CONTENTMENT:

Contentment

One dictionary defines contentment as “the state of being mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are.” Today it is rare that we find anyone who is truly content with his or her condition in life. The Bible has a great deal to say about contentment—being satisfied with what we have, who we are, and where we’re going. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25).

In essence, Jesus is telling us to be content with what we have. Moreover, He has given us a direct command not to worry about the things of this world. Then He adds, “For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:32-33). From Jesus’ words, we can deduce that lack of contentment is sin and it puts us in the same category as those who do not know God.

The apostle Paul was a man who suffered and went without the comforts of life more than most people could ever imagine (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Yet he knew the secret of contentment: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13). The writer to the Hebrews adds, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6). Yet people continue to seek after more of the things of this world, never contented with their lot in life. The bumper sticker that reads “He with the most toys wins!” epitomizes the world’s cravings for more and more.

The latest global statistic shows that if one has a roof over his head and a meal on his table he is richer than 93 percent of the world’s population. If a person wears a pair of shoes he is richer than 75 percent of the people in the world. In the United States alone, credit card debt averages more than $16,000 per household, and we are still discontented. Solomon, the wisest and richest man who ever lived, said, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

“Be content with such things as you have” means as believers such should be our trust and confidence in God that we should be satisfied with our condition regardless of our circumstances. For we know assuredly that if we are faithful God will cause all things to work together for our good (Romans 8:28).

To worry means we do not trust God. The key to overcoming our discontentment and lack of faith is to find out who God really is and how He has been faithful to supply the needs of His people in the past. Such study will grow one’s confidence and trust for the future. The apostle Peter said it succinctly: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Prophet Nathan Emol

HONESTY:

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Honesty is truthfulness. An honest person has the habit of making accurate, trustworthy statements about life, self, others and God. An honest person represents himself just as he is and tells others the truth about themselves. Honesty is not “expressing everything that goes through your mind.” That’s transparency, and a person can be honest without being transparent. However, no one can be consistently honest without a commitment to the truth. Honesty will, at times, hurt someone’s feelings, but that does not mean that dishonesty is preferable.

Dishonesty is reproved in Scripture. God does not accept a person who “practices deceit” (Psalm 101:7), and Jeremiah 9:5 says of a wicked society, “Everyone deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity.” Speaking the truth, or honesty, is a mark of healthy human interaction.

A person who knows the truth but (for whatever reason) says differently is a liar. The Bible emphasizes the importance of making true statements about God. To purposely misrepresent God is a serious offense. A liar is defined, first and foremost, as someone who denies that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 2:22). “Trusting in lies” is consistent with forgetting God (Jeremiah 13:25). And those who claim to know God but contradict Him, add to His words, or refuse to follow or accept His commands are also called liars (1 John 2:4; 5:10; Proverbs 30:6).

Honesty as a character quality is a sign of the Spirit’s work in a person’s soul. God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18); therefore, His presence in a person gives rise to truthfulness. God’s people are honest.

Humankind is not naturally honest (Psalm 116:11). Dishonesty has worldly rewards–lying can often bring financial gain, power, or temporary satisfaction. But the rewards come at a price. Dishonesty leads to more and more wickedness (Proverbs 17:4). Lying to fulfill worldly desires ultimately results in the loss of everything a person has, including his life. Hell’s inhabitants will include “all liars” (Revelation 21:8). “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).

While it is sometimes tempting to lie, misrepresent ourselves, or downplay uncomfortable truths in an effort to avoid conflict, dishonesty is never good for relationships. Speaking dishonest words in order avoid conflict is flattery (Psalm 12:2). Again, at times honesty will hurt the feelings of others. It’s inevitable. Remember the words of the wise: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6). A friend is willing to wound with the truth; sweet words, if lies, are the enemies of our soul.

That said, honesty should always be accompanied by gentleness. An honest person is motivated by love, not by an obsession with relaying accurate information (Proverbs 19:22). Above all, the honest person is concerned with telling the truth about God and fostering the spiritual growth of other people (Ephesians 4:29). Those who follow Jesus, the Truth (John 14:6), will speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Prophet Nathan Emol

SINCERITY:

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Sincerity is the quality of being free from pretense, deceit, or hypocrisy. Sincere people represent themselves honestly, and their verbal expressions are free from double-talk, gossip, flattery, or embellishment. The Bible places a high value on sincerity: “Love must be sincere” (Romans 12:9; cf. 2 Corinthians 6:6). So also must faith be sincere (1 Timothy 1:5).

The Bible has a lot to say about the need for sincerity in worship. The ancient Israelites were warned to serve the Lord without any pretense or compromise: “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14).

It’s important to understand that sincerity is not a virtue in and of itself. A person can be sincerely wrong, after all. Just because someone sincerely believes in Martians does not mean that extraterrestrial life exists. And just because someone is sincere in his belief that Krishna is a god does not affect the truth. It’s only when sincerity is applied to our search for God and His righteousness that it pleases the Lord (Matthew 6:33; Jeremiah 29:13).

Apollos was sincere, although sincerely wrong about an important matter at first (Acts 18:24–28). Apollos loved God and taught sincerely and powerfully, but he had an incomplete message. But because he was sincere in his desire to teach the truth, the Lord sent Priscilla and Aquila to instruct him. Once Apollos understood more completely the gospel message, he was even bolder in preaching about the identity of Jesus Christ. God was able to bless his ministry, even though Apollos didn’t have it all straight at first, because of his sincere desire to teach the Word of God.

When we bow in surrender at the foot of the cross, God forgives us. Only those who sincerely repent and believe are granted pardon because God is not impressed with pretense. When we agree with Him about our sinful state, God takes the record of charges against us and nails it to the cross (Colossians 2:14). He wipes our past clean and gives us a fresh start (2 Corinthians 5:17). In doing so, God eliminates any need for us to live in pretense or hypocrisy. We are freed to live authentically, having been pronounced righteous before God.

Sincerity is damaged by a penchant for people-pleasing and the creation of a public persona to mask a private reality. Social media has become a breeding ground for insincerity, comparison, and playacting. Christians can get caught up in this, too. We may fall into insincerity by becoming expert in Christian terminology, culture, and activities while being far from God in our hearts (see Matthew 15:8). God is not impressed. Insincere religious practices are a form of pride and detestable to God (Mark 7:6). He will often allow the insincere to suffer public downfalls in order to get their attention. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Insincere pretenders are often exposed when their secret sins are discovered, and this is a blessing, because it is often that exposure that strips them of pretense and allows them to rebuild their lives on sincerity.

Every human heart is subject to pride and pretense. The wise Christian allows the Holy Spirit free access to every part of his or her life with the prayer that areas of pride and insincerity will be revealed (see Psalm 139:23). God approves of sincerity in obedience to His Word: “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:16–17). God knows the depth of our commitment to Him and the level of our sincerity. We cannot hide from Him or fool Him (Psalm 139:1–12). When we allow Him to strip pretense from our lives, we discover He loves us all the same. His love frees us to embrace our authentic selves and serve others with “glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46–47).

Prophet Nathan Emol

INTEGRITY:

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In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated “integrity” means “the condition of being without blemish, completeness, perfection, sincerity, soundness, uprightness, wholeness.” Integrity in the New Testament means “honesty and adherence to a pattern of good works.”

Jesus is the perfect example of a man of integrity. After He was baptized, He went into the wilderness to fast for forty days and nights, during which time Satan came to Him at His weakest to try to break His integrity and corrupt Him. Jesus was wholly man and wholly God at the same time, and He was tempted in every way we are, yet He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15); that is the definition of integrity. Jesus is the only one who was ever without blemish, perfect, completely truthful, and always showing a pattern of good works.

Christians are called to be like Jesus. In Christ, we are new creations and can be considered without blemish before God (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21; Ephesians 1:4–8). In Christ, we also have the indwelling Holy Spirit at work in us, sanctifying us and making us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). We are also to strive to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12–13). It is by God’s power that we become increasingly people of integrity. We are called to obey God and, in so doing, to be people of uncompromised morality and integrity. Christians should be those who adhere to the truth and who do good works.

“Integrity” in our world today implies moral incorruptibility. Christians should be those who cannot be bribed or compromised because we serve God rather than men (Colossians 3:17, 23; Acts 5:29). We are to be people who keep our word (Matthew 5:37; James 5:12). We are to love those around us in both word and deed (1 John 3:17–18; James 2:17–18; Ephesians 4:29). We are called upon to believe in God and therefore to follow Him in all our ways (John 6:19; 15:1–17). Our lives should line up with our belief in God and evince a trust that His ways are best (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Living with integrity in a world where the corrupt seem favored, not to mention our battle with our own sin nature, is challenging. First Peter 3:13–18 gives this encouragement: “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” To live with integrity is to follow the example of Christ. And we can only live with true integrity by His power, which He graciously and freely gives to all who are His (John 16:33; Philippians 1:6; Ephesians 1:13–14).

Prophet Nathan Emol

PURITY:

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Purity is freedom from anything that contaminates. Purity is the quality of being faultless, uncompromised, or unadulterated. Pure water is free from any other substances. Pure gold has been refined to such a degree that all dross has been removed. And a pure life is one in which sin no longer determines the choices one makes.

Purity is important to God, who alone is truly pure. Purity is often used in Scripture as a means to communicate holiness or perfection. When Moses was building the tabernacle, God specified that the lampstand and other items inside the Holy Place be made “of pure gold” (Exodus 25:31; cf. 37:2, 16). The oil used in the tabernacle was to be pure, as was the frankincense (Leviticus 24:2, 7). The Lord has “pure” eyes (Habakkuk 1:13) and speaks “pure” words (Psalm 12:6). The New Jerusalem is described as a “city of pure gold, as pure as glass” (Revelation 21:18).

When God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1 — 2), everything was pure. There was no death, decay, pollution, or sin. God creates pure things because He is pure. In Him, there is no confusion, contradiction, or compromise. Everything He does is good (Psalm 18:30; 145:17). He created human beings to reflect His image and to live in pure, unbroken communion with Him (Genesis 1:27). However, sin is the corruptor of purity (Psalm 14:3). Impurity is often listed as one factor that will keep us away from the presence of God (Colossians 3:5–6; Galatians 5:19–21; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10). Impurity renders a person or a nation unfit for entrance into God’s presence (Joshua 3:5; Revelation 21:27; Ephesians 5:5; James 4:8). In order to have fellowship with a holy God, we must reclaim the purity that He originally intended for us: “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3–4).

In the Old Testament, people reclaimed purity by sacrificing animals in the way God specified. God had declared that He would purify them (Leviticus 22:32) if they kept all His commands (Leviticus 22:31), His Sabbaths (Leviticus 26:2), and His sacrifices (Exodus 8:27). Repentance and faith in a coming Savior, as shown in their obedience to the Law, were sufficient for God to pronounce people righteous. In the New Testament, purity is reclaimed by placing our faith in the perfect sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3–7). We cannot be pure enough on our own to see God (Romans 3:23). We must have Christ’s righteousness credited to our accounts (2 Corinthians 5:21). That’s what it means to be a Christian.

The term purity is often used today in relation to sexuality. Sexual purity is freedom from immorality or perversion. Girls sometimes wear purity rings to indicate their commitment to saving sex for marriage. Purity is closely related to holiness, and those who walk in holiness will keep themselves sexually pure: abstinent before marriage and monogamous within marriage.

When we have been born again through faith in Jesus (John 3:3), we desire to live in purity (1 Peter 1:15–16). That purity is not limited to our sexuality, although that is important (Ephesians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 6:18). God desires that we live purely in all our dealings with others (Ezekiel 45:10; Luke 6:31). Purity should define our thought life (2 Corinthians 10:5), our words (Ephesians 4:29), and our actions (1 Corinthians 10:31). Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). When our hearts are clouded with impurities, we cannot experience God’s presence or hear His voice. But when our claim to righteousness is based on what Jesus has done (Titus 3:5), we will strive to forsake sin (1 John 3:9) and live in purity of heart, enjoying fellowship with the God of purity.

Prophet Nathan Emol