Does No Wrong

www.bible.com/1713/rom.13.10.csb

I believe we have been lured into one of Satan’s most ingenious traps. As Christian people, we have first been lured into the idea that we are all about love. We have been told that Love trumps all, and that God is a God of love. For the most part, this is true. But love has been emphasized so much, it has been emphasized over truth and logic. Is that so wrong? As the first part of this verse suggests, love does no wrong, thus, if I do something in the name of love, it cannot be wrong. Do you see where this is going? 

Now Christians are known for being people of love. Our God is love. Our own book says so. So how can we possibly say a thing is wrong if it is done in love? People living together who aren’t married? That ‘s not living in sin anymore. That living in love. People of the same sex who love each other? No problem! They’re in love. What’s the issue? People who love children? Don’t fret yourself. It ‘s still love even if only one party consents, right?

And now all of us Christians have to keep our mouths shut. We’ve been preaching love for centuries. We can’t go back now. This is all love. It’s all good. We are hypocrites if we say these kinds of love are bad. And a hypocritical Christian is a charge we cannot recover from. Oh what a clever trap. We have preached ourselves into a corner because we have only emphasized part of the Word. In our effort to appeal to the masses, we have ignored the weightier matters.

In this verse is the solution. Love is the fulfillment of the law. Love does not and cannot break the law. Love does not make new law, or what was wrong now right. Love is the fulfillment of the law, for what the law prevented by its “don’t’s”, love fulfill by emphasizing its positive. Thou shall not steal becomes respect another’s property. Thou shalt not commit adultery becomes respect the boundaries of your marriage and otbers. Love even calls us to resist anyone else who who would trod upon these values. See must uphold justice when others cannot do themselves. We must advocate for those that cannot speak. If it is in our power to do good, then it is a sin not to.

Love is far more powerful than law, but love never contradicts the law. If we are to love, we must also respect the law, for both come from God, and God does not contradict Himself.

God bless you on this Friday!

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The Root of the Law

www.bible.com/1713/mat.22.37-39.csb

At the base of the formidable tower that is the Law is inscribed these two, Love God and Love your Neighbor. The first is featured prominently, the second, somewhat obscure. The first is found early in Deuteronomy as a command laid upon all Israel. The second is situated in the middle of Leviticus as something of a commentary on relations with your neighbor.

Yet, these are the two that Jesus cites as the foundation of the rest of the Law. And the more you think about, His legal insight is exquisite. Everything we do here on earth really falls into one of these two areas. It’s a given that we know what love is (and may I remind you that the definition of ”love” has never been under more attack than today) and it’s also a given that we know what it means to love ourselves. With families breaking down everywhere, it’s harder to define from our hearts what love is.

Today, practice love. Practice this kind of love. Love with all your heart, soul and mind, and with all your strength. May God bless you work today.

From the Beginning

www.bible.com/1713/2jn.1.6.csb

You ever have those little proverbs from your parents of grandparents floating around in your head? For example, ”Clean your plate. There are starving children in Africa.” Or maybe, ”This hurts me more than it hurts you.” These are simple, short proverbs that regardless of how old you become, they are never far. With just a little effort, you can recall them even if you haven’t thought of them in years.

So it is with this commandment which Jesus told us from the beginning. John rephrased it here, since Jesus’s original command in John 15 was to love one another, “as I have loved you,” meaning He gave up His life for us, so we ought to be willing to do the same for our brothers. John furthers this by saying our lives ought to be characterized by this kind of love, so that we walk in love in every step.

How do you express this love? Do you offer little sacrifices here and there? Do you give up your own right to be satisfied when someone else can be blessed? What does this love look like to you?

Just some thoughts for a Wednesday. God bless you today.

Quiet in His Love

www.bible.com/1713/zep.3.17.csb

This seems like a funny way for God to express His love. In fact, the scholars are a bit divided as to what this means. Some say what is here. God will express His love in quiet ways. Others look to the Greek Septuagint, where it says He will renew His love, or, make His love new again like it was before they had sinned against Him. A third path some suggest is that God’s love will be expressed in such a way that He will be quiet about past transgressions.

This text follows a diatribe about how Israel has sinned against Him and how He is angry with their wickedness. But He longs to restore them and care and nurture them as before. If they would only reach out to Him He would forgive and He would save.

Such a tale could be told today, couldn’t it? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could turn from our sins and turn back to God? And then once He had taken us back in, He wouldn’t say a word about our transgressions. He would simply be quiet in His love. He would be a place of peace and solace where this world offers only hardship and chaos.

Could we consider His offer as we rise on this Sunday morning? Find that place to rest and find peace in Him today. God bless you.

Rest Assured

www.bible.com/1713/psa.23.1-2.csb

What do you do to relax? Do you take in a movie? Read a book? Watch your favorite TV program? Maybe you go out with friends, or spend time alone. Regardless of how you recuperate, one thing is certain: you need rest.

Rest is more than sleep. Rest is peace. Rest is comfort. Rest is essential to our function. If we operate continually without rest, we will suffer, both mentally and physically. Are you in a place where you cannot rest?

This Psalm composed by David under the direction of the Holy Spirit tells us about rest. The Lord leads us to rest. If we are to find peace and comfort in this life, it can only be at the direction of the Shepherd. Sheep are willful, fearful things. They wander off, they do what they want, often to their own detriment. It takes a shepherd to lead them to their food and their contentment.

Yes shepherds do this to make a profit. This is how they make their living. Sheep are good for a couple things, making wool and providing meat. Sheep who are well-cared for can provide a shepherd with a good living. He knows what environment makes for sheep that are content. And he does his best to provide it. When David and Jesus apply this model to people, they aren’t taking about the profit, but the care and relationship between sheep and Shepherd. God doesn’t need anything. And there is nothing we have to offer Him that will give Him profit. God cares for us because He made us. We are His children. He loves us because He made us with His own hands. But rather than act like men, we often act like sheep.

Do you wander off and try to find your own way? You will find no rest that way. Do you seek to make yourself the center of your life? There’s no rest there either. God offers the rest of the comfort of the Father’s arms wrapped around you.

My wife showed me a video yesterday of a returning serviceman greeting his young son after a long absence. The young boy’s reaction was predictable, but precious. As soon as he recognized him, the young boy fiercely hugged his father. In front of all of his peers, as this was filmed at a school, the boy forgot everyone else. His father was all that mattered in that moment. His father’s embrace was no less. Do you long for that love? That’s the rest that our Father calls us to. That’s the embrace of heaven on the first day.

Are you longing for rest today? Spare a moment with your father. Enjoy the embrace of His love for you, even as the Father for the Prodigal. “Prepare the fatted calf! This son of mine was dead, and is now alive!” Experience the joy and rest of the Father, no longer a Judge of your sins, but Redeemer of your soul.

Enter thou the joy and rest of thy Lord.

Love Challenge

www.bible.com/1713/mat.5.44.csb

I would rather be challenged to love those I already love more. I know how they will respond and it will strengthen us. But this is not that challenge.

When Jesus teaches this in the Sermon on the Mount, He is talking to the people of Galilee and more importantly, His disciples. He is challenging them to express love towards a group that they would ordinarily avoid: their enemies.

Enemies can be one of two kinds, personal and impersonal. Personal enemies are people you know with whom you may have once been friends, but have had a falling out. You may have good reasons for your animus, and they might too. But these are faces you know and respond with revulsion.

Impersonal enemies are those you don’t know personally, but hate who they are anyway, be it politics, religion, authority or some other very good reason. Many people hate Trump, but very few know him. They hate what he stands for and the things he says, though he has not done anything personal to them.

And then there is the word used here for “love”. While Jesus probably didn’t speak Greek (but Aramaic), a special Greek Word is employed here to get across His meaning. As the Apostle Matthew records it, Jesus says we ought to agape our enemies, to love with respect and honor, even to the point of sacrifice of necessary. That is the most powerful love imaginable, because that’s how God loved us.

While we were enemies, God demonstrated His own love for us by sending His Son, who died for our sins. We who were enemies of God, were loved lavishly by Him. O the grace and love we have been given. May God never ceased to be praised for His marvelous gift!

So we who have been so lavishly loved. Now we must give that same love to our enemies. We must extend the same love given to us unto others. That is the challenge today. Not to those who will love us back, but to those who may not.

How will you show this love today? Can you? For it is the unique test of the Christian to show love in gratitude for the love showed to him. If we cannot share that love, then we haven’t really understood it.

God bless you in your walk today!

Future Love

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.14.21.csb

Does it trouble anyone that Jesus promises love to those who obey Him in this verse? The love of the Father and the Son are both placed in the future for the one who keeps the commands of the Lord, rather than the present. The one who loves will he loved. Hmmm.

Now I have other Scriptures, like Romans 5:8 that say God loved us do much and proved that Love by sending His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. I have John 3:16, same book, where Jesus says God loved the world before He sent His Son, so I am not worried about not being loved. It’s just that this verse places obedience and our own love for Him as necessary prerequisites for His love for us. Out of context this would be troubling. In context it tells me that additional love awaits me for my obedience and love for God. A father loves all his children, but he also has extra love for those on the same page as he is, who share his interests and pursuits.

My children tell me all the things they are interested in. I can follow some of their conversation. I find myself more drawn when they are talking about things I am interested in. It’s human nature. When my children and I share a common interest, I find extra enjoyment sharing it with them.

I believe God loves all of his children equally, proof being Christ Jesus. But I believe He likes spending time with those who share His interests. Those who by their obedience to His commands and love Him in return find themselves loved by Him even more. This is something that I would not understand if I was not a father myself.

What can you and God do together today? What are the things that interest God? And would we be pleased to do the things that bring Him joy?

If you have kids, you know that one thing they like to do, when they are young, is bring you their artwork. I feel like we do that with God, because we want to feel His approval. But our artwork is satisfying what she has told us to do, so that we might present Him ourselves. We don’t do this to earn His love, but because He loves us first. He only loves us more.

Put your stock in this future love. Look for opportunities today to please your Father, and He will love you more.

God bless you today.