Subjective “Sins”

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February 22, 2017

Subjective “Sins”

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

                                                                                                       Proverbs 19:11

 In my personal observation of others and of myself, I come to realize that we are all prone to take offense at what I call “subjective sin”.  It is subjective, because we label what someone else did or said as sin, based on our feelings about it, not on whether God’s Word actually calls it a sin. By contrast, objective sin is “every thought, desire, word, and deed that is contrary to God’s Law” (question 78, Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation.) That definition of sin has nothing to do with our feelings.

For example, if you take offense in a sermon when I truthfully speak God’s law to you, I am not sinning against you, no matter how you feel about it.  Likewise, if you speak truth to someone that needs to hear it, it may be taken as an offense, but you have not given offense.  The Proverb above recommends having the good sense not to get easily offended or to be quickly angry. Consider whether the words were true and if so, the motive behind speaking them. By doing that, we may realize that while we took offense, no offense was given.

However, that does not take the “truth” teller off the hook. He or she has the Christian responsibility to speak the truth in love and with gentle humility. (Galatians 6:1-2)  This month’s character theme for Faith School is “Sensitivity”, described as “being aware of the true attitudes and emotional needs of those around me”.  So yes, again, the hearer is to be sensitive to the “true attitude” of the speaker, not attributing to the speaker unkind motives that are not there. But the speaker is to be sensitive to the emotional needs of the hearer. That means we speak with consideration to the meaning of our words, the tone of our voice, and the motive of our heart.

Still, no matter how careful the speaker may be, he or she may still commit subjective sins, unintentionally causing offense. At such times, the offended hearer would do well to acknowledge the feeling without ascribing an unkind motive to the speaker. “I felt offended,” rather than, “you offended me” is more likely to result in a humble apology from the one guilty of the “subjective sin”.

Whether a sin is subjective or objective, love and forgiveness is the best Christian response. Christ himself forgave those who sinned against him by having him nailed on the cross, “for they knew not what they did”. He daily forgives us our sins as well. Seek reconciliation whenever you can, but understand that is to His glory that we overlook an offense.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Every Day Love

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February 15, 2017

Every Day Love

Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.  1 John  3:18

 Another Valentine’s Day in the books: card given, flowers delivered, dinner out or a movie, perhaps, Valentines distributed to students or staff.  Done for 2017. But what about today, February 15? What about tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and all the days after? No, we do not have the focus, or the money, to keep up the expressions of love that Valentine’s Day urges, but we do have no less need to receive and give love—every day.

If you have not read, recently or ever, the first epistle of John at the back of the Bible, it is a good time to look at all his passages of love. Paul’s thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is a better known passage about love, with all its “love is and does” and “love is not and does not” lines, but John is not to be missed. He gets right to the nitty gritty.  Do not just talk about love, but also show it.  Do not fake love with fancy words, but hold it truthfully in your heart—every day.

For example, he points out that if we see our neighbor in need but do not help him, the love of God is not in us.  If we say we love God but hate our neighbor, then, in fact, we do not love God.  Love is a fruit of the Spirit, which dwells in people to whom God has given love and granted saving faith. The necessary connection to God is what makes love work—every day.

How could it be otherwise?  God is love, John writes, and thus is the source and substance of our love. He loves beyond anything we can imagine or imitate. He loved us enough to hang Jesus on a cross as full payment for every loveless word and deed we have ever and will commit. He keeps loving us by providing daily bread, forgiving our sins, delivering us from evil and temptation, and everything else we ask according to His will.  We celebrate that love every Lord’s Day, but He loves us all week—every day.

So what about you?  Is your love limited to sweet words, but not demanding deeds?  Do you extend it to your “loved ones” but not to your enemies?  Is it pretense or real?  Christ did the deed and the word of love.  He died for both His friends and His enemies.  His love was so real that it bled from His veins.  There is not a day that He does not cover us with His love.  So, “let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth”—every day.

Grace and Peace and Love by yours from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Personal Pulpits

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February 8, 2017

Personal Pulpits

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, ”  Colossians 3:17

“Today’s sermon is based on the text from …”. So begins a pastor’s message delivered from the public pulpit with prayer and preparation each Sunday.  Speaking God’s Word to God’s people is an awesome and fearful responsibility. Not only do I want to speak the truth, but I want to do it in such a way that people will want to hear it, with just the right amount of seasoning.

While that is the challenge and privilege of pastors, it is also true that every Christian has a personal pulpit. If you are identified as a Christian, you have a platform from which to speak the winsome truth to a world in need of it. Your pulpit is portable, going wherever you go. Your church is your workplace, home, school, and any place you are planted.

Your “sermon” consists of the kind and encouraging words that you speak to your spouse, co-worker, student, child or sibling. It may also contain gentle correction to someone on the brink of an unwise decision or already on the wrong path. Perhaps your sermon is posted in the public arena of Facebook, Twitter, or blogosphere. Does it belittle or build up, speak hope or pessimism, truth or half truth?  Does it invite or alienate?  By the words you choose and the way you speak them, does your sermon glorify God and serve your neighbor? Does it build a relationship of acceptance, so that someone would gladly hear your testimony of faith in Jesus?

Your daily sermon preparation is to pray and meditate on how Jesus has spoken and continues to speak to you in the Scripture.  He spoke rebuke to the stubborn, and wisdom to the confused.  He spoke forgiveness to the unworthy sinner as He delivered it on the cross. He spoke assurance and comfort to the doubtful and grieving as he rose from the dead. Now His Spirit dwells in you. As you listen to Him, Jesus speaks through you from your personal pulpit. May all who listen to your words hear of Jesus and his love!

Blessings on your sermons,

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Blessings In Baptism

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February 1, 2017

Blessings in Baptism

“Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.                                          Acts 2:37b-38

We just baptized a young man, and soon will be baptizing a girl. What they have in common is that both had within them a Godly urge to be baptized. It was not something that I tried to talk them into. God not only prompts the desire for baptism, but delivers the gift it promises: forgiveness of sins.

Baptism is a one-time event that is also an ongoing blessing.  It has been described to me as a door that, after it has been opened, stays open, and also as a tattoo–you get it once, but it stays forever.  Likewise, repentance was commanded by Peter as a one-time turn from sin and unbelief to a new life in Jesus Christ. This new life was empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit, given in baptism. But like baptism, repentance is also an ongoing blessing. Luther began the 95 Theses with this: When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance” In the Small Catechism he writes that baptism indicates that our sinful nature should be daily drowned and die in daily repentance and that a new nature arise. He writes similarly in “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church”.

Therefore, when we rise from sins, or repent, we are only returning to the power and the faith of baptism from which we fell, and find our way back to the promise then made to us, from which we departed when we sinned. For the truth of the promise once made remains steadfast, ever ready to receive us back with open arms when we return.

If you are baptized, use it well. Through daily repentance, walk through the open door into the open arms of Jesus. You will be blessed to do so.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz