Praise the LORD, Jerusalem! Praise your God, Zion!
WE SHOULD BE ASHAMED that we’re so lazy we need to be prodded into praising God or awakened to do so, as if we were sleeping. We’re showered with blessings every day, and we’re always using what God gives us. Why do we need to be continually reminded of the wonderful things God does for us? We should be able to remember to thank him without reminders from the psalms. God’s gifts alone should inspire us to praise God. But this doesn’t happen. We have to be yelled at before we start praising the Lord. The words have to be written down for us and spoon-fed into our mouths, as this psalm does.
More shocking still is that the one who is giving us all these blessings has to be pointed out to us. Jerusalem must be admonished, “Do praise the Lord,” and Zion told, “Go ahead and praise your God.” We all use God’s blessings every day, but we never think about where they come from – God. He is the one who gives us everything. Instead, we accept his gifts as if they simply appeared out of nowhere or as if we had earned them through our own efforts, diligence, or wisdom. We think that God somehow owes us these things, and therefore we don’t need to thank him. Even animals don’t live that shamefully. Pigs recognize the person who gives them their food. They’ll run after her and cry to her. But the world doesn’t even recognize God, let alone thank and praise him for these blessings. If God’s people must be encouraged to praise him, how can the world be expected to do any better? It’s astounding how unwilling people are to acknowledge what God has done for them and to praise him for it.
Above all, love each other warmly, because love covers many sins.
1 PETER 4:8
HERE, PETER BUILDS UPON a passage from the book of Proverbs: “Hate starts quarrels, but love covers every wrong” (Proverbs 10:12). And this is what Peter means: If you don’t restrain your sinful nature and desires, you will easily become angry with others. You will be unable to forgive others easily. So make sure you curb your evil desires. Then you will be able to love and forgive others, for love covers sin.
Some interpret this verse as if it goes against faith. They may say, “You claim that faith alone makes a person godly and that no one can get rid of sin through his works. Then why do Solomon and Peter say that love covers sin?” You can answer them this way: “Solomon is saying whoever hates another person doesn’t stop quarreling and bickering. But wherever love is, it covers sin by gladly forgiving it. Where there is anger, you will find a defiant person who won’t reconcile and remains full of hatred. On the other hand, a person full of love doesn’t become angry no matter how much someone tries to offend him. He covers all these sins and pretends not to see them. Though he can overlook his neighbor’s sin, he cannot make God overlook it. No one can cover his own sin before God. Only faith can do that. But with our love, we can cover our neighbor’s sin. And just as God covers our sins with his love if we believe, so we should also cover our neighbor’s sin. Peter says that we should love one another so that one person can cover the sin of another. Love doesn’t cover just one, two, or three sins, but a whole multitude of sins.”
Stop judging so that you will not be judged. Otherwise, you will be judged by the same standard you use to judge others.
FORGIVENESS OF SINS and tolerance for others are indispensable to the Christian life. We should bear with each other and forgive one another, as Paul taught: “Those of us who have a strong faith must be patient with the weaknesses of those whose faith is not so strong. We must not think only of ourselves” (Romans 15:1). This is what Christ meant when he said, “Stop judging.” Some Christians have greater and better gifts than others. This is necessary, especially for preachers. No one should act superior to others or think of himself better than those who don’t have such gifts. Among believers, no one should try to dominate anyone else. On the surface, there is a difference between people. A prince has a higher position than a farmer. A preacher has more education than an ordinary worker. But in their hearts, Christians should be of one mind despite their different positions in society. They should disregard external differences.
As a Christian, you should accept others by making allowances for your neighbor, even if your neighbor occupies a lower position in society and has fewer gifts than you do. You should respect the work of a servant tending horses as much as you respect your own work, whether it is governing or preaching. Your work may appear to have a greater impact than your neighbor’s, but you must not judge by outward appearances. You should always remember that your Christian neighbor has the same faith and the same Christ as you do. Your neighbor receives as much of God’s kindness as you do. There is one God who creates everyone and gives each person his own gifts. God is pleased by the least as well as the greatest.
Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.
ISAAC WAS FORTY YEARS OLD before he got married. In those forty years, he undoubtedly experienced periods of frustration and fiery passion because of his physical desires. A person’s physical desires are at war with his spiritual nature. Yet Isaac was obedient to his father Abraham, who taught him how to meditate on God’s commands and promises in the battle against his corrupt nature. Later on, God gave Rebekah to Isaac as his wife, and they lived together in harmony.
There is a lesson buried in this passage: Isaac is a great example to young people of a person who abstains from sex before marriage. This is an important subject because all young people have to face this battle. Isaac’s purity and moral integrity are clear indications of the way he was raised. His father taught him to avoid bad friends. Isaac meditated on God’s promises, prayed, and did useful work. Though not specifically stated in the text, it’s safe to assume that he diligently dedicated himself to meditation and prayer during the first forty years of his life when he wasn’t yet married.
But some might say, “Waiting for marriage is unbearable and aggravating!” They’re right. It’s very similar to other difficulties requiring patience that believers must face, such as fasting, imprisonment, cold, sickness, and persecution. Lust is a serious burden. You must resist it and fight against it. But after you have overcome it through prayer, lust will have caused you to pray more and grow in faith.