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Thursday, February 5, 2009

For Free

I’m all for free offers, but I cringe when I hear something is “for free.” The day after the Super Bowl, TV reporters were alerting viewers to Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast offer. “Between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. today,” they said, “Denny’s is giving Grand Slam Breakfasts for free.”

But TV doesn’t have exclusive rights to the “for free” phrase. A local auto dealer promises if a buyer purchases a new car, he can take a second car (dealer’s choice) “for free.” On and on it goes.

If something is offered without charge, it is free, not “for free.” The word “for” is unnecessary and simply another example of how abuse of the English language is spreading like wildfire. Perhaps we should create a new word, “grammarcide,” to identify the murder of grammar.

The Bible teaches that salvation is free. Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8 and 9 identify it as a divinely bestowed gift. We should share this good news with the whole world, but I hope pastors don’t start telling people God offers salvation “for free.” Let’s not implicate God in the murder of grammar!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Semper Fi

United States Marines live up to their motto, “Semper Fi,” meaning “Always faithful.” Even in the thickest battle, they fight valiantly to protect our freedom. We owe an immense debt of gratitude to these brave patriots who are always faithful.
In Colossians 4:7–9, Paul commended Tychicus as “a beloved brother” who was always faithful. This beloved brother’s name means “fate,” but the Lord, not fate, had brought him into Paul’s life during the third missionary journey. A native of Asia Minor (now Turkey), Tychicus served the Lord and Paul as “a faithful minister [helper]” (Col. 4:7).
We all know what fickle friends are. They stick around in the good times, but become invisible when we most need a friend. Tychicus was anything but fickle. He stuck with Paul even though the Roman Empire had thrown Paul into prison in Rome. After writing his letter to Colossians from prison, Paul entrusted it to Tychicus. He would deliver the letter, update the Colossians on Paul’s situation, and encourage them (vv. 8, 9).

Tychicus’s faithfulness captured Paul’s confidence so thoroughly that later on Paul considered sending him to Crete (Titus 3:12). Only a truly faithful brother could handle such a ministry assignment, because the Cretans were notoriously undisciplined and liars (see Titus 1:12, 13).

Paul’s confidence in Tychicus as a faithful servant of the Lord never wavered, Nearing martyrdom during his second imprisonment, Paul wrote that he had sent Tychicus to Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:12).

Only a faithful believer could impact Ephesus for Christ. Idolatry and immorality permeated this opulent city. Its original temple honoring the goddess Diana (also known as Artemis) had been one of the Seven Wonders of the World before fire destroyed it in 356 B.C. The idolatrous worshipers of Diana quickly rebuilt it, and in the first century silversmiths maintain a lucrative business by crafting silver shrines in Diana’s honor (see Acts 19:24).

Some Bible teachers believe Tychicus was one of the two messengers who accompanied Titus on a fund-raising mission for the relief of poor Christians in Judea (2 Corinthians 8:16–22). Knowing how suspicious some people are of money-handlers, only faithful brothers like Tychicus were right for the job.

You don’t have to be Marine to live by the motto, Semper Fi. You can be “always faithful”” as a husband, a father, a mother, a friend, or a disciple-maker. Someone is counting on you to be faithful.
© Jim Dyet