The War on Exposition

And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.

~ Numbers 10:9

Know your enemy and know yourself

Sun Tzu was born during the Babylonian captivity of the southern kingdom of Judah, though he was silent on that subject. He probably wanted to maintain his impartiality. He was a Chinese military general, adviser, and war strategist. His name is known to us today because he is credited with writing the classic, The Art of War. His book is a perennial source for strategizing and conflict management, as well as military tactics. Many modern business, marketing, self-help, and motivational gurus have grown rich by repackaging his philosophies and peddling them to those who want to get ahead in life.

Sun Tzu was a firm believer in knowing your enemy and yourself. He warned that failing to know your enemy would lead to as many losses as victories and failing to know yourself puts you in jeopardy in every battle. By knowing your enemy, Tzu referred to knowing your enemy’s capabilities, his strengths and weaknesses. The same holds for knowing your own strengths and weaknesses.

Having a known and named enemy can also be useful for tribal reinforcement. Giving your enemy a name creates a rallying point and defines a target for aiming at. Having a named, common enemy can provide strategic partnerships. Even Pilate and Herod could get along when they were both against the same thing (Luke 23:12). If you’re driving the bus out of town, you can fill the seats with malcontents who will push and shove to board that bus without worrying about where it’s going. But where is the bus headed? That’s the question.
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The Unforgiving Servant

But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. ~ Galatians 5:15

But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. ~ Galatians 5:15

Matthew 18:21-35

As far as parables go, this one is rather simple and the point is clear. Jesus told this parable in direct response to Peter’s question: “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). Peter asked about forgiving our brothers and seemed to have repeat offenders especially in mind.

Jesus answered, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). He then proceeded to illustrate forgiveness with a parable that serves a few purposes. It provides a narrative illustration, which makes an impression. It highlights the basis for forgiveness and concludes with a sober warning to the unforgiving.

Before we look into the parable, let’s have a few words about parables in general. We have to be careful with them that we let them make their point and not try to press them too far. Sometimes people want to pick up every detail in the parable, no matter how minor, and try to tie it to some significant teaching. This can do more harm than good and possibly lead into serious error.

In the parable before us, Jesus is not laying out a whole theology of forgiveness, nor seeking to explain fully how God forgives sinners and reconciles them to Himself. This is an important point to understand, as we will see later on. The context clearly indicates this parable is about forgiveness between men and particularly brothers in Christ. The conclusion in verse 35 confirms this.

At the very least, this parable speaks to the child of God about how we are to handle forgiveness toward others. The parable does not try to get into every possible scenario of offense. We can all appreciate how tangled and thorny situations between people can be. But the point of this parable is clear: We are to forgive one another.
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One Evil, Two Evils, Three Evils, Four

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. ~ James 1:8

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. ~ James 1:8

Your money or your life … Choose now!

Scruples is a card game invented in 1984 and marketed as “The game of moral dilemmas.” Many questions seem to involve awkward social situations or relationships. For instance, there might be a question about what you would do if you spilled something on the carpet at a party. Would you tell the host or not? Or, if a friend asked you to give them a reference for a job and you know they are not qualified for it, would you give them a positive reference or not. So the question gives you a scenario and two choices. I guess it’s also supposed to be fun but doesn’t sound like much fun to me.

Those kinds of questions are low stakes moral questions and get boring quickly. To make that kind of game more dramatic, you have to raise the stakes morally. So you would ask something like: the cashier gives you change for a hundred dollar bill instead of the twenty dollar bill you paid with; do you keep quiet or tell her about the error? Or, you and two friends are adrift at sea. In order to survive do you eat the skinny friend or the fat friend? You are hiding spies in your house and the army commander tells you to either turn in the spies or be killed. Which do you do? You get the idea.
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