The World Is Watching How We Love
What message are we as Christ-followers actually airing to the world through our interactions? Are we salt or just salty? I’m speaking to myself.
Let me be transparent here. I co-lead a ministry with two other women in our church. Last week, I responded to one of my co-leaders on a string of email messages regarding an upcoming event. Prior to this, impatience had wormed its way into my heart regarding a totally unrelated incident and an unrelated set of people; but instead of dealing with my impatience and letting that die away, this ugly attitude sponsored my reply to my co-leader. As I pressed the send button, my spirit fell into complete unrest. The message was fine; my tone behind it stunk. Holy Spirit started nudging me with conviction, You wrote that without Me. We need to make things right so the enemy doesn’t have a foothold.
You know how God works. It just so happened that I had been reading the book of Matthew. The Word from my morning quiet time came alive in me.
Jesus said, “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God,” (Matthew 5:23-24 MSG, emphasized)
Later that night, while rocking in my comfy chair and trying in vain to enjoy a personal time of communion with the Lord, my unrest increased. Go to this friend and make things right. Even if my co-worker didn’t detect the saltiness behind the mask of my well-written “sweetly corrective” email, I needed to make amends. The next morning, I asked her forgiveness in a private text and then made it official in person.
God is more interested in how we amend our relationships within the church than He is with our nicest offerings. Amending a broken relationship in the Body is keeping His family together. Do we care enough about the interests of our blood-shedding Savior to take action?
Hypocrisy is leaving a trail of broken, unamended relationships, and then cheerfully dropping a generous offering in the plate to the Lord. Relationships are hard enough without adding the pretense element, so why would anyone in the world want to be a part of something so superficial? This might even fit into one of the six things God hates:
“… there are six things the Eternal hates … anyone who stirs up trouble among the faithful,” (Proverbs 6:16,19 VOICE)
What is the proof that God’s heart is active in us? As soon as we remember that our brother or sister has an issue with us, we leave our gift before the altar and hurry to go make amends. That’s love. And agape love among brethren is what will turn our world upside down.
Did the name of anyone who is at odds with you come to mind as you read this?
Is Holy Spirit prompting you to hurry and make things right?
Don’t delay. Blessed are the peacemakers.
Let’s do our part to dwell in peace with our fellow Christians and keep our Heavenly Father’s beloved family together.
Lord, make our hearts so sensitive to Your desires and loving toward our brothers and sisters that we feel burdened to make things right between us. In Jesus’s name, give us Your love for Your Family—our family.
I Want Answers Now
By: Laura MacCorkle, crosswalk.org
In his heart, a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9, NIV
Living in the Information Age, we’re so used to getting what we want as soon as we want it.
We’re becoming more and more accustomed to not having to wait for anything, as instant gratification is the norm in many areas of our lives.
- A gourmet, meat-and-three meal ready in less than three minutes from the microwave. Check.
- Instant text messages sent directly to our handheld communication devices. Check.
- Mobile phone reception and extensive coverage wherever we may travel. Check.
- Wireless Internet access so we can log on whenever and wherever we want. Check.
- A new group of “friends” in an online social network who we don’t have to spend face-time with in order to call friends. Check.
Can you relate? God forbid that we should ever have to wait on something, because that’s when the real whining and the complaining kick in. I should know.
I’ve been struggling with an ongoing life situation that has got me journaling and praying and reading and discussing up a storm. I don’t understand what God is doing, and I want answers and a flowchart of how this will all be worked out. Right now.
I want to plan my course and make something happen—move the situation along, if I can, and get the results that I think should be had and on my time schedule.
Not long after I have a mental outburst such as this, I am immediately convicted. And I know that this is not the right way to respond. How must God interpret this type of thinking? Does he lovingly shake his head and murmur, “Oh, sweet child. Someday she’ll learn.” Or perhaps I disappoint him because I cannot trust in him without struggling with my desire to first know all the steps he’s planning for me to get from Point A to Point Z.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
His greatness no one can fathom.
One generation will commend your works to another;
They will tell of your mighty acts.
They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and I will meditate on your wonderful works,
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
After reading this passage, I was reminded that it doesn’t matter that I understand what is going on in the world. It doesn’t matter that I can’t control what is or isn’t happening. What matters is that I know and profess that God is great, and that he is good. Period.
Why even struggle with trying to understand the ways of a sovereign God? He alone is worthy of our praise and adoration. Why not just immediately respond with celebration for who he is? Why not just surrender and rest in him? For his answers for our lives are never late and always arrive at just the right time.
“Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.” – Titus 3:14 NASB
Even while teaching spiritual principles and truths, Paul was concerned with practical matters, such as putting faith into action and how to have victory in our daily lives.
When writing to Titus, he stressed the importance of learning “to engage in good deeds.” God’s people need to learn, to make a conscious effort, and to dedicate themselves to practical things. They needed to “meet pressing needs” and live in ways that were not “unfruitful.”
Paul’s concern was that Titus – and other Christians – might not be showing the visible byproduct of living for Jesus. He wanted them to be sure to yield the right kind of fruit and experience God’s ultimate blessings.
He knew this required practical action. For Titus, that meant visiting Paul at Nicopolis where he had “decided to spend the winter” (v. 12). It also meant providing practical assistance to Zenas and Apollos, so they wouldn’t lack anything.
This was part of the process of being employed in “good deeds” by meeting “pressing needs.” It’s reaching out to others, being a good steward, acting in faith, and using the resources we are given to help others in practical ways.
These principles apply today to you. Remember that God wants to bless you. He wants you to experience abundance. But He also wants you to be a good steward and use you to bless others. You have been blessed so that you might be a blessing to others.
God at the Center
Scripture Reading — Psalm 115:1-8
Those who make [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them. — Psalm 115:8
I generally have several “to do” lists, and each one deals with a different area of my life. There’s a “work” list, a “home maintenance” list, a “church” list, and so on. I find these lists helpful for managing my life. But I’ve also found that these lists can easily distort not only my life but also me.
The psalmist says that when we set up idols in our lives, we become like them. An idol can be anything in our lives that becomes more important to us than God is (or should be).
When my lists become too important, I see everything and every person in my world as a task that needs to be crossed off the list. That really distorts the meaning of loving God and my neighbor and caring for people in need. If all they are is an item on my list, I am not loving or caring for them at all. And just as lists are written on two-dimensional sheets of paper, I begin to become a shallow, two-dimensional person.
There are hundreds of “things” that call out to us, saying, “Look! Pay attention to me! I’ll make you happy.” But they are all lying. Money and possessions turn our hearts toward “cold, hard cash.” Sexual pursuits reduce people and relationships to fleeting pleasures. Following all the “right” rules makes us judgmental slaves to a law when God wants us to have spiritual freedom.
We can find true, full life when God alone is at the center.
Lord, help me see the idols and distortions in my life, and grant me the grace and wisdom to cast them aside so that only you are at the center of my life. Amen.