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!


Lessons in Vanity

Since my little health incident about five months ago, many things have changed in my life and today I had a chance to reflect on these changes and talk to my wife Sandy about some of them. With our 17 year old son Tim, we were on a long drive to visit my parents across state. I may have mentioned previously that I have been unable to drive since January but clearance to do so may come in about four weeks, if the doctor O.K.s it.

For the 22-plus years Sandy and I have been together, I have done nearly all of the driving on trips of any kind, long or short but she has had to bear this burden for the whole house during my recovery. Since she hates driving to begin with, that burden has been even harder for her and I haven’t always been the most agreeable passenger. It turns out that I scare easily when  I’m not driving and tend to think that others aren’t as cautious or considerate as they should be when they drive-this defined in my own terms, of course.

The discussion today centered around my routine two week check-in with my office to remind them that I am: a) still alive; b) conscious and able to think & speak with alacrity; c) intending to return after my recovery is complete and; d) capable of doing the same effective job upon my return, as I did prior to the emergence of my health issue.  Indeed, my wife has had to resubmit my doctor’s note three separate times this month alone to remind people of my planned return to work date, which I have also discussed with my boss and my boss’s boss. Enough of this, though. How bureaucracies work, or don’t, is not what this is about.

What this is about is the most ancient sin of all and the one into which I think most of us most easily fall. It has been the subject of innumerable books, movies, TV shows and the source of the downfalls of luminaries from every walk of life and culture throughout history.

You might be asking yourself, “Gosh Scott what is it? Is it sex?, greed?, lust for power?, what?”

I think it’s the most basic thing of all: Vanity. Everyone likes to be schmoozed. I do, you do, everyone does. Sure, when we are complimented by those who wish us well we may even feel a bit uncomfortable but we know that we feel more good than discomfort.  This happened to me the other day when I called my good friend and hard-working, intelligent peer. Our boss hadn’t shown up for work yet.

Anyway, we hadn’t spoken since she made a deal to come work at my office on the one condition that I be there with her, when I come back to work. What a wonderful vote of confidence this was,  but also a powerful temptation for me to believe that I came to this admiration of my own accord and not by anything The Lord had done in my life and which I fervently believe now. It reminded me of what Jesus said to Pontius Pilate at His trial:

You would have no authority over  Me, unless it had been given to you from above. Luke 19:11

Here’s the evidence of the vanity I was tempted to indulge in: I believed for the longest time that I came to my place in life of my own accord and not because I was destined and led by God. This was my mode of thinking when I made the call last week. What a mistake!

When we start believing our own press and disallowing the powerful heavenly forces that lead us to our stations in life, we become targets for easy mark by those dark forces in the world who want us to believe that we can do things on our own. This often ends in disaster for people like me who are Christians but have not drawn close enough to The Lord that He would draw close to us enough to recognize His tremendous influence in our lives.

The Roman centurion had it right when he approached Jesus and said:

“Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Matthew 8:8-9

The biggest misunderstanding I had about my authority and accomplishments as a manager, and leader was that I came to it on my own and gave no credit to The Lord who really did the leading. My best moments professionally and personally came as a result of drawing in to my Lord enough that He drew close to me and set me on the well lit, right path of His healing, His peace, His humility, and His grace. He still draws me closer and He also draws closer moment by moment. No vanity here, only grace and peace that comes by this relationship.

No more regrets here. When I return to work, I will do so drawing in to Him who sent me forth to serve with a glad heart to do that work and that work alone.

Say the word only, Lord and I shall be healed.