’ve been experiencing aren’t due to a lack of supply. They’re happening because people are buying more than they need and hoarding.

I’m confident that all of you know that, as the born-again children of God, we’re to display the love of God to our brethren, to our neighbors, and even to our enemies. Love should be the hallmark of our lives. That’s beyond question. I don’t need to list the myriad Bible passages that tell us this. But what is questionable is this: During this coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic—circumstances that most of us have never before encountered—how can we best show love to others? When things change so radically and so quickly, there may be things that we’ve been doing all along that may now be blunders; they may even be harmful. And there may be ways to show love that we wouldn’t normally think of.

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