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Bible Insights

What Kind of Person Are You?

Paul affirms Tychicus as a dear friend, faithful minister, and servant of God

Tychicus is a character in the Bible who most people don’t know. His name occurs only five times, once in Acts and four times in Paul’s letters. The letter to the Colossian church is one example.

Each time Tychicus’s name is mentioned, it’s in passing, and we know little about him, except that Paul often uses him to carry messages to the various churches.

We learn the most about Tychicus’s character in Paul’s letter to the church in Colossi. Once again Paul plans to send him to this church, carrying news about Paul. After he tells them this, he also gives us three characteristics of Tychicus:

A Dear Brother

First Paul affirms Tychicus as a dear brother. Think of him as a much loved, valued friend. We all want to have friends like that. But the place for us to start is to be a friend like that. May we be a dear, loved, and valued friend to others.

A Faithful Minister

In addition to Tychicus’s loyalty, Paul confirms he’s also a faithful minister. First, focus on the word faithful. Tychicus is trustworthy, dependable, and consistent in his work. Paul knows he can count on him.

Next, look at the word minister. Today we think of a minister as someone who preaches sermons and leads a church. But given what we know of Tychicus’s activities, his work as a minister carries the connotation of a helper, representative, and liaison.

That means he works behind the scenes, not upfront where people would see him or offer praise. Tychicus seems both competent and content in this role that other people today may deem as unworthy. May we be a faithful minister like Tychicus.

A Fellow Servant of God

The final trait Paul mentions is Tychicus is a servant of God, just like Paul. Though we may equate the word servant to slave, that could be an overreach. A true servant has a desire to serve others. This means serving God, with the practical application of serving Paul and the church.

Being a servant requires humility. Not many people possess this characteristic, but Paul values Tychicus as God’s servant. May we likewise aspire to serve God as we help others in his name.

May we aspire to serve God as we help others in his name. Click To Tweet

These three traits reveal so much about Tychicus. Though he’s not a celebrated leader or a prolific writer, he’s a godly person, a worthy example for us to follow.

May we be more like Tychicus, someone who’s a dear friend, faithful minister, and servant of God.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Colossians 1-4, and today’s post is on Colossians 4:7.]

Read more about other people in the New Testament in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Are You a Person of Integrity?

Righteousness is Another Word for Integrity

Someone once surprised me, catching me off guard by calling me a “man of integrity.” Though honored by their perception, I shook my head. Yes, I aspire to be a person of integrity, but I’m not there. I have a long way to go and will never fully arrive. Still it’s a worthy pursuit.

Do You Cheat at Solitaire?

I recall someone saying that integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking. I suspect most of you have never played solitaire old school, using a deck of cards, but it’s an easy way to understand this idea of integrity in private.

As someone who has played solitaire with cards, I understand this too well. Holding cards in our hands makes it all too easy to peek at what lies ahead. Yes, there have been times of integrity when I refused to cheat. And there have been other times when I gave in because I felt that peeking was my only chance to win.

That’s a lack of integrity.

How we play solitaire seems like a small thing with little consequence. But it’s indicative of the whole person. If we maintain our integrity in small things that no one sees, we’re much more likely to do so with the important things that people do see.

It takes conducting both our private and public life well to be a person of integrity.

Are You Honest and Moral?

Two key components of integrity are honesty and morality. Honesty speaks truth even when it’s difficult to do so. Dishonesty can occur by saying what is untruthful. But it can also occur by not saying what needs saying. Withholding needed information is just as dishonest as speaking lies.

Morality is doing the right thing. It means living the right way. The Bible calls this righteousness, which is not a very popular topic in today’s culture. In fact, morality is not very popular either. But both honesty and morality are integral requirements for a person of integrity.

Do You Wrap-up Things Well?

I’ve often said that a person reveals their true character by how they leave a job. Do they quit without notice, leaving their employer in a difficult situation? Or do they give their two-week’s notice and then work hard until the last hour, striving to wrap up their projects and leave on the best possible terms?

That’s integrity.

But this goes beyond ending well each time we leave a job. It’s finishing everything with excellence. It’s completing what we start. When you launch into a project do people suspect you’ll never finish? Or do they know they can depend on you to complete what you said you would do?

That’s a person of integrity.

Will You Finish Strong?

The final wrap-up occurs at the end of our lives. Will we finish the race strong? That was Paul’s goal (Acts 20:24 and 2 Timothy 4:7). Too many people coast toward the finish line of life, and some even give up or make a U-turn to head in the wrong direction.

As for me, I don’t want to lose sight of the goal. I want to run hard to get there. I want to finish strong. I want to be a person of integrity when my life here on earth winds down.

Becoming a person integrity is not a grand, one-time decision. It’s a series of little decisions, moment by moment, day by day. Click To Tweet

Be a Person of Integrity

Becoming a person of integrity is not a grand, one-time decision. It’s a series of little decisions, moment by moment, day by day. Each one of these helps us establish a habit of integrity. Each one helps us move toward the goal of being a person of integrity.

The opposite is also true. Each time we fail to do what is right, each time we take a shortcut because it’s expedient, and each time we spew a white lie because it’s easier than speaking truth, we move away from integrity.

These also combine over time to lessen our integrity. We then risk becoming dishonest, immoral, and corrupt.

When I think of integrity, I think of righteousness. The opposite of righteousness is unrighteousness. The Bible talks a lot about that—and warns against it.

Each day I strive toward the goal of righteousness, with the intent of becoming a person of integrity. This is not only to serve as an example to others, but also as an act of worship to God. I long to one day hear him say, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

May it be so.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Do We Have an Inward Focus or an Outward Focus?

Focusing on Ourselves Is Selfish While Focusing on Others Is Selfless

There was a time when I headed up our church’s small group initiative. One of the things I learned was that small groups with an inward focus lasted about eighteen months and fizzled out.

However, groups with an outward focus would last much longer. Yes, members would come and go, but the group’s focus on others kept them united and moving forward.

Small Group Focus

However, there are some small groups which need to maintain an internal focus. These are recovery groups and self-help groups. The people there need help. They’re broken. They can’t give to others because they’re barely hanging on themselves. Once they’re better, then they can help.

Aside from these groups, all other groups need to look beyond themselves. What can they do to help others? How can they show the love of Jesus to others? Who can they minister to?

When they rally together for an external mission, they draw themselves together, experience personal growth, and advance the kingdom of God.

But when they look inwardly, they atrophy. The group dies.

Church Focus

Expand this concept of small groups to churches. Some churches have an internal focus and others have an outward focus.

Inward-looking churches are concerned with themselves. “What can we do for our comfort? What can we do to make us feel good?” Often their focus is on survival. They need more people to remain viable. But they don’t seek more people for the good of those people.

What they’re really after is the money those people bring with them. This is so selfish and unspiritual that few church leaders will ever admit it. But it’s true.

Outward looking churches seek to benefit their community. Yes, they want to tell others about Jesus, yet they realize the most effective way they can do this is through service. How can they serve their neighbors? How can they make the community a better place?

A convicting question every church should ask is: “If our church disappeared today, would anyone in our community notice? Would anyone care?”

Personal Focus

Now let’s narrow the focus. Let’s look at ourselves. As an introvert I do this a lot. I’m introspective. This fuels my writing, which is an outward looking initiative. Yet by default I’m an inward-looking guy. My writing is one outward-looking effort.

People with an inward focus are often selfish and may be lonely. They think about themselves and their own comfort first, with others being a secondary concern or completely overlooked.

We can work toward being more outwardly focused and less inwardly focused. Click To Tweet

Outward Focus

Jesus followers who have an outward focus seek to bring him with them wherever they go. They give their attention to others. They focus on the needs of others and don’t worry so much about their own comfort. Everything they do advances the kingdom of God.

This is easier for some of us than others because of how God made us as individuals. Yet, regardless of where we are on the introvert/extrovert spectrum, we can work toward being more outwardly focused and less inwardly focused.

Regardless, may we make a difference in the lives of everyone we meet or talk to today.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Jesus Calls Us To Serve With Humility

Living a life for Jesus is living contrary to our culture

Jesus often warns his followers to not be hypocrites. As an example of who not to emulate, he usually singles out the religious leaders. This is a sobering thought for anyone on a church staff or who has a following of spiritual seekers. Don’t be a hypocrite!

Apparently Jesus realizes how easy it is for religious leaders to succumb to hypocrisy. In their zeal to pursue God and guide their people, they often give instructions that they themselves cannot or will not follow.

Their words don’t align with their actions. They’re hypocritical. This was as real in Jesus’s time as it is for us today.

While it’s easy to see hypocrisy in others, it’s more difficult to see it in ourselves. Surely this warning against being hypocritical applies to others and not us. We would never act like that. Yet as soon as we think this, we should probably receive it as a sign to examine ourselves with great care.

Jesus ends one of his teachings against hypocrisy with two confounding statements:

To Be Great, We Must Serve

When we think of leadership in our world today, we seldom think about service. In fact, our common view of great people is that they expect others to serve them.

This is backwards for Jesus. He says when we serve others, then we will become great. But this doesn’t necessarily mean we become great in our world, but we will become great in his. Which is more important?

Jesus says when we serve others, then we will become great. Click To Tweet

To Be Exalted, We Must Be Humble

Next Jesus warns that people who try to promote themselves, that is to elevate themselves, will end up being embarrassed. They will be humiliated. Ultimately, the person who takes on true humility will in the end be exalted. Though this sometimes occurs in our world today, it will most certainly happen in our future spiritual reality with Jesus.

In these verses we see a clear call from Jesus to serve with humility. We must grasp this concept. Then we must do it. A failure to do so may be a form of hypocrisy. But when we serve with humility, we point the world to him.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Matthew 23-25, and today’s post is on Matthew 23:11-12.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Are We Just Doing Our Job or Getting God’s Attention?

Jesus gives a brief story about the interaction between a servant and his master. The conclusion is that the servant should not expect any praise or special treatment for merely doing his job.

So too should be our attitude when we do what God expects of us.

Instead, we—I don’t think I’m alone in this—have a tendency to expect God’s attention and special favor when we merely do what we’re supposed to do. It’s as if we tell him, “Look what I did for you; now you need to do something for me.”

While I do think God appreciates and takes pleasure in the good things we do, he doesn’t owe us anything as a result.

He’s already given us everything through Jesus. What more could we want or need?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 16-18, and today’s post is on  Luke 17:7-10.]

Read more about the book of Luke in That You May Know: A 40-Day Devotional Exploring the Life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

God as the Master

God as the Master

The next word picture for God, is him as the master and we as his servants.

With God as our master we see him as being in charge; he is the boss and directs our activities.

Extending this image to us, there is a need to follow directives, to listen to him and obey him. We do have a choice (free will), however, and can choose to not obey, but that would make us to be an unfaithful servant.

Also, there is also the reminder that we can only truly serve one master: God or something else: be it money, things, a job, a person or relationship, amassing power, attaining prestige, or even leisure.

[Matthew 6:24, Matthew 10:24, 1 Samuel 3:10, Matthew 25:21]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.