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ZMI Family Ministries International > Articles by: Erin Tabor

Sincere until the day of Christ

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ”
Philippians 1:9-10 ASV

The word ‘sincere’ in the verse above has a very interesting history, and was only used twice in the New Testament (the other is in 2 Peter 1:3). The original Greek word used was eilikrines, which could be a combination of the two words heile which means sun ray, and krino which means judged; in other words ‘judged by sunlight.’

Why would the word sincere mean ‘judged by sunlight’? Well, when devious ancient potters used to find a crack, they would fill it with wax and paint over it so that the customers would not be able to tell the difference between a good pot and a bad one. However, if someone held a pot up to the sun, if there was a crack, the wax would be revealed and the inferior pot would be discovered. Good pottery would be marked with the words sine cera, which meant ‘without wax.’ In other words, sincere meant that the flawless pots could be judged by the sun and passed the test. Another possible use of the word eilikrines involved honey, because it could be held up to the sun for examination, and could be judged clear and pure (without wax). About half of modern English Bibles (NKJV, NASB) translated the word eilikrines to sincere and the other half (NIV, ESV) chose the word pure. Both words effectively give us the definition of being tested for faults and found clear, or judged and approved.

A person who is sincere is someone you know you can trust. The person isn’t hiding anything or trying to be deceitful, so you know that he or she is presenting you with real authenticity. If we break down Phil. 1:9-10, we can see that according to Paul, the way to be sincere and pure is to focus on gaining knowledge and discernment. None of us is capable of being pure (without wax) on our own strength because we are all sinners, but the more we put our effort into striving to be more like God, through studying His Word, discerning what is right and wrong, and loving others, then the more we will be sanctified by the Holy Spirit as we live our lives. In turn, these things will help us serve effectively until Jesus returns. And let us all remember that Jesus already paid for our sins, so if we are saved, then when we are judged by the Son, we are already found to be clear.

Your sister in Christ,

Erin Tabor

 

 

Photo Credit: My own photo

When I am weak, then I am strong

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

One of the ways that I know the Bible is God’s Word is through the patterns of God’s character woven throughout the Old and New Testaments. These patterns reveal that God’s plan is perfect and better than any human plan. One of these patterns is God’s continuous use of the weak in his design so that his glory shines through instead of the person’s pride.

In Judges chapter 7, Gideon led an army to fight Midian and the Lord told him that the Israelites would boast of their own strength when they won, so the men were narrowed down to only 300. This way, when the Midianites were defeated, it would be seen that the victory could only have been achieved by the power of God.

When Samuel was choosing one of Jesse’s sons to be anointed king, Samuel assumed that the eldest son would be chosen, but the Lord said “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). After Samuel saw the other sons, Jesse told him that his youngest son David was in the fields tending the sheep. This is who the Lord told Samuel to anoint as king. Later, as we all know, the young David used a sling and stone to kill Goliath when the Israelite army was too afraid to approach the giant (I Samuel chapter 17). The smallest person was used to defeat the strongest enemy so that everyone present would witness the glory of God.

In the New Testament, when God chose to send his son to earth to redeem us, he did not send a golden warrior king, but a baby born to a virgin in a stable. Even though Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophesies and followed the pattern that God had been weaving through the Old Testament of using the weak, some still did not believe he was the Messiah. Paul had been one of these persecutors of the followers of Jesus before he was literally blinded on the way to Damascus and shown the true light. After his conversion he suffered the rest of his life in service to Christ. Paul had previously been a prideful Pharisee who was revered, but after being shackled, beaten, and shipwrecked, he boasted not of his old life and accomplishments, but in his present weakness because he knew the glory of God was showing through. This is why he said “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV).

Often we feel that we are not capable of carrying out what God has called us to do, but  the Bible reveals a pattern of God using the weak. Who are we to argue with the perfect plan of truth that was recounted onto paper then and still lives today?

Your sister in Christ,

Erin Tabor

 

 

 

Photo Credit: My own photo

Stand Firm

 “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 
1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV

Has God ever called you into a new ministry that was out of your comfort zone? Did you feel fearful about taking that first step? This happened to me when we were called to become foster parents. This was not something that my husband and I had ever considered, but it became clear that this was a path set by God. After months of paperwork, background checks, interviews, home visits, and training, our house was about to open to foster children. While waiting for the phone call (which was a lot harder than I thought it would be), I began to ponder the “what ifs.” What if there’s a behavior that I won’t know how to handle? What if there is a medical issue that I don’t know how to deal with? What if there is no longer peace in my home?

But I had nothing to fear. God revealed a message of truth to me about walking in faith. Like the children in the picture, it may be scary to cross the slippery log over the creek, but I can stand firm with God and know that He will finish what He has started. I realized that I am not capable of carrying out this ministry by myself, and that is actually a blessing. All I have to do is begin walking and when I can’t go any further, then God will equip me. I don’t have to have all of the answers before I begin. I only need to trust Him.

Since then we have had three foster children and there have been many difficult times (some of the most challenging of my life). These times require me to surrender to God, and he has never let me down. The beautiful moments in which I have seen the foster children seek God have been more rewarding than if I had never taken those scary steps to get to that point.1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV says “stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Stand firm. Don’t let the chaos cause you to lose balance. The Lord is working in their lives.

I can tell you from this experience that if God called you into a new ministry, He will be faithful to carry out his work through you. You do not need to be fearful, but only to surrender in faith and take the first step. You will see that He will be there equipping you the whole way.

In Christ alone,

Erin Tabor

 

 

Photo Credit: My own photo