“The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them to serve one another.” – 1 Peter 4:7-10
We are told by Jesus that the greatest commandments are to “love the Lord your God… [and] love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:29-31) We are also told by Paul that if we don’t operate out of love, “it profits [us] nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) Love, without a doubt, is the defining characteristic of someone who has been saved by Jesus Christ (see John 13:35). However, what does this “love” look like? Is it merely something we say to each other, or is it something much greater?
This passage in 1 Peter 4 has been my crutch throughout my brief time in ministry. I am absolutely thankful to my mentor in ministry for showing me this passage, as it has helped me through years of hard times and heartbreak. For all of us, there will come times when we say or do the wrong thing and upset someone that is near to us. It is in love that those wounds can be mended and a relationship restored. As my mentor taught me, “You will mess up eventually. The difference is in whether or not they know you love them. If you show love for those people, they will forgive you. If they don’t know you love them, that relationship may never be restored.”
Love is an action; it is something that is shown to others through deed, not just word. Love is something that is felt and seen, not simply something that is heard. You need to show love to others in order for it to be real. Sometimes it is as simple as showing up to a graduation ceremony or taking someone out for a meal, or as difficult as forgiving an individual for a serious sin against you. Love can be shown in a variety of ways, but still needs to be shown, not just said.
How will you show love to others around you today? This week? This year? Is there someone who needs a phone call or a comforting shoulder to cry on? Is there someone who needs a roof over their head, or a meal in their stomach, that you can help provide? What are you willing to do to show love?
We are preparing to Seek Grow and Love in 2020 with a chronological Bible reading plan. Now is a great time to download and print your plan 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan and subscribe to SeekGrowLove.com to receive daily devotions based on each day’s Bible reading. Show your love for your Heavenly Father by reading His love letter to you.
FREE THEME – Loving through Service
This past week I went to Love Grows, a weekend youth retreat focused on growing your love for others through service. Throughout the weekend we were striving to follow Jesus’ teachings when he told us the two greatest commandments: Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39). This is so important to live by daily. If we love God then we will love others. We need to express unconditional love to everyone, always. By doing this we can train ourselves to see God’s work that needs to be done. Ask God for courage to step out of your comfort zone to do His work. Thankfully, God has given us spiritual gifts, talents, and passions to serve those around us. So use them.
One easy way to show love to others is to serve them. As Christians it’s our responsibility to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Thankfully we can look to the best example of a servant’s heart. Jesus. The most exciting part is that there are so many different ways to shine and serve. It could be as simple as giving someone a hug or a high five. Or even easier, smiling. Whatever it may be, take a minute of your time to invest in someone else’s life. Compliment. Listen. Encourage. It’s amazing how big of an impact a little kindness can have. We just have to keep our eyes open for opportunities.
I want strangers to be able to know that I am different. I want people to see God in me. And I hope you all have similar goals. The only hitch is that it has to be more than just a goal. We need to act in order to make it reality. We should make it a priority. Jesus called us to be different. Be the change. We have a higher calling. Higher standards. Higher expectations. Jesus is calling you to love.
In this chapter of Matthew, we see many ways in which people are trying to trap Jesus. It turns out that Jesus is a masterful logician and manages to find the perfect response to all the questions that he is faced with. Let’s look at how we can use these same tactics in our life.
The Loaded Question – Matthew 22:15-22
The first trap in this chapter is the one laid out for Jesus by a group of Pharisees and Herodians, Jews and Romans. They ask Jesus if it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. If Jesus says that you should pay taxes to Caesar than the Pharisees can come after him for collusion with the Roman government (the Jewish oppressor). If he says not to pay taxes, then the Herodians can go after him for tax evasion. This is a loaded question. It comes with certain assumptions that put the person being asked into a lose-lose situation. A common example that most people are familiar with is, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” If you answer yes, then you admit to beating your wife in the past. If you answer no, you admit to currently beating your wife. The correct way to answer a question like this, as Jesus does, is to reframe the question and tear down the underlying assumption. Essentially, he gives a non-answer. “Give to Caesar what is Caesars’ and give to God what is God’s.” He implies that you should pay taxes but also suggests that the money belongs to God in the end anyways (see psalm 24:1). He also gives the impression that he is neither for nor against the Roman government. In the same way you should respond: “I have never beaten my wife.”
Reductio Ad Absurdum – Matthew 22:23-33
The Sadducees try to get Jesus by using a logical argument called reductio ad absurdum. They took Jesus’ position, that the dead will be raised to life, and pushed it to its extreme limits to prove that it must be false. This is a technique that is often used by people outside the religious community. One example of this is when people argue for abortion. They will inevitably ask you if it is acceptable for a woman to have her baby aborted if the baby was conceived through rape. They are trying to take the pro-life position that it is wrong to kill babies in the womb and push it to an extreme example to show that the position is wrong. However, this tactic shouldn’t work on you, nor did it work on Jesus when the Sadducees tried it on him. Jesus pointed out that their understanding of the resurrection was fundamentally flawed. They didn’t understand what would take place, that men and women will be raised to be like angels in heaven, without being given in marriage. First, he destroyed their absurd argument: men and women won’t be married at all. And secondly, he proceeded to school them on the explicit statements in the Scripture: God is the God of the living, not the dead. In the same way, you should respond to these types of arguments. First, everyone acknowledges that rape is a horrible act and the perpetrator should not go unpunished. Secondly, one sin does not elicit another; killing children is always wrong.
The False Premise – Matthew 22:34-40
Once again, the Pharisees try to trap Jesus with a question that they believe has no sufficient answer. They ask, “What is the greatest commandment?” This question can’t be answered. No matter the answer that Jesus gives, the Pharisees will not be satisfied. However, Jesus can tell that they are trying to trick him and call them out on it. He knows that the question relies on a false premise: there is a single commandment that is greatest. Jesus refuses to answer the question on their terms and gives them an unexpected response. He says that all scriptural law can be based on two commandments alone. This is a technique that I like to use when people ask me, “How can a good and just God allow children to suffer?” My response is actually quite simple and similar to Jesus’ response to the pharisees. I reject the presupposition that God allows those children to suffer and respond with “God is good and just. And people suffer.” The questioner assumes that those two statements are contradictory when they really aren’t. Rather than going along with their assumption that God is responsible for suffering, you should reject their premise outright.
Hi! I’m Blair and this week I want to focus on what we are called to do for others and how we should go about these tasks.
Which commandment is the greatest, this was a question that the pharisees asked Jesus, but they were not expecting his answer. (Mark 12:28-34) Jesus gave us our two greatest commandments, love God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
This doesn’t mean the other commandments are null and void but they can all be encompassed under the simple phrase, love God and love people. Jesus shows us this countless times, he shows compassion to everyone! Regardless of who they are, or what they do, by doing this he is a living example of God’s love. We should take after his example and show kindness to people, and through this show God’s love.
Thursday, May 4
Is it possible to love someone without liking them? I have heard many people say that it is possible. I suspect they believe that love is more of an action than a feeling, and since they are willing to act in a loving way to someone they don’t like, they believe it is possible to love someone without liking them. That thinking never sat real well with me through the years, but I couldn’t really come up with a solid reason of why that was so. Then one day it hit me as I was reading the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:36-40. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Jesus listed three different ways that we are to love someone, with our heart, soul, and mind.
I believe that loving someone with our mind has to do with our thoughts and intentions. True, an intention that is never acted on is pretty worthless, but I would say if you had the intention, you love that person more than someone who didn’t even have the intention. If you desire to send someone a card to get them through a rough time, you are loving them with your mind even if the card is never sent.
If you love someone with your soul, I believe you are loving them with your life or your actions. You actually send the card. So in a way, I agree that it is possible to love someone without liking them because it would be a true act of love to send the card even if you didn’t like the person.
However, if you love someone without liking them, you would be missing the third part of love that Jesus referred to, the heart of the matter. He said we need to love God with all of our heart. I believe this has to do with the feelings or “liking” part of love. Moreover, if we are to love God with our hearts, we should love people the same way if we are to love them in a complete way. So yes, if you love someone, you should also like them. If you don’t like them, you are missing one of the ways to love someone.
But what about the jerks out there that are soooo hard to love? They may have wronged you and not felt any remorse. They might hate your guts still today. How is it possible to like these people? Suppose a brother killed a sister. Do you think the mother would still have feelings for her son? I think it is very likely that the mother would still love the son dearly even though she would be distraught at what he did. And that is the key; you don’t have to like someone’s actions to like the person. It is possible to still like someone without liking what they did to you.
I want to go one step further with this. If you are having trouble liking someone, I would strongly suggest that you need to forgive them. If you have hard feelings toward someone, you are holding something against them, which means you have not forgiven them. If you do not forgive them, God will not forgive you. I encourage you to think about all of the relationships you have (school, work, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, people you go to church with, etc.) and identify anyone that you have hard feelings about. If you are having trouble liking them, you need to forgive them…today.
(Photo Credit: http://www.bibleverseimages.com/love-bible-verse-7.htm)