Sunday, July 29, 2007

Exhortation-Loving God

We like to flatter ourselves that ourselves that our faith is believing and that believing somehow means simply hearing or assenting. But the Scriptures hold us to a much higher standard.

1 John 4:20-21 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

You cannot love God and hate your brother. Even here, we flatter ourselves, thinking that we do not have ill, seething feelings towards our brother. But hatred often does not look like ill, seething emotions or even words. Sometimes it comes out in calm or even flattering speech.
Some Christians so flatter themselves that if they SAY nice things then they must be nice. And if they are nice, then they must somehow be a disciple of Jesus. This is the ‘good people’ theory. They are just ‘good people’. But God does not allow for this kind of hypocrisy when the same lips that utter nice words in order to be heard by certain people also utter despising words to other people.

Also, when someone fancies themselves spiritual because they can write spiritual words, God is not mocked when that same person is attracted the world’s allurements, whether money, beautiful things, power, sex, prestige, honor at the world’s table, or many other sins. God sees. God knows. It is just that a hypocrite doesn’t really care if God sees or God knows. They are only playing their game for the eyes of watching men. This is why this person has a hard time being obedient when the restraints of coercive power are removed. When mother and father, husband, minister or friends stop applying the pressure to do what is right, they slip off into sinful behavior, proving what their heart was all along.

We are all prone to this kind of sin. I am not saying that we are all hypocrites but it is true that without God’s ordained means of grace and authority, we would be much more likely to fall into these kinds of sins. We need the authority of fathers and mothers, husbands, ministers and friends to keep us from following our sinful inclinations. These are God’s means of grace to us. But we also need to realize our own sinful inclinations, confess them and repent of them. So that, when we find ourselves free from any coercive powers, we then choose to do what is right because it is right, because it pleases the Lord, because we are following the Holy Spirit.

James 1:22 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Brothers and sisters, do not be deceived, love of God reveals itself in your behavior. That love is expressly revealed by loving your closest neighbors. If you want to measure how much you love God, all you have to do is see how you treat your wife or husband, your children, your parents. To the extent that you have not loved them well, you have not loved Him well. So, let us confess our lack of love of God for our lack of love for them that God may forgive us and enable us to love deeply, as Jesus loved, giving Himself a sacrifice for others.

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