The Biblical Fast: Fasting That Pleases God And Achieves Results

Fasting is a spiritual act of worship that humbles the soul before God. It involves partial or total abstinence from food and/or water, as well as other carnal pleasures, for a specified period of time, during which the individual gives himself to prayers. Fasting is associated with seeking God’s face in desperate circumstances, as well as in mourning for sin and other calamities, and was widely practised in biblical times. However, some people have questioned its relevance in the New Testament, equating it with works of the Law. Is fasting still relevant in this dispensation of grace? And if so, how are Christians to fast in order to please God and achieve results? We shall examine Scripture to answer these questions.

Fasting was a common practice in biblical times, as recorded in both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus was recorded to have fasted for a lengthy period at the start of his ministry. We are told that he was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit and fasted for forty days and forty nights. This was to prepare himself for his earthly ministry and the temptation he was going to face. He no doubt continued this practice of fasting throughout his ministry, as evidenced by some of his remarks.

Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Matthew 4:2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Matthew 4:3 And the tempter came and said to him, If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.

Matthew 4:4 But he answered, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Matthew 4:5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple

Matthew 4:6 and said to him, If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, He will command his angels concerning you, and On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.

Matthew 4:7 Jesus said to him, Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.

Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.

Matthew 4:9 And he said to him, All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.

Matthew 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, Be gone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.

Matthew 4:11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him (ESV).

John the Baptist and his disciples also fasted often. Before his death and resurrection, the disciples of Jesus apparently weren’t much into fasting. This was noted by John’s disciples and the Pharisees, who questioned Jesus about it. His response was very instructive. Jesus made it clear he didn’t exempt his disciples from fasting. They apparently didn’t see any need for fasting while Jesus was with them. However, according to Jesus, a time would come when he would be taken away from them and then they would begin to fast! A time was coming, Jesus said, when fasting would become necessary for the disciples!

Matthew 9:14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?

Matthew 9:15 And Jesus said to them, Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast (ESV).

True to Jesus’ words, we see the apostles fasting often after his ascension. Paul was an outstanding apostle, and by far the chief of the apostles. For sure, God’s grace was abundant upon him, but he did not frustrate the grace of God. He laboured more abundantly than all the others who were apostles before him, in order to make the grace of God count. Key to that effort to effectively harness the grace of God in his life and ministry was prayer coupled with fasting! Paul made it abundantly clear that he fasted often!

2 Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.

2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I am more so; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths often.

2 Corinthians 11:24 Five times from the Jews I received forty stripes minus one.

2 Corinthians 11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I suffered shipwreck. I have been a night and a day in the deep.

2 Corinthians 11:26 I have been in travels often, perils of rivers, perils of robbers, perils from my countrymen, perils from the Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brothers;

2 Corinthians 11:27 in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, and in cold and nakedness.

2 Corinthians 11:28 Besides those things that are outside, there is that which presses on me daily, anxiety for all the assemblies (WEB).

Paul listed fasting as one of the ways through which ministers show themselves forth as true servants of God. He not only fasted, he fasted often! Paul also described fasting as an act of worship through which believers serve God. His own ministry, like that of our Lord, was launched by prayer and fasting, and energised throughout by it! Paul (addressed as Saul at the beginning of his ministry) was a man given to prayer and fasting!

The Acts 13:1 Now in the assembly that was at Antioch there were some prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen the foster brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

The Acts 13:2 As they served the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Separate Barnabas and Saul for me, for the work to which I have called them.”

The Acts 13:3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

The Acts 13:4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia. From there they sailed to Cyprus (WEB).

2 Corinthians 6:3 We give no occasion of stumbling in anything, that our service may not be blamed,

2 Corinthians 6:4 but in everything commending ourselves, as servants of God, in great endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses,

2 Corinthians 6:5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in labors, in watchings, in fastings;

2 Corinthians 6:6 in pureness, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in sincere love,

2 Corinthians 6:7 in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

2 Corinthians 6:8 by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true;

2 Corinthians 6:9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and not killed (WEB).

Paul equally expected believers to fast regularly. In his first Epistle to the Corinthians, he mentioned fasting as a reason for married couples to mutually agree to abstain from sexual relations. Married people were to pray and fast regularly (and abstain from sex during this period) so that they would develop self-control inorder to be able to resist sexual temptations. When someone in the Corinthian church was living immorally with his father’s wife, Paul expected the church to be mourning over this sin rather than rejoicing, an allusion to the practice of fasting as a way of mourning for sin and other calamities, as a show of humble repentance and prostration before God for mercy.

1 Corinthians 7:3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection owed her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:4 The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise also the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife.

1 Corinthians 7:5 Don’t deprive one another, unless it is by consent for a season, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer, and may be together again, that Satan doesn’t tempt you because of your lack of self-control (WEB).

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife.

1 Corinthians 5:2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? (NIV).

Jesus himself emphasised the necessity of prayer coupled with fasting. He taught that some demons could not be cast out of people, except by prayer and fasting. His disciples had tried in vain to cast out some demons from someone. When Jesus did it so effortlessly, the disciples were humbled and wondered why they themselves could not do same. The answer was simple: some demons can’t be cast out except by fasting and prayer!That’s what Jesus himself taught!

St. Mark 9:17 One of the multitude answered, “Teacher, I brought to you my son, who has a mute spirit;

St. Mark 9:18 and wherever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth, and wastes away. I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they weren’t able.”

St. Mark 9:19 He answered him, “Unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to me.”

St. Mark 9:20 They brought him to him, and when he saw him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground, wallowing and foaming at the mouth.

St. Mark 9:21 He asked his father, “How long has it been since this has come to him?” He said, “From childhood.

St. Mark 9:22 Often it has cast him both into the fire and into the water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.”

St. Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

St. Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out with tears, “I believe. Help my unbelief!”

St. Mark 9:25 When Jesus saw that a multitude came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to him, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!”

St. Mark 9:26 Having cried out, and convulsed greatly, it came out of him. The boy became like one dead; so much that most of them said, “He is dead.”

St. Mark 9:27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and raised him up; and he arose.

St. Mark 9:28 When he had come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?”

St. Mark 9:29 He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing, except by prayer and fasting.” (WEB).

Now, having established the necessity and relevance of fasting for New Testament believers, let’s quickly examine the type of fasting that pleases God and achieves results. Like all other religious obligations, except we do things lawfully and scripturally, we end up serving God in vain. People may just be starving themselves while thinking they’re fasting! Therefore, to avoid fasting in vain, let’s examine Scripture to see the type of fasting God recommends.

St. Matthew 6:16 “Moreover when you fast, don’t be like the hypocrites, with sad faces. For they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen by men to be fasting. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward.

St. Matthew 6:17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face;

St. Matthew 6:18 so that you are not seen by men to be fasting, but by your Father who is in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you (WEB).

We are warned against hypocrisy in fasting. Hypocrites do their religious duties for others to see and applaud. Those who fast hypocritically disfigure their faces for all who see them to know they’re fasting. They wear long mournful faces, and never miss the opportunity to let people know they’re fasting. According to the Lord, that’s hypocrisy. That doesn’t impress God and it doesn’t attract any divine reward. Rather, we’re instructed to look cheerful when we’re fasting, so as to distract others from knowing what we’re doing. Our fasting should be known only by God, if possible. When we fast to please God only, when we fast in secret, God who sees in secret will reward us openly. Fasting, like prayer and giving, is not to be announced publicly, otherwise we lose our reward from God! Fasting is not for show off!

God is not pleased when people fast with strife, bitterness and malice in their hearts. When we display wickedness to others while fasting, when we turn our faces away from the poor and needy while fasting, our fasting is in vain. Fasting becomes an unprofitable hypocritical ritual when we fast with wicked hearts and evil intentions! Some people even fast for God to harm or kill their enemies! God will not honour fastings that emanate from malice and wickedness to our fellow men!

Isaiah 58:1 “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Tell my people Israel of their sins!

Isaiah 58:2 Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to hear my laws. You would almost think this was a righteous nation that would never abandon its God. They love to make a show of coming to me and asking me to take action on their behalf.

Isaiah 58:3 ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have done much penance, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why! It’s because you are living for yourselves even while you are fasting. You keep right on oppressing your workers.

Isaiah 58:4 What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.

Isaiah 58:5 You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like a blade of grass in the wind. You dress in sackcloth and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord?

Isaiah 58:6 “No, the kind of fasting I want calls you to free those who are wrongly imprisoned and to stop oppressing those who work for you. Treat them fairly and give them what they earn.

Isaiah 58:7 I want you to share your food with the hungry and to welcome poor wanderers into your homes. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

Isaiah 58:8 “If you do these things, your salvation will come like the dawn. Yes, your healing will come quickly. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.

Isaiah 58:9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Stop oppressing the helpless and stop making false accusations and spreading vicious rumors!

Isaiah 58:10 Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as day.

Isaiah 58:11 The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.

Isaiah 58:12 Your children will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as the people who rebuild their walls and cities (NLT).

A word of caution concerning fasting: people should fast according to their abilities and according to the grace they’ve received from God. Also, individuals should factor in their medical conditions while fasting. People with pre-existing medical conditions should get clearance from their physicians before fasting. Pregnant women should also avoid fasting. As much as possible, people should avoid prolonged fasting that can have dangerous effects on health and well-being. Fasting should not be seen as a competition, but rather as a service to be rendered to God according to the grace given to each one.

Romans 12:6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;

Romans 12:7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;

Romans 12:8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully (NIV).

In conclusion, fasting as a means of humbling oneself before God through abstinence from food and carnal pleasures is still as relevant for God’s people today as it was in biblical times. However, it can easily turn to unproductive hunger strike if done with wrong motives and intentions. The fast that God desires must be done with pure motives, and it must be a secret between the faster and God. Only fasting done in this way attracts blessings from God.

Accountability In The Management Of Church Finance: A Biblical Overview

Mismanagement of church finance has generated a lot of scandals which have engulfed not a few men of God, and has brought the gospel into disrepute. We’ve seen ministers of the gospel indicted and jailed for fraud and embezzlement of church money. Other greedy and covetous ones who were lucky to escape human justice have made shipwreck of their faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. How are we to prevent scandals in the ministry when it comes to the issue of money? How are we to ensure accountability in the management of church finance? We shall examine Scripture to find the recommended ways of managing financial matters in the house of God.

To start with, let it be clearly understood that church money and other church resources belong to the church, and not to any individual, including pastors! Financial contributions of members of a church are meant to meet needs and obligations in the church, as the church strives to accomplish its mission and vision. Offerings are given in church with the faith that they will be used in an honest and transparent way to meet needs in the house of God. The handling of church finance should therefore be done with utmost honesty and transparency. Church funds are public funds held in trust, and they should be managed with the highest level of probity and accountability.

The first step towards enforcing accountability in the management of church finance is to ensure that church money is overseen and managed by more than one reputable person appointed by the church for that purpose. Church money should not be controlled by a single person, but should be managed by a committee of people with good reputation, men and women filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom, who have been proven trustworthy in prior engagements. That was the recommendation of the original Apostles when there was a complaint about how church resources were being used at the church’s inception.

The Acts 6:1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

The Acts 6:2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.

The Acts 6:3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.

The Acts 6:4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

The Acts 6:5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.

The Acts 6:6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

The Acts 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith (ESV).

That Spirit-inspired decision of the Apostles resolved the crisis of confidence in the management of church finance that sprung up in the early church, and brought peace and unity to the church, which helped the church to remain focused on its mission. It also preserved and protected the integrity of the Apostles and the gospel they preached. The church was kept free from scandals by the transparent way the Apostles handled the issue of church finance. That was the same approach Apostle Paul adopted in the management of the funds raised for the support of the poor Christians in Jerusalem by the churches in Macedonia. Paul was careful to ensure that the money was not entrusted to the care of one person (not even himself), to avoid scandals which could drag the gospel into disrepute. He allowed the church to select people they had confidence in, based on past records of integrity and honest dealings in the service of the Lord, to manage and convey the monetary contributions to the intended targets. Paul was careful to ensure financial dealings in the church were done in an open, honest and transparent way, to avoid people questioning the project and his motives. He was careful to present things honest not just in the sight of God, but also in the sight of men.

2 Corinthians 8:16 Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you.

2 Corinthians 8:17 For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative.

2 Corinthians 8:18 And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel.

2 Corinthians 8:19 What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help.

2 Corinthians 8:20 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift.

2 Corinthians 8:21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.

2 Corinthians 8:22 In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you.

2 Corinthians 8:23 As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ (NIV).

Another important consideration in the quest to achieve financial accountability in the church is the need to understand that church funds are not just meant for the upkeep of pastors alone. Church funds are meant to solve all problems and meet all needs that arise in the house of God. Among the needs to be taken care of by financial contributions in the church include the upkeep of ministers of the gospel, the maintenance of the poor and needy, including widows (especially widows who are widows indeed), the fatherless, etc, in addition to financing programmes aimed at spreading the gospel and maintaining the places of worship. In the Old Testament, the three-yearly tithes were not meant for the upkeep of the Priests and the Levites alone. Rather, they were to provide food in God’s house for all in need, including the Priests and Levites, the widows, the poor, the fatherless, and the strangers in the land of Israel. In the New Testament, financial contributions to the church were not used by the Apostles alone to finance lavish lifestyles while the other members of the church languished in poverty and need. Rather, distributions were made according to people’s needs in the church, such that no one lacked in a church that ran into tens of thousands of people! True accountability in church finance will only occur when church funds are used to solve all problems in the church, and not just to take care of pastors while the flocks suffer! Ministers will be called to account for the way they took care of the flocks under their care, spiritually and otherwise, with the resources available at their disposal!

Deuteronomy 26:12 When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied (NIV).

The Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

The Acts 4:34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold

The Acts 4:35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need (ESV).

Matthew 24:45 Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time?

Matthew 24:46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.

Matthew 24:47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.

Matthew 24:48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, My master is delayed,

Matthew 24:49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards,

Matthew 24:50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know

Matthew 24:51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (ESV).

It’s important that ministers avoid being directly involved with the handling of money or its disbursement in the church. Ministers are to concern themselves primarily with the preaching of the gospel. Administrative matters of the church, including management of finance, should be committed to tried and trusted faithful men and women who have the requisite training and aptitude in those areas. When ministers entangle themselves with financial matters in the church, they lose focus in the preaching of the gospel, and open themselves up to scandals. Ministers, as superintendents of the church, should have oversight of even those who manage church money, because they’re overseers of all resources in the church, human as well as material, but they should not be the ones to handle church money or disburse same! Ministers should distance themselves from anything that will likely bring blame to the ministry. Nothing raises suspicion and brings scandals (real or imagined) more than the way money is handled in the church! That’s what the original apostles of the Lord taught us to avoid.

The Acts 6:2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.

The Acts 6:3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them

The Acts 6:4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” (NIV).

2 Corinthians 6:3 We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry.

2 Corinthians 6:4 In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind (NLT).

Ministers should go to great lengths to make themselves accountable to the people they serve, especially in the management of church finance. Nothing kills people’s confidence and trust in ministers more than the way church money is handled. Transparency, honesty and accountability in the handling of money are essential to winning the trust and confidence of the people we serve. If we lose that trust, we lose everything, including the acceptance of the gospel we preach. Like Moses, Samuel and Paul, ministers must be able to look the people in the eye and tell them they’ve managed church resources without greed or covetousness, and that fact should be open for all to verify! Church accounts should be published periodically for all to see and judge for themselves!

Numbers 16:15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the LORD, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.” (NIV).

1 Samuel 12:1 Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you.

1 Samuel 12:2 Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day.

1 Samuel 12:3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.”

1 Samuel 12:4 “You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”

1 Samuel 12:5 Samuel said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and also his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” “He is witness,” they said (NIV).

The Acts 20:33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.

The Acts 20:34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.

The Acts 20:35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ’It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (NIV).

For the purpose of accountability, church offerings should not be paid into a private account, be it the personal account of a pastor or any church member. The church should have dedicated bank accounts for various offerings, which should be managed by the committee responsible for the administration of various projects in the church. In the Old Testament for instance, the three-yearly tithes were not taken to the private houses of individual Priests or Levites, but were brought to storehouses in various cities in Israel, where they were collected and administered by Levites (who were administrative assistants to the Priests), with distributions made to Priests, Levites, widows, the fatherless, the poor and strangers in the land of Israel. This should be the pattern for collection, storage and distribution/utilisation of church funds and other resources.

Malachi 3:10 Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need (ESV).

Nehemiah 10:35 We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the LORD;

Nehemiah 10:36 also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks;

Nehemiah 10:37 and to bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and to bring to the Levites the tithes from our ground, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our towns where we labor.

Nehemiah 10:38 And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive the tithes. And the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse (ESV).

Moreover, money raised for a project should be used for that project only, and the people should be kept abreast of all developments during the execution of the project. It’s fraudulent and deceitful to use money raised for a specific project for something else, without seeking approval from the people who contributed the money. The people’s trust is lost if minsiters’ words are not matched with action with respect to the purpose of raising particular funds. An apt example is found in the Old Testament with respect to repairs in the Temple. Let’s consider this example carefully.

2 Kings 12:4 Joash said to the priests, “Collect all the money that is brought as sacred offerings to the temple of the LORD —the money collected in the census, the money received from personal vows and the money brought voluntarily to the temple.

2 Kings 12:5 Let every priest receive the money from one of the treasurers, then use it to repair whatever damage is found in the temple.”

2 Kings 12:6 But by the twenty-third year of King Joash the priests still had not repaired the temple.

2 Kings 12:7 Therefore King Joash summoned Jehoiada the priest and the other priests and asked them, “Why aren’t you repairing the damage done to the temple? Take no more money from your treasurers, but hand it over for repairing the temple.”

2 Kings 12:8 The priests agreed that they would not collect any more money from the people and that they would not repair the temple themselves.

2 Kings 12:9 Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in its lid. He placed it beside the altar, on the right side as one enters the temple of the LORD. The priests who guarded the entrance put into the chest all the money that was brought to the temple of the LORD.

2 Kings 12:10 Whenever they saw that there was a large amount of money in the chest, the royal secretary and the high priest came, counted the money that had been brought into the temple of the LORD and put it into bags.

2 Kings 12:11 When the amount had been determined, they gave the money to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. With it they paid those who worked on the temple of the LORD —the carpenters and builders,

2 Kings 12:12 the masons and stonecutters. They purchased timber and blocks of dressed stone for the repair of the temple of the LORD, and met all the other expenses of restoring the temple.

2 Kings 12:13 The money brought into the temple was not spent for making silver basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, trumpets or any other articles of gold or silver for the temple of the LORD;

2 Kings 12:14 it was paid to the workers, who used it to repair the temple (NIV).

Another important issue in accountability is the need to be honest and sincere with the people. The people should be told the exact amount of money needed for a project, and once the required amount is gotten, further donations should be halted in that regard. Regular briefings to carry the people along with the project are required each step of the way. To allow people to continue to make contributions for a project whose financial targets have been met is dishonest and fraudulent. Moses showed how a minister should be honest and accountable with the people while building the tabernacle in the wilderness. As soon as the target was met, he stopped further contributions. That’s being an honest and a transparent leader!

Exodus 36:2 Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work.

Exodus 36:3 They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning.

Exodus 36:4 So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing

Exodus 36:5 and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the LORD commanded to be done.”

Exodus 36:6 Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more,

Exodus 36:7 because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work (NIV).

Finally, due diligence must be given to the issue of accountability when it comes to church finance. People must give an account of their stewardship at periodic intervals. Such reports must be made available and accessible to all church members. Auditing of church accounts and financial transactions must be done in line with international best practices. Once those who handle church money know that they’re to account to the people for every penny in their custody, people will be more careful how they handle church money. The parable of stewardship given by the Lord should be applied to every aspect of ministry, but especially to church finance. Those suspected of fraud or mismanagement should be removed from such positions promptly and sanctioned appropriately, for others to fear and learn to be honest!

St. Luke 16:1 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.

St. Luke 16:2 So he called him in and asked him, ’What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ (NIV).

1 Timothy 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.

1 Timothy 5:20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear (AKJV).

In conclusion, accountability and transparency should be hallmarks of managing resources in the church, especially monetary resources. Ministers should supervise the selection of reputable, capable and trustworthy believers to manage church finance, but should not be involved in the day-to-day management themselves. They should give themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word while other competent and reliable people handle the adminstration of church finance. Financial transactions of the church should be published periodically for all to see, and church finance should be audited regularly. These measures will to help prevent financial scandals in churches, as well as keep the ministry blame-free.

Should Christians Read Secular Literature?

The reading of secular literature has been frowned upon by some conservative Christians as carnal and sinful. Those who condemn the act insist believers should read and fill their minds only with sacred writings that glorify God. What’s the position of Scripture on this issue? Can Christians lawfully read any literature that’s not based on the Holy Scriptures? Let’s examine the Bible for answers to these questions.

The Acts 7:20 At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house,

The Acts 7:21 and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son.

The Acts 7:22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds (ESV).

Moses, we learnt from Scripture, was brought up by Pharaoh’s daughter as her adopted son. Being raised as a prince in Egypt, Moses was tutored in all the arts, science and philosophy of the Egyptians. He thus became a mighty prince in Egypt, and was powerful, both in speech and in action. Moses could easily relate with people of other cultures, being well exposed himself, by virtue of his universal education. Being educated in other cultures (through the study of secular literature, among other means) makes a person able to engage people of other cultures in a broad-minded way. An understanding of other cultures and worldviews gives us easy access into other people’s lives, which is necessary for effective evangelism. We see this point clearly demonstrated in the ministry of Paul, in his preaching to heathens.

The Acts 17:28 for In him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, For we are indeed his offspring.

The Acts 17:29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man (ESV).

Paul was preaching Jesus to heathen philosophers in Athens, a city in ancient Greece wholly given to idolatory. In order to catch their attention and get the gospel across to them, he quoted one of their Greek poets, Aratus of Cilicia. The pagan Poet Aratus, in the beginning of his book, Phenomena, speaking of the heathen god Jupiter (whom the heathen considered the supreme God), says this of him, tou gar kai genos esmen“for we are also his offspring”. Having quoted a portion from Aratus’ poem, Paul then made the argument as to why the Supreme Deity couldn’t be like the dead idols they worshipped, if human beings are his offsprings. He deflty turned their attention from Jupiter to Jehovah as the Supreme God, and then to the resurrected Jesus Christ as the Saviour and Judge of all mankind. By quoting a popular pagan poet, Paul showed he was an all-round scholar (not just of sacred Scriptures, but also of secular literature), and that the learning of secular literature can be an invaluable tool to a Christian and minister of the gospel, especially in the convincing of educated and learned unbelievers. It enables us to speak to them in a language they can relate with. Sometimes, we need to use the enemy’s own weapon against him, like David did with Goliath’s sword. How can you engage and defeat an adversary you don’t understand? If you know your opponent’s stronghold, it will be easy to undermine his faith by using his knowledge against him. If you can puncture holes in his worldview, you’ll shake the very foundations of his faith and open him up to the gospel. Paul used that approach to great effect among the heathens, and won not a few converts thereby.

The Acts 17:32 When they heard Paul speak of the resurrection of a person who had been dead, some laughed, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.”

The Acts 17:33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them,

The Acts 17:34 but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Council, a woman named Damaris, and others (NLT).

Paul, the most effective Apostle in the history of the Church, demonstrated the need for Christians to become all things to all men in order to win some for Christ. Paul showed the need to identify with the people around us, in order for them to open up to us and give us a chance to minister to them. Mirroring people smartly lowers their resistance to us and to the gospel we preach, and is a necessary tool for effective evangelism. The fastest means of acculturation with our target audience is through the study of their literature and close observance of their ways of life. Paul was a master of this strategy, and proved himself an effective Apostle to the Gentiles.

1 Corinthians 9:18 What then is my pay? It is the satisfaction I get from preaching the Good News without expense to anyone, never demanding my rights as a preacher.

1 Corinthians 9:19 This means I am not bound to obey people just because they pay me, yet I have become a servant of everyone so that I can bring them to Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:20 When I am with the Jews, I become one of them so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with those who follow the Jewish laws, I do the same, even though I am not subject to the law, so that I can bring them to Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not have the Jewish law, I fit in with them as much as I can. In this way, I gain their confidence and bring them to Christ. But I do not discard the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:22 When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:23 I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings (NLT).

Solomon was the wisest man that walked upon this earth, until Christ came. He was imbued with divine wisdom, which he used to administer the most prosperous earthly kingdom of his time. Solomon wrote many sacred books, including most of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and some Psalms. However, Solomon also wrote plenty stuffs on diverse secular subjects like love and romance, botany, zoology, horticulture, geography, economics and politics, among others. God’s wisdom is not just for spiritual understanding; it’s also for understanding the physical and natural world we live in. We’re not to read only sacred literature; we’re to also develop and cultivate our minds with respect to secular knowledge! The entire Songs of Solomon, the book of love and romance (an aspect of secular literature), was written by Solomon!

1 Kings 4:29 God gave Solomon wisdom–keen insight and a mind as limitless as the sand on the seashore.

1 Kings 4:30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than that of all the eastern people and all the wisdom of the Egyptians.

1 Kings 4:31 He was wiser than anyone, than Ethan the Ezrahite, or Heman, Calcol, or Darda, Mahol’s sons. His fame spread to all the nations around him.

1 Kings 4:32 Solomon spoke 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs.

1 Kings 4:33 He described and classified trees–from the cedar in Lebanon to the hyssop growing out of the wall. He described and classified animals, birds, reptiles, and fish.

1 Kings 4:34 People came from every nation to hear his wisdom; they came from all the kings of the earth who had heard about his wisdom (GodsWord).

In the passage above, we equally read of the wisdom of other people not classified as God’s people, especially the ancient Egyptians and Chaldeans. Chaldea and Egypt were nations famous for learning, with an abundance of scholars whose works impacted significantly on the course of civilisation. These scholars, though not known to be believers in Jehovah, were no doubt imbued with knowledge and wisdom, and had something believers could learn from. No doubt, the writings of such men should be worthy of study even by God’s people. God has distributed to all men one form of knowledge or the other, to each man some measure of grace. Now, whether all men know and acknowledge him as the source of all good gifts and endowments is an entirely different thing. The fact remains, however, that God has gifted all men with things that would benefit the entire race. It would be foolish to write off what others have to offer in terms of skills, knowledge and wisdom, just because they are not Christians. It would be foolish to disdain and disregard all forms of secular literature and the knowledge contained therein. If we can learn from animals, surely we can learn from all human beings?

James 1:17 Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (RSV).

Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard. Consider her ways, and be wise; (WEB).

Furthermore, let’s consider Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the Hebrew children who served in Nebuchadnezzar’s court in Babylon. We read of these God-fearing Jews who were highly favoured by God. Daniel was a great prophet who was highly regarded in heaven. The book he wrote, which bears his name, contains some of the most profound prophecies concerning endtime events. But, God’s gifts to these Hebrew children in Babylon were not only in spiritual knowledge and wisdom. God also imbued them with great skills in science, languages, secular literature and philosophy! God is a God of all knowledge, including secular knowledge! To despise any realm of human knowledge is to despise God’s gifts! Some truths about the universe can be found in the writings of secular writers, and it would be foolish to ignore them, simply because they’re proposed by unbelievers!

Daniel 1:3 The king told Ashpenaz, the chief-of-staff, to bring some of the Israelites, the royal family, and the nobility.

Daniel 1:4 They were to be young men who were healthy, good-looking, knowledgeable in all subjects, well-informed, intelligent, and able to serve in the king’s palace. They were to be taught the language and literature of the Babylonians.

Daniel 1:6 Among these young men were some Judeans: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

Daniel 1:7 The chief-of-staff gave them Babylonian names: To Daniel he gave the name Belteshazzar. To Hananiah he gave the name Shadrach. To Mishael he gave the name Meshach. And to Azariah he gave the name Abednego.

Daniel 1:17 God gave these four men knowledge, wisdom, and the ability to understand all kinds of literature. Daniel could also understand all kinds of visions and dreams.

Daniel 1:18 At the end of the three-year training period, the chief-of-staff brought all the young men to Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel 1:19 The king talked to them and found no one like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah among all of them. So these four men served the king.

Daniel 1:20 Whenever the king asked them about things that required wisdom and insight, he found that they knew ten times more than all the magicians and psychics in his whole kingdom (GodsWord).

Finally, rather than despise and disparage all forms of secular literature, Christians should judge and carefully examine what they read. We should be open to all knowledge and all truths, because all truths are God’s truths! However, we should be careful to avoid filling our minds with stuffs that are lewd, vulgar and base. We’re to take care to avoid things that are capable of inflaming vile passions and leading us into sin. Even among secular writers, there are those who stay within the bounds of natural morality and decency. Consider and read things that are enlightening, honourable, inspiring, motivating, socially acceptable and commendable, even if they’re not from Christian authors. Even unbelievers who write secular literature also have the image and likeness of God in them, even if that image has been corrupted by the fall. They are definitely wrong in their idea of salvation and in spiritual matters, but most of them are not far from the truth in the wordly knowledge needed to navigate this world. They too have gifts of knowledge and wisdom from God to teach and impart some truths to us about the world we live in. We must not be arrogant and bigoted to resist and reject such truths. Humility requires that we be open to learn from all, even from unbelievers.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable (GodsWord).

In conclusion, the wisdom and knowledge God bestows on believers is not just for the purpose of understanding spiritual things. We need knowledge of the physical and natural world around us, to be able to dominate and subdue the earth as commanded by God. And part of that knowledge to relate with our physical world can be readily found in secular literature. Also, Christians need to have knowledge of other cultures and worldviews in our multicultural societies, in order to effectively engage and evangelise people of other faiths. Only by engaging our minds in total and wholesome education will we be able to fully serve the Lord with all our mind, and bring every knowledge to the obedience of Christ.

Should Christians Listen To Secular Music?

Music is a gift from God with the capacity to lift up the human spirit as well as down it. It can spark sublime emotions in us, as well as stir up base ones. Christians are used to worshipping God with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (“gospel music”), but generally frown at singing any other genre of music. Does the Bible condemn listening to all non-gospel music? Are there certain types of secular music that are permissible for a Christian to listen and dance to? Let’s turn to Scripture for guidance as we seek answers to these questions.

St. Luke 7:31 ” How shall I describe this generation? ” Jesus asked. ” With what will I compare them?

St. Luke 7:32 They are like a group of children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and you weren’t happy, so we played funeral songs, but you weren’t sad.’ (NLT).

From the passage above, we see the Lord recognising the necessity of playing different types of music for different occasions. The music played at a funeral service is expectedly different from the one played at a wedding feast. It would be most inappropriate to play a mournful music during a wedding celebration, as it would be to play a joyous music during a funeral service! The important lesson here is this: the genre of music to be played is determined by the occasion and the mood of the moment!

Thus, the activity we’re involved in determines the kind of music to play. When we’re involved in the praise and worship of God, the music should reflect the majesty of God and his glorious attributes, which should be extolled to the highest heavens. Such music should glorify God only. Only gospel music is appropriate for such moments. Now, what if a Christian is in an intimate moment of love-making with their spouse? What kind of music will be appropriate for such a moment? At such moments of intimacy, we’re expected to be romantic, to say and do things to our spouses that spark romantic emotions and make their hearts leap and their heads spin with emotions and desire. It wouldn’t be appropriate to sing worship songs at those moments! What we need to capture and heighten the mood at such a time is music whose lyrics is purely romantic! Now, listen to some of such music from the Bible.

Song of Solomon 1:1 The song of songs which is Solomon’s.

Song of Solomon 1:2 Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth; for Your loves are better than wine.

Song of Solomon 1:3 For Your ointments have a lovely fragrance; Your name is as ointment poured out; on account of this the virgins love You.

Song of Solomon 1:4 Draw me; we will run after You. The King has brought me into His chambers. We will be glad and rejoice in You; we will remember Your loves more than wine; the upright love You.

Song of Solomon 1:13 A bundle of myrrh is my Beloved to me. He shall lie between my breasts.

Song of Solomon 1:14 My Beloved is to me like a cluster of henna in the vineyards of Engedi.

Song of Solomon 1:15 Behold, you are beautiful, My love. Behold, you are beautiful; your eyes as doves’.

Song of Solomon 1:16 Behold, you are beautiful, my Beloved; yea, pleasant. Also our couch is green (LITV).

Song of Solomon 4:1 Behold, you are beautiful, My love. Behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are as doves’ from behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats which lie down from Mount Gilead.

Song of Solomon 4:2 Your teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep which come up from the washing place; of which they all are bearing twins; and barrenness is not among them.

Song of Solomon 4:3 Your lips are like a cord of scarlet, and your speech is becoming; your temples are like a piece of pomegranate behind your veil.

Song of Solomon 4:4 Your neck is like the tower of David, built for an armory; a thousand bucklers hang on it, all the shields of the mighty men.

Song of Solomon 4:5 Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, feeding among the lilies.

Song of Solomon 4:7 You are all beautiful, My love. There is no blemish on you.

Song of Solomon 4:9 You have ravished My heart, My sister, My spouse; you have ravished My heart with one of your eyes, with one chain of your neck.

Song of Solomon 4:10 How beautiful are your loves, My sister, My spouse! How much better are your loves than wine, and the scent of your ointments than all spices!

Song of Solomon 4:11 Your lips, My spouse, drip like the honeycomb; honey and milk are under your tongue. And the scent of your garments is like the scent of Lebanon (LITV).

Song of Solomon 8:6 Set me as a seal on Your heart, as a seal on Your arm. For love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as Sheol; its flames are flames of fire, a flame of Jehovah.

Song of Solomon 8:7 Many waters cannot quench love, nor will the rivers overflow it. If a man would give all the wealth of his house for love, they surely would despise him (LITV).

Yes, these songs are in the Bible! These are like some of the romantic secular music we hear today. From beginning to end, the Songs of Solomon focus on the love and romance between a couple. There’s no mention of God, no praise of God, no declaration of God’s majesty, and no falling down before his throne! From beginning to end, the songs focus on the spouses and their love and romance. These songs can be considered secular music, because they are not gospel music. They don’t praise God, they don’t extol God’s virtues and they don’t magnify his name. They just celebrate the love between a couple. Yet, they are included in the canon of Holy Scriptures!

What Scripture is teaching us here is that, God is not a sadist, and that he delights in his children being romantic and loving in their marital relationships. God expects Christian couples to be romantic and to celebrate and enjoy their relationships as married people. Part of the love-making God expects between couples is to play with each other, to be romantic with each other, and to sing songs of love and romance that praise and extol each other’s love and virtue! God expects Christian couples to sing romantic songs to their partners and make them feel giddy with love! He expects us to celebrate our spouses and our love for them with romantic music! One of your responsibilities as a married person is to please your spouse. And, doing that entails extolling the virtues of your spouse through songs that praise them and reaffirm your love! Sing and play romantic secular songs for them!

Proverbs 5:18 Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.

Proverbs 5:19 She is a loving doe, a graceful deer. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love.

Proverbs 5:20 Why be captivated, my son, with an immoral woman, or embrace the breasts of an adulterous woman? (NLT).

1 Corinthians 7:32 In everything you do, I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him.

1 Corinthians 7:33 But a married man can’t do that so well. He has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:34 His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be more devoted to the Lord in body and in spirit, while the married woman must be concerned about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband (NLT).

Proverbs 31:28 Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:

Proverbs 31:29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”

Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.

Proverbs 31:31 Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise (NLT).

A Christian is not to sing or dance only to songs that praise God. There are songs for every occasion. There are songs for wedding feasts, for funeral services, for romantic celebration with one’s spouse. There are songs that teach about nature, about moral values, about relationships, etc, without praising God directly. Yet, such songs are appropriate on various occasions, and can be lawfully and legitimately sung and danced to by Christians. When we celebrate nature and natural values and virtues like love, courage, bravery, etc, we’re equally celebrating the Maker of nature, who is God! When we sing about justice, liberty, mercy and human rights, we are promoting values that God cherishes. You can praise God directly by extolling him, or you can praise him indirectly by extolling his works and the things that are dear to him. By praising the works of an artist, you’re praising the artist!

Psalms 19:1 For the choir director: A psalm of David. The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.

Psalms 19:2 Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.

Psalms 19:3 They speak without a sound or a word; their voice is silent in the skies;

Psalms 19:4 yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world. The sun lives in the heavens where God placed it.

God’s people can sing songs that celebrate victory in battle by praising warriors, or songs that celebrate fallen heroes, without mentioning God in those songs. The women in Israel sang songs to celebrate the warriors of Israel in their victories, as a way of encouraging them and boosting their morale. David composed and sang a song of lamentation in memory of Saul and Jonathan who died in battle, and taught Israel to immortalise them through that song. Yes, David was the sweet psalmist of Israel that composed almost the whole of the psalms (Israel’s hymn book), yet he composed and sang what would be considered secular music (“blues”), music that did not have any direct bearing to the praise and worship of God. But, that song celebrated friendship, love and courage. These are all things that God loves. That secular song of David found its way into the Holy Scripture.

1 Samuel 18:6 But something happened when the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed Goliath. Women came out from all the towns along the way to celebrate and to cheer for King Saul, and they sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals.

1 Samuel 18:7 This was their song: “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” (NLT).

2 Samuel 1:17 Then David composed a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan.

2 Samuel 1:18 Later he commanded that it be taught to all the people of Judah. It is known as the Song of the Bow, and it is recorded in The Book of Jashar.

2 Samuel 1:19 Your pride and joy, O Israel, lies dead on the hills! How the mighty heroes have fallen!

2 Samuel 1:20 Don’t announce the news in Gath, or the Philistines will rejoice. Don’t proclaim it in the streets of Ashkelon, or the pagans will laugh in triumph.

2 Samuel 1:21 O mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew or rain upon you or your slopes. For there the shield of the mighty was defiled; the shield of Saul will no longer be anointed with oil.

2 Samuel 1:22 Both Saul and Jonathan killed their strongest foes; they did not return from battle empty-handed.

2 Samuel 1:23 How beloved and gracious were Saul and Jonathan! They were together in life and in death. They were swifter than eagles; they were stronger than lions.

2 Samuel 1:24 O women of Israel, weep for Saul, for he dressed you in fine clothing and gold ornaments.

2 Samuel 1:25 How the mighty heroes have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies dead upon the hills.

2 Samuel 1:26 How I weep for you, my brother Jonathan! Oh, how much I loved you! And your love for me was deep, deeper than the love of women!

2 Samuel 1:27 How the mighty heroes have fallen! Stripped of their weapons, they lie dead (NLT).

Thus, we see from Scripture that people of God are not expected to sing and dance to only gospel or sacred music. We’re not only to sing hymns, psalms and spiritual songs. Because we’re also carnal beings that participate in carnal activities, we can talk and sing about those activities as we live and celebrate the life God has given us. There are times and occasions for everything under the sun. There’s a time to worship and praise God. There’s a time to praise and celebrate our spouses. There’s a time to celebrate our heroes. There’s a time to mourn the dead. In all these times and seasons that represent the length and breadth of the human existence and experience, we’re expected to have an appropriate song for each occasion. Some of these songs may be sacred, while some of them may be secular. And God is perfectly okay with all of them!

Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

Ecclesiastes 3:2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

Ecclesiastes 3:4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Ecclesiastes 3:8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace (ESV).

What Christians should be more concerned about with secular songs is their lyrics. The lyrics of any song we sing must be devoid of vulgarity and baseness. We must avoid songs that inspire or promote violence, vulgarity, debauchery, lewdness and all forms of ungodliness. In all things, we must consciously choose to listen to, and meditate on, things that are pure, wholesome, honourable, just and commendable. Even as we listen to secular music, we must be careful to discern between good and evil and shun evil!

In conclusion, Scripture does not mandate Christians to listen and dance to only gospel music. While gospel music is used in the worship and praise God, some secular music are permissible for Christians as we celebrate love with our spouses, and as we celebrate nature and eternal values, virtues and relationships with others. Some secular music that capture these themes and moments can be legitimately enjoyed by Christians. However, we must be careful to judge the lyrics of such music, to ensure they’re not vulgar, base, lewd, violent or ungodly. Whatever we listen to must be honorable, lovely and commendable.

Trusting After Forgiveness: The Biblical View

A lot of people are confused about how to trust again after forgiveness of wrongs done to them. Some people teach that once you forgive someone, you have to act towards them as if the hurt or betrayal didn’t happen, and restore the relationship to the level it was before they offended you. Such people believe that not only must you forgive, you must also forget the offences committed against you. What does the Bible teach about trust after betrayal? Does Scripture actually mandate us to forget about offences committed against us? We shall examine the Bible to answer these questions.

The Hebrew word translated as “trust” in the Old Testament is “batach“. Its various meanings include ‘to hope in’, ‘to have confidence in’, ‘to be sure of’, and ‘to take refuge in’. Biblically speaking, to trust someone implies being sure of the person, or having confidence or hope in the person. The Scripture is unambiguous about the need to forgive all offences without reservation. Forgiveness is a commandment and not a choice. To forgive someone simply means to pardon them for their transgression and not to hold it against them; it means not to hold malice or grudges against people who offend us. However, the issue of trusting someone again after you’ve forgiven them is a different ballgame altogether. We’re not commanded to continue to place confidence in the person, in the area he or she has betrayed us. That’s entirely our choice. The choice to trust someone again or not, depends on a lot of factors which we will now consider. Let’s examine David’s relationship with Saul to see how trust should be applied to people who continually plot evil against us.

1 Samuel 26:1 The Ziphites went to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which faces Jeshimon?”

1 Samuel 26:2 So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph, with his three thousand select Israelite troops, to search there for David.

1 Samuel 26:3 Saul made his camp beside the road on the hill of Hakilah facing Jeshimon, but David stayed in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul had followed him there,

1 Samuel 26:4 he sent out scouts and learned that Saul had definitely arrived.

1 Samuel 26:5 Then David set out and went to the place where Saul had camped. He saw where Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of the army, had lain down. Saul was lying inside the camp, with the army encamped around him.

1 Samuel 26:6 David then asked Ahimelek the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, “Who will go down into the camp with me to Saul?” “I’ll go with you,” said Abishai.

1 Samuel 26:7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him.

1 Samuel 26:8 Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t strike him twice.”

1 Samuel 26:9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless?

1 Samuel 26:10 As surely as the LORD lives,” he said, “the LORD himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish.

1 Samuel 26:11 But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”

1 Samuel 26:12 So David took the spear and water jug near Saul’s head, and they left. No one saw or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up. They were all sleeping, because the LORD had put them into a deep sleep.

1 Samuel 26:13 Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of the hill some distance away; there was a wide space between them.

1 Samuel 26:14 He called out to the army and to Abner son of Ner, “Aren’t you going to answer me, Abner?” Abner replied, “Who are you who calls to the king?”

1 Samuel 26:15 David said, “You’re a man, aren’t you? And who is like you in Israel? Why didn’t you guard your lord the king? Someone came to destroy your lord the king.

1 Samuel 26:16 What you have done is not good. As surely as the LORD lives, you and your men must die, because you did not guard your master, the LORD’s anointed. Look around you. Where are the king’s spear and water jug that were near his head?”

1 Samuel 26:17 Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is that your voice, David my son?” David replied, “Yes it is, my lord the king.”

1 Samuel 26:18 And he added, “Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of?

1 Samuel 26:19 Now let my lord the king listen to his servant’s words. If the LORD has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, people have done it, may they be cursed before the LORD! They have driven me today from my share in the LORD’s inheritance and have said, ’Go, serve other gods.’

1 Samuel 26:20 Now do not let my blood fall to the ground far from the presence of the LORD. The king of Israel has come out to look for a flea —as one hunts a partridge in the mountains.”

1 Samuel 26:21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong.”

1 Samuel 26:22 “Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it.

1 Samuel 26:23 The LORD rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The LORD delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed.

1 Samuel 26:24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the LORD value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”

1 Samuel 26:25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, David my son; you will do great things and surely triumph.” So David went on his way, and Saul returned home (NIV).

King Saul made several attempts on David’s life, motivated by envy and jealousy. One each occasion, God miraculously saved David. David had several opportunities to kill Saul who was pursuing him unjustly, but he spared Saul on every occasion. David readily forgave Saul for his hatred and murderous attempts on his life, and continued to show him unwavering loyalty. However, the more David forgave Saul, the more Saul hatched even more devilish schemes to eliminate him. It finally dawned on David that Saul could not be trusted. David finally realised that he couldn’t be safe around Saul. He had forgiven Saul, but to trust Saul and re-establish the warm relationship they once enjoyed was to invite his untimely death.

Envy and jealousy are not traits that are easily expunged from the human heart. Once they grab someone and inspire the person to plot harm and evil against you, flee from that relationship! David realised it late, but it was better late than never. He had to flee from Saul to save his life, though he had forgiven Saul who appeared to have repented. Don’t trust someone who deliberately tried to kill or harm you, even though they appear to have repented and you’ve forgiven them! Saul “repented” and “felt sorry” so many times for trying to kill David, but that didn’t stop him from continuing with his evil plots! It was only when David fled out of Israel, out of Saul’s reach, that Saul stopped seeking after his life. Cut off any close relationships with anyone found to have plotted evil against you, even after they’ve apologised and appear to have repented. For all you know, they may just be feigning repentance to lull you into complacency about your security. They may just be acting like Saul, to give you a false sense of security. If you trust such people readily again, you may just be signing your death warrant!

1 Samuel 27:1 But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.”

1 Samuel 27:2 So David and the six hundred men with him left and went over to Achish son of Maok king of Gath.

1 Samuel 27:3 David and his men settled in Gath with Achish. Each man had his family with him, and David had his two wives: Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, the widow of Nabal.

1 Samuel 27:4 When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him (NIV).

Next, let’s examine the issue of trust when someone has defrauded us and we have forgiven them. Are we obliged to trust such persons again with our finances and other resources? How should we deal with people who have deceitfully taken advantage of us and cheated us? Let’s turn to Scripture to find the mind of God on this issue.

St. Luke 16:1 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.

St. Luke 16:2 So he called him in and asked him, ’What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’

St. Luke 16:10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

St. Luke 16:11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?

St. Luke 16:12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? (NIV).

Someone who has displayed dishonesty in the management of resources, especially money, should not be trusted easily in that regard. If someone is dishonest in little things, he’ll be dishonest in big things. You should forgive people all offences, but you’re not obliged to trust them in such matters again, till they prove themselves trustworthy. Like the rich man in the parable above did to his dishonest manager, quickly relieve any dishonest person of the responsibility of managing whatever you’ve committed into their hands. If you keep them, they will commit greater fraud. The wise thing to do is to refuse to trust them again in that capacity, until they earn your trust. Trust, unlike forgiveness, should be earned. The prudent thing to do is to test people in little things first, before committing greater responsibilities to them. If they prove trustworthy in small things, then they can be trusted with bigger responsibilities. That’s what the Scripture teaches.

1 Timothy 3:8 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.

1 Timothy 3:9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.

1 Timothy 3:10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons (NIV).

In terms of emotional/ romantic relationships, trust should be carefully separated from love. Love can exist without trust in certain areas of the relationship. Loving someone is not the same as trusting them. In relationships, like in every other aspects of life, trust should be earned. If your partner has a weakness or fault in an area, love him/her despite his/her faults or weaknesses, but don’t trust them in their weak area until they’ve proved themselves worthy of trust in those areas. Don’t expose them to temptations in their areas of weaknesses. They may love you alright, but because of weaknesses and besetting sins, they may betray your trust in their areas of weakness, if you trust without proof of trustworthiness. You can’t safely trust a spouse who’s not virtuous!

Proverbs 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

Proverbs 31:11 The heart of her husband does safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

Proverbs 31:12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life (AKJV).

Love your partner and be ready to forgive their shortcomings unreservedly. However, do not place unjustified confidence or trust in anyone. Don’t let emotions blind your sense of judgement. That you love your wife doesn’t mean you should trust her with your money if she’s a spendthrift who has proved incompetent in managing money. That you love your husband doesn’t mean you should trust him with the housemaid or your female friends, if he’s an inverterate womaniser. Wisdom is profitable to direct. Trusting a goat to take care of your yam is not wisdom, however much you love the goat. Be wise!

Matthew 7:6 Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you (ESV).

It’s true that people can change for the better (just as they can change for the worse too). It’s true that people can repent and be converted. It’s true that the Holy Spirit can transform people. However, when such changes occur in people, they should be visible, palpable and demonstrable for all to see. Pray and make room for positive changes in people, and hope for the best for them. However, until you see hard evidence of change, don’t trust people who have failed you in the past. Test people first before trusting them. Trust should be earned and not handed out on a platter, without proof of trustworthiness! Trusting without proof is living in fantasy land! That’s like building your house on sinking sand.That house is headed for a monumental collapse! Learn from the way the disciples were cautious in trusting Saul, the persecutor, when he converted to Christianity. They had to be sure he was truly converted before trusting to have fellowship with him, because of his antecedent as the greatest persecutor of Christians! That’s wisdom!

The Acts 9:26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.

The Acts 9:27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.

The Acts 9:28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord (NIV).

Finally, though we’re commanded to forgive all offences, we’re never told to forget them, simply because we can’t! Except you’re suffering from some form of amnesia, you can’t forget people’s betrayals. You’re not supposed to forget, even though you’re not to hold it against them or bear malice or grudges towards them. And certainly, you’re not to repay evil with evil. But, you must not forget the lessons you learnt from the experience. The most important lesson to learn from offences and betrayals is that, humans are imperfect creatures with capacity for both good and evil. We learn from people’s shortcomings to trust cautiously, so as to mitigate the harm others can do to us. Our dealings with people is the greatest source of education in human psychology we can ever have. People’s past actions and behaviours, especially in their unguarded moments, are a better predictor of their character than anything they say about themselves. Every encounter should help us define people with respect to who can be trusted in what area. That knowledge is invaluable in minimising future conflicts with others, as well as in mitigating the injury they can do to us.

2 Timothy 4:14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done.

2 Timothy 4:15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message (NIV).

In conclusion, we must forgive all men their trespasses, but we are not obliged to trust all again. Trust, unlike forgiveness, must be earned. People must demonstrate trustworthiness before we place our confidence in them. To do otherwise is to be imprudent, and we may suffer dearly for such lack of wisdom in dealing with people. We must learn from betrayals, and apply the lessons learnt in order to prevent or mitigate future occurrences. To forgive is not to forget!

Forgive Unreservedly, Trust Cautiously And Don’t Forget The Lessons Learnt: The Biblical Guide To Dealing With Hurts, Betrayals And Disappointments

1Peter 4:8 And most of all be warm in your love for one another; because in love there is forgiveness for sins without number (BBE).

Relating with other people exposes us daily to the risk of being hurt, simply because all humans are imperfect and all are capable of both good and evil. This is the consequence of the fall. Yet, we can’t recluse from others and live solitary lives, because our success in life, as well as our happiness, depends on our common humanity and our relationships with others. The people we love the most (and who also love us) are capable of hurting us the most, yet we can’t do without them. Because offences abound and because we can’t do without each other, we must learn to absorb hurts and forgive those who hurt and offend us. Forgiveness is a necessary part of life, simply because we can’t live without offending one another.

Understanding the principles of forgiveness and trust is thus extremely important in navigating through life. If we fail to master these relationship skills, we’ll end up frustrated and defeated. How should we forgive those who have hurt us? How should we deal with the issue of trust after it’s been betrayed? Is forgetting possible after forgiveness? We shall revert to Scripture to answer these pertinent questions.

Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Matthew 6:10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread,

Matthew 6:12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,

Matthew 6:15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (ESV).

In the model prayer for his disciples (popularly known as the Lord’s prayer), the Lord Jesus taught us to forgive people’s sins against us, even as we petition God to forgive our own sins. And then the Lord makes our forgiveness of other people’s sins a requirement for God’s forgiveness of our own sins: if we don’t forgive the sins of others, God won’t forgive ours! Think about it! When we forgive others, we’re not just setting them free, we’re setting ourselves free also! If we refuse to forgive, we’re blocking our fellowship with God, because our sins will remain unforgiven!

Mark 11:25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses (ESV).

The point was repeated here again by our Lord. Our prayers are in vain if we don’t forgive those who sin against us. Each time we pray with unforgiven grudges in our hearts, we’re hurting ourself. We’re denying ourselves divine forgiveness for our own sins, as well as fellowship with God. Above all, we’re denying ourselves answers to our own prayers! When you refuse to forgive someone, you’re literally opposing divine forgiveness for your own sins!

How often are we to forgive? Is there a limit beyond which we’re to stop forgiving anyone? We’ve heard people say, ‘I can’t take it anymore, this is too much. I can’t forgive him or her again’. The disciples of Jesus were confronted with the same situation and wanted to know the limit of forgiveness, if any. They asked him the number of times one needed to be hurt before refusing to forgive. Let’s hear Jesus’ response.

Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came up and said to him, Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?

Matthew 18:22 Jesus said to him, I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven (ESV).

According to Jesus, we’re to forgive someone seventy times seven (490 times) in a day! What Jesus is actually saying here is that, there’s no limit to forgiveness! Now, that should be good news to our ears if we apply it the other way round: God is not tired of forgiving us! He’ll keep forgiving us as long as we keep repenting and coming back to him. God doesn’t give up on us! Now, isn’t that good news? Because God doesn’t give up on us and isn’t tired of forgiving us, we shouldn’t be tired of forgiving others! We shouldn’t give up on others!

What are the logical steps in dealing with people who offend us? When someone sins against us, we should confront them and let them know how they’ve hurt us. Sometimes they may not even be aware of the wrong they’ve done to us. A sincere person who hurt us unintentionally will apologise, and that should end all hurts and repair the relationship. However, some people will stubbornly refuse to even accept the fact that they’re wrong. In such cases, we should exhaust all means of dispute resolution by involving mutual friends/colleagues and then the church, if we’re dealing with fellow Christians. We’re still to forgive those who refuse to repent. However, we’re advised to sever all close relationships of trust with such people! Forgiveness does not imply automatic restoration of relationships to their previous levels! It just means we won’t seek vengeance against the person or seek to retaliate against them. Forgiving means we won’t repay the person with evil if we have the chance to do so. It means we won’t bear malice towards them. However, it doesn’t mean we should go back to the same level of trust or relationship that existed previously with the person. That’s what Jesus taught!

St. Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.

St. Matthew 18:16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ’every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

St. Matthew 18:17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector (NIV).

An important fact we need to understand as Christians is that, all things work together for the good of a child of God. Others may wish and plan evil for us, but God will turn it around for our good. Others may seek to destroy us by their evil schemes and manipulations, but God will work through their evil plans to ensure we benefit in the end. Thus, the people who hurt us and schemed to destroy us and our visions may be the very instruments that will catapult us to our destiny! The story of Joseph is a clear example. His brothers schemed to destroy him and abort his dreams, but God used their very scheme to bring about the fulfilment of his vision concerning Joseph! If we understand this fact, it will be easy to forgive those that sin against us and plot our downfall.

Genesis 50:15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.

Genesis 50:16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, Your father gave this command before he died,

Genesis 50:17 Say to Joseph, Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you. And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father. Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

Genesis 50:18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, Behold, we are your servants.

Genesis 50:19 But Joseph said to them, Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?

Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Genesis 50:21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones. Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them (ESV).

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (AKJV).

Similarly, those who schemed to kill Jesus intended to destroy him and forever extinguish the liberating truths he taught. They were envious of his ministry and sought to exterminate him by any means possible. Supposedly religious leaders lied, schemed, contrived and formed unholy alliances with their enemies, just to get rid of Jesus. However, little did they know that by killing Jesus they were helping to foster his ministry and fulfil his destiny. If Satan and his cohorts had known that killing Jesus would lead to mankind’s redemption and the salvation of billions of sons and daughters of God, they would have left Jesus alone! They meant it for evil, but God turned it around for good, to save lives by a great deliverance! No wonder Jesus asked for forgiveness for his murderers while he hung dying on the cross.

1 Corinthians 2:6 However, we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing:

1 Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory:

1 Corinthians 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him (AKJV).

St. Luke 23:33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals —one on his right, the other on his left.

St. Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots (NIV).

Understand this once and for all: people who have hurt and offended you have only been instruments to teach you some important lessons in life. If a close friend or relative didn’t backstab you or betray you, how would you have learnt to be cautious in trusting human beings, because of their fickleness and unreliability? How would you have known that it’s vain to trust unreservedly in human beings? A key and vital lesson in life is to learn not to trust any person without reservation, because no mutable mortal is worthy of such trust! Every man has been corrupted by the fall (including those who are born again!) and so none should be unquestionably relied upon or trusted. Every man is capable of failure, even the best among us (let him that thinks he stands take heed, lest he falls!). Only God is unfailingly and immutably trustworthy! Only God cannot change and cannot fail! If we grasp this important lesson, we will enlarge our hearts and make room for disappointments, failures, betrayals, hurts, etc. We will provide forgiveness readily for everyone in advance! Jesus, being God, knew this much about man.

John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.

John 2:24 But Jesus did not commit himself to them, because he knew all men,

John 2:25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man (AKJV).

Jeremiah 17:5 Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.

Jeremiah 17:6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land (ESV).

Re-establishing trust after forgiveness is a different ballgame altogether. We’re not under any obligation to trust people we’ve forgiven. Forgiveness is a commandment but trust is a choice! To trust someone with our hearts, our resources and our secrets again after they’ve betrayed us is entirely up to us. That said, let me state that it would be foolishness to trust anyone without prior evidence that they’re reliable and can be trusted in that regard. Also, someone who has betrayed your trust in a sensitive area shouldn’t be trusted in that area again, until there’s hard evidence of change. Still, even with evidence of change, you should trust them cautiously. People’s actions and history tell more about their character than their words. People should be tried and tested first before they’re entrusted with sensitive information, resources, positions or responsibilities.

1 Timothy 3:8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.

1 Timothy 3:9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.

1 Timothy 3:10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless (ESV).

Do people really forget after forgiving? Is it even possible to do so? Does God himself really forget after forgiving us our sins? Yes, he said he’ll remember our sins and iniquities no more. But, does that mean he has actually forgotten them? What it means when God is said to remember our confessed sins no more is that, he doesn’t hold them against us anymore. He blots them from our records, even though they remain in his knowledge, for God does not forget, being all-knowing. We see that in God’s enumeration of Israel’s past sins (in the Law and the Prophets), even though he had forgiven them and didn’t hold their sins against them anymore. It was simply to teach a lesson to present and future generations. And so, we too shouldn’t forget the lessons learned from sins committed against us even after forgiving them (thankfully, we simply can’t forget because it’s not possible to do so!). We would have to suffer some form of amnesia to be able to do that! However, even though we remember the evils done to us, we shouldn’t count them against the people we’ve forgiven. We’re not to hold it against them. But, we’re to learn from them so that, as much as possible, we don’t allow others to use us in that same way again.

1 Corinthians 13:5 love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs (GNT).

Forgive every trespass committed against you quickly, but don’t forget the lessons. Learn from past disappointments and betrayals to minimise future occurrences.
And above all, be stingy and cautious with your trust. Trust only those who have been tried and proven worthy, and that too should be done with caution! Like the Apostle Paul admonished, in keeping malice, be like children who don’t hold grudges; but in understanding, be mature and reasonable! Emulate children in not keeping malice, but don’t be childish in not learning lessons from disappointments and betrayals, in order to minimise future betrayals and hurts. Learn from the past to make the present and the future better!

1 Corinthians 14:20 Brothers, be not children in understanding: however, in malice be you children, but in understanding be men (AKJV).

In conclusion, let’s hear the summary of the whole matter of forgiveness from a parable given by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Let’s hear from the Master, take heed and be blessed!

Matthew 18:23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.

Matthew 18:24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.

Matthew 18:25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.

Matthew 18:26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.

Matthew 18:27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

Matthew 18:28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, Pay what you owe.

Matthew 18:29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, Have patience with me, and I will pay you.

Matthew 18:30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.

Matthew 18:31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.

Matthew 18:32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.

Matthew 18:33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?

Matthew 18:34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.

Matthew 18:35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart (ESV).

God bless you!

Partaking In The Religious Feasts And Celebrations Of Other Faiths: The Biblical View

In our multicultural societies with multiplicity of religions, Christians are confronted daily with other religions and their practitioners. Scripture teaches us to love and tolerate people of other faiths. However, Christianity’s belief in religious exclusivism means that other religious faiths must be wrong in their beliefs for Christianity to be right. The Bible teaches that the Judeo-Christian faith is the only true faith, and that all other religious faiths are false and idolatrous. How are Christians to love people of other faiths while distancing themselves from their erroneous beliefs? How are we to relate to people with contrary religious beliefs when they celebrate their religious festivals? We shall examine Scripture to find out how we ought to comport ourselves in ways that show love and tolerance for our neighbours, without compromising our faith in Christ.

The first two commandments are uncompromising in their declaration of Jehovah as the only God deserving of worship. According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, any god other than Jehovah is false, as is any mediator between Jehovah and mankind other than the Lord Jesus Christ! The worship of any god beside Jehovah is therefore idolatrous, while salvation can only be found in Jesus Christ. These are the self-evident truths of Christianity.

Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying:

Exodus 20:2 I am Jehovah your God, who has brought you out from the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

Exodus 20:3 You shall not have any other gods beside Me.

Exodus 20:4 You shall not make a graven image for yourself, or any likeness in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth;

Exodus 20:5 you shall not bow to them, and you shall not serve them; for I am Jehovah your God, a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of fathers on sons, on the third and on the fourth generation, to those that hate Me;

Exodus 20:6 and doing kindness to thousands, to those loving Me, and to those keeping My commandments (LITV).

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (ESV).

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

1 Timothy 2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time (ESV).

The participation of a Christian in the religious festivals of other faiths is considered by Scripture as identifying with those faiths in their idolatrous practices. To celebrate a heathen religious festival is to participate in the worship of a heathen god. Some Israelites were invited to participate in the religious festival of the Moabites who did not worship Jehovah, and God was angry with them and sent a plague upon them that killed thousands of Israelites in one day!

Numbers 25:1 While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab.

Numbers 25:2 These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.

Numbers 25:3 So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.

Numbers 25:4 And the LORD said to Moses, Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the LORD, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.

Numbers 25:5 And Moses said to the judges of Israel, Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.

Numbers 25:6 And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting.

Numbers 25:7 When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand

Numbers 25:8 and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped.

Numbers 25:9 Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand (ESV).

That example of Jehovah’s fierce anger with his people, for participating in the religious celebrations of an idolatrous nation, is held out for Christians in the New Testament as an eternal warning: if Jehovah punished Israel severely for taking part in the celebration of an idolatrous festival, he won’t spare us today if we do the same! Let’s take heed and beware! Our God is a jealous God who doesn’t tolerate spiritual adultery (idolatory) from his people!

1 Corinthians 10:1 I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,

1 Corinthians 10:2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,

1 Corinthians 10:3 and all ate the same spiritual food,

1 Corinthians 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

1 Corinthians 10:6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.

1 Corinthians 10:7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.

1 Corinthians 10:8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

1 Corinthians 10:9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,

1 Corinthians 10:10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall (ESV).

It’s worth remembering that the Moabites and the Israelites were cousins. The Moabites were the descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew, while the Israelites were the descendants of Abraham through Isaac. Even though Israel and Moab were blood relations, they worshipped different gods. The Moabites worshipped the idol chemosh, while Israel worshipped Jehovah, the only true God. Even though Israel and Moab were cousins, Israel was forbidden by God from celebrating with Moab in their religious festivals, because Moab was an idolatrous nation! Anyone who doesn’t worship Jehovah through his son Jesus Christ is an idolater, even if they are close family relatives! As God warned Israel to stay away from the religious ceremonies of their idolatrous cousins, so are Christians called upon to keep off the religious celebrations of idolatrous kith and kin.

We may not be invited today by our idolatrous kith and kin to celebrate with them in idol temples. We may not be called to the sacrifices of idol worshippers. But, what happens when we are presented with meals that have been offered as sacrifice to other gods? What should we do when adherents of other religious faiths offer us their sacred religious meals as part of the celebration of their religious festivals, like when Muslims distribute meals to their Christian neighbours during their religious festivals? Let’s look at Scripture to see how we’re supposed to respond to such a scenario.

1 Corinthians 10:14 So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.

1 Corinthians 10:15 You are reasonable people. Decide for yourselves if what I am about to say is true.

1 Corinthians 10:16 When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the benefits of the blood of Christ? And when we break the loaf of bread, aren’t we sharing in the benefits of the body of Christ?

1 Corinthians 10:17 And we all eat from one loaf, showing that we are one body.

1 Corinthians 10:18 And think about the nation of Israel; all who eat the sacrifices are united by that act.

1 Corinthians 10:19 What am I trying to say? Am I saying that the idols to whom the pagans bring sacrifices are real gods and that these sacrifices are of some value?

1 Corinthians 10:20 No, not at all. What I am saying is that these sacrifices are offered to demons, not to God. And I don’t want any of you to be partners with demons.

1 Corinthians 10:21 You cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons, too. You cannot eat at the Lord’s Table and at the table of demons, too.

1 Corinthians 10:22 What? Do you dare to rouse the Lord’s jealousy as Israel did? Do you think we are stronger than he is?

1 Corinthians 10:23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is helpful. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial (NLT).

The spiritual implication of participating in sacred religious meals is profound. Religious meals offered in worship to idols unite the partakers in a spiritual way to their objects of worship. Like those who partake in the Lord’s supper become united with Christ at the Lord’s table, so do idol worshippers become united with the demons behind their idols during their religious feasts! Sacred meals offered during religious festivals are not ordinary meals! They are not things to be treated with levity! The sacred meals of pagans are offered to demons, and participating in those meals imply fellowship with demons!

Now, it’s a different thing if you don’t know a meal was offered as sacrifice to an idol as part of a religious feast. Eating such a meal ignorantly does no harm to a Christian. If a Christian is invited to the house of an unbelieving friend or relative, he/she should eat whatever he/she is offered without asking questions as to whether or not such food was offered as sacrifice to an idol. Giving thanks and praying over the food sanctifies it, even if it was part of a sacred religious meal offered to an idol. However, if we’re told the food was part of a meal to celebrate a non-Christian religious festival, we should not eat it! Eating such a meal with the knowledge that it was sacrificed to an idol means accepting to fellowship with the demons behind those idols. Don’t think it means nothing! God says it means something and we shouldn’t take it lightly!

1 Corinthians 10:24 Don’t think only of your own good. Think of other Christians and what is best for them.

1 Corinthians 10:25 Here’s what you should do. You may eat any meat that is sold in the marketplace. Don’t ask whether or not it was offered to idols, and then your conscience won’t be bothered.

1 Corinthians 10:26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

1 Corinthians 10:27 If someone who isn’t a Christian asks you home for dinner, go ahead; accept the invitation if you want to. Eat whatever is offered to you and don’t ask any questions about it. Your conscience should not be bothered by this.

1 Corinthians 10:28 But suppose someone warns you that this meat has been offered to an idol. Don’t eat it, out of consideration for the conscience of the one who told you.

1 Corinthians 10:29 It might not be a matter of conscience for you, but it is for the other person. Now, why should my freedom be limited by what someone else thinks?

1 Corinthians 10:30 If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it?

1 Corinthians 10:31 Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:32 Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God.

1 Corinthians 10:33 That is the plan I follow, too. I try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what I like or what is best for me, but what is best for them so they may be saved (NLT).

We may have faith enough to believe an idol is nothing, and therefore eat anything we’re offered, even with the knowledge that it was offered in sacrifice to an idol, since the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. However, what about weaker Christians who believe an idol is something? Such may be emboldened by our actions to eat foods sacrificed to idols and defile their weak conscience thereby. We would have caused a brother or a sister to stumble and wound their weak conscience. That’s not walking in love!

1 Corinthians 8:4 So now, what about it? Should we eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols? Well, we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only one God and no other.

1 Corinthians 8:5 According to some people, there are many so-called gods and many lords, both in heaven and on earth.

1 Corinthians 8:6 But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we exist for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.

1 Corinthians 8:7 However, not all Christians realize this. Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated.

1 Corinthians 8:8 It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t miss out on anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do.

1 Corinthians 8:9 But you must be careful with this freedom of yours. Do not cause a brother or sister with a weaker conscience to stumble.

1 Corinthians 8:10 You see, this is what can happen: Weak Christians who think it is wrong to eat this food will see you eating in the temple of an idol. You know there’s nothing wrong with it, but they will be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been dedicated to the idol.

1 Corinthians 8:11 So because of your superior knowledge, a weak Christian, for whom Christ died, will be destroyed.

1 Corinthians 8:12 And you are sinning against Christ when you sin against other Christians by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong.

1 Corinthians 8:13 If what I eat is going to make another Christian sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to make another Christian stumble (NLT).

In the first church council in the book of Acts, the apostles and elders, led by the Holy Spirit, agreed on the portions of the Mosaic Law that are still relevant for Gentile Christians to observe. Part of what was agreed in that historic council was that Gentile Christians should abstain from foods sacrificed to idols. We are to shun meals that are part of the religious feasts of other religious faiths. Eating foods sacrificed to idols was forbidden in the Old Testament, and it remains forbidden in the New!

The Acts 15:23 This is the letter they took along with them: “This letter is from the apostles and elders, your brothers in Jerusalem. It is written to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Greetings!

The Acts 15:24 “We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but they had no such instructions from us.

The Acts 15:25 So it seemed good to us, having unanimously agreed on our decision, to send you these official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
The Acts 15:26 who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Acts 15:27 So we are sending Judas and Silas to tell you what we have decided concerning your question.

The Acts 15:28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these requirements:

The Acts 15:29 You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or eating the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.” (NLT).

Whenever we celebrate with idol worshippers as they celebrate their idols, we strengthen their faith in idolatory and become complicit in their practice. Even wishing them happy celebration during their idolatrous festivals is encouraging and strengthening them in their faith. As Christians, even though we should love, respect and tolerate people from other religious faiths, Scripture forbids us to celebrate their faiths or encourage them in it. We should not hesitate to tell them they’re spiritually wrong, rather than wish them well in their error! Wishing them happy religious celebrations is wishing them happy idolatory! Anyone who does that is a partaker in their idolatory! That’s what the Bible teaches!

2 John 1:7 Many deceivers have gone out into the world. They do not believe that Jesus Christ came to earth in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist.

2 John 1:8 Watch out, so that you do not lose the prize for which we have been working so hard. Be diligent so that you will receive your full reward.

2 John 1:9 For if you wander beyond the teaching of Christ, you will not have fellowship with God. But if you continue in the teaching of Christ, you will have fellowship with both the Father and the Son.

2 John 1:10 If someone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite him into your house or encourage him in any way.

2 John 1:11 Anyone who encourages him becomes a partner in his evil work (NLT).

The word of God is against eating foods sacrificed to idols. The Holy Scripture condemns not only eating food sacrificed to idols, it also condemns those who teach that it is alright to do so. Christian leaders who teach that it’s permissible to eat meals sacrificed to deities of other religions, as part of religious worship, are provoking God’s wrath upon themselves and those they minister to! Such teachers are enticing Christians to sin by encouraging idolatory which is spiritual fornication! By participating in the worship of idols, Christians are being unfaithful to their vow to worship and serve only Jehovah as their God!

Revelation 2:14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.

Revelation 2:20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols (NIV).

In conclusion, a Christian participating in or encouraging the religious practices of other religions is committing a sin and violating the word of God. Such a person is guilty of idolatory by association. Such idolatrous practices frowned upon by Scripture include the eating of meals used in the religious feasts of heathens, as well as wishing heathens happy religious celebrations. To avoid God’s wrath, Christians should stay clear of practices and actions that aid and abet idolatory.

Is Pregnancy Testing For Intending Couples Scriptural?

A lot of churches today conduct premarital pregnancy tests on ladies who are about to get married, with a view to ascertaining the conceptional status of the woman. The aim is to refuse to wed a woman who is pregnant. Is it biblical for the church to conduct prenuptial pregnancy tests on women? Is it scriptural to refuse to wed a pregnant woman? We shall examine the Bible to find the scriptural position on these issues.

I’ll be upfront about the fact that premarital sex is condemned by the Bible. God’s ideal scenario is for people to marry as chaste virgins. In the Old Testament, if a woman lost her virginity before marriage, she would be considered to have played the harlot in her father’s house, and she would be stoned to death! That’s how sinful God considers premarital sex!

Deuteronomy 22:13 If a man takes a wife and, after sleeping with her, dislikes her

Deuteronomy 22:14 and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,”

Deuteronomy 22:15 then the young woman’s father and mother shall bring to the town elders at the gate proof that she was a virgin.

Deuteronomy 22:16 Her father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her.

Deuteronomy 22:17 Now he has slandered her and said, ’I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town,

Deuteronomy 22:18 and the elders shall take the man and punish him.

Deuteronomy 22:19 They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the young woman’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.

Deuteronomy 22:20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found,

Deuteronomy 22:21 she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done an outrageous thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you (NIV).

Thankfully, no one gets stoned again for marrying as a non-virgin (at least in Christianity and in Western-style democracies). However, remaining a virgin till one marries is still a highly desirable virtue, because it not only protects one against unwanted pregnancies and a host of sexually transmitted diseases (including incurable diseases like HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer), it also preserves reproductive health and prevents sexual bonding with too many people. Above all, it’s an act of obedience to God’s commandment! Sex sins are the only sins one commits against one’s own body. Your body directly bears the consequences of sex sins, be it sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies or damages to one’s reproductive organs. It pays to keep your virginity till you’re married, because the moment the sexual dam is broken and you experience sex, the moral, emotional, psychological and health implications of sexual relationships can be destructive, apart from the bonding with each sex partner that can affect your marriage later! God isn’t joking when he commands single people to flee from fornication! Fornication can negatively impact your life in so many ways!

1 Corinthians 6:15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are parts of Christ’s body? Should I take the parts of Christ’s body and make them parts of a prostitute’s body? That’s unthinkable!

1 Corinthians 6:16 Don’t you realize that the person who unites himself with a prostitute becomes one body with her? God says, “The two will be one.”

1 Corinthians 6:17 However, the person who unites himself with the Lord becomes one spirit with him.

1 Corinthians 6:18 Stay away from sexual sins. Other sins that people commit don’t affect their bodies the same way sexual sins do. People who sin sexually sin against their own bodies (GodsWord).

Despite God’s preference for people to marry as virgins (which is for their own good), God does forgive sex sins, like all other sins, and the blood of Jesus cleanses from all unrighteousness, including the unrighteousness of premarital sexual immorality. Sexual immorality is not the unpardonable sin! Christ’s atonement covers sex sins too, and his blood can blot them out if we place our faith in his complete redemptive work at Calvary.

1 John 1:8 If we say, “We aren’t sinful” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:9 God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong (NIV).

Now, let’s get back to the issue of premarital pregnancy testing by churches. Churches who insist on premarital pregnancy testing want to make sure a lady is not pregnant before marriage. If she is, the church will not wed her, because they don’t want to wed two people (the woman and the baby in her womb) to the man! So, the pregnant lady is denied wedding until after childbirth. Do churches who act this way have any biblical mandate for such practice? There is absolutely none! To the contrary, the Old Testament taught that having sex with an unengaged virgin (with the possibility of pregnancy resulting from the encounter) was reason enough for the man who violated her to marry her immediately!

Exodus 22:16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.

Exodus 22:17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins (NIV).

Deuteronomy 22:28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered,

Deuteronomy 22:29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives (NIV).

In the Torah, a man must immediately marry a virgin he seduced or raped, and the rapist/seducer was forbidden from ever divorcing the woman so married! Such sexual encounters from rape or seduction of a virgin carried the possibility of getting the woman pregnant. Apart from the danger of marrying as a non-virgin stated earlier, the practice of compelling a rapist/seducer of a virgin to marry her immediately was probably also to prevent any resulting pregnancy from being extra-marital, and so save the lady from the shame of siring children in her father’s house. No one will advocate for a rapist to be so punished these days. Rape carries a more severe and just penalty of prolonged imprisonment nowadays. No one also will be compelled today to marry a lady just because he seduced her and had sex with her. But the point is that, having premarital sex that could lead to pregnancy was a reason to marry off a lady, and not a reason to prevent her from being married!

Let’s now consider a strikingly similar scenario in the New Testament, to buttress the fact that God is not against the marrying of a couple when the bride is pregnant. We’ll examine the circumstances of the marriage between Joseph and Mary, Jesus’ foster parents, as recorded in Matthew’s gospel.

Matthew 1:18 This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 1:19 Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately.

Matthew 1:20 While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived.

Matthew 1:21 She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus—because he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:22 Now all this happened in order to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet,

Matthew 1:23 “A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel” (which means, “God is with us”).

Matthew 1:24 So when Joseph woke up, he married Mary, as the angel of the Lord had told him to.

Matthew 1:25 But he had no sexual relations with her before she gave birth to her son. And Joseph named him Jesus (GNT).

Here’s the clincher! Mary got pregnant (by the Holy Spirit) after her engagement to Joseph, but before they were married. Joseph decided to cancel the engagement and put her away, on perceived grounds of sexual immorality and unfaithfulness, having never had sexual relations with her. However, an angel of God appeared to him and reassured him about Mary’s faithfulness, and the supernatural nature of her pregnancy. The angel further encouraged him to go ahead and marry Mary. Joseph, having had his doubts about Mary cleared, went ahead and married her in her pregnant state! Joseph married Mary while she was pregnant, according to the instructions of God’s angel! The angel didn’t tell Joseph to wait until the child was born before marrying Mary. He told him to marry her right away, in her pregnant state! If God will authorise a couple to marry when the bride was pregnant, who are the churches to forbid people to marry when the bride is with child? What an affront to God, that supposedly men of God will enact traditions that stand in stark opposition and rebellion to the word of God?! If God approves a practice, who are mere mortals to say otherwise? How dare you challenge your Maker? How dare you portray yourself as being more righteous than God? Let God be true and let every man be a liar!

Let’s examine the implications of this policy of some churches with regard to premarital pregnancy testing. A number of ladies have been known to induce abortions of unplanned pregnancies for men who were ready to marry them, just because they didn’t want to be denied a church wedding! The church is complicit in such abortions conducted to meet its stringent requirement of pregnancy-free brides at the altar. Next, traditional marriage rites have usually been completed for such couples who were just trying to fulfil all righteousness with the church wedding, which is only ceremonial in value, since the traditional and court marriages are the real marriages in Africa. Why will the church deny a ceremonial marriage to a couple who have already been married traditionally and legally? That’s not only absurd, it’s actually senseless! The validity of a church wedding that requires a prior traditional wedding is being rightly questioned, as church weddings have no basis in Scripture. To now add an unscriptural roadblock to an unscriptural ceremony makes the whole practice comical and clownish! We’re making the modern day church a real laughing stock among people with common sense, with our unbiblical and unreasonable practices! With such unbiblical practices that put the traditions of men above the word of God, we end up making hypocrites out of believers!

A couple who engage in sex after being married traditionally have committed no sin, because they’ve been married lawfully, having been married according to the only way the Bible prescribes. Such a marriage is honourable, blessed of God and the fruit thereof should be celebrated by all! Even if the lady got pregnant before she got married traditionally, all she requires is confession of her sin of premarital sex to God, and the Lord will forgive her. Having been forgiven of her sins, the Lord does not hold the pregnancy resulting from her sin against her. Why should any man of God hold a sin against someone whom the Lord has forgiven?

1 Corinthians 7:1 Now about the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life.

1 Corinthians 7:2 But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband (NLT).

As we can see from the Scripture above, to avoid sexual immorality, people should be encouraged to marry, and not have obstacles put in their way of marriage! The church should be making it easier for people who want to get married to do so, so that people avoid sexual immorality! Rather than doing worthless pregnancy tests to determine who should be married or not, let’s obey scripture and marry off those that are ready to get married. It’s better to marry off an intending couple immediately, so they can have a legitimate outlet for their sexual passions, than to allow them burn with lusts and keep committing sexual immorality.

1 Corinthians 7:8 Now I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am.

1 Corinthians 7:9 But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust (NLT).

Let me summarise the utter hypocrisy of some churches on this issue for all to see: a couple who cannot keep their passions under control and had been having illegitimate sex now decides to get married inorder to have lawful sex. The lady has gotten pregnant along the way. The couple is disqualified from getting married because the lady got pregnant before the church wedding. What the church is saying is, ” keep living in sexual immorality till the woman delivers, we’ll wed you after she has put to bed”! Isn’t that the height of hypocrisy and violation of God’s word by a stupid tradition of men? After delivery, the church will not hesitate to conduct naming ceremony and child dedication for the baby they’ve allowed to be delivered out of wedlock. The only thing that comes to mind at this point is Jesus’ withering rebuke of the hypocritical Pharisees!

St. Mark 7:6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “’These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

St. Mark 7:7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’

St. Mark 7:8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

St. Mark 7:9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! (NIV).

The reason churches give for refusing to wed a pregnant woman is to avoid wedding the baby in the womb also to the man! Can anything be more absurd or more comical? By marrying Mary while she was pregnant, did Joseph also marry Jesus who was in her womb? When a man has sex with his pregnant wife, does he have sex with the baby in the womb too? When an employer hires a pregnant woman, does he employ the baby in her womb also? When people stop acting based on the word of God and common sense, they will soon start believing any myth! When you depart from the word of God, you’ll give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Before long, such a church will become a pillar and ground of fables!

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

1 Timothy 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

1 Timothy 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth (AKJV).

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

2 Timothy 4:4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (ESV).

In conclusion, premarital pregnancy testing has no basis in Scripture. Worse still, the idea of forbidding pregnant women from getting married while they’re pregnant is unscriptural and unreasonable. Sexual intimacy between an unmarried couple is a compelling reason to hurry them to get married. And if a pregnancy has resulted from such sexual encounter, we should hasten the marriage procedure, rather than prevent them from getting married! Joseph married Mary while she was pregnant for Jesus, following the instructions of an angel of God, forever settling the matter that marrying a pregnant lady is scriptural and approved of God. Therefore, for as long as a couple continue to live in sexual immorality because the church declined to marry them on account of the woman being pregnant, the church is an accomplice in their sexual immorality! And should a pregnant woman induce an abortion in order to be allowed to wed in church, the church too bears responsibility for the murder of the innocent baby.

Praying For Those In Authority Does Not Preclude Civil Disobedience Or Speaking Truth To Power!

We are admonished in Scripture to honour and respect those in authority and to pray for them, because they are ordained of God and are God’s servants. However, there are circumstances under which Christians are to lawfully disobey those in power and disregard decrees and laws of governing authorities. There is also a time to speak truth to power. We shall examine Scripture to know when it’s lawful in the sight of God to disobey those in power, as well as when it’s appropriate to speak out against rulers.

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Romans 13:2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Romans 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,

Romans 13:4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Romans 13:5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

Romans 13:6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.

Romans 13:7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law (ESV).

Scripture makes us understand that governments are God’s delegated authorities to ensure peace and good behaviour, through the making and enforcement of good laws. All governments derive their authority and legitimacy from God, and all are to rule on his behalf. Governments are therefore to make laws in line with divine laws, and are to enforce such laws strictly, to ensure God’s will is done on earth. To the extent that human governments align with God’s government and make laws that are in accord with God’s laws, Christians are to support such governments and obey laws made by them. Support for government comes in various forms: respecting and honouring government officials, payment of taxes to maintain government officials, and obedience to laws made by government officials.

Governments are ordained of God, but not all governments act in God’s interest at all times. There are times when governments step beyond the bounds of the authority given them by God, and begin to act contrary to God’s will. At such times, they are are no longer acting as God’s agents. At such times, they have become rebellious to God! When government authorities become rebellious to God and make laws that are contrary to the laws of God and of nature, how are Christians to respond to such governments and such laws?

Daniel 3:13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king.

Daniel 3:14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?

Daniel 3:15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?

Daniel 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.

Daniel 3:17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.

Daniel 3:18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up (ESV).

Nebuchadnezzar, appointed by God as king of Babylon and of the known world at that time, had overstepped his delegated authority and made a law that compelled God’s people to worship idols. He made a law that compelled all in his kingdom to worship an image or be put to death. Now, it was time for true believers who had hitherto obeyed and served Nebuchadnezzar to show him where their true allegiance lied. Babylon was a pluralistic and multi-cultural society with different religions co-existing peacefully up till this moment. God’s people tolerated other people practising their different religions in that multi-cultural society, as long as they themselves were not compelled to worship other gods. The moment a law was made to compel them to worship anything other than Jehovah the only true God, it was time to rebel against a rebellious delegated authority. The three Hebrew children refused to bow down before Nebuchadnezzar’s image, even at the threat of death. They defied the king in their obedience to the King of kings! When it comes to choosing between obeying a king or obeying the King of kings, there should be no hesitation for a Christian! We should rather die first than choose to obey a mortal king instead of God! Civil disobedience becomes the right thing for a Christian to do at such a time! And God will stand by you at such a time, when you stand for him!

Exodus 1:15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah,

Exodus 1:16 When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.

Exodus 1:17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.

Exodus 1:18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, Why have you done this, and let the male children live?

Exodus 1:19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.

Exodus 1:20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong.

Exodus 1:21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families (ESV).

The Hebrew midwives were given a commandment by the king of Egypt that was contrary to the commandment of God. They were instructed by the king to kill all male children born to the Jews, whereas the King of kings forbade them to commit murder! As God-fearing midwives, they placed God’s commadment above that of the king of Egypt. They refused to kill those innocent baby boys born to the Hebrews. They preserved those innocent lives at the risk of their own lives. God saw their allegiance and rewarded them accordingly.

The Acts 4:18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

The Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,

The Acts 4:20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.

The Acts 5:26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

The Acts 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them,

The Acts 5:28 saying, We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.

The Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, We must obey God rather than men.

From the portions of Scripture quoted above, the apostles were threatened and warned by the Jewish leaders not to preach in the name of Jesus. However, Jesus had given the Apostles the commision to preach his Gospel to every creature and to deliver men from the powers of darkness through his name. I love the apostles’ response to the threat not to preach anymore in Jesus’name: “we must obey God rather than man”! When the laws of a human government conflict with those of heaven’s government, we must obey God rather than man! It didn’t matter that the apostles were threatened, beaten, imprisoned and humiliated. It didn’t matter that their very lives hung in the balance. Where the word of God was involved and the Gospel of Christ was at stake, their lives didn’t matter to them! They were ready to hazard their lives for the sake of the gospel! They were literally obeying the command of their Lord concerning losing their lives for his name and for the sake of gospel.

Mark 8:34 And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Mark 8:35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.

Mark 8:36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?

Mark 8:37 For what can a man give in return for his life? (ESV).

Paul taught Christians to pray for rulers and kings and those in authority, so that we may live in peace and preach the gospel freely. Some have taken that passage of Scripture to mean that Christians are not to oppose or speak against any form of government authority. Let us carefully examine Paul’s instruction concerning praying for those in authority to see the extent of subservience required of a Christian towards worldly rulers.

1 Timothy 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people —

1 Timothy 2:2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

1 Timothy 2:3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

1 Timothy 2:4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (NIV).

According to the passage above, the purpose of praying for kings and those in authority is so “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”. We pray for kings and those in authority so that they will make good laws and create the enabling environment for us to live in peace and practise our religion without hinderance. Our prayer is not for God to prosper them in evil ways or to sustain them in ungodliness. But praying for political leaders to do the right thing and govern justly is not enough. Servants of God are to stand up to evil rulers and speak truth to power, in order to resist evil and check social injustice and ungodliness in government. From Samuel through Elijah to John the Baptist, we see prophets of God rising up against evil rulers and condemning ungodliness among kings, even at the cost of their lives. We ought to follow the example of Samuel in his relationship with king Saul. Samuel rebuked Saul harshly in public for his rebellion against God, but continued praying for him privately for mercy and repentance. Though appointed king by God, Saul had abandoned God and was no longer God’s agent! God was angry with him, and so should every loyal servant of God!

1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”

1 Samuel 15:24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them.

1 Samuel 15:25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD.”

1 Samuel 15:26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!”

1 Samuel 15:27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore.

1 Samuel 15:28 Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors —to one better than you.

1 Samuel 15:29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.” (NIV).

When Christians don’t speak up against evil policies and social injustice, when Christian leaders fail to speak truth to power, they fail God and disappoint their calling as preachers of righteousness. You cannot be a preacher of righteousness and look the other way when political and social leaders act unjustly and ungodly, in ways that undermine God’s purpose on earth! Christians are the moral compass of any nation. We are the light and salt of the earth.To fail to lead or guide a nation morally is to fail God and society. As we pray for God’s will to be done on earth and for his kingdom to come, we should also not hesitate to condemn anything that’s contrary to his will and that opposes his government. The Christian is to be both a prayer warrior and a moral crusader, combating evil forces both by prayers to God and by rebukes to men!

The entire Old Testament was a continuous history of true prophets standing up to ungodly kings, while false prophets cozied with them and looked the other way, at the height of national idolatory, immorality and social injustice. John the Baptist confronted king Herod for his ungodly lifestyle and for snatching away his brother’s wife while his brother was still alive. Herod hated him for that and eventually had him imprisoned and killed. The bulk of Jesus’ message was against the hypocritical Jewish leaders who had made the word of God of none effect by their ungodly traditions. He just couldn’t stand to see the moral decadence and injustice in his day! He never missed an opportunity to speak truth to power!

St. Matthew 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

St. Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

St. Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices —mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law —justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

St. Matthew 23:24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

St. Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

St. Matthew 23:26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

St. Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

St. Matthew 23:28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

St. Matthew 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

In conclusion, the command to obey those in authority is predicated on the assumption that the authority is itself subject to God. As long as an authority does not go contrary to God’s will, but seeks to maintain law and order and create an enabling environment for peaceful and godly living, such a power should be respected, honoured and obeyed. However, the moment an authority becomes ungodly and makes laws that are inimical to the Christian faith and the principles of natural justice, such power should be disobeyed and resisted. Above all, governments are run by human beings who can easily lose focus; they should be constantly reminded of their godly duties by Christians who should not hesitate to speak truth to power always.

Submission In The Workplace: The Key To Peace And Prosperity At Work

Submission of Christian workers to their bosses, and of Christian masters to Christ, is key to peace and prosperity in the workplace. With subordination to our various heads and recognition of the authority of those placed above us, even menial work becomes joyful service. On their own part, Christian bosses have a biblical responsibility to treat their subordinates humanely and kindly, and to make the work of those under them easier and more pleasant. It is easy to accept the authority of good bosses and to submit to them. What of wicked and evil masters? How are we to relate to them? We shall examine Scripture to answer this question, as well as explore the prescribed relationship between Christian employers/bosses and their employees/subordinates in the workplace.

Colossians 3:22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;

Colossians 3:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men;

Colossians 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:25 But he that does wrong shall receive for the wrong which he has done: and there is no respect of persons (AKJV).

Servants are enjoined to obey their masters in all things, and to do their work as unto the Lord. Every Christian is to do his or her job as though they’re working for God directly. Whether you’re working as a cleaner, a janitor, a messenger, a clerk, or a nanny, see yourself as working directly for God! How would you do your job as a cleaner if you were directly employed by God? How would you do your job as a janitor if you were maintaining God’s apartment? I’m sure you’d do it with more commitment, more zeal and more dedication. Now, that’s exactly how God expects you to work for your boss! See yourself as working for God in that job, however tedious and menial the work is. See your work as a form of service or worship to God! Yes, worshipping God is not only when you pray or sing praises to God. Worshipping God is not only done in the church or in prayer houses. You also worship God at your place of work! You also serve God at your duty post in whatever work you do! Whenever you perform a lawful duty heartily, you are serving God!

It’s easy to appreciate a good boss and work happily for those who treat us kindly and appreciate our efforts. How about wicked and evil superiors? How about those who make our lives a living hell in the workplace? How are we to relate to them? How are we to work for them? The natural human instinct is to be mean to superiors that treat us badly, to try to sabotage them whenever we have the opportunity. The default mindset towards difficult bosses is to wish them evil, and pray for their downfall or removal. That’s only being human! We love the ones who love us and hate the ones who hate us! But, what does the Bible say? How does God expect us to relate with superiors that treat us badly in the workplace?

1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

1 Peter 2:19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.

1 Peter 2:20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God (ESV).

Servants are to be subject not only to good and gentle masters, but also to the unjust. We are to be submissive to bosses who don’t treat us justly and are mean and unfair to us. It is a gracious thing when we endure unjust treatment for the sake of God. We are ambassadors of Christ even at our places of work. Even in our menial jobs, we’re to display the qualities of Christ for all to see. We’re to repay evil with good. We’re to bless those that curse us and pray for the good of those who use us despitefully and persecute us. We’re to overcome evil with good. That’s the example Christ set for us, and that’s what the Bible admonishes us to do.

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.

1 Peter 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (ESV).

Luke 6:27 But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

Luke 6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you (ESV).

Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.

Romans 12:20 To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (ESV).

As a worker, do not expect praise from your boss. The reward for your work is your wage/salary here, and God’s reward later, not praise from men. A boss or a superior has a right to talk you anyhow he wishes. Don’t let that get to you. Win such unappreciative masters with your godly behaviour, Christ-like dedication to duty and uncommon subordination and respect. Even the Lord warned servants not to expect praise for the work they’re being paid to do!

Luke 17:7 Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, Come at once and recline at table?

Luke 17:8 Will he not rather say to him, Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink?

Luke 17:9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded?

Luke 17:10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty (ESV).

Don’t use your employer’s time for personal work. Give your employer your total and unalloyed attention while at work. Your time at work is for your employer. You’re paid to work for your boss, not to do any other thing outside your job description. Do not use your time at work for praying, Bible study, evangelism or such other things. Give to your employer the full service he has paid you to offer. Work as conscientiously when your boss is not there as when he is there. Working hard when your employer is present, and idling away when he’s not there, is being hypocritical and displaying eye-service. God watches you at all times and is not pleased with hypocritical eye-service!

Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,

Ephesians 6:6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,

Ephesians 6:7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man,

Ephesians 6:8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free (ESV).

Luke 20:25 He said to them, Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s (ESV).

You should obey and honour those above you at your place of work because it’s not only the right thing to do as required by the word of God and by your conscience as a Christian, it’s also to prevent the punishment that comes with disobedience and disregard for superior authority! There are laws governing superior-surbodinate relationship in the workplace. Violating those laws usually incur punishment. To avoid being humiliated and disgraced, be on the right side of the law. By allowing yourself to violate the law and be punished, you not only disgrace yourself, you also bring Christ’s name to disrepute, because you’re an ambassador of Christ! Your behaviour and actions at the work place have implications for your ambassadorial role as a Christian!

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Romans 13:2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Romans 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,

Romans 13:4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Romans 13:5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

Romans 13:6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.

Romans 13:7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law (ESV).

1 Peter 2:16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

1 Peter 2:17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

1 Peter 2:19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.

1 Peter 2:20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.

1 Peter 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (ESV).

Christians should always pray for the good and prosperity of their places of work. Your prosperity depends on the prosperity of the organisation you work for. If the organisation does well, your wages and allowances are likely to increase; if they don’t do well, you too are likely to suffer. If your workplace folds up, you will suffer unemployment for sometime, till you find another job. So, take care of your workplace as though it’s your own. When you manage other people’s business well, God will give you your own in due time.

Jeremiah 29:7 Work for the good of the city where I’ve taken you as captives, and pray to the LORD for that city. When it prospers, you will also prosper (GodsWord).

1 Corinthians 9:7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? (ESV).

Luke 16:12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? (ESV).

On the other hand, Christian employers of labour and Christian bosses have a biblical responsibility to treat their workers well. They are not to maltreat those that work under them. Masters, treat your subordinates with dignity and fairness, and avoid threatening them. You too have a head, Christ, who will judge you according to the way you treat those under you!

Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?

Luke 12:43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.

Luke 12:44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.

Luke 12:45 But if that servant says to himself, My master is delayed in coming, and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk,

Luke 12:46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful.

Luke 12:47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.

Luke 12:48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more (ESV).

Ephesians 6:9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him (ESV).

Colossians 4:1 Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven (ESV).

When you treat your workers unkindly and cruelly, when you don’t care for their welfare and well-being, you’re sabotaging yourself and your work! A dissatisfied worker or subordinate can undermine your work and your organisation and sell you out to your competitors! A disgruntled servant can leak out vital secrets of your organisation that can lead to your downfall! Look at this example from Scripture and be properly guided in the way you treat your subordinates!

1 Samuel 30:11 They found an Egyptian in the open country and brought him to David. And they gave him bread and he ate. They gave him water to drink,

1 Samuel 30:12 and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. And when he had eaten, his spirit revived, for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights.

1 Samuel 30:13 And David said to him, To whom do you belong? And where are you from? He said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite, and my master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago.

1 Samuel 30:14 We had made a raid against the Negeb of the Cherethites and against that which belongs to Judah and against the Negeb of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.

1 Samuel 30:15 And David said to him, Will you take me down to this band? And he said, Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this band.

1 Samuel 30:16 And when he had taken him down, behold, they were spread abroad over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah.

1 Samuel 30:17 And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled.

1 Samuel 30:18 David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives.

1 Samuel 30:19 Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all.

1 Samuel 30:20 David also captured all the flocks and herds, and the people drove the livestock before him, and said, This is David’s spoil (ESV).

If you treat your servants and subordinates well, you win their loyalty and make them subservient to you for the rest of their lives. If you take good care of your servants’ welfare, they too will take good care of your own interests. A servant who is loved and treated well by his master will go to any length to protect his master’s interests. His master’s wish will be his command, even if the venture entails great risk to his own life.

2 Samuel 23:14 David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem.

2 Samuel 23:15 And David said longingly, Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!

2 Samuel 23:16 Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the LORD

2 Samuel 23:17 and said, Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives? Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did (ESV).

Christian employers of labour should endeavour to pay their workers just and fair wages in a prompt and timely manner. God hates the defrauding of workers and the withholding of the wages of employees. Remember that your position of authority today is a privilege derived from God. Be a boss with a human heart. If you deliberately hold back the wages of those who have worked for you, when they cry out to God against you, God will hear and answer, and it won’t be for your good! If you unjustly use the wages of workers to build yourself up, you’re placing yourself under a curse! Your prosperity will not last, for God will visit you in his wrath, in due time!

Leviticus 19:13 You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning (ESV).

Jeremiah 22:13 Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages,

Jeremiah 22:14 who says, I will build myself a great house with spacious upper rooms, who cuts out windows for it, paneling it with cedar and painting it with vermilion (ESV).

Malachi 3:5 Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts (ESV).

James 5:4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts (ESV).

In conclusion, the relationship between employers and employees is based on subordination and responsible leadership: the employee respects and honours his boss and does his job with commitment and honesty, while the boss treats him fairly and justly and pays him his due wages promptly. When respectful subordination is coupled with humane leadership, there will be peace and prosperity in the workplace and God will be glorified.