Category Archives: Christian Living


When states first started letting people put messages on their license plates, it became a challenge to decipher the meaning of a tag. There was even a TV game show based on figuring out personalized tags. Often the messages are “cute,” like BOB4UA, meaning Bob is for the University of Alabama. Or ATCHR, suggesting perhaps the person is a teacher. I saw a tag the other day that was not hard to decipher, but it was hard to understand why someone would choose that message. The tag said SINNER. It made me wonder, what is the theology of the person who chose to proclaim this message on the vehicle?-

Was this person feeling guilty for being an employee of the IRS? Jesus compared the prayers of the Pharisee who prayed “with himself,” and “the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). The Jews hated publicans, but it was not necessarily his work as a tax collector that made him a sinner.

Perhaps this person is on the run. Solomon advises, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repaid” (Proverbs 13:20-21).

Perhaps this person just wants to call attention to the common plight of mankind: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Fortunately, this verse is not the end of the story, however. The next two verses remind us, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” (Romans 3:24-25). 

An encounter with Jesus, obedience to Him, changes everything. When Jesus told Zacchaeus He was going to his house that day, “they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner” (Luke 19:7). The end result of the visit was repentance and restitution by Zacchaeus, and the declaration of Jesus,  “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:-10). Yes, we have sinned, but I thank God that Jesus gave himself so that we do not have to bear the consequences of our sins. FORGVN!


Out to lunch at an upscale restaurant, I saw the most beautiful bar display I have ever seen. The clear glass shelves were lighted from below to showcase beautiful bottles of liquor in every hue of the rainbow. They sparkled in the light, and every eye that passed by was drawn to the stunning display. Beautiful, yes, but so dangerous!

Solomon warned, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.” The beautiful color is deceptive. He asks, “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?” The answer, of course, is “They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine” (Proverbs 23:31, 29-30).

The beautiful bottles conceal hidden danger. “At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” The effect is to muddle the mind and cloud the judgment.

Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again (Proverbs 23:32-35).

Satan knows too well the power of persuasion, and how enticing sin can look. Who would think that just one drink, just one fling, just one “little” sin could lead to so much trouble? Yet hell will be filled with people who followed Satan’s enticing lead. 

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:13-15).

Don’t be dazzled by the beauty of sin.


The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown (Penguin, 2013) is the inspiring story of the University of Washington eight man crew team that won the Olympic gold medal at Berlin in 1936. Crew is the ultimate team sport. With a coxswain calling or beating time, the boat only moves swiftly and smoothly if the eight rowers work in perfect unison. The rowers were all of of different sizes, strengths, and temperaments, but they learned to dip their oars in the water and pull the boat forward as one man, in perfect precision, and were able to bring home the gold medal.

This working in unison is what God plans for His church. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compares the church, the body of Christ, to the human body, stressing each member of the body must do its part to build up the whole body. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” Just as every member of our physical bodies, from foot and eye to inner organs, is important, so is each member of the spiritual body, the church. “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:13-14, 25-27).

A unique challenge of six-man crew is that only the coxswain, guiding the rowers, can see the finish line. The rowers, the “boys in the boat” must trust him to guide and control them, never knowing for sure how close they are to the finish line. We understand that the “heavenly finish line” awaits us, but we cannot see it, and we never know exactly how close we are to reaching it. That is why, as we “run with patience the race set before us,” we look unto “Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). He has prepared the way, and He will guide us to the finish line. And the ride is so much smoother when we listen to His counsel and row as one man.


Southern philosopher and humorist Lewis Grizzard said, “Ever notice the first thing you see at an airport is a big sign that says ‘TERMINAL’? Have a nice flight.” There are many who fear air travel, and either refuse to fly, or when forced to fly, they must tranquilize themselves to prevent all-out panic. Experts say that flying is the safest way to travel, but when a plane crashes, there are few if any survivors.

“Terminal” is an interesting word. If you are in the academic world, a “terminal degree” is the pathway to a good job, and there are many fields where the lack of that master’s degree or doctorate guarantees you will never go very far. A terminal is very important in electrical connections, and a faulty terminal can mean disaster. A computer terminal is a needed fixture in libraries and many businesses. 

The first definition of terminal in the dictionary is: “of, at, relating to, or forming a limit, boundary, extremity, or end.” The definition that may most concern us is the one that says, “Causing, ending in, or approaching death: fatal.” That’s why Grizzard’s comment may hit close to home. “Terminal” should remind us that we all are … terminal.

As the writer of Hebrews discussed Christ’s sacrifice for us as our great High Priest and also the sacrificial Lamb, he asserts, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Regular appointments with the doctor may postpone that appointment with death, but we must realize that it is only a temporary postponement. We all are terminal, all set to die at some time.

When it comes to “flying through life,” we can let that knowledge that we all are terminal paralyze us with fear, or we can boldly proceed in the knowledge that this life is not all that there is. Jesus promised,  “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  I don’t claim to know all that this means. Even the disciples didn’t fully understand this. “Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” But I do know and trust the One who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:2-3, 5, 6).

Yes, we are terminal. But God is in control. Have a nice flight.


I had the opportunity to proofread some Bible camp class material. I checked for punctuation, spelling errors, typos, and anything that I could find to make the material clear and correct. Proofreading is somewhat demanding, because you can’t just read and enjoy the material. You have to examine it critically, which is what the author of the material wanted. He wanted it to be the best it could be so that it could effectively teach the kids at camp.

Not everyone wants what they write, say, or do to be examined critically. A criticism, even if it is correct, is often not received with joy. In fact, criticism is often met with outright anger. This is especially true when the critic is thought to be unfair. When the Lord warned, “Judge not that ye be not judged,” He was not warning against all judging, but giving guidelines for judging. “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:1-2).

Jesus understood something about us. We can so much more easily see the wrong in others than we can in ourselves. That is why I was asked to proofread the material. When I write something, I know how it is supposed to sound to the reader. I know how words are spelled and how sentences are structured. So when I make a mistake, I often can’t see it, because I know what it is supposed to say, even if it doesn’t actually say it. This also applies to how I live. “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). The problem is that sometimes I just can’t see my own faults as clearly as I can see the faults of others.

As a proofreader, I was invited to be critical. In life, I am not free to have a critical spirit. “Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:4-5). But how can I see my own errors? “Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” When I look into the mirror of God’s word, I need to be a “doer of God’s word,” and not just a hearer (James 1:22-25). I need to look at my own life critically, seeing how it reflects God’s will. What do you see when you proofread your life?


In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides (Anchor Books, 2014) is the story of “the grand and terrible voyage of the USS Jeannette.” A monument on the grounds of the U. S. Naval Academy honors the exploits of the Jeannette and its crew, who sought to be the first explorers to reach the north pole for the honor of the United States and its navy. In the preflight days of the 1880’s, the best received scientific theory was that there was a vast “open polar sea” at the north pole, which could be reached by sea.

Lieutenant George Washington Delong, captain, and his crew of thirty-two discovered that there is no open polar sea, and ultimately two-thirds of the crew died from frostbite and starvation as they tried to survive in a desolate arctic environment. They made new scientific discoveries, but the cost was high. It was a noble endeavor, but the maps of the day which showed that open polar sea were sadly mistaken. Delong’s journals survived, and his widow led the way in publishing his findings, but the knowledge he gained came at a heavy cost.

When we think of the many great endeavors undertaken in our world, we find that most are begun with the best intentions, and frequently with the hope that God will bless the efforts. Noble efforts to ease suffering, bring about justice, and improve our world bring our applause. The sad truth, however, is that too often men assume that they have God’s blessing–but they are mistaken. As Jesus neared the end of the sermon on the mount, He warned:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23).

I am sure that many that Jesus warned were sincere, but the test will always be whether or not men do the will of the Father. It is truly sad that some will enter noble causes, but based on mistaken information. The crew of the Jeannette gave their lives to learn the truth that science was mistaken. Sadly others may do the same.


According to WORLD Magazine (July 9, 2016, p. 12), Citigroup filed a lawsuit against AT&T over its use of the words “AT&T Thanks” in its customer loyalty program. Citigroup filed a trademark, “Citi Thanks You” in 2004, and said that AT&T’s use of the word “Thanks” violated its trademark. Last word from AT&T was that it would fight the lawsuit, saying that Citigroup can’t “own the word thanks.”

I don’t know the ins and outs of this legal battle, but I do know that  anything that keeps people from showing appreciation is not good. Many businesses and employees already have a hard time saying thanks. One of the fast-food chicken restaurants has a very firm policy of its employees saying thanks, and responding to any customer with “It was my pleasure.” But for many, it seems the employees don’t like to be inconvenienced by having to serve the customers.

Jesus was the Master of giving thanks. After His resurrection, He appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, but “their eyes were holden that they should not know him.” Even as Jesus explained to Cleopas and his companion the significance of the recent events of His crucifixion and resurrection, they still did not recognize Him. But “as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him” (Luke 24: 16, 30-31). It was when He prayed and gave thanks that they knew who He was.

Jesus always thanked the Father for hearing Him and revealing truth through Him (Matthew 11:25; John 11:41). Jesus also showed that service and kindness to others would mark His followers, even if they did not receive the proper words of thanks.

For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:32-36).

I have no choice but to be merciful and thankful. I belong to Him!


Tommy Lasorda, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers was extremely successful. In his first 12 seasons the Dodgers won six division titles, four pennants, and two World Series victories. Lasorda credited his success at motivating people to a can of evaporated milk he spotted on the kitchen table when he was 15. It said, “Contented cows give better milk.” Lasorda said, “I am of the belief that contented people give better performances. I try to make it fun for them. I try to make them proud of the organization they represent” (Bill Fromm, The Ten Commandments of Business and How to Break Them).

Paul reminds us “godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8). He modeled contentment in his own life:

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:10-13).

A Quaker farmer ran an ad in the local paper saying that he would give his farm to any man who was truly content. A successful nearby farmer thought to himself, “I have a successful farm. I am making good money. I do not have to work that hard. I must be truly content.” He went to his Quaker neighbor and said that he was truly content. The Quaker replied, “If thee art truly content, why dost thee want my farm?”

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5). Are you content? Why not? Are you on the Lord’s team?


I enjoy movies and TV shows where time travel allows people to go back and change the past. The idea of going back in time to change or correct the past has always appealed to me, because when the past is changed it also changes the future. History is changed: some never live who would have lived otherwise, and others who before met untimely early deaths, now live. The changes are not always predictable. 

Think how our world might be different if an Adolph Hitler never lived—or for that matter, a Winston Churchill never lived. What if Jonas Salk had never lived to create his polio vaccine?

The song, “What was I meant to be?” deals with this issue. In the song, aborted children around the throne of God ask Him, “What was I meant to be?” before they were killed by abortion. Perhaps there was another Marshall Keeble to share the gospel, or another Jonas Salk to cure cancer. Surely those millions of children were meant to be something. God told Jeremiah,  “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). How the world would have been different, for the worse, if Jeremiah’s mother had aborted him!

Although the only time we have is the present, we must realize that our present is quickly becoming the past, and our past/present changes the future, for good or bad. 

John 4 describes Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at the well outside the Samaritan village of Sychar. His discussion of the living water He wanted to give her, led to faith not only in her heart, but practically the whole village. They were so excited by what He taught that they begged Jesus to tarry, and he stayed two days with them. Think how different the future was for the people of that village. Luke tells of an incident at another Samaritan village, “And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.” James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to consume them, but Jesus rebuked them,  “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village” (Luke 9:53, 56). Think how the future of that village did not change.

My choices today of what I do, and what I do not do, has a tremendous effect on my future.  “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ…So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (2 Corinthians 5:10, 12).


The headline for the million holiday leaflets printed by Russian charity Mercy Capital Foundation had a simple message: “Do good!”  Or at least that is what it was supposed to say. The printer made a typographical error, and the headline, in Russian, said not “Do good!” but “Exterminate Beavers!” The print shop refused to reprint the leaflets with the correct wording, because as they said, no one would notice the typo. Maybe “Exterminate Beavers!” and “Do Good!” are similarly spelled in Russian, but you could hardly get a more opposite idea, unless of course, it is your trees that the beavers are destroying (WORLD, October 29, 2016, p. 13).

You can’t go wrong with the admonition to “Do Good!” Surely that would please the Master. As Peter summarized the ministry of Christ to the household of Cornelius, he said that God was preaching peace by Jesus Christ, “who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10:36-38).

Would Peter describe your life as one of preaching peace and going about doing good?  Are you bringing people closer to the Lord and His church? Are you walking with Him or against Him?

After Zacchaeus demonstrated his repentance, Jesus said, “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). In the temple at 12, Jesus said, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). And the Father’s business meant that He was going about doing good.

We must be doing good, even if the world does not appreciate us.

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.  Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Peter 4:14-16).

Ultimately, as we go about doing good, the purpose is not so that we may be glorified, but that God will be glorified. “Ye are the light of the world. … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5: 14, 16).

Do good, and leave the beavers alone!


An innovative treatment for traumatic brain injury and psychological health concerns at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, part of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, involves the injured service members creating masks, allowing them to illustrate hidden feelings. Common themes chosen include “death (often represented by skulls), inabililty to express themselves (mouths stitched, gagged, or locked shut), physical pain (facial wounds), and patriotic  feelings (American flags).” Some are resistant to the therapy, but several have found significant help. 

“I thought it was a joke,” recalled Sergeant Hopman. “I wanted no part of it because, number one, I’m a man, and I don’t like holding a dainty little paint brush. Number two, I’m not an artist. And number three, I’m not in kindergarten. Well, I was ignorant, and I was wrong, because it’s great. I think it’s great. I think this is what started me kind of opening up and talking about stuff and actually trying to get better.” (“Behind the Mask,” National Geographic, February 2015, p. 44).

The masks created in this program help injured service members reveal their pain within. I think, in conrast to them, that most of us create masks to hide what is within. We would hardly ever reveal the pain within our hearts to others.

But that is not how it should be in the family of God. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; …  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate” (Romans 12:10, 15-16).

Paul also urges, “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:25b-27).

Part of the glory of the New Jerusalem is that “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). While we are in this life, however, we have our brothers and sisters in Christ to lift us up and care for us, to rejoice with us and to weep with us. 


Syndicated columnist Sydney J. Harris made the following keen observation: “Men may be divided almost any way we please, but I have found the most useful distinction to be made between those who devote their lives to conjugating the verb ‘to be,’ and those who spend their lives conjugating the verb ‘to have.'”

It is a necessity of life, I suppose, that we must spend a certain amount of time conjugating the verb ‘to have.’ Could it be possible, however, that our focus becomes blurred when we forget that it is much more important who we are than what we have? The Master said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). He followed those words with the story of the rich fool, who had no time for God. “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).

There is, however, more to the observation of Mr. Harris, I believe. Conjugating the verb ‘to be’ is really our life work. We are certain things – parents, sons, daughters, Americans. We are most importantly Christians, children of God. But beyond what we are, there is something even more important. What we must remember is that we are all constantly in the process of becoming. We are becoming more faithful or less faithful, more Christ-like or less Christ-like, more godly or more ungodly. Life is not static, and neither are we. We are always becoming. We ask the child, What do you want to be when you grow up? The questions for us are always, What do we want to be? What are we becoming? and most importantly, Who are we becoming?

Paul told the Romans, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing ofyour mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). The reason we should not be conformed to the world is that God has something better in mind for us. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:28-29).

Hamlet began his soliloquy with the words, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” He then mused about whether it was better to struggle on or just prepare for the time when we have shuffled off this mortal coil. The time will come when we will not be on this earth. How well we can live with ourselves now and later, depends on whether we devote more time to who we are and are becoming than on what we have.


R. M. Cornelius identifies “Seven Ages of Man”: 

  • 6 weeks—all systems go 
  • 6 years—all systems “No!” 
  • 16 years—all systems know 
  • 26 years—all systems glow 
  • 36 years—all systems owe
  • 56 years—all systems status quo 
  • 76 years—all systems slow 

I do not know about you, but it shocks me to see that I am already firmly entrenched in the fifth age—all systems owe. Where has the time gone? Surely Job knew what he was talking about when he said, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle” (Job 7:6). 

The most precious commodity we have is not silver or gold, but time. John Randolph reminds us that “time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all possessions.” When we squander it on things that do not matter, we are foolish. Paul warns, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15–17). The days we are living in are evil with sin rampant in our world. Still, Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “this time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” What we need to help us use our time wisely is a heavenly perspective: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1–3). 

What will you do with time? I find Henry Thoreau’s observation thoughtful: “As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.” Will we “injure eternity”? We are each given twenty-four precious hours daily. Whatever age we find ourselves in, whether 6 or 76, we must serve faithfully. —Bob Prichard


Anger is a destructive emotion that has led to every kind of sin, including murder, as when Cain killed Abel (Genesis 4:4–8). The elder brother of the prodigal son “was angry, and would not go in” (Luke 15:28). Paul wrote, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26). It is possible to be angry without sinning, but very difficult.

When Jesus saw the moneychangers cheating people in the temple, He made a scourge and drove them out of the temple, saying, “Make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:16). Jesus acted out of righteous indignation. Undoubtedly He was angry, but He did not sin because He was zealous for God’s glory. Every child of God ought to be angry when the glory of God is challenged, and it is a tragedy for Christians to be so tolerant that nothing makes them angry.

James gives a simple prescription for dealing with anger: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of
God” (James 1:19–20).

To be “swift to hear” means to be a ready listener. Often we are angered because we do not have enough information. When we listen carefully, sometimes even “reading between the lines,” we may find that concern replaces anger. Anger is often simply an emotional reaction.

To be “slow to speak” means to control the tongue, which is a difficult task. James said, “ The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). Solomon said, “Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 29:20). Hasty words spoken in anger will almost always be regretted.

To be “slow to wrath” is also difficult. We can slow the anger process by counting to ten. Prayer is also helpful, as is the realization that we can control our reaction to a problem.

The “new man” in Christ lays aside worldly anger. “Put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man” (Colossians 3:8–11).


The watchword of Christianity is love. As Jesus prepared His disciples for His departure, He said, A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:34-35).

The love required of Christians goes beyond loving one another, however. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:43-45). Jesus knew He was saying something radical. He knew that the world’s standard was and is to love our neighbors and hate our enemies. Jesus wants more of His followers, however.

Striving to be like their Heavenly Father Who lovingly sends blessings to the just and the unjust, Christians must love their enemies. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:46-48). Loving our enemies is part of the Christian’s growth toward perfection.

We may not like our enemies, but we must love them. To truly love someone else is to want the best for them. Love is unselfish, concerned with what the other person, even an enemy, needs. Christ demonstrated His love for enemies: God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Rather than harboring a grudge against us because of our sin, Christ loved us enough to suffer the cross, the Just dying for the unjust. Love for enemies includes having a forgiving attitude toward those who have wronged us. Peter thought he was being generous in asking the Lord if it was good enough to forgive his brother seven times (most rabbis taught forgiving three times was sufficient). Jesus answered, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). He then explained His statement with a parable about a king and some creditors, to remind His followers that because God has forgiven us, we must forgive others. Jesus said that the love of enemies includes praying for them, blessing them, and doing good to them. Christ emphasized what the Christian does, not what the enemy does. While we cannot control how our enemies live or act, we can control how we act. We must apply the Golden Rule: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12). Loving our enemies is possible only when we surrender our will to the will of Christ, and let Him control our lives.


Note: This article considers the spiritual side of a serious topic. Please note that depression sometimes necessitates medical intervention. 

Depression is perhaps the most common emotional problem that we face today. Experts suggest as many as one in five Americans experiences severe depression sometime during their lives, and depression may be the most common health problem for women. Symptoms of depression include apathy, insomnia, difficulty in concentrating, and a general loss of interest in life. Severely depressed people may become suicidal, violent, or completely withdrawn. Depression has always been a problem for mankind. Bible characters such as King Saul, Elijah the prophet, Job, and others experienced depression.

Sources of depression may be physical, psychological, or spiritual. Fatigue, chemical imbalances, and other physical problems may cause it. After his defeat of the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah was physically exhausted. When Jezebel threatened his life, he fled into the wilderness and was ready to die. The angel of the Lord comforted him and strengthened him with food, telling him, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you” (1 Kings 19:7). He still felt overwhelmed and alone, however. He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (1 Kings 19:10). He repeated. “I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (1 Kings 19:14). The Lord encouraged him by letting him know that there were still seven thousand faithful persons in Israel, and by sending Elisha to help him.

Loss is a common psychological cause of depression. Job lost his possessions, family, health, and even his reputation. He cried, “The thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, for trouble comes” (Job 3:25–26). Later he learned that God continued to control the universe: “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (42:2). Unfulfilled hopes and dreams and feelings of worthlessness or helplessness brought on by stress also cause depression. These feelings often come because one has lost proper perspective. Disappointments may be opportunities in disguise—times to rearrange priorities, making them in line with God’s will. We can overcome feelings of helplessness and worthlessness by understanding that God is still in control. He demonstrated His love for us in the cross (Romans 5:8).

Sin has spiritual consequences, which often include depression. Obeying God is the key. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (John 15:10). God does not intend for us to be depressed, and He is eager to forgive and comfort. —Bob Prichard