Category Archives: John MacArthur

June 24 The Golden Rule Summarized

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.—Matt. 7:12

The perfect love of the heavenly Father is most reflected in His children when they treat others as they themselves wish to be treated. This verse is a summary of the Law and the Prophets. It’s also a paraphrase of the second great commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). How we treat others is not determined by how we expect them to treat us or by how we think they should treat us, but by how we want them to treat us.

Man’s basic problem is preoccupation with self. In the final analysis, every sin results from that preoccupation. We sin because we are totally selfish, totally devoted to ourselves rather than to God and to others. Unregenerate humanity can never reach the standard of selfless love on its own.

So the dynamic for living this supreme ethic must come from outside our fallen nature. It can come only from the indwelling Holy Spirit, whose firstfruit is love (Gal. 5:22). In Jesus Christ “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). Only Christ’s own Spirit can empower us to love each other as He loves us (John 13:34).

Selfless love serves for the sake of the one being served, and serves in the way it likes being served—whether it receives such service or not. This level of love is the divine level, and can be achieved only by divine help.

ASK YOURSELF

Sometimes we find ourselves grappling with such deep biblical matters that we overlook the most simple—like the Golden Rule. Try being more deliberate in the coming day to heeding this basic teaching of Jesus. See how it alters the way you approach even your routine interactions with others.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 184). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

June 24 Unconditional Love

Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet–smelling aroma.

Ephesians 5:2

The Bible doesn’t refer to Christian love as an emotion but as an act of self–sacrifice. A person who truly loves someone else doesn’t try to get anything out of that person. That’s because godly love is never conditioned on a response—it is unconditional.

The world often defines love in terms of what it can get. But God loves even if He never gets anything in return. If that kind of love characterized our marriages, the divorce rate wouldn’t be what it is today. If those who claim they don’t love their spouses anymore would commit themselves to loving them unconditionally, they just might find that they can recapture or rebuild their love. Our Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t love us for what He can get out of us; He loves us in spite of the hurt we cause Him. Make unconditional love your goal, and be humble, obedient, and self–sacrificing.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 193). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

June 24 Integrity Triumphs over Deception

“Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows: ‘King Darius, live forever! All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions’ den. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.’ Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.”

Daniel 6:6–9

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Integrity is more precious than flattery.

King David once prayed:

O Lord, lead me in Thy righteousness because of my foes; make Thy way straight before me. There is nothing reliable in what they say; their inward part is destruction itself; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Hold them guilty, O God … for they are rebellious against Thee. But let all who take refuge in Thee be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and mayest Thou shelter them, that those who love Thy name may exult in Thee. For it is Thou who dost bless the righteous man, O Lord, Thou dost surround him with favor as with a shield.

—Psalm 5:8–12

That could have been Daniel’s prayer as well, being surrounded by men who were rebellious against God and who flattered Darius so they could have Daniel put to death. By their own devices they would fall, but not before Daniel’s integrity was tested.

Darius yielded to deceitful flattery, decreeing that he alone could grant petitions. (His ego is reminiscent of Nebuchadnezzar’s [Dan. 3:12].) Daniel, on the other hand, was unyielding in his convictions, and God literally surrounded him with favor as with a shield.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that when your faith is tested, you will stand firm and have the assurance that God is surrounding you with His favor.

For Further Study: Psalm 5:12 says that God blesses the righteous man. According to Psalm 64:10 and Psalm 92:12–15, what are some of those blessings?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

June 23 Fulfilling the Royal Law

“If … you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well” (James 2:8).

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Love is the only antidote for partiality.

In Matthew 22:36 a lawyer asked Jesus which commandment was the greatest. Jesus answered, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (vv. 37–40). Love for God and one’s fellowman summarizes the intent of God’s law and is the measure of true faith.

Jesus wasn’t calling for the shallow, emotional, self-oriented love that is so prevalent in our society, but for a sacrificial quality of love that places the needs of others on par with your own. That kind of love is utterly incompatible with partiality, which seeks only to further its own selfish goals.

Showing partiality breaks God’s law because it violates God’s attributes, misrepresents the Christian faith, ignores God’s choice of the poor, and condones the blasphemous behavior of the rich (James 2:1–7). But when you treat others impartially, you fulfill the royal law. “Royal” in James 2:8 translates a Greek word that speaks of sovereignty. The law was given by God, who is the supreme authority in the universe; so it is authoritative and binding. Love fulfills God’s law because if you love someone, you won’t sin against him.

Apparently not all of James’s readers were showing partiality, so he commended them, saying they were “doing well.” The Greek word translated “well” speaks of that which is excellent. They were doing an excellent thing because they were acting in a manner consistent with God’s impartial, loving nature. That’s God’s call to every believer, for “the one who says he abides in [Christ] ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). As you do, you fulfill God’s law and thereby prove that your faith and love are genuine.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  God’s love is the only antidote for partiality. So pray each day that He will teach you how better to express His love to those around you.

For Further Study: Read the following verses, noting the characteristics of godly love: John 3:16; Ephesians 5:25–29; Philippians 1:9–11; and 1 John 5:1–3.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 187). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

June 23 God’s Love Illustrated

What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!—Matt. 7:9–11

If we claim to be God’s children, we should be reflecting God’s character in our lives. Jesus here shows us something of what our heavenly Father’s love is like.

Jesus asks two rhetorical questions. The first asks what loving father would ever give his son a stone if he asked for a piece of bread. Leading up to the second question, Jesus gives an example of a son asking his father for a fish. The father wouldn’t give his son a snake, would he? The obvious answer to both is that no father would do that because it isn’t natural to ignore the physical or spiritual needs of his son.

In contrast to sinful, human fathers, our divine, loving, merciful, gracious Father has no limit on His treasure and no bounds to His goodness. Yet even the greatest human parental love cannot compare with God’s.

The truth Jesus proclaims here is that, if imperfect and sinful human fathers so willingly and freely give their children the basics of life, God will infinitely outdo them in measure and benefit. If we want God to treat us with loving generosity as His children, we should so treat others, because we are those who bear His likeness.

ASK YOURSELF

As always, our dealings with God are based on relationship—a relationship He has graciously established and continues to maintain. What threatens your own ability to view Him in this light, rather than primarily relating to Him only in religious terms—distant and detached?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 183). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

June 23 The Depth of Love

Above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

1 Peter 4:8

Christians are to love to the limit, which involves covering a “multitude of sins.” Sin must be dealt with but must also be forgiven. That’s what “cover” implies. We are to put a blanket over past sin that has been dealt with.

Examine yourself. Do you hold a grudge against someone in your house? If you do, remember that Jesus already paid the penalty for whatever that person did wrong. Your inability to forgive belies your love. And if a lack of forgiveness is characteristic of your life, you may not be a Christian.

Inevitably, those who have the greatest sense of forgiveness are quickest to forgive others. The people who know they’ve been forgiven much are able to forgive much. I hope that’s true of you.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 192). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

June 23 Integrity Promotes a Righteous Reputation

“Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him. Then these men said, ‘We shall not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.’ ”

Daniel 6:4–5

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Live so as to silence your critics.

Whenever God exalts a righteous person, there will be those who are jealous and who criticize. Sometimes, as in Daniel’s case, the jealousy turns to bitter opposition. But Daniel’s accusers had a problem: try as they may, they could find no ground of accusation against him. He was blameless and above reproach in his character and political dealings. Their only option was to somehow indict him for being totally committed to God. What a wonderful testimony to his faithfulness!

When an individual has served in office as long as Daniel had and his enemies can bring no charges of wrongdoing against him, he or she must be a person of great integrity and personal purity. That was the strength of Daniel’s character, and God wants you to have that kind of character as well.

There will always be those who want to discredit you. Even if they aren’t jealous of your position, they’ll resent your Christian faith and will scrutinize your attitudes and actions in an attempt to tarnish your reputation. How will your character hold up under that kind of scrutiny?

The apostle Peter wrote, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). That means you must live the kind of life that silences your critics and refutes their accusations. When you do, some of them might even come to Christ.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to guard your testimony and to minister saving grace to anyone who might seek to discredit you.

For Further Study: Read Philippians 1:12–18. What was the apostle Paul’s perspective on those who were envious of him? Do you share his perspective?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

June 22 Siding with God’s Enemies

“Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?” (James 2:6–7).

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You can’t accomplish God’s purposes by siding with His enemies.

Favoritism has a way of blinding its victims to reality. James wrote about Christians who were trying to impress a rich man so they could benefit from his wealth and social status (vv. 2–3). The rich man represented the enemies of Christ, and yet they gave him preferential treatment anyway. The poor man represented those whom God chose to be rich in faith and heirs of His Kingdom, and yet they treated him badly and dishonored him (v. 6). That’s not only inconsistent, it’s foolish! You can’t accomplish God’s purposes by siding with His enemies.

Some ungodly rich people tyrannized Christians by withholding their wages and even putting some to death (James 5:4–6). They forcibly dragged Christians to court to exploit them by some injustice or inequity. They blasphemed the fair name of Christ. The phrase “by which you have been called” (v. 7) speaks of a personal relationship. Typically new converts made a public proclamation of their faith in Christ at their baptism. From then on they were called “Christians,” meaning “Christ’s own,” “Christ’s ones,” or “belonging to Christ.” So when people slandered Christians, they were slandering Christ Himself!

That anyone could overlook those evils and show favoritism to the enemies of Christ shows the subtle and devastating power of partiality. Today the circumstances may be different, but the principles are the same. So for the sake of Christ and His people, remember the three reasons James gives for not showing partiality: 1. You and your brothers and sisters in Christ are one with the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the glory of God revealed (v. 1); 2. God has chosen the poor to receive eternal riches (v. 5); and 3. God has called you by His name (v. 7). If you desire to be like Christ, you cannot be partial. Be fair and impartial in all your interactions with others.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Is there a personal or business relationship in which you are showing favoritism in order to gain some advantage for yourself? If so, confess it to the Lord and correct it right away.

For Further Study: Read Romans 15:5–7. ✧ How should Christians treat one another? ✧ What impact will we have if we obey Paul’s admonition?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 186). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

June 22 Qualifications to Receive God’s Wisdom

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.—Matt. 7:7–8

The promises in these verses are limited only to believers who meet certain qualifications. First, “everyone” refers to those who belong to the Father. Those who are not God’s children can’t come to Him as their Father.

Second, the one who claims this promise must be living in obedience to his Father. “Whatever we ask we receive from Him,” John says, “because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).

Third, our motive in asking must be right. “You ask and do not receive,” explains James, “because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). God does not obligate Himself to answer selfish, carnal requests from His children.

Finally, we must be submissive to His will. If we are trying to serve both God and mammon (Matt. 6:24), we can’t claim this promise. “For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:7–8).

Another possible qualification is perseverance, as indicated by the Greek imperatives ask, seek, and knock. The idea is continuance and constancy: “Keep on asking; keep on seeking; and keep on knocking.”

If you meet these qualifications, be sure you’re taking advantage of your access to God.

ASK YOURSELF

None of us can entirely attain to these lofty ideals, but God knows when our hearts are tender and sincere before Him, genuinely seeking His glory over our personal gain. In whatever situation you’re most in need of His guidance and provision today, ask in faith while surrendering yourself.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 182). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

June 22 Measure Your Love

God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.

Ephesians 2:4

The greatest measuring rod of love in the life of a Christian may be forgiveness. That’s because God showed His love to us in terms of forgiveness. The Bible could have taught us that God so loved the world that He made pretty flowers or trees or mountains. But it teaches that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He gave His Son to forgive us. That certainly shows God’s love more than flowers, trees, or mountains.

Measure your love. Ask yourself, Do I love? If you don’t, you are not one of God’s own because the children of God love others (1 John 4:7–8). How can you know whether you are characterized by love? Ask yourself, Am I bitter toward someone because of something he did to me? Do I often get angry with people, either externally or internally? Do I speak maliciously behind people’s backs? Those are characteristics of your old lifestyle—characteristics you must get rid of in order to love and forgive others.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 191). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

June 22 Integrity Is Consistent

“It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they should be in charge of the whole kingdom, and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss. Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.”

Daniel 6:1–3

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Nations come and go, but God’s plans continue through people of biblical integrity.

As we come to Daniel 6, King Nebuchadnezzar is gone; Belshazzar, his son and successor to the throne, has been slain; the great Babylonian Empire has fallen to the Medo–Persians; and a king identified only as “Darius” (probably another name for Cyrus) is ruling the Medo–Persian Empire. But amidst all those changes, two things remain constant: Daniel distinguishes himself among his peers, and God exalts him.

Daniel served in Babylon for seventy years under three kings, each of whom recognized him as a man of unique wisdom and integrity. King Nebuchadnezzar “made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon” (Dan. 2:48). King Belshazzar “clothed [him] with purple and put a necklace of gold around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he now had authority as the third ruler in the kingdom” (Dan. 5:29).

Now King Darius is about to appoint Daniel as prime minister over the entire kingdom, and within a year the king will issue a decree for the Jews to return to Judah, thereby ending the seventy–year Babylonian captivity (Ezra 1:1–3). I believe Cyrus made that decree because of Daniel’s wisdom and influence.

Through Daniel’s faithfulness we learn that God is sovereign and will accomplish His plans regardless of human authorities. So despite any political, social, or economic changes that may come, remain faithful to Christ and He will use you in ways that are exceeding abundantly beyond all you ask or think (Eph. 3:20).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that true Christianity will flourish in America and that our nation’s leaders will come to love the Lord and govern with biblical wisdom.

For Further Study: According to Isaiah 40:7–8, 15–17, how does God view the nations?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

June 21 God’s Choice of the Poor

“Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man” (James 2:5–6).

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Showing favoritism to the rich is inconsistent with God’s choice of the poor.

Wealth and poverty are not necessarily spiritual issues. Many wealthy people are godly Christians, and many poor people are unbelievers. But generally speaking, God has chosen poor people to populate His Kingdom. Jesus said, “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:23–24). That’s because rich people tend to be bound to this world and have a false sense of security. Many of them not only reject Christ but also persecute believers (cf. James 2:6–7).

James said, “Let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away” (James 1:9–10). Most rich people pursue greater wealth while passing by the true riches of the Kingdom. But like a delicate flower in the scorching summer sun, they will soon fade away, and their futile pursuits will die with them.

Regardless of your financial status, if you love God, you are rich in faith and an heir of His Kingdom (James 2:5). That means you’re saved and will inherit the fullness of your salvation and the richness of God’s eternal blessing. That’s a marvelous truth!

Don’t let riches cloud your good judgment. God expects Christians to honor and care for their poorer brothers and sisters in Christ. You can’t do that if you’re showing partiality to the rich.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  If God has blessed you with more resources than you need, be grateful and ready always to share with those in need (1 Tim. 6:18). If you struggle to get by, thank Him for what He does provide and for teaching you greater dependence on Him.

For Further Study: Read 1 Timothy 6:6–19. ✧ What is God’s standard of contentment? ✧ What pitfalls await those who desire wealth? ✧ What constitutes true riches?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 185). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.