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Mature behavior involves many things.

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One is finding BALANCE,

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when an idea can be taken two ways, or a situation demands going one of two different ways.

How should we look at this?

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Let’s look into the Bible and consider this with

2 very different-sounding passages:

(1) 2 Timothy 4 and

(2) 1 Corinthians 13

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And yes, if want to inspect the verses and a few “numbered” notes, open the DOOR.

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[MORE]

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   Perhaps there’s more here than a simple Bible lesson, but first the Bible passages:

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(1)  “I [Paul] solemnly charge you [Timothy, a young leader] in the presence of God and of Jesus…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they [presumably, the Christians around you] will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers according to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.” –2 Tim. 4: 1-4 (with parts omitted at the “…”)

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(2)  “If I [Paul] speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal….Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant…it…is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things….But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  –1 Cor. 13: 1-13 (with large parts obviously omitted)

   Now what?

   First, some small things–both Bible and general stuff. These will include assumptions, concerns, and observations. Recognize them, and sort them as you see fit. Again, rather than nice paragraphs we’ll number things.

   (1)  The Bible has legitimate, and reliable stuff to say.

   (2)  And if these words mattered to him (or “them”), does it also relate to “us”?

   (3)  As we’ve said several times, context matters: What is the purpose of these remarks? What comes before and after them? Are we basically hijacking a Bible text to say something we want to say, rather than proclaiming the message of the text itself?

   (4)  Having said that, what about all those inclusions in brackets, for example “Timothy, young leader,” etc. and the those ellipses [ "…" and "…."]? Does this signal that we’re using a text to say what we want to say? And is this appropriate?¹

   Now after our sounding like a cranky “clanging cymbal,” let’s look at what the texts (hijacked or not) seem to say.

   (5)  Oh, but first (recognizing traditional acceptance of authorship of both books) notice that both texts came from the same man, the Apostle Paul.

   (6)  The Corinthians passage, used again and again in sermons, weddings, and funerals, and Bible-friendly conversation suggests that love and acceptance is the end-all of good, reflective Christianity. As Christ “accepted everyone,” so should we. After all, we’re all sinners, and Christ died for everyone. It’s cruel to judge, criticize, shun, reject and avoid people. Except, of course, for those things everyone knows are wrong: racism, sexism, genderism, ageism, torture, dictatorships, child abuse, sexual abuse, slavery, warfare, public beheadings, bombing civilians, oppression of the homeless and starving, poor, and needy, for example. Why? Well, “everyone,” with or without religion, that has a measure of common sense tells us that. (But, of course, don’t call upon Darwinism to support such general morality.)

   (7)  For the record, all the examples in the long last sentence fragment immediately above (in (6)), require criticizing and making judgments.

   (8)  Now look at the first passage, the one to Timothy. Timothy is instructed to make judgments. Yes, Paul’s order is in general terms. Maturity (the idea we started with) always involves making judgments–many of which are extremely difficult. No person accepts at face value everything that’s first encountered. Everyone evaluates and makes judgments. (You will accept what we’ve said or not, for example.) Some things one accepts and some things one doesn’t, deliberately or indirectly. Often how someone has a significantly different viewpoint is important. One usually doesn’t have  to “reject” a person just because of an idea, a behavior, or an attitude. What Paul seems to be trying to do here is to help young Timothy grow up, become wise, and mature properly.

   (9)  And we firmly believe the Bible is still the best tool, or guide, to help a person in the 21st century find the balance that God seems to desire. And finding balance is one important aspect of becoming mature.

   (10)  Our apologies to (a) those who wanted more specifics, to (b) those who felt we went too long, and to (c) those chagrinned that after wearing numbering out we have turned to abusing letters.

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[May whatever is true and important here be remembered and whatever is false, misleading, or trivial be forgotten or do no harm.]

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   ¹ We’d enjoy discussing this at an Evangelical Christian seminary seminar.