A big flood has hit Houston, Texas, USA recently. I was told that this kind of flood might happen once in a thousand years because this flood was an unusual and unexpected. One million people have been hit by floods. This flood will affect the entire United States. In addition, this flood is likely to affect the entire world directly or indirectly.
In the news, I saw many people helping flood victims. Some of you may have personally donated money for the flood victims. I hope our church will help the people who are suffering from this flood.
Several episodes related to this flood are being introduced in the news. One of the articles that impressed me was $ 99 for a bottle of water. It seems like that there might be some people who would like to make money by taking advantage of this crisis. On the other hand, there was an article, which made my mind warm: A shop has lowered the prices of commodities to help the people. It was good to read people's willingness to help in times of need.
People may have different views and opinions. To me, the difference between the two articles mentioned above may be summarized by a word, that is ‘consideration’. There will be a difference between a store that cares for people who are in trouble and a store that does not. Not surprisingly, when the difficulties are over and everything will be normal, people will go to the shop that cared them in trouble. Because the faith for the store will be stronger during this tough time. Do you think so? A little consideration for others should build faith to that shop.
Should not we live like this? Considering each other is essential; Helping others when they are in trouble will strengthen the faith each other if you have a little bit more than others.
What I learned from the text today was that "consideration strengthens faith." Thus, I wrote the sermon title. I hope that you also hear the same message from today’s text.
When you look up the word "consideration" in the dictionary, it is defined as follows.
Wishing to help or take care of.
Be careful not to give convenience or to set an example for the other person.
A web site called ‘Tree Wiki’ described that “To act as a caring person, the ability to empathize with the pain of the other person is required.”
I agree. Caring (consideration) is so important to our lives. What you need at home is caring. If your wife cares you well, if your husband cares you well, your faith to your spouse will become more solid. From that point of view, that will be my prayers. Although I'm not doing well, my wife is good to me. What we need in our work place is also caring for each other. It would be much easier to live with our companions. Naturally, we need to care about each other, which will enhance our faith.
In today’s passage, the actions of Paul and Timothy is related to ‘caring’ others who do not believe in Jesus Christ.
Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek (v. 3). "
To understand the actions of Paul and Timothy, you need to know a little background.
In Acts 14, the grace of the Lord is emphasized, but as we move to Acts 15, disputes began to arise because people emphasized religious practice, especially circumcision. It is a piece of paper between Chapter 14 and 15. However, people’s minds were changed. Since the Gentiles welcomed Jesus as a Savior, some Jews insisted:
"Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." (Acts 15: 1).
They argued that the Gentiles who believed Jesus Christ should be circumcised in order to be saved. The apostles and elders gather and controvert for a long time, and the following conclusion was reached.
We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are (ver. 11).
There should be no relationship between salvation and circumcision. However, the apostles and elders provided some guidance to the Gentiles.
“… to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood....” (Acts 15:20).
Religious acts cannot bring salvation, but if the Gentiles do what the Jews most dislike, the opportunity to preach the gospel to them will be lost. The apostles and elders emphasized caring for those who did not believe in Jesus. So, in fact, it was not necessary for Timothy to be circumcised. Nevertheless, Paul circumcised Timothy because it’s for the people he may meet in the future.
Here I want to share with you about Timothy for a moment. Paul loved to say Timothy as his spiritual son. Perhaps Timothy seems to have believed in Jesus when Paul preached on his first missionary journey. In the book of 2 Timothy, it was recorded that the beliefs of his mother and grandmother, were delivered to Timothy.
“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Tim. 1: 5)
It shows that 'Timothy' grew up in a family of faith and became a man of faith. When I see this, I love to pray like this. 'Lord, let our children also continue to believe in the Lord.' May our children pray to be under God’s blessings.
So, I appreciate Timothy's evaluation. Timothy had a reputation by only Lystra where he lived, but also Iconium where were 30 km away from Lystra. This should be the reason why Paul paid attention to Timothy. But Paul started to see some people when they planned to leave the missionary journey. They were the Jewish people who lived in that province. Timothy seems to have not yet been circumcised because of his father's influence. According to the apostles and elders' counsel, it was not required that Timothy should be circumcised. Nevertheless, Paul circumcised Timothy. Timothy showed that he was obedient to Paul's actions without any reaction.
The reason Paul did circumcision to Timothy is simple.
First. In order to avoid unnecessary controversy related to circumcision . They should have a lot of work to do in the future. They don’t want to spend their precious time with unnecessary arguments. Of course, circumcision is an important ceremony for the Jewish people, but it is trivial for the Gentile who believed in Jesus Christ who is our Savior.
Second. It is for the Jews living in the region. Timothy is a future pastor who will live in the province. Therefore, he gave up the liberty given by the gospel and did little consideration for others.
This is true for Paul. The book of 1 Corinthians Chapter 9 begins.
“Is not I free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen my Lord Jesus? Are not you the fruit I got from working in the Lord? ..
I am a free body unconcerned with anyone, but I have become a servant of all men myself in order to gain many people. To the Jews they became like the Jews, to get the Jews. To those who are under the law, I am as a man under the law to obtain the man under the law, not under the law” (1 Corinthians 19: 1, 19, 20)
The key word in the actions of Paul and Timothy is found "to gain man". He has forsaken himself for the salvation of souls. In doing so, they have practiced caring for the other party.
I read a biography of Hudson Taylor, and I saw something similar.
He dressed like a Chinese person and lived like a Chinese person in order to get Chinese people. The same was true for missionaries who came to Korea. They dressed like our own people and ate food like our own people. They are free but they became a slave. They gave up the trivial things in their life in order to preach the gospel to people. It is also recommended that you give up the trivial things for the others. It was not important for Timothy to be circumcised or not. However, Timothy was circumcised for those who will meet in the future.
It is in verse 5 that this happened because of the consideration of Paul and Timothy.
“So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.”
If it is beneficial to others, we are able to sacrifice ourselves. If we can save the soul, we can give up our freedom for the others. It is good for us to do God’s work rather than the useless arguments.
How grateful that our little care has helped others' beliefs. It is also grateful if our deeds do not stumble and others know God more deeply.
You can do anything whatever you want. However, you can cheer-up others. Your little consideration can strengthen others’ faith. This will also make our church healthy.
Caring strengthens the faith. This is true for Mark. Last week we learned the story of Paul and Barnabas arguing against Mark. Disagreement led Paul and Barnabas to go on different missions. However, the fruits of mission were doubled. Barnabas' care for Mark has also strengthened Mark's faith. God does not fail. God does not make mistakes. God is the one who works together to accomplish the good.
I hope that we want to be the community that considers each other, which will strengthen each other’s faith. This will be God’s grace. Obedience to God's Word, consideration for others, and grace of God will strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s pray for this. Amen!