For the grace of God … teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly possessions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age –Titus 2:11-12 (NJV).
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If we, as a gathered people, are to have a witness in today’s world, we need to resolve these two poles. We know that God has a holistic alternative to the way most people live, and we’ve seen glimmers of it.
Living upright lives is difficult enough, but as we pursue it, there’s the pitfall of a “holier than thou” attitude others will quickly detect, maybe even before we do.
The temptation of presuming to own the Truth is avoided through humility, acknowledging our individual weaknesses and shortcomings. Then, too, when we speak out of a concern for the other person, addressing “that of God, that Seed of Christ, that Inward Witness” potential within that individual, we open a caring stream that is quite different from a tone of judgment or condemnation. Thus, we can uphold a concern for the higher good, without being washed away in a flood of indecision.
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Wherefore I now write unto you, little Children, in the spiritual Stature, being myself one of that Number, by way of Exhortation, to cast away your Idols, and keep yourselves from them; say unto them, Get ye hence to the Moles and to the Bats, Isa. ii. 20. Friends, you know what I mean by them; turn in, and I am sure the Light will let you see them, and the sooner you part with them, the sooner will you find Forgiveness with the Lord, for the Idolatry which he hath beheld in them. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)