“My children,” writes the author of 1 John, “love must not be a matter of words or talk; it must be genuine and show itself in action.”
James writes, “My brothers, what use is it for a man to say he has faith when he does nothing to show it? Can that faith save him? Suppose a brother or a sister is in rags with not enough food for the day, and one of you says, ‘Good luck to you, keep yourself warm, and have plenty to eat’, but does nothing to supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So with faith; if it does not lead to action, it is in itself a lifeless thing.” (James 2:14-17) He tells us, “The kind of religion which is without stain or fault in the sight of God is this: to go to the help of orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself untarnished by the world.” (James 1:27)
Paul writes, “The only thing that counts is faith active in love.” (Galatians 5:6) He warns, “I may have faith strong enough to move mountains; but if I have no love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2)
Love is not a lifeless thing. Although kind words are involved, love is primarily action directed for the benefit of our fellow humankind. Love looks for opportunities to show others the same love God shows to us. Therefore, says Paul: “Put love first.” (1 Corinthians 14:1) After all, love is everlasting.
Paul suggests, rather strongly I think, “in virtue of the gift that God in His grace has given [him]” that each of us should “not be conceited or think too highly of [ourselves]; but think [our] way to a sober estimate based on the measure of faith that God has dealt to each of [us].”
Too often, we seem to be akin to Peter, James and John the brother of James on the mount where Jesus is transfigured before them. Peter says, “Lord, how good it is that we are here! If you wish it, I will make three shelters here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Matthew 17:4-5) We just want to sit down and be in the Presence of the Glory of God. We want to leave the lost world behind, and rest. But Paul tells us not to desire to abandon the world; instead, we are to remain in it. He reminds us that “we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, ‘Be reconciled to God.'” (2 Corinthians 5:20, HCSB) “Because we know the fear of the Lord, we seek to persuade people. We are completely open before God.” (2 Corinthians 5:11)
Paul warns us not to “take pride in the outward appearance rather than in the heart.” (2 Corinthians 5:12) We are not to “think too highly of [ourselves].” “So the one who boasts must boast in the Lord. For it is not the one commending himself who is approved, but the one the Lord commends.” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18)
The author of the first letter of John writes of love, of what love is and of its progenitor — God. “Love consists in this: not that we love God, but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) This amazing love “was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9)
Living through Christ allows us to know the love of God, for as God the Father loves His Son, so He also loves His Son’s brothers — that is, us. We are adopted into God’s family as children, and “if children, also heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ — seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:17) “The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15) “In the same way, the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
The Holy Spirit Himself prays for us to God the Father, reminding Him of His Son’s ultimate sacrifice, and the effectiveness of the Blood of Christ in washing away our failings, mistakes, omissions, and sins. God the Father looks at us, and sees Jesus. In the same way, we should look at one another and see our brother, Jesus Christ. We should love one another as He loves us.
Always remember, it is “not that we love God.” (1 John 4:10) The truth is that “God is love.” (1 John 4:16)
God says, “Listen to Me.” He tells us, “do not fear disgrace by men, and do not be shattered by their taunts.” He encourages us to “put on the strength of the Lord’s power;” promising: “I — I Am the One who comforts you. Who are you that you should fear man who dies, or a son of man who is given up like grass?” (Isaiah 51:12)
“Wake up, wake up; put on your strength.” (Isaiah 52:1) You “know My Name; therefore you know…that I Am He who says: Here I Am.” (Isaiah 52:6) “Wake yourself, wake yourself up! Stand up.” (Isaiah 51:17) “‘In a surge of anger, I hid My face from you for a moment, but I have compassion on you with everlasting love,’ says the Lord your Redeemer.” (Isaiah 54:8) “I put My Words in your mouth, and cover you with the shadow of My hand.” (Isaiah 51:16) “Joy and gladness overtake [you], and sorrow and sighing flee.” (Isaiah 51:11)
Do not be afraid, for God is Your Redeemer. “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call to Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6) The Lord promises, “My Word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do. You will indeed go out with joy.” (Isaiah 55:11-12)
“I alone know My purpose for you, says the Lord: prosperity and not misfortune, and a long line of children after you. If you invoke Me and pray to Me, I will listen to you: when you seek Me, you shall find Me; if you search with all your heart, I will let you find Me, says the Lord. I will restore your fortunes.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
God allows us to find Him when we search diligently; when we call on Him and pray to Him. He listens like no human being is capable of listening — with full understanding. God alone knows His plans for us. Where there is misfortune, He will restore prosperity.
God sometimes places us — or allows us to place ourselves — in situations that are particularly tough for us — in places of “exile.” He says, “To all the exiles whom I have carried off from Jerusalem to Babylon,” “when a full seventy years has passed over Babylon, I will take up your cause and fulfill the promise of good things I made you, by bringing you back to this place.” (Jeremiah 29:4, 10) Here God has an actual time frame in His plan; and He rebukes prophets who claim differently. “Do not be deceived,” He warns, “by the prophets or diviners among you.” (Jeremiah 29:8)
God has plans and purposes known only to Him — He determines discipline and the manner in which He brings people back into a close relationship with Him. Despite allowing our troubles and misfortunes, He also decides when and how and where to restore “prosperity”. As Paul reminds us, “in everything, as we know, He co-operates for good with those who love [Him] and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
“Do not those who intend evil go astray?”
The thought that anyone would deliberately intend evil is difficult to fathom; and this despite my acceptance of humankind’s fallen nature. God warns that “no man can establish himself by wickedness.” (Proverbs 12:3) Apparently some people believe their evil schemes will work to make their lives better. Instead, “an evil man is brought down by his wickedness.” (Proverbs 14:32) “The wicked [man] is destroyed by [his] own words.” (Proverbs 12:6) Therefore,”those who plot evil delude themselves;” (Proverbs 12:20) for the truth is “the renegade reaps the fruit of his conduct.” (Proverbs 14:14) “The stronghold of the wicked crumbles like clay.” (Proverbs 12:12) In the end, “the wicked man is trapped by his own falsehoods.” (Proverbs 12:13)
“To turn from evil is the highway of the upright; watch your step and save your life.” (Proverbs 16:17)
I’ve decided I want to blog more! Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now. I will be posting on this blog once a day for all of 2011. This has been my goal all along —
I know it isn’t easy, but it’s been fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.
If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way. I know I’ve got some readers, but few of you take time to comment or like or rate my posts. I’d really appreciate any or all of that encouragement.
Thanks; and happy reading in 2011!
Carley (aka: lambskinny)
“Be careful,” says Jesus, “not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them.” (Matthew 6:1) “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:18)
Be private, says Jesus, in prayer. “Don’t babble like the idolaters.” (Matthew 6:7) Be private, says Jesus, in giving to the poor. “Don’t sound a trumpet before you, like the hypocrites.” (Matthew 6:2) “Put oil on your head, and wash your face”, says Jesus, when you fast. (Matthew 6:17)
“Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.” (Matthew 6:3)
Yet, Jesus also says, “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Jesus is telling you that your light shines naturally; it cannot be hidden as you go about “your good works” which you know were designed — by God Himself in advance — for you to complete. As you complete these good works, the glory must be directed back to God. All that is good in you is a direct result of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Let His light shine before others; to God be the glory! And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.”
Most importantly, “the one who has the Son has life.” (1 John 5:12) Secondly, “this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.” (1 John 5:14-15)
Fear is incompatible with love — if we are loved by God, what have we to fear?
“We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know the true One. We are in the true One — that is, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
Fear is incompatible with eternal life — if we are “in the true One”, what have we to fear?
“What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies.” (Romans 8:31-33)
Fear is incompatible with the justification of God — if God has given us His Son, what have we to fear?
“For the commandments, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet’, and any other commandment there may be, are all summed up in the one rule, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love cannot wrong a neighbor; therefore the whole law is summed up in love.”
Anyone who claims to have never violated the one rule is lying. Those who claim this complete love are deluding themselves — for love does no wrong to its neighbor — ever! Jesus tells the young rich man who wants to know how to enter heaven, “‘If you wish to go the whole way (i.e. if you wish to be perfect), go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and then you will have riches in heaven; and come, follow Me.'” I don’t see many who sell all of their possessions, give all to the poor, and then follow after Jesus. Or, who give the very little they have as does the poor widow; leaving themselves completely dependent upon God.
Rather, many of us — if we are honest — weakly follow after our Lord. Which of us will cut off our offending arm rather than enter the fires of hell?
But, God in His great mercy, sells all He has and gives it to us — the poor. We are the poor in spirit who rely on His shed blood to enable us to love as He loves. Jesus continually points us to Himself, saying to us that if we wish to succeed in this life and in the life to come, we must leave ourselves behind, stop trying to ‘do good’, and rather just ‘be good’ through His Holy Spirit.
“Love cannot wrong a neighbour.” God is love. May He always be allowed to love others through us. Let’s get out of His way.