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“In Essentials Unity, In Non – Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity”

There is a phrase that has been around since the mid – sixteen hundreds that came about during a time of religious tensions, which says in effect, “In Essentials Unity, In Non – Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity”.  Most likely an attempt to reduce or eliminate conflicts within the church and between some denominations.

Jesus did not say this, however. It has been attributed to theologians such as Augustine or German Lutheran theologian of the early seventeenth century, Rupertus Meldenius.

Interesting. After all these years, the unity that exists in the ‘essentials’ is bland, at best. The ‘liberty’ in the non – essentials of the faith simply exists in your right to say what you believe and my right to disagree. Finally, the ‘charity in all things’ works best when we ignore our differences in beliefs and practices so we can just get along for a moment.

Jesus didn’t say it, and I have to say, ‘nice try, but it really isn’t working’, (nor should it in many instances).

There are some what we could call ‘non-negotiables’, I suppose. They are found in the things Jesus actually said. They are ‘non-negotiable’ only in the sense that you only need to do them if you are planning on successfully following Jesus. (Successfully in the sense that you are really a disciple of His.)

Jesus Did Say These things. In fact, Jesus says this what we should become; what we should look like and how we should be. Take a look and try to imagine what kind of person you would be (or that anyone might be), if we were described these ways:

Humble                                  Meek                                      Joyful

Generous                               Loving                                    Responsible

Self-Controlled                    Truthful                                 Deference to others

Creative                                 Sincere                                   Faithful

Thrifty                                   Took Initiative                      Discrete

Resourceful                           Sensitive to others               Decisive

Alert                                       Compassionate                     Wise

Bold                                        Attentive                                 Obedient

Reverent                                Virtuous                                 Determined

Tolerant                                 Just                                         Content

Forgiving                               Loyal                                      Available

Persuasive                             Patient                                   Hospitable

Gracious                                Grateful                                 Enthusiastic

Gentle                                    Punctual                                Thorough

Secure                                    Diligent                                  Enduring

Dependable                           Cautious                                Orderly


Jesus did say these things, and scriptures tell us that Jesus both did and said so much that “if every one of them were to be written down, that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25).

You know, having written this, I am feeling both inspired and convicted. I think I might just enlarge this list and put it on my desk or mirror, assign one character trait per day to think on, meditate on and to work on. (And I thought at my age I had achieved these ‘basics’, but I can see I still have a ways to go.)

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

PS:  Here are the character traits in a format suitable for framing. Just click this PDF link:  HumbleMeekJoyful.pdf

Here are these same examples with scripture references – plus an additional list that follows, just for fun:

  1. Repent  –  Matthew 4:17 Humility

  2. Follow Me – Matthew 4:19 Meekness

  3. Rejoice – Matthew 5:12 Joyfulness

  4. Let Your Light Shine – Matthew 5:16 Generosity

  5. Honor God’s Law – Matthew 5:17 – 18 Love

  6. Be Reconciled – Matthew 5:24 – 25 Responsibility

  7. Do Not Commit Adultery – Matthew 5:29 – 30 Self – Control

  8. Keep Your Word – Matthew 5:37 Truthfulness

  9. Go the Second Mile – Matthew 5:38 – 42 Deference

  10. Love Your Enemies – Matthew 5:44 Creativity

  11. Be Perfect – Matthew 5:48 Sincerity

  12. Practice Secret Disciplines – Matthew 6:1 – 18 Faith

  13. Lay Up Treasures – Matthew 6:19 – 21 Thriftiness

  14. Seek God’s Kingdom – Matthew 6:33 Initiative

  15. Judge Not – Matthew 7:1 Discernment

  16. Do Not Cast Pearls – Matthew 7:6 Discretion

  17. Ask, Seek, and Knock – Matthew 7:7 – 8 Resourcefulness

  18. Do Unto Others – Matthew 7:12 Sensitivity

  19. Choose the Narrow Way – Matthew 7:13 – 14 Decisiveness

  20. Beware of False Prophets – Matthew 7:15 Alertness

  21. Pray For Laborers – Matthew 9:38 Compassion

  22. Be Wise as Serpents – Matthew 10:16 Wisdom

  23. Fear Not – Matthew 10:26 Boldness

  24. Hear God’s Voice – Matthew 11:15 Attentiveness

  25. Take My Yoke – Matthew 11:29 Obedience

  26. Honor Your Parents – Matthew 15:4 Honor/Reverence

  27. Beware of Leaven – Matthew 16:6 Virtue

  28. Deny Yourself – Luke 9:23 Determination

  29. Despise Not Little Ones – Matthew 18:10 Tolerance

  30. Go To Offenders – Matthew 18:15 Justice

  31. Beware of Covetousness – Luke 12:15 Contentment

  32. Forgive Offenders – Matthew 18:21 – 22 Forgiveness

  33. Honor Marriage – Matthew 19:6 Loyalty

  34. Be a Servant – Matthew 20:26 – 28 Availability

  35. Be a House of Prayer – Matthew 21:13 Persuasiveness

  36. Ask in Faith – Matthew 21:21 – 22 Patience

  37. Bring in the Poor – Luke 14:12 – 14 Hospitality

  38. Render to Caesar – Matthew 22:19 – 21 Gratefulness

  39. Love the Lord – Matthew 22:37 – 38 Enthusiasm

  40. Love Your Neighbor – Matthew 22:39 Gentleness

  41. Await My Return – Matthew 24:42 – 44 Punctuality

  42. Take, Eat, and Drink – Matthew 26:26 – 27 Thoroughness

  43. Be Born Again – John 3:7 Security

  44. Keep My Commandments – John 14:15 Diligence

  45. Watch and Pray – Matthew 26:41 Endurance

  46. Feed My Sheep – John 21:15 – 16 Dependability

  47. Baptize My Disciples – Matthew 28:19 Cautiousness

  48. Receive God’s Power – Luke 24:49 Orderliness

  49. Make Disciples – Matthew 28:20 Flexibility

Here is another list with more detail:

  1. “Forgive”

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your sins.” (Mark 11:25 – 26)

  1. “Repent”

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2

“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” Matthew 3:8

  1. “Remain in Me and I will remain in you”

When you repent and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit actually lives in you, and you in Him. Here Jesus uses a grape vine to compare our relationship with Him. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4)

  1. “Let your light shine before men”

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. ” In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:14 – 16)

  1. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary”

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.” (Matt 5:25)

  1. “Get rid of whatever causes you to sin”

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”(Matt 5:29 – 30)

  1. “Do Not Swear at All”

“But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matt 5:34 – 37)

  1. “Do Not Resist an Evil Person”

(Turning the other cheek.)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt 5:38 – 39)

  1. “Giving More than is Demanded”

“And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matt 5:40 – 42)

  1. “Love Your Enemies”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt 5:43 – 45)

  1. “Give to Please God, Not to be Seen”

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matt 6:1)

  1. “Pray Privately, Not to be Seen of Men”

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” (Matt 6:5 – 7)

  1. “This, then, is how you should pray”

“This, then, is how you should pray: ” ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6:9 – 15)

  1. “Fast Without Fanfare”

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” (Matt 6:16)

  1. “Do not Store up Treasures on Earth”

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:19 – 21)

  1. “Do not Worry about Your Needs”

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt 6:25 – 26)

  1. “Do not Worry about Tomorrow”

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt 6:34)

  1. “Place God First”

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt 6:33)

  1. “Do not Judge”

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matt 7:1 – 2)

  1. “Guard what is Sacred”

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matt 7:6)

  1. “Ask, Seek, and Knock”

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matt 7:7)

  1. “Care for Those in Distress”

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matt 25:34 – 36)

  1. “Enter Through the Narrow Gate”

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt 7:13 – 14)

  1. “Watch out for false prophets”

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matt 7:15)

  1. “Exercise Spiritual Power”

“He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” (Matt 10:1)

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matt 10:8)

  1. “Do not Despise Childlike Believers”

“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matt 18:10) Commandments of Jesus

  1. “Do not Exalt Yourself”

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matt 23:8 – 12)

  1. “Settle Disputes Between Believers in this Manner…”

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”(Matt 18:15 – 17)

  1. “Do not Oppose Other Christian Groups”

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:38 – 40)

  1. “Have Complete Faith in God”

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:22 – 24)

  1. “Do as the Good Samaritan Did”

“The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37) (In reference to the “Good Samaritan”) (Luke 10:30 – 35)

  1. “Love One Another”

(This commandment of Jesus summarizes all the others.)

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

  1. “Do this in Remembrance of Me”

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” “In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” (Luke 22:19 – 20)

  1. “You Should also Wash One Another’s Feet”

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)

  1. “Be Merciful”

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

  1. “Go and Make Disciples of All Nations, Baptizing Them”

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:19 – 20)

  1. “Obey What I Command”

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)

  1. “You Must be Ready”

“You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:40)

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