Wednesday, June 12, 2019
So far in our study of a disciple’s job description, we’ve learned to have:
- an awesome reverence of Him for who He is even when circumstances don’t seem to reflect His nature; and,
- a lifestyle that reflects the character of Christ so that we walk in life as He walked when on this earth.
The next requirement of God for His followers is simply stated this way – to love him.
Deut. 10:12 And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to…love him,
2 John 1:6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
These two passages of God’s Word show us the connection between walking in all His ways and loving Him. Love is declared to be a walk of obedience to God’s commands. As we look further we discover Jesus summarizing all of God’s commands with one command – that we walk in love.
Our human nature leans heavily upon performance. We find ourselves trapped by the belief that being a Christian can be reduced to obedience to a list of rules and regulations. We measure our spiritual maturity by the number of checkmarks we have next to items on the list, with each checkmark representing a “victory” over what we call sin. Don’t smoke or drink – that’s two checkmarks. Don’t dance or play cards – two more checks. Read only the King James Version of the Bible – another check. Don’t go to movies and don’t associate with anyone who does any of the things on our list – check, check, and more checks. These lists are nothing more than a self-imposed standard of righteousness designed to artificially inflate our spiritual value in our own eyes.
The natural progression of such a performance-based mentality is that we elevate our own spiritual position even higher by comparing our list and the number of checkmarks on it to the lists of others. We become critical and judgmental of all who have not “achieved” what we have “achieved”. We become exactly like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time whom He called “children of their father the devil”. If we are ever confronted with the possibility that we could be like the Pharisees, we storm out of the church and flood the community with criticisms of the pastor and people. We inflict irreparable damage and pain on the Body of Christ. Somehow, we believe we are satisfying the Spirit of God and being obedient to His commands.
We have but one path to walk to be in complete obedience to God – LOVE! Jesus breaks it down into two parts, but it is still all love. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Why do we so quickly fall into comparative spirituality with fellow humans when the standard of love and righteousness is Christ and not man? How can we get so deep into self-validation that we diminish and destroy the work of grace in the life of another person? Here’s why, because we love self more than we love God. That is the simple truth, yet we deny that it is true for us.
We deny that we are attempting to earn love from God by our checklists. We deny the spiritual bondage that exists in our life that causes us to self-validate our spiritual maturity through comparisons with other Christians. We do not yet understand the marvelous message of Grace: all are sinners, all can be forgiven equally by Jesus Christ, and all who are forgiven are unconditionally and fully accepted by God and qualified as an equal heir with Christ of all things! There is no distinction!
Hallelujah! That’s love. And because of that love we can love God and love others. The lifestyle of love will create an atmosphere in our lives where the Holy Spirit will be able to generate the character of Jesus Christ, which will then be reflected in our lifestyle choices. Those choices will be motivated by love for Christ, not the desire to earn love from Christ, and certainly not from the desire to appear more spiritual than someone else.
The only distinctive characteristic of the Christian’s walk is love. Nothing more is required. Nothing less is desired by those who truly know Him.
Let love be lived!