Thursday, December 7, 2017


Victory over Anger

There is no human being who has never become angry sometimes in life. Even infants express temper tantrum of some sort. We are all challenged and confronted by anger in us or others, leaving many scars behind. Is it possible to subdue anger in a believer’s life? The Bible assures us that we can find deliverance from this emotional aberration. 
Let us understand ‘Anger’

Anger is a strong expression of annoyance, displeasure or hostility at a person, situation or a thing. It is one’s reaction as a way of resistance, survival or protection against seeming wrong-doing to oneself or others by someone. A Milder form of anger may be the result of feeling tired, stressed or irritated.

One is more likely to feel irritated if one’s basic human needs like food, shelter, sleep, and convenience is not met or are jeopardized in some measure. It may then result in anger of different intensity at different times.

One may become angry when reacting to frustration, criticism or threat of some sort. A person may sometimes feel upset with other people’s beliefs, opinions and actions and become angry and say or do unreasonable or irrational things. We sometimes get angry when our expectations from others are unmet.

Many people get angry at others over disagreements. When someone doesn’t comply with what we demand, we burst into negative and uncontrollable emotional reaction and lose our temper. We cannot discount the truth that others’ actions (omissions or commissions), words facial expressions and even silence can make us angry.

It is also true that we often feel sorry for ourselves because we became angry, but instead of admitting it, we try to justify it.

Thus anger is a real, though often unwanted or irrational emotion that humans experience from time to time. Some are more prone to anger habitually for various reasons. But for a believer, such expressions indicate the absence of self-control and Spirit-control.

Behavior and Anger 

There are different behavioral manifestations in different situations as a result of anger in a person. His behavior is quite unlike his usual self. When angry, he loses his self-control and often bursts out. His blood pressure goes up. His eyesight is dimmed. His hearing diminishes and will not be able to hear clearly what he or others have spoken. In the absence of a recording, he will flatly deny that he has said or done anything of the sort others attribute to him while he was angry. His throat becomes dry. His body and tongue move fast and the brain is on a fast track. His heart beats faster and face becomes reddish accompanied with negative facial expressions. He spurts out thoughtless, illogical and inconsistent words. He slams the door or throws off things which are in his hands. The pitch of his voice becomes very high. This continues for a few moments or for a considerable time. He develops serious disregard and hatred for the object of his anger. Sometimes, even after a considerable lapse of time, his anger reappears at the thought or sight of the object of his anger. He loses his composure and in extreme cases, exhibits animal-like behavior which might lead to crimes of various degrees. While he is under the control of anger, he often abuses, shouts, mocks, threatens, curses and challenges the object of his anger. Sometimes anger erupts at the spur of the moment, and at other times, it emerges over a period of a few seconds or minutes.

Anger and Health

Anger has high physical cost as it impacts the health of the person who gets easily angered. When angry, some of his glands stop producing or overproduce hormones. Anger exerts extra pressure on a person’s circulatory, haematological, digestive, nervous and muscular systems seriously and causes damage in the long run as proved by Medical science.

Anger also has serious social cost. Angry behavior embarrasses and hurts his associates. Most people would not want to hang around with him. His family life gets affected as it would cause frustration, hurt, fear and anxiety among the spouse and children. The same may happen to his colleagues at the workplace and the believers in the church. 

Spiritual Consequences

Along with its other negative impacts, anger has serious spiritual consequences. When a believer gets angry, his behavior will be controlled by the object of his anger to do or say what it dictates. His ‘self’ will take control over his emotions and in the process, the Holy Spirit is denied control of him. His behavior, attitude and speech become a reflection of his flesh and self.

The Bible warns that anger is a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:25-31)). We are commanded to get rid of anger as it leads to evil (Psalms 37:8). Through anger, we grieve the Holy Spirit and our fellowship with God get ruptured. Anger as a sin will be a hindrance to our prayers being answered (Psalms 66:18). Anger is the result of lack of divine wisdom in a person (Proverbs 29:11). It leads to strife, conflict and quarrel (Proverbs 29:22; 30:33). We are instructed to keep away from the company of angry-prone persons (Proverbs 22:24). We are also warned that those who get angry at their brothers will face divine judgment (Matthew 5:22). That’s why James warns us to be slow to get angry (James 1:20).

Righteous Anger

Many angry-prone believers justify their anger by saying that their anger is ‘righteous’. By this, they mean that they are right because their anger is for God and thus spiritual. But righteous anger is an attribute of God who is the only perfectly righteous One. Humans can never justify their anger because there is always an element of unrighteousness in all of us. The Bible tells us how the angry-prone persons picked up judgment from God for their anger and subsequent actions. Moses got angry and broke the stone tablets (Exodus 32:19) and at another time smote the rock twice when he was asked to speak to the rock (Numbers 20:9-12). God told the angry Prophet Jonah that he had no right to get angry (Jonah 4:1, 4, 9). Anger when expresses will culminate in some sin in thoughts and behavior and that is why Paul warns us against anger (Ephesians 4:26). Paul says that true love is devoid of anger (1 Corinthians 13:5). We may express displeasure or reprove, but it has to be handled without anger and related words and actions. We are commanded to get rid of all rage, anger and associated sins of bitterness and brawling (Ephesians 4:31) because these grieve the Holy Spirit (verse 30). We must remind ourselves that the anger of man doesn’t achieve the righteousness of God (James 1:20). We are expected to forgive those who offend us (Matthew 6:12) rather than respond angrily.

Nevertheless, believers may become angry over sins and offenses against God, but it should not be expressed in a sinful way. Let us not allow the enemy to defeat us in this and to make us justify our unrighteous emotions.

Victory over Anger

The Bible tells us how to get victory over anger. But this is a formidable challenge and not easy. Due to a regular bout of anger, it becomes almost habitual in us, followed by sinful behavior. Primarily anger has to be recognized as a weakness because when we are angry, we lose our temper and become slaves to the object of our anger. But it is important that the angry-prone person regains his real self back from the bondage and tyranny of anger, related behavior and the object of his anger. This victory is possible only if he is filled (controlled) with the Holy Spirit so that the fruit of the Spirit will be visible in his responses to the objects which formerly caused him anger (Ephesians 6:18-21; Galatians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:12-17). One has to confess and repent of anger as sin and the way it has grieved the Holy Spirit and hurt the people who are the objects of his anger (like spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends, brethren, colleagues and neighbours). Secondly, when one enjoys forgiveness for the sin of anger, he has to pray for the Spirit to fill him and take full control of his emotions (Luke 11:13). Every time anger subdues and defeats a believer, this process will have to be repeated until he gets increasing victory over this grievous sin on a daily basis.

Spirit Control

The Bible says that a person has to learn not to speak when he is tempted to get angry (Proverbs 14:17). We must learn to be silent when feeling angry, and ask the Holy Spirit to take full control of our emotions. Through prayer and supplication, one has to continuously ask the Spirit to take full control of him so that he will not fall into the sin of anger. This is the way to avoid falling into anger-related sins of excessive, hurting, sinful and unruly talk. Instead, we have to train our hearts to be filled always with praise. We need to tame our spirits to be under the control of the Holy Spirit when reasons for anger come knocking at the doors of our hearts. Then we will be strengthened to be silent or respond spiritually. This is the way to get victory over anger and there is no other shortcut. We are to quieten and clam our souls like a weaned child with its mother (Psalms 131:2).

Grace for Victory

Every time we get victory over anger, we must praise God for it and seek greater grace from Him for increasing victory. Whenever there is a failure, we must quickly confess it as sin and seek forgiveness from God. It may be followed with the confession of the lack of fullness of the Spirit and spiritual fruits in life. We must then pray for the Spirit to fill and empower us, and experience it by faith. That’s how we get victory over anger-related sinful behavior, attitude, speech and actions. We are declared more than conquerors in all our emotional challenges including anger (Romans 8:37), but we experience it only through Spirit-filled life. We are expected to be overcomers and conquerors of our natural character, behavior, actions and attitudes. We are commanded to do all things in the name of our Lord Jesus and for His glory (Colossians 3:17), and anger cannot be one of those things. We should not allow the enemy to defeat us by trapping us to fall into anger (2 Corinthians 2:11). More grace is guaranteed to those who humbly seek victory over evil and destructive emotions like anger (John 1:16; James 4:6).

Let us endeavour to experience grace to overcome anger day by day. Let us confess and repent of our anger as sin and receive forgiveness. Let us seek to live a spirit-filled life so as not to grieve the Holy Spirit through our emotional sins. 

Friday, October 13, 2017


Joshna and Her Challenges

Hi! I’m Jeena, a student of a professional college. Joshna is my church mate and a close friend. She is my junior in the college where I study. Our college is about 20 km from our town and we commute to the college each day.

Let me tell you something about Joshna. She is a born again and baptized girl and is very soft hearted and loving and at the same time very reserved. She confides in me about all her prayer needs and problems and we often pray together as we are prayer partners. We are also active in the Youth Fellowship in our church. Joshna is a pleasing and friendly girl and is known for her very high spiritual standards in her life. So she is endeared by all in our Fellowship, church and all our classmates. She is a good singer of gospel music and is well-versed in the Bible and in doctrinal matters. She has also kept high standards in personal holiness and relationship. But one personality trait of Joshna is that she is unable to say, ‘no’ when people approach her. She easily falls a prey to promptings by others. Joshna is a happy daughter of her family and is close to her mom and dad. She often says that her mom is her best friend. I am much impressed with Joshna and often wish that I were like her in my behavior and attitude. Joshna gets close to people slowly and carefully and is careful in dealings. I have never seen her getting into an argument with anyone. With all of these nice characteristics, Joshna is my role model, even though she is younger to me.

Because of her innocent and subdued nature, Joshna has fallen into trouble in her relationships in personal life a few times. Last year when a boy in her senior class tried to lure her into a relationship, she hesitated for a while, but then slowly moved in that direction. When I found out about it, I warned her to be careful and to keep her heart and mind from falling into such traps of the enemy. Eventually, with great effort and a lot of persuasions and relentless prayer, I got her out of that relationship. She says that she is afraid the boy might fall into depression if she says ‘no’. I tried to explain to her that these are the plots and ploys of the enemy to destroy her life. It seems her problem is that whenever a classmate or a college mate approaches her and says that he likes her, she easily falls for it and doesn’t seem to know how to keep a distance. But the Lord gave her victory in this matter until last year.

But alas! It has happened again. I found out recently that Joshna has fallen into such a trap of relationship early this academic year. It seems some boy was trying to take advantage of her soft nature and inability to say, ‘no’. He seemed to have praised her for her good looks, soft nature and musical talents in a continuous manner and eventually she developed a soft corner for him. Added to that, she is regularly on WhatsApp chat with that boy. Thus the relationship has become stronger day by day. She seems to have a feeling that she can talk to him and help him to eventually become a believer. It seems this relationship is slowly affecting her prayer and devotional life. I wonder if this is the reason for her dwindling enthusiasm for prayer partnership with me. She escapes our joint prayer time through seemingly lame excuses.

I had a series of discussions with Joshna about how to keep away from such ungodly relationships. I shared with her my experience in handling such promptings by boys and keeping away from such temptations. I also warned her that such relationship, if allowed to perpetuate, will draw her away from her faith and will create serious heartache to her parents and fellow believers. But she was reluctant to relent, though in her characteristically soft manner. She seems to have reached the conclusion that everything will work well eventually. I feel sorry for Joshna because she seemed to be too soft to get away from such a trap of the enemy. I reminded her about such incidents in the life of Samson and how it ruined his life. I also told her about the heartaches Jacob and Rachel faced because of their relationship and selfish plans. But it seems nothing would move Joshna.

This situation of my best friend has disturbed me a lot and I am worried and fearful also. So I have been praying much for God to interfere with it and to get her out of this relationship.

I am sure if her parents find out about her relationship, it would break their hearts. Her parents are both active and enthusiastic Christians in their church and well-respected in the community. If this news leaks out, it would also affect the testimony of the family in the assembly and testimony of the assembly in the community. For this reason, I have not yet revealed this matter to anyone. But how long can I hide it from her parents? I asked Joshna to discuss this matter with her parents for their counsel, but she is afraid to do so because she knows that it would hurt their feelings and take away their trust in her. It seems Joshna knows in her heart that what she is involved in is not right before God, family and fellow believers, but she is unable to take a stand about it. She seemed to be trapped by her personality and the free environment of the college in the latest relationship.

Questions for Discussion/MeditationQuestions for discussion

1. Do you know of any of your Christian friends who have fallen into a relationship with unsaved / saved people?

2. Is Joshna biblically right in her relationship with an unbeliever? How could she have avoided it at the beginning?

    3. Has Joshna been true to her calling as a Christian believer? Do you think she has any spiritual problems?

  4. What kinds of temptations and challenges lay waiting for Christian Youth like Joshna in the secular world and from the so-called ‘born-again’ people? How can they guard themselves against falling into such traps of the enemy?

    5. What do you think about Joshna’s friend Jeena’s role in this scenario? If Joshna is your friend, how will you handle this situation? 

    6. Is Jeena justified in her concerns about Joshna? Should we have such concerns about other believers who have spiritual problems? How can we handle these concerns?What lessons, if any, are you able to learn from the present events in the life of Joshna? 

Sunday, July 23, 2017


A musical exuberance of a river of living water!
Meditations from the longest Psalm in the Bible
Psalms 119

There are 150 songs in the hymnbook of God’s people widely known as the Psalms. They are filled with the glories of God and how God’s children respond to His glory through expressions of gratitude, praise, adoration, and love. The writer couldn’t stop or pause but kept writing. His heart was filled to overflowing like a never-ending fountain and unstoppable river of the musical exuberance of the expressions of his heart. These expressions touch us today and impact our lives to the extent of our feelings of love and commitment towards our God and His Word.
My Response
Is my heart a source of exuberance because of my experience with God’s Word? How many things do I have to say about God’s Word? When the Psalmist has 176 things to say about God’s Word before Calvary, will I have at least one great experience with God’s Word in my life because of Calvary? Do I have starting trouble with the fountain of expressions because of the entanglement of my life and heart with the world that is around me? Will the love of God and the power of His Word release me from the clutches of the world and worldliness and my fleshly desires? Who will recognize the fountain of living water in my life, if any? How to accentuate the river of living water in my life? Will the heart of Jesus be thrilled to see the exuberance of reverence I have flowing from my heart because of His Word in action in my life?
“Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.” Psalms 119:97

Wednesday, June 21, 2017




Righteousness is a blessed experience with a lot of promises. It is amazing that the righteous God makes human beings righteous through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Such righteous people are blessed with all the blessings of the heavenly places. They are given the experience of being seated in heaven. Proverbs chapter 10 talks about 12 special blessings for such people.

1.  They live with the satisfaction of their physical needs provided for and guaranteed (vs. 3)
2.  Their heads are crowned with heavenly gifts and favors (vs. 6)
3.  Their remembrance is a blessing in the life of others (vs. 7)
4.  Their utterances cause blessings to those who listen to them (vs. 11)
5.  Their earnings help them to live a life of satisfaction (vs. 16)
6.  Their expressions enrich others in life (vs. 21)
7.  Their desires in and for their God will be fulfilled and satisfied (vs. 24)
8.  Their foundations in life will be steady and sustained (vs. 25)
9.  Their hope and prospects will give them and others happiness (vs. 28)
10. They will not be shaken in all circumstances and situations (vs. 30)
11. Their oral communication is full of heavenly wisdom (vs. 31)
12.Their speech is pleasing as it is full of God’s wisdom (vs. 32)

Isn't it a great privilege to live as righteous in this unrighteous world?

Let us today examine our lives to see if we have at least some measure of these blessings in our lives (2 Corinthians 13:5) and prayerfully rebuild our lives to exemplify righteousness.  

Friday, June 9, 2017



My Troubled Friend Jasmine!
Hi! I’m Jyothi, a student of a professional college. Jasmine is my church mate and a close friend. She works for a private company after her professional education. Jasmine called me the other day and asked for counsel about some important concerns in her life. As we talked, the story of her life was unfolded. She has recently developed some special feelings about Rohan, a young man at her workplace. For some time Jasmine couldn’t understand her feelings towards him and so she tried to brush it aside. But the feelings grew stronger slowly as they were part of the same workgroup and spent a lot of time together daily. Unknowingly she was falling into a relationship with him that has become stronger day by day. Now they both feel that they are made for each other. But lately, Jasmine is much alarmed because Rohan is from another religion and had no particular affinity for fundamental Christianity.  Other than that, Rohan seems to be a very nice person in Jasmine’s opinion, with good family background and moral values. He is highly qualified and well respected in the office and also very good looking. At his request, Jasmine visited his home a few times and got herself acquainted with his dignified parents and only sister.

As days went by, Rohan started discussing with Jasmine about their future. Though Jasmine desperately wanted to marry Rohan, she seemed to be quite unsure about how to handle it because she is a born again and baptized believer in our church. Her father is an Elder, and mother, a leader of the Sister’s Fellowship. Her elder brother Sabu is also a committed Christian and is married to a committed Christian from an assembly. Jasmine felt that if she speaks to her parents and brother about her interest in Rohan, there will be turmoil at home. In the meanwhile, her relationship with Rohan grew stronger and they both felt that they were inseparable.

After much struggle for about 6 months, Jasmine finally decided to share her concerns about her faith with Rohan. But he took her concern very lightly because he didn’t understand her kind of Christianity well. Rohan told Jasmine that he would not have any problem accepting her as his life partner in spite of their differences in faith. He told her that he will have no difficulty to go to her church and that he would even accompany her for some service in the church if she so desired. He promised to remove his colorful wristband while going to her church to avoid embarrassment for her and her family although he loved to wear these in public. He also invited her to go with him to his temple sometime. Jasmine tried to explain the difficulties she and her family would have in conducting their marriage.  Then Roshan suggested that the marriage may be conducted by his family according to their faith or they could even have a registered marriage. Jasmine had no answers to such suggestions. She has been struggling with this matter and found it difficult to pray or read her Bible. She often went for meetings in the assembly just to impress upon the people that everything is OK with her Christian life. She was careful that no one at home or in the church found out anything about her relationship with Rohan. After all, it was not difficult for her and Rohan to get lost in the crowd of the big city where they dwelt and not noticed by anyone!

Jasmine finally shared with her brother Sabu in a soft manner about her relationship with Rohan, with the plea not to reveal it to their parents. She thought her brother would somehow help her in this matter. Sabu was upset and shocked about the relationship his sister Jasmine has with an unbeliever and he was much worried. And he lost no time in lovingly reminding her of her faith and the commandment of the Bible about (1) having such relationships with an unbeliever (2) her disguised life to impress upon people about her faith and (3) the audacity about thinking to marry an unbeliever. He warned her about the consequences of such a relationship and a possible marriage. He also told her that it would be impossible for him to support her in her relationship and shared his biblical convictions against such a relationship. Anyway, he gave her a few days to think it over and promised to pray for her. Jasmine was at once in a great fix because she was not getting any support from her brother. She is lost as to what to tell her brother on the one hand and Rohan on the other. She was bewildered just imagining about the possible reactions of her parents if and when they found out about it. It was at that time that she decided to share her story with me, hoping to get some support and a workable solution.

I was greatly shocked and emotionally crushed as I listened to the story Jasmine told me. I didn’t have the slightest hint about the emotional entanglement she had with a young man, that too from another faith! I tried to persuade her to give up her relationship with a man from another faith which is against the Word of God which will have serious consequences. I also felt sad thinking about her parents who are devout Christians having a rich ministry in the spiritual circles. I knew very well that news about Jasmine’s affair with an unbeliever would break their hearts. But Jasmine told me with tears in her eyes that she is unable to separate from Rohan. I tried to pray with her, but Jasmine was not much keen. I once again told her that her relationship would break her family and create havoc in her assembly. But she had no answers to such concerns. It seems that it is not easy to coerce Jasmine to renounce Rohan on the one hand and her family and church on the other. What can I do, I wonder!!


Questions for discussion

1.       Is Jasmine biblically right in her relationship with an unbeliever? How could she have avoided it at the beginning?
2.       Has Jasmine been true to her calling as a Christian believer? Do you think she has any spiritual problems?
3.       What kinds of temptations and challenges lay waiting for Christian Youth like Jasmine in the secular world?
4.       What do you think about Jasmine’s brother’s role in this scenario?

5.       Is it right for Jasmine to marry Rohan at this time?
6.       If Jasmine is your friend, how will you handle this situation?
7.       Is Jyothi justified in her concerns about Jasmine?
8.       Should we have such concerns about other believers who have spiritual problems? How can we discharge these concerns?
9.       What lessons, if any, are you able to learn from the present events in the life of Jasmine?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


Choice of Higher Education and Career

          The following is a mail I received from a young believer by the name James, asking me to help him to clarify issues related to vital choices he has to make in life as a believer. My reply to him is given below for the benefit of the youth, parents, and leaders of assemblies.

Dear Uncle,
I am about to complete my secondary education and now considering various options for higher studies and a future career. I have many thoughts and desires about this but my parents are putting pressure on me to choose areas of study and career according to their desire. So I am much confused and do not know what to do. Will you please guide me to make the right choice according to God’s will for my life?
Yours in Jesus Christ,
Hello dear James,

        Thanks for writing to me about your confusions in making a choice about future studies and career. Please know that you are not the only one who has such confusions. Wherever I go, I find young people who have such concerns. But at the very outset, I want to remind you that our God is not the God of confusion, but of peace and order and He will remove all confusions from the heart of His dear children like you (1 Corinthians 14:33). So be confident in the Lord.

I am glad that you are much concerned about God’s will in your life. It is vital that you make the right choice according to God’s perfect will for you. God’s will is most important in all your choices, but it is not easy to find it out. So you have to be very careful and prayerful. Our God will not forsake those who seek Him (Psalm 9:10). The Bible says that if you are humble and willing to surrender all your interests and desires to God, He will guide you in the way in which you should move (Psalm 25:9). If you have true fear of God in your heart, God will honor it and show you His ways for your life (Psalm 25:12). You are asked by the Bible to delight in the Lord and in His will and He shall give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4-5). When you are truly committed to the Lord, He will give you the ability to develop the right desires and then He will help you to work it out (Philippians 2:13). The Bible also tells us that whatever we do, it should all be done in the name of the Lord Jesus and for the glory of God (Colossians 3:17). I suggest that you may please read and meditate on these passages of the Bible.

        As an aspiring disciple of Jesus Christ, you should work on your desires, interest, and abilities which Jesus has given you in life. It will then help you to see the most spiritually relevant choices that are available for you. Your academic achievements at the Secondary school level will also decide for which course you will qualify for admission. At the same time, you need to know that your education and career should be relevant for eternity and not simply for this life. So surrender your desires, interest, and abilities to the Lord and ask Him to work out your admission and career for you. Commit all your desires to the Lord and tell Him that you are ready to accept anything that He would bring your way. God will also work through your situations by closing doors which He would not permit in your life and open doors which are according to His will (Revelation 3:7). But you should be careful not to forcefully open the doors He closes in your case or ignore the doors that He opens for you. Whatever course of study you choose and career you aspire, it should be for the glory of God and for the furtherance of His kingdom.

        Please remember that your desire for a course of study may be such that it would help you to love and serve God better. Your career also may be one that would help you to serve God better and will grant enough time to use for His glory.

        Let me tell you that you should consider your career as a means the Lord would use to meet your living expenses while you serve Him in some ministry, whether it is done full time or part time. God is not interested in you to be great, prominent and popular in this world, but to be His servant with or without a career.  When you choose a career, it should not be one which would hinder you from attending the meetings of the assembly and engage in the ministry of the Lord for which He gives you spiritual gifts. One more thing to remember is that your course of study and career should not be in an area which is forbidden by the Bible for God’s children, especially in services related to alcohol, tobacco, commercial movies, fashion, usury, black marketing, money laundering, politics of the world and in areas like secular humanism. You should not allow the world to make you a slave to a job or a profession, but to Jesus Christ only.

        It is good to collect information about the job market and prospects and to see the admission criteria for the courses you like to join. These will help you to focus on some area of study and to pray specifically. If you commit your ways to the Lord without any reservation and wait upon Him in intense prayer, He will also give you internal peace and joy and will confirm His choice in your heart. But at the same time, please also remember to stay within the means of your parents to support you in your educational expenses. Your studies and career should be a matter of exercising your faith in the Lord for the means to study and find a job.

        Along with considering secular education, it is also worth considering biblical education as a viable option. Biblical education will help you to have a strong foundation in the Word of God and train you to serve the Lord in His vineyard. God’s vineyard needs people of all professions to work as partners in the extension of His kingdom. Christian ministry needs doctors, nurses, engineers, IT professionals, teachers, mechanics, cooks, painters, and administrators, along with Bible teachers, preachers, writers, and counselors. So pray that the Lord will have pre-eminence in your choice of education and career, whether it is through secular or biblical studies.

        I want you to be careful that your choice of a course or a career would not keep you away from Christian fellowship and spiritual activities. Always keep your spirituality, the interest of the Lord, His church and the people He loves as most important in your mind. God expects His children to be ready to sacrifice any worldly prospects and prosperity for His sake because He forsook heaven and all its comforts to come down to this world to die for you.

It is also good to discuss your interest and commitment with your parents and seek their prayer support and wise counsel in making the right choice. Make sure to listen to the views and opinions of your parents patiently and pray together with them so that you all can together decide about your choice of a course and a career. It is also good to consult with senior brothers in the assembly and ask them to pray for you in this vital matter. Hope you have a prayer partner with whom also you can pray about your choices. Above all, you may please pray alone intensely (Matthew 7:7-11; John 14:13-14; Philippians 4:4-7) about this matter.

        May God lead and guide you to find His perfect will in choosing the right field of study and join the right career for His glory! I am praying for you that the Lord may make your life, education, and career a great source of blessing to others and bring glory to His name.

        Hope my observations given above will be of use to you as you prayerfully consider the various options that are around you. If you have any further questions in this matter, please do not hesitate to write to me.


Handling Style, Culture, and Open Criticism

          Dear Readers, The following is a mail I received from a young believer by the name Joe Peters, asking me to help him clarify issues related to the external appearance of a believer. My reply to him is given below for the benefit of the Youth, parents, and leaders of assemblies.

Dear Uncle,

Will you please clarify to what extent outward appearance of a young believer with regard to beard, mustache, hairstyle, dress, etc. can be biblically understood. What does the Bible say about these? Is this not purely a cultural matter? Recently one of our elders openly criticized me for wearing a beard. I am deeply hurt by his open criticism and am wondering if I should go back to the assembly or not. Please help me to sort this out spiritually.

Yours sincerely,
Joe Peters
          Hello Dear Joe,

          Thanks for your mail and for feeling free to write to me on these sensitive issues. Please know that you are not the only one who has such questions about appearance. In fact, not only young men like you but young ladies also have such concerns. Let us see how Christian believers should handle this issue. Such questions often come to confront us and we are expected to find convincing answers for us and others whom we meet. We cannot escape such questions but must face it gracefully.
          Your point is right that external appearance with regard to hairstyle and grooming are basically cultural. I am sure you will agree with me that we cannot think about going back to the styles and patterns of the Old Testament or New Testament times because things have changed so much. It is not easy to prescribe a pattern that can be universally acceptable at all times. Not only that, such cultural elements keep changing over time. Knowingly or otherwise, we all fall a prey to culture sometimes in some measure. That's why I feel that it may not be expedient for the seniors in the church to regulate a particular style for all men or women all the time.

          Many people take extreme views in this matter. While some argue for freedom to adopt all cultural norms and variations according to their personal choices and preferences to be up-to-date, some others vehemently oppose it totally.

          So, it is a great challenge to reach a consensus as to how we would take a stand on this matter without violating the Biblical principles? My conviction is that we may bear in mind the following points and make our decisions on these matters in the presence of God in prayer and meditation.
1.   What is the purpose of wearing a mustache, beard (full or half, or shaped beard), or some particular styles, like that of a political leader/cine artist/sports hero or a fashion model?

          a. Is this any kind of imitation? If so, will the Bible support such imitation of worldly people?
          b. Is it self-promotion and good looks? If so, will it help us to show ourselves as disciples of Jesus in promoting Christ instead of ourselves?
          c. Is it related to self-esteem? If so, is it right for a believer to develop and improve his self-esteem patterned after the contemporary world and its style or be humble and broken in his appearance as well as his attitude as a Christian disciple?

          2. Is it decoration of some sort which will make me look better and will attract people to me? If so, will the Bible support it? Should I attract others to myself or to Jesus through my spiritual behavior and attitude?

3.   Will cultural adaptation and style in any way cover up the expressions of joy, peace, satisfaction, grace, and love that God wants me to exhibit on my face and through my facial and body language? Will my facial style and hairstyle create a channel for people to see Christ in my heart? Or would I be showing pride, arrogance, self-promotion, haughtiness, superiority complex and overbearing through such styles?  One will have to examine oneself in these areas with the help of the Bible.

4.   Will the adoption of modern changing cultural affinities, fashions and styles of the contemporary world in any way make people despise me as I serve the Lord? (1 Timothy 4:12). This depends on whether I am moderate and careful in adopting certain cultural changes or keeping an extreme stand in following modern trends?

5.   Will these adaptations to culture or imitation make me a good example for others to follow Christ? (1 Timothy 4:12). Am I an example to other believers in word, conduct, love, spirit, faith, and life? Will my external appearance fall into any one or more of these areas of practical life?

          Please know that certain styles, including hair styles, are for identity with certain horrible sins like homosexuality. A child of God may keep carefully away from such identity traps, to keep his testimony.

          I suggest that these matters may be meditated upon and decided after examining our hearts before the Lord and seeking His mind for the sake of our life and ministry.

          Joe, you mentioned about open criticism by someone in this matter. My conviction is that parents and seniors may patiently discuss these with youngsters as appropriately. They may lovingly communicate their convictions, desires, and expectations about the Youth and other believers for biblical consideration and prayer. The ministering brethren should not be judgmental or contemptuous, but considerate and patient with the Youth. It may not be a good idea to handle these issues critically from a pulpit or through open public criticism. But biblical principles about these may be taught in the assembly, without pointing out to any individual in particular covertly or overtly. Personal admonition, with love, is a more effective approach. Elders may try to counsel the youth and others in these matters and reach out to them with concern. We must guard ourselves against falling into unhealthy arguments to win our case but should endeavor to win hearts with love and patience.

          Dear Joe, the above questions, and principles that I tried to explain may be applicable also to our younger sisters and others in the challenges they face in cultural affiliation in dressing, make-up, and fashion. Here also, it is spiritually more expedient if the elder sisters may patiently teach and lovingly counsel younger sisters in matters of dress, makeup, etc.

          This means that the elders and elder sisters ought to build up a good relationship with the youngsters and all others to be able to communicate without difficulties. They should also be examples in what they try to communicate. An elder with a mustache may not be the best person to instruct a youngster about a beard. An elder sister with a gold-color spectacle frame, a golden strap of a watch or golden broche may not be in a strong position to tell others about changes in their lifestyles. They may examine themselves in all these areas before speaking to the youngsters to make their spiritual communication effective and result-oriented.
          Please know that it is important that our spirituality, humility, devotion to the Lord, discipleship, brokenness, and commitment may be seen in our whole personality, appearance, and expressions to the extent possible and as led by the Lord. Let no one despise us for our walk, appearance (looks) and behavior. Let us endeavor to portray the image of Christ in all that we do and are.

          Lastly, I would like to request you not to get upset with the elder who openly criticized you, but take it as a spiritual and loving admonition of a father figure. Please don't keep any bitterness, but be happy with the Lord. Please do not keep away from the assembly because it will not resolve any issues or problems at stake. But keep yourself in active fellowship with God's people. It will strengthen your spiritual life and not weaken it in any way.  You may prayerfully sacrifice your style of any sort for the sake of your brothers and for the happiness of those who love you in the Lord. (Please meditate on 1 Corinthians chapter 8 to learn about this principle)  

          Hope this discussion will help you to handle your concerns about culture, style, and open criticism spiritually and with expediency.