There are twelve (12) “lettuce” [let us] passages in the book of Hebrews. These make great sermon material and can easily be divided into three sermons of four points each. However, Paul also raised some “lettuce not” [let us not] patches that are worth looking into. Our devotional today, will take a very brief look at these passages.
“Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5.26; all emphasis mine above and below). This text is especially ripe for study because it contains three prohibitions and each of these contains a Greek word that is used only once in the New Testament. The first speaks of conceit (vain glory), the second forbids stirring others up (provoking) for the purpose of battle or combat, and the last one puts envy among the forbidden sins of the flesh. It could easily be seen that Paul speaks here of a progression of sin. Vain glory, when left unchecked and after it has borne fruit, produces occasions to fight and quarrel. Likewise, when these two blossom, envying, not just occasions of eny, but envy as a way of life (the verb envying is a participle indicating present and continuing action) becomes the norm. This corresponds with James where he said, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” (James 3.16).
“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” (Romans 14.13). Like all of these verses, the reader is challenged to consider the context from which they are taken. This text is adjacent to two other passages that tie directly into these thoughts. “Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil.” (Romans 14.16). In other words, act in such a manner that does not needlessly open the door to criticism. “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” (Romans 14.19). This is the opposite of the let us not text in Romans 14.13. The entire chapter of Romans 14 is a chapter devoted to halting the practices of ungodly judging. Jesus addressed this sin in the Sermon on the Mount when He stated, “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7.2). Where hypercritical judgment exists, hypocrisy is present more often than not! “Judge righteous judgment.” (John 7.24).
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6.9). Reaping is what the Christian life is all about. To the contrary, the sowing of wild oats does not look to the harvest but to the the pleasures of the here and now. The Christian must be patient and allow God to work in the fields in which he sows. Only God holds the germ of life in His hand and only He can bring about the increase for which the believer longs. Wait on God!
“Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5.6). The word sleep as used here is a figure. Actually the word is used many times in the New Testament to speak of the “sleep of death.” However this is not the case here. This is obvious in that a human being cannot raise himself from the sleep of death (the verb is in the present active indicative). Rather, the sleep that is forbidden is of a spiritual nature; it is contrasted with watchfulness and sobriety. The times demand such of all who would be found faithful upon Jesus' return. It is the same kind of sleep which Paul observed among some at Corinth who had abandoned the principles of congregational assemblies and the memorializing of the death of Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 11.30).
The gospel has both positive and negative aspects. The Lettuce Not passages are just as vital to balanced and healthy spiritual nutrition as the Lettuce passages.
1. Why should we find passages containing single usage words especially challenging in our studies?
2. Does Jesus forbid judging (see Matthew 7.1 and John 7.24)? Why or why not?
3. Should we judge? Is it right to apply a standard of judgment to another that one does not want applied to his/her own life?
4. Is the gospel positive? Is it only positive? Is it both positive and negative?
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