Tuesday, October 30, 2012

love purely

"The aim of our charge is love that issues from
 a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."

I often question my motives - which proves to be a good, sanctifying, and humbling thing to do from time to time.  I started reading through 1 Timothy last week and this verse stuck out to me above anything else in the first chapter.  Paul tells Timothy (and us) what is most important -- what we are charged to do as Christians -- to love

We are called to love not only our neighbor but also our enemy (Matthew 5).  And let's be honest, some people are easy to love and on the other hand, some are very difficult to love. 

But regardless, Paul charges us to love -- and we know it is genuine love if it has three key components.  First, it has to come from a pure heart - rather than one filled with sinful desires.  Secondly, it has to come from a good conscience - rather than one laden with guilt.  And finally, it has to come from sincere faith - rather than pretense and hypocrisy.

I hope I can tuck this little nugget of truth away and remember it whenever I start feeling unappreciated or unloved.  Loving people takes effort -- sometimes the most simplest tasks are by far the hardest to do when it gets tough.  God sees our efforts, even if no one else does. 

Keep loving purely.


For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

We love because He first loved us.

{1 John}

Monday, October 22, 2012

yes be yes, no be no

My church is doing a study on The Sermon on the Mount and is going in detail through each point that Jesus made.  This week it was on divorce and oaths.  As I was doing the homework assigned to this section, I read a question that made me stop and think. It asked, "Why is keeping promises and honesty in general so important according to Christ?"  When I first read it I skimmed through it and didn't really think about it.  But it is more than just an easy question to give an easy Sunday School answer to.

....But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven ... or by the earth. ... And do not take an oath by your head... Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil.  - Matthew 5:34-37

John tells us that Jesus is the "true light" (John 1:9) and that "God is light and in him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5).  Jesus even refers to himself as the "light of the world" (John 8:12).   It is our charge to be more Christlike -- to radiate light.  We are to walk in the way that Jesus walked (1 John 2:6).   To radiate light means to not live in darkness ... to confess our sins and to speak in truth and love. 

Deceit is darkness.  It is the work of the devil.  Eve was "deceived" by the serpent (Gen 3:13).  Paul tells the people of Corinth to not be surprised by deceitful people because Satan himself disguised himself (2 Corinthians 11:13-14). 

These two ideas are polar opposites.  One one end of the spectrum you have light, truth, Christ ... and on the other end you have deceit, evil, Satan. 

Keeping your promises and being an honest person is so important to Christ because it shows where your heart is.  If I'm striving to be more Christlike then I should be striving to walk in integrity, to not flake out, to follow through with my plans.  If I'm making false promises and agreeing to things only to appease the other party when in all reality I have no plans on following through then I am being a deceitful and crafty person. 

The Bible says in Luke that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."  What is pouring from my lips is only a taste of what is going on in my heart.  I need to be striving toward the light end of the spectrum and if I am doing so then not only are my words going to be filled with truth, my heart is going to be in a much better place as well.

So, what am I striving towards?  Do I follow through when I say "yes"?  Is my prideful heart getting in the way of saying "yes" when I should be saying "no"?  Am I a person of integrity and honesty or am I a person of meaningless words?

And praise God that there is hope in the cross because true perfection in this area will never be accomplished by my own works.  There is only One who walked on this earth perfectly and because of His dying work on the cross, I can be forgiven of my daily failures.  And while I know I will never grasp perfection, I strive for it (or should strive for it) day in and day out. 

But above all ... let your "yes" be yes and your "no" be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. -- James 5:12