ABOVE ALL Andy Hollifield 8-9-17
Colossians 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
Charity———-(1) generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless (2) a charitable act or work (3) benevolent feeling, especially toward those in need or disfavor (4) Christian love; agape’
I got interested in the term “above all”. I have come across it in my scripture reading, found it recently in part of the scripture I used preparing to preach, and also heard it used in a sermon by a friend of mine recently. I have learned that when you see or hear something continually, it pays to pay attention to it. I looked up “above all” in a concordance of the bible and found that the term is used 51 times. While I am not even going to attempt to cover all 51, there are a few that really stood out to me. I hope it will be a blessing and encouragement to you just like it has been to me.
I have developed a habit of looking to see when a word or phrase was first used and the last time it was used in the bible. The first time it is used in scripture was when God was passing judgment on the serpent that beguiled Eve in the Garden of Eden. He proceeded to curse the serpent “above all cattle and above every beast of the field” in Genesis 3:14. The next use was in Exodus 19:5 when, along with several others scriptures afterwards, God promised the Jewish people that they would “be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people”. While it is true according to Romans 2:11 that God is not a “respecter of persons”, how could they not be his “chosen people” when it was through their lineage that his Son would be born into the world? The last use of the term “above all” in the bible is found in 3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” I thought it was interesting that the first time it was used was in a curse and the last time it was used was in a blessing. That may have no significance to anything at all but I thought it was good.
As I began to read further, I found a few more verses that I thought were really worth noting. One was Numbers 12:3 where it says that “Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth.” To put that statement in perspective I thought of an opposite example: Adolph Hitler. Many would say that he was probably the most evil man who ever lived. I personally think that is a fair assessment. My point however, is that if Moses was as meek as Hitler was evil, then that gives us a pretty good picture of Moses’ meekness. Meek means to be gentile, kind, overly submissive or compliant, and humbly patient. While that may have been the character of Moses, some of the exploits of the children of Israel during their time in the wilderness most definitely tried his patience.
There were a couple more that talked about the character and attributes of God. Psalms 96:4 says, “for the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.” Psalms 99:2 says the Lord is great “above all the people” while Psalms 108:5 says that he is exalted “above the heavens” and his glory “above all the earth.” Psalms 113:4 says that he is “above all nations” and 135:5 says he is “above all gods.” As I continued to read, I found several others that were very interesting. Jeremiah 17:9 says “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” If our heart is deceitful above all things, how then can we know the will of God for our lives? The answer is very simply by praying without ceasing as the bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Prayer is after all, our direct hotline to God. Can you comprehend that? Our prayers get God’s attention above all angels, principalities, powers, and dignitaries. Why? Because we are family. We are the children of God. There is no one takes precedence above your children. Let that sink in and see if it don’t make your cup run over when you realize that is how God feels about us. In Luke 3:20, the bible speaks about all the wickedness of Herod especially him taking his brother Phillip’s wife. While that was a despicable act of the highest order, the bible says that above all, the worst evil he committed was putting John in prison. That kind of shows how much God thinks of his children doesn’t it?
Moving on over to Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Exceed means to go beyond the limit and abundant means present in great quantity or degree. Put them together and it simply says that God is able to do way beyond our wildest imaginations. Just because God doesn’t always do what we ask of him doesn’t mean that he can’t. Just remember in whatever he does, he is always working what is in your best interest according to Romans 8:28, according to his purpose. His purpose, not ours. His purpose is always right and best for our lives. Ephesians 4:6 says that we have “one God and Father of all, who is above all…” We’re not serving “just another God.” We are serving the one true and living God according to 1 Thessalonians 1:9. Ephesians 6:16 in talking about the whole armor of God, tells us that “above all” we need to take on the “shield of faith.” Let me remind you that a shield is used for protection and defense. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please him…” It is no wonder that Paul said we need the shield of faith “above all.”
Colossians 3:14 as well as 1 Peter 4:8 tells us that as far as our behavior, mentality, and character, we need to put on charity. Charity, as defined above, is a character trait that speaks well of anyone that has it. I will go so far as to say that someone who is without charity is in a lot of respects, self-centered. People like that are not concerned with the welfare of others which is contrary to the teachings of Christ as well as the entire bible. Peter said to have “fervent” charity. Fervent means having or showing a great warmth or intensity of spirit, feeling, or enthusiasm. In one word, it is a burning. We should have a burning desire to be compassionate to others. Jesus did and we are supposed to have the “same mind” that he had according to Philippians 2:5. It doesn’t come automatic with salvation because we have to “let” it be in us. It may not come naturally but we should strive towards it and if we have truly accepted the Lord in our hearts, we are supposed to have a new nature.
I mentioned in the beginning that the last time “above all” is used is in 3 John 1:2. The last phrase in that verse is of utmost importance. It says “as your soul prospereth.” I am thankful that I don’t prosper as my soul prospereth. A lot of times my faith grows weak and my soul doesn’t prosper like it should. There are days that I would be totally bankrupt if I prospered like my soul does. On the other hand, if I am honest every day, I am rich beyond comprehension. Not because of anything I have done, but because of who is living in my soul. When you stop and consider him, you can’t help but be blessed and your soul prosper. I hope that this article will somehow help your soul to prosper today. It is written with the best of intentions and a “fervent” desire to uplift and encourage you in the Lord. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!