What’s Love Got to do With It?

Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the spirits.

God is always searching our hearts and motives for those things that please Him,glorify Him, and show obedience to His Word and His calling for our lives.  We can’t fake it. God is not mocked.

Love has EVERYTHING to do with what honors God and shows obedience to His Word and His ways.

What Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:1 speaks volumes to what we should do and how we should think and behave towards those we might normally hate (that is if we aren’t guided by the Holy Spirit).

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Let me be perfectly clear on this: Wrong motives render righteous acts unrighteous!  What does it mean to be righteous?  When we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Who reveals righteousness to us by prayerful reading of the Scriptures, which is the divinely inspired Word of God, we find that righteous motives (1) Spreads the Word, (2) Ends contention and (3) glorifies God. Remember what John the apostle said:  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend[a] it.

If God is love, and He is, everything that is said in John 1: 1-5 is done out of love, also. It is a logical inconsistency to suggest that anything that is not of God, to possess love. He created the universe, and all things GOOD! And He created them out of love.  This is why what the Lord says to Samuel  in 1 Samuel16:7 is so important for us to remember: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees;[a] for man looks at the outward appearance,but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Take a second look at John 1:5. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it.  We are called to be light in a dark world. Hatred, striving (a form of the word strife),contentiousness, paranoia, and just about every negative emotion you can think of contributes to the darkness and cannot shed light on anything. 

What is in our heart is a key to being light. And motive is everything. Motive shows God whose side we are on.  We need to be careful of unrighteous motivations in our own lives.  Things like:

·        Doing things out of vanity (even things we think are good)

·        Self glorification

·        Worldly ambition

·        Fear of man

·        Greed

·        Demand for instant gratification

·        Approval of man

·        Envy

·        Deception of any kind

Can discredit our testimony and reflect poor intentions to a world that wants to paint every Christian as a hypocrite.  Jesus had this to say in Matthew 6: 2, 5, and 16:

Therefore,when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

16 “Moreover,when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

When we walk closely with our partner the Holy Spirit, none of these things should be taking place. The Holy Spirit is the one that fills the heart of every believer with the Love of Christ whose very characteristics Paul gave us in the“love” passage in 1 Corinthian 13:4-8:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Jesus never hated anyone. He put His love in us to use for the glory of His kingdom and for this He died a horrible death, the greatest example of love ever. He understood this when He patiently answered His worst critics, the Pharisees and correctly identified them as “of your father, the devil”. He took some of those very same Pharisees, particularly Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea and gave them insights into what salvation really meant.

Think of these points the next time you go to a meeting, the next time you engage an embittered friend or co-worker, the next time you pray and ask the Lord what to do and then ask yourself, better yet ask Him, to create in you a clean heart and renew the Spirit that honors God first, and loves all to the exclusion of no one. Even when you don’t want to.

We didn’t deserve His grace but we got it anyway. Give it away!


Here Comes 2012!

Forget New Year resolutions, those false declarations most of us walk away from within hours, days at the most, of making them. Forget those things that lead to devilish levels of guilt, condemnation and fear of having fallen short of some phony and arbitrary level of accomplishment, meaningless in the Master’s plan.  Most of us find we can’t achieve these things on our own until all the negativity associated with falling short has struck us like a lightning bolt!

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.  Matthew 6:34

My treasured and beloved wife, Sandy has always had the best attitude about resolutions and encapsulates it nicely by saying that she has but one resolution she makes every year: “I resolve not to make any New Years resolutions!” She always manages to keep it, too.

It occurs to me that one of the worst things that can be said of anyone, but particularly of a Christian, is that they are a hypocrite. Resolutions and open declarations made by those claiming to be Christians always make them targets of opportunity to a world (you’ll forgive the expression) “hell-bent” on exposing them in what is a usually relativistic sort of way. Absolutes never work in the world.  This world’s prince won’t allow it and this is the Christian’s daily battle.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Ephesians 6:12

Here is my Ground Zero for the coming year.  No, it is not a resolution. It is an act of recognition that those with whom I have had difficulties with in the past, harbored grudges against, even clung  to some degree of anger and hatred toward are not my problem any longer.  Not the man who had acted in a way consistent with road-rage, nor the man who accused me of stealing his latte today, when the barista mistakenly handed me his drink when he walked away from the bar.  Not those who think that my manner of dress in church, or way of teaching should disqualify me as an elder in my church. 

None of these folks should merit anything more than my prayers for their happiness, and that they would, if they have not already, come to the knowledge and love of the truth of my Lord Jesus who loves me just as unconditionally as we should love one another.

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.  Matthew 5:21-22

Make no mistake-what Jesus said above is not a matter of sin by degree. One is just as bad as another and the result of acting in anger ALWAYS has a negative consequence. Look at what Jesus just said. He elevated an act of anger to the same severity as murder!

Think of all the wars you ever heard of, every argument you ever had with anyone, every time you chewed out an employee (or fantasized about chewing one out, or your boss, for that matter), every time you see a news report about a crime or a person with which you vehemently disagreed.

The only one justified in any act of anger is the One who created everything and gave us the freedom to choose how we respond to things, and to Him. I’m not talking about righteous indignation. I am talking about thoughts and acts of rage that expose us to worldly epithets like “two-faced” and “hypocrite”. These things provide the target-rich environment that the world craves.

We are the Lord’s first responders to the hurting of the world. Remember, hurting people hurt people. Intentionally or not, it is so. We contribute nothing by judging the hurt and suffering of  others, yet it is the thing we as Christians do most readily, I’m afraid.

I, like all of us, have many faults and I will be working on them with God’s help until He calls me home.  As a tourist in this place it’s best for me to just get along and show everyone love and respect. Life is easier, and far less complex this way. Who needs a complicated life anyway?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Well, dear reader, here’s the plan.  Simplify life, walk in love, don’t speak or do anything in anger.

 Love one another.