Created Friday, Dec. 10, 1999 Updated Jun. 12, 2013
"Rather than pursue the gifts of the spirit, we should pursue the fruits of the spirit."
The Most Important Pursuit of a Christian
Isn't it kind of funny! When you encounter a religious group or individual who has something to say, or you hear about them in the news media, what do they promote? Even more important, what do they promote among themselves? What is their focus? I can tell you what it isn't! And that is love! Of course, the word deserves some clarity for it is an over used and often ambiguous word.
For many Christians, being born-again is very important. Quite a few are incensed about abortion and want to stop it. Some may stress baptism. Some think it is God's Kingdom. Some focus on the end of the world and other prophecies. Some think the gifts of the spirit are very important. Some will spend all their time on the trinity if they encounter an anti-trinitarian to the exclusion of all other topics. Some are definitely consumed with a social ministry. That seems to be on the right track but is it possible that it is still somewhat misguided in the pursuit of love. I will explain in a while.
Now admittedly, love is not really something you preach, it is something you practice. Do they practice it? And the things they do pursue - do they have love as the goal or result of their efforts. I think it is important to look carefully at this as the Bible does stress love as the most important pursuit in a Christian's life. First, lets look at the Bible's view of what is most important for Christians.
All these scriptures are from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
1 John 4:
7 Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit.
1 John 4:
16 So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
17 In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.
19 We love, because he first loved us.
20 If any one says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
21 And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.
1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
Incidentally, these scriptures quoted from 1 John are almost identical to those spoken by Jesus in John chapters 13 &15. And added to them are these:
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
John 15:12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
From these scriptures it would seem pretty important to give love some special attention as Christians. I could put more of Jesus words up here showing the same thing but it would be kind of redundant. You get the point, I hope. Now see what Paul says:
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;
5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for
tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect;
10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.
13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Cor. 14:1 Make love your aim
We need to look at Paul's words more closely. Love is easy to say but what does it really mean? The word has often been misused. The Greek language actually doesn't have a word that corresponds with love. It uses 4 different words that focus on various types of love. But the love we have read about comes from the Greek "agape." A love based upon principle and not to be confused with romantic/erotic love, or family love among others. Now Paul said he could do all the greatest things in the world like having great gifts of the spirit, prophetic powers, all the knowledge in the world, give all his wealth to the poor, etc. But if he didn't do them with love then it was all for nothing and he was nothing.
Do you know of any religions who give lots of charity? But do they do it with love? I see plenty of people who claim to have the gifts of the spirit. But do they have love? I see those who conduct large ministries on TV and traveling around to different places. But do they show love? Maybe they do, maybe they don't. But if they don't, then it is all meaningless. We don't want our efforts going to the drain do we? So lets examine love and see what it is.
Paul says that love is patient and kind. Some translations use "long suffering," "suffereth long," or "never tired of waiting" in place of "patient." The idea is that they are not quick to give up on someone, not quick to judge them. They look at others over the long term and not judge by just one or two incidents that might stand out to them. Patience means not getting easily irritated with someone. Paul mentions not getting irritated or resentful. You learn to accept a certain amount of error in people and overlook personality flaws that aren't too out of line (like murder might be). You can't expect perfection in others. That is long suffering and patience. A Christian must have it. And wouldn't kindness also include warmth and pleasantness, politeness, appreciation, and respect. I would think so.
Love is not jealous, envious, boastful, arrogant or rude. One should not resent what others may have. That could lead to stealing or destroying what someone else has. One should not boast or brag so as to elevate themselves and perhaps put others down in comparison. If one has more talent, skill, ability, or beauty, they are grateful and do not rub it in other's faces because that causes hurt and pain, perhaps making them feel in adequate. Love does not inflict hurt and pain. Love avoids those things. And don't we all hate one who is arrogant and rude? Isn't it because they are showing us a lack of respect and dignity but not taking us into consideration but thinking only of themselves when they act arrogant or rude? Rudeness has no regard for the feelings of others. But love always is gentle and concerned with the feelings of others.
And certainly love should be considerate of people's welfare. If someone was heading for trouble, wouldn't you want to help them avoid it if possible? If you could give them advice or guidance that could help them or really make a difference in their lives, wouldn't you do it? You definitely wouldn't want to lie or mislead someone or give them bad advice, right?
Some translations mention being slow to anger or slow to take offense. Yes, love does not have an ego or think too much of itself to the exclusion of the feelings of others. Love does not easily get insulted. Love looks the other way and lets offenses pass. Love avoids anger.
Love does not insist on its own way. Yes, love is yielding, giving, and self-sacrificing. Not selfish by any means. It is understanding and sympathetic. It does not rejoice at wrong. It delights in right, in justice, in fairness, in decency.
Love bears all things. Yes, it puts up with a lot. It believes all things, it gives the benefit of the doubt. It hopes all things, endures all things. Love, does indeed, endure a lot and looks ahead. It doesn't get stuck looking just at the present. Love does not easily give up on people.
Love is quite a bit, isn't it? Perhaps some of you say, yes, but who could possibly live up to all that? Well, it is quite a lot to ask and most likely, none of us are capable of being that way all the time with out a little failure each and every day. But do we aim our sights low or do we shoot for the stars so to speak? If I told an athlete, perhaps a runner, please just don't' finish last, am I giving him much to try for? Not really. And if that is his only goal, he will not likely win a medal, either. In order to place in the top three, he will need to shoot for first place, right?
It is the same with us. God gives us the perfect standard to pursue to the best of our ability. He and we both know we will not be perfect at doing it. But hopefully we will do a fairly good, reasonable job of keeping those commandments. We definitely need to try if we are to please God. To ignore the standard will jeopardize our relationship with God and His Son. I wouldn't recommend that to any Christians.
So doing good deeds is nothing without love, without having the person's best interest at heart. And love means a lot, doesn't it? If I give to the poor but look down on them or treat them with contempt, am I really being nice and loving to them with my charity? Definitely not! If I am smarter than anyone else in the world but brag and act arrogant, am I really all that impressive? Am I showing any regard for those not as smart as me (if I were the smartest which unfortunately I am not)? Or more importantly, am I a Christian if I do that? Am I showing love? What I want to stress is that if we have a person's best interest at heart, then we want to do something for them that they will not take the wrong way. Their feelings need to be taken into account. Often, those feelings are not part of the equation. That is the failure we must correct.
Many preachers and ministers of various denominations speak of many things to their flocks. They may speak to people at large as well. What do they recommend? What is their main emphasis? Go to the various religious web sites and what do you read? What you should be reading somewhere and hearing more than other things is the topic of love. Of course, many of us are interested in prophecy and doctrine. There is nothing wrong with that. But my experience is that most do not often mention love or zero in on what exactly it means to have love and how to show love. Why?
It is nice to tell everyone that Jesus loves them and that they are born-again and saved. No doubt that makes them feel special and possibly gives them a feeling of superiority over the heathen masses. That is not a good result, is it? Or they can preach about how to feel good about yourself and have self-esteem. But do we profit from always blabbering about such things. To me, the best way to feel good about yourself and what your doing is to show love to other people. Of course, there are a significant number of church goers and TV watchers who might not want to hear about how they fall short of God's standards and that they need to pursue improvement and show love, perhaps in a larger way. That might make people feel uncomfortable and require some real personal effort and examination and that might not make us feel so good. It certainly might not help solicit those precious donations they beg for every meeting.
People want to hear nice things. Paul says in:
2 Timothy 4:
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings,
4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.
Some translations describe it as people wanting their ears
tickled. But what a contrast that is with what Solomon, the assumed
writer of Ecclesiastes, says in Chapter 7:
2 & 4:
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It is nice to hear something pleasant once in a while. But living a proper life that pleases God is not a matter to take lightly. Our lives could depend on it and they do. It is something to be considered with all seriousness. It is much like our diet. In order to be healthy, our diet needs to be balanced with variety. Some things tasty with some things plain. Being a Christian certainly requires courage for it is not easy to make an examination of one's self and be willing to find fault or deficiency. But as Paul said:
Hebrews 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
This kind of advice is in direct conflict with that feel-good ministry that is often poured down our throats for our consumption. But it does not good to feel good if there is not a solid basis for that "feeling." We need to make examination to make sure that our self-esteem has some real merit and doesn't just exists in our overly active imaginations and in the deception of our own treacherous hearts.
Now what about social charity that is performed by some churches or ministries? Well, I see several pitfalls that one would want to avoid. First, for those that give or donate, do they imagine that this absolves them from needing to show love for those close to them, those they work with or those on their street or in their neighborhood? Maybe even their own families? Do they say, "Well, I gave to the United Way so I am doing my part." That could be just a cop out because they really want to avoid anything really personal or something that might require them take spend some real time with someone helping out or making some real personal changes so that they are move pleasant to be around. So one wants to be careful there.
Further, one could think that they were especially wonderful and better than most for they give to charity. This, too, would be wrong. Or maybe he is hoping to get attention, recognition, and glory. Remember that Paul said love does not brag. Consider what Jesus said in:
1 Take care not to do your good works before men, to be seen by them; or you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 When then you give money to the poor, do not make a noise about it, as the false-hearted men do in the Synagogues and in the streets, so that they may have glory from men. Truly, I say to you, They have their reward.
3 But when you give money, let not your left hand see what your right hand does:
4 So that your giving may be in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will give you your reward.
Bragging, showing off, wanting attention or a pat on the back for what you are doing. These are all wrong according to the Bible. But I see lots of people doing that you say. I know. I do, too. Lots of prominent people often do so. Many people we know, too. Perhaps you and I have done so in the past ourselves. But we can't continue to do so and yet please God. We have to start doing such things in secret so as not to have our motives questioned. God will reward us later. That is why Jesus always told those he healed not to make mention of what he did for them. Then some could have claimed that he was just into getting attention and showing off. Going for the glory. That was not his purpose in healing people.
And now for the churches and ministries. They help the poor, disabled, or whoever. But are the underprivileged always trying to help themselves. Don't get me wrong. Many are trying and that's good but it would make no sense to try and elevate those who had no ambition to elevate themselves. Jesus only fed people so they could listen to what he had to say without worrying about the mundane physical cares or being distracted by hunger or thirst and the like. He no doubt wanted to show them the power of God as well. But is it in underprivileged people's best interest to give and not ask for respect and appreciation back? And is it fair of them to expect our help when they will not help themselves? What lessons are we teaching them if we do that? Will their lives improve after we leave or stop giving, having pulled them up and out or will they sink right back into their abyss?
When churches give today, do they require that people give some attention to the church's message of God? What? They don't offer a message of God to the people? Don't they care about the future welfare of the people they feed and clothe? They should! To give food, clothing, and shelter and not give the word of God seems unbelievable. I never saw Jesus do that. Should anyone expect to receive charity and not listen to what you might have to say? Such people would be showing no appreciation or respect for what was being done for them. They would not be worthy of charity. Jesus said:
(Matthew 7:6) "Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you."
People who show no appreciation for what you give do not deserve your charity. Keep the money and give your time and/or money to those who will appreciate it. It is also wise to consider that professional charities require advertising and administrative people to collect donations and distribute the donations raised. So much of your money goes to fund-raising and paying the people who work there rather than the people you are trying to help with your charity. It is not that a charity does so deliberately. It is not something you can avoid. TV costs $$$. Ads cost $$$. And someone has to manage it all and coordinate it.
It is a very firm conviction of mine that no one should ask you to make more of a sacrifice than they are willing to make themselves. So if you are only making $20,000 a year and the person running the charity takes a $40,000 a year salary out of the charity funds, then that person has no business asking for your $$$. That is my opinion. That person is making more than you. That person does not ever have to sacrifice as much as you for they make considerably more. And I am being quite generous in assuming that they only make $40,000. Some make a good deal more than that. I am speaking of Administrators.
How about some evangelists like Pat Robertson. He lives in a 3 million dollar mansion, allegedly from funds originating from money obtained from donations to his ministry. He may not legally own the place but he gets to live in it. What kind of sacrifice is he really making for the Lord? Sounds to me like he is doing better than nearly anyone except the very filthy rich. Jesus didn't even have a place of his own nor any possessions, either. Let's see these preachers do that! And I am not talking about slick legal maneuvers that leave them technically without a house or car but they still live in mansions and drive luxury cars and fly in chartered jets if they don't have one owned by the "ministry."
If the IRS did a lifestyle audit of these individuals (are you listening, fellas?), they would have to assess huge salaries to these men for the compensation and benefits they received, it would come with quite a price tag. Hardly sounds like poverty or modest living to me. I would hope that at the least, they would be very hospitable and invite people of little means over to play tennis and enjoy the nice swimming pool or whatever. But you can bet you will not see that, either. So I think they are a complete failure in representing Christ.
I know some charity administrators will say, "Well, I am a skilled money raiser and so I am worth the big salary. They may, indeed, be doing a good job for getting money for the charity. The problem is they are keeping more of it, too. And they are saying, don't do as I do but do as I say. Care more than I care by sacrificing more than I sacrifice. I can't except that. But how much do their contributors get to keep if they make a lot less. And for every dollar the charity raisers keep, that is one dollar less to go to the people who need it, who are the reason for the charity in the first place. I, myself, would never give to a charity who has any members/employees who make more than I do and make it from that charity. I don't care if they make a lot somewhere else and volunteer their time for the charity. That's fine. That's acceptable.
Given the poor return on many charity donations because of overhead expenses in raising the money and the questionable value of some of the charities to begin with, (the charities are going to love me, aren't they?) I think the money is better spent on situations that you are directly acquainted with. It is most definitely painful to see people and children in other parts of the world suffering. There can't be any question about that. But then I ask, am I responsible for the plight they are in? Is it my fault?
Why isn't their government doing something to help? Why are mega rich multi-national corporations not doing something with their wealth and power to change this? They certain have more ability to change the world than I do? The rich and powerful have a lot to answer for. It is they who must bear the primary responsibility for the suffering and misery that exist everywhere. It could stop tomorrow if they wanted to stop it. Obviously, they lack the desire to do so. These are only my opinions, of course. I know some of them might say that they have no more control or power over things than I do. You don't honestly believe that, do you? Well, maybe you do but as far as I am concerned, it is "self-evident" that they certainly do have plenty of wealth, control, and power. This article and this site are not for the naïve, gullible, or those fast asleep in case you forgot what I said at the door of this site. But you can be assured that God, indeed, will make the powerful and the rich answer for their deeds or lack, thereof. I do not burden my conscience with excessive guilt.
Certainly there are terrible diseases out there that would be nice to cure. But isn't that better served by the government who extracts tremendous sums of our money in taxes of various and sometimes hidden sorts? Instead of spending trillions on military expenditures, and dishing out generous amounts of foreign aid (in the billions), couldn't they give a little bit more to their own people and make sure that everyone is taken care of before they spend all that money on weapons of murder and control? They might say that this would cost so much that they would become defensively weak militarily. They are likely hoping you don't know how much they spend in their military budget as well as in espionage and other secret unaccounted or mis-accounted budgets. Otherwise you would know what a ridiculous lie that was. My opinion only!
And how about some laws to protect people better? Doesn't the government bear the largest amount of responsibility for its citizens? Doesn't it care that many are homeless, poor, hungry, sick, or whatever? They should care! They have plenty of money; they just spend it wrong! And how about those rich benevolent corporations in our country who are always reminding us of how charitable and philanthropic they are? Why don't they do something? After all, they are the ones giving lots of money to politicians to help get them elected. Why don't they put pressure on the politicians to do more for the needy? In my opinion, it is the corporations who are the real ruling force behind our government, anyway. It is high time people started to ask some serious questions about the way your world is being run and how your money is being spent.
Oh, yes, and by the way, our generous government gives plenty of tax breaks and tax write-offs and other corporate welfare to those poor corporations. Come now, people! It is very wrong to place so much burden of guilt on the average citizen for the problems of the world. The average citizen does not deserve it and should not let it bother him. The big boys deserve much more of the guilt and blame and that is where God will level the blame. You'll see.
So don't worry when you see people starving around the world. In almost all cases, if you understood the politics as I do, you might conclude like I do that the governments of the countries they live in are deliberately starving them, trying to force them into cities or trying to wipe out a certain rival political group. Rarely is the cause ever a legitimate one. Over-population makes people desperate and willing to accept nearly any terms. It is easy to get beautiful women to serve as prostitutes if they come from poor families. It is easy to get child-slave labor if they are from poor destitute families. They are willing to tolerate poor working conditions cause their backs are against the wall. The big boys would love to have those conditions in the US. Give them a little more time and they will. Can you see the evil and greed that is behind the horrible conditions that the big boys like to ignore? They ignore it because they benefit from it, big time!!!. It is time to wake up and understand what is really going on, folks. You're asleep.
If you help these people and not tell them why they are in the mess they are in, are you really looking out for their welfare? But if you did tell, do you think your charity would be welcome in that country? I doubt it. Do you see the real problem here. People love to take advantage of and use other people. Don't we do the same when we expect someone to live off of a minimum wage and treat them like crap on the job? Don't we do the same when we don't legislate limits on the legal loan sharks known as credit card companies. Don't we do the same when we try to rip others off by lying, cheating, or misrepresenting something? Doesn't that happen a lot in the US like anywhere else. Of course it does! But a Christian should be above all that. They should not stoop to such treachery. They would be a rare minority but that is what God requires. It should give us all good reason to take a closer look at ourselves to see if we are really living up to God's standards.
I try to help those I directly see, those I am acquainted with or know of. All my money and time will go to them directly. Do we take an interest in our neighbors and their well being? Are their kids in your own community who could use some help and attention? Do we give enough attention to our own children and mates? Before helping others, we need to make sure our own are cared for. Otherwise we are just hypocrites for as Paul said in 1 Timothy 5:8:
1 Timothy 5:8 If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
So before one can worry about the welfare of others, he best make sure his own are cared for or his charity will be in vain. Charity begins at home. Do your kids get lots of love and attention? Do you put the newspaper down and listen to your wife and kids? Do you take time out from watching TV to do things with them? Maybe you need to give your family more attention before worrying about charity to others.
I don't want to imply that charity is not worth pursuing. But make sure that charity is not in vain and that other matters such as ones own family are cared for first. And consider those in your own community before going beyond that. I personally believe that if one cares for their family and community, one is doing more than he will be able to handle. It will suffice.
It is my opinion that if we all showed kindness and treated each others feelings with tenderness and respect, showed politeness in all our conduct, showed patience and understanding to all, and were generous to all, that we would have a very nice world to live in. The fact we do not live in a decent world indicates to me that we have failed to show a lot of love to our fellow man and we had better sober up and start doing so before we end up killing each other in the streets. If we showed love to each other, we would be accomplishing far more than we would through charity. Think about it!
Was it not a lack of respect and complete disregard on the part of students for the feelings of others that moved 2 boys in Colombine to shoot and kill 13 students? What they did was not right but neither was what the other students did in teasing the boys and being abusive to them. 2 wrongs do not make a right. Would employers pay a humiliating and unfair minimum wage if they really cared about the people they employ and how the low pay was affecting the employees lives? When you or I care, there are often limits as to how we can affect the world and life. But if all the small people, which is most of us, applied love in our lives, many of life's problems would solve themselves. And we would gain much more if everyone did it. Then those with real wealth and power who could really make a difference.
They might say, lets be satisfied with just a few million in profits rather than hundreds of millions. What if that big CEO of Mega Big Corp. who ordinarily thinks he is worth a bonus of millions instead said, I think I can get by on 1 or 2 million instead of 9 or 16 million. Give the rest to the employees. And then Mega Big Corp. and its stockholders say, yeah, we don't need as much, either. Why don't we reduce our dividends and give the excess to the employees. How much different would the world be! And how about if Mega Big Corp. decided that rather than pay people in some third world country the minimum wage of 13 cents an hour, they would pay them 3 times that - a whopping 39 cents an hour. Then conditions would really improve for those people and those around them, too. And Mega Big Corp. would still make huge profits for they were used to paying US workers $8 an hour for the same work.
And rather than corporations putting pressure on politicians to pass laws that let corporations run roughshod over ordinary citizens, laborers, and the environment, they might honor the people with decency, humane treatment, and respect. Yeah, I know. I've got to stop taking those weird prescription drugs. OK, so it sounds far-fetched and almost laughable (in between the sobs) but isn't my point well taken? Love is what is lacking in our society. And while the rich and powerful will not join in the fun, we would still live in a much more pleasant world if we would just care more about others. This would do far more to improve the world than contributing to some charity. I don't think there can be any question about that, can there? Our world fails because we as individuals fail. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Each one of us could make a difference if we wanted to. Most don't want to. We have a choice and we squander it. That is the biggest tragedy of life. It could have been so much and we have chosen so little. But I have decided that whether we live or die, I don't want to be a part of that failure to realize my potential. I want to be as decent as I can be so I do not hold a large measure of blame when it all comes down in flames. That is what God is asking. As far as it is possible with you, don't be a part of the mess and the misery. Be different. Be caring. Be a real Christian, a real child of God, a son of light, and not the fake and the phony.
But really, in the long and short run, isn't trying to change our personalities and improve ourselves much more of a challenge? So much more in fact, that it is more desirable to just let things go as they are and do nothing. Or we could make some token donation to a charity to absolve ourselves of any guilt. But aren't we just kidding ourselves and lying to ourselves? But for a Christian, there can be none of that. A Christian must bite the bullet and look at themselves honestly and determine to make improvements in themselves if they are to please God. That is real love.
There can't be any question that expanding our love won't be trying. People can be quite nasty, rude, arrogant, apathetic, cold, uncaring, and/or whatever. That can make it tough. But the odd thing about love is that it can sometimes break other people down and make them better people, too, even if only for the minute. Though it may not be often enough, it is very satisfying and fulfilling when it does happen. And one knows that they are pleasing God when they show love and patience. Besides, all who look forward to the salvation of God should understand that whether they are destined for Heaven or Earth in God's Kingdom, they will not automatically be sweet wonderful people. They will still need to make the effort to change themselves. That is why God expects us to be trying to do so now. We may not reach perfection but trying indicates our willingness and qualifies us to be allowed continue trying do so after the day of judgment until we reach perfection.
Peter also mentioned something that gives us another advantage of
love. In writing wives in regards to their unbelieving husbands he
1 Peter 3:1 "though they [the husbands] do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives"
Actions speak louder than words! Isn't that what Peter is saying? Don't you hate it when you run into someone preachy? They can often be annoying. Even more so if they do not live up to what they preach. They are much more impressive when they show by the way they act and treat you that they are really nice, decent, warm, and respectful people. You will stand out more in a good way by good conduct than by telling everyone that they are sinners and need to be saved. Save them with your love and warmth rather than with your words. Many people will be drawn by your kindness and love. Words will not be necessary. And words will have much more power when you have gained their trust and respect first.
It is my opinion that what is lacking most in the world judging from the horrible state it is currently in, is love. That is what people are most desparate for. So what do you give someone dying of thirst? Water, maybe? So if they are dying for love, what do you give them? Words? The trinity? Gifts of the Spirit? Prophecy? Well, how about love? Love can heal. Love can inspire. Love can do nearly anything if given a chance. But can you see the pointlessness of speaking of things that aren't relevant? What good are doctrines in the face people who need warmth, understanding, and caring?
I don't mean to say that other topics of scripture are not important. Many of them relate to love and God's Kingdom. They should not be ignored. But love should be the foremost thing preached to believers and practiced by believers. It should be the foremost focus. Most Christians do not even give a lot of lip service to love. They think that other things previously mentioned are more important. But the Bible does not support that view. Neither does logic.
When one approaches someone with the word of God, do they do so with love of the person in mind? If so, shouldn't they bring up the word of God with consideration of the person's feelings? But often, I see people's feelings not respected when "preached" to. Some may be scared or intimidated. Could there be a better way of reaching them if you are familiar or acquainted them? Becoming a good friend rather than preachy? If not familiar with them, is there a more effective way to preach? Why not use literature rather than personal words. But always keep in mind the feelings and dignity of the person your sharing the word of God with.
And when you bring up a doctrine, is it your intention to change the person's point of view? Isn't it more important to understand exactly what it is that they believe first? And shouldn't you attempt to learn why they might believe the way they do? Is there something in their past that gives them the opinions and ideas they have? In order to "treat" someone, you have to get to know them and understand them. If you do, you may find more sympathy for them and why they are the way they are.
It is easy to judge or condemn someone as bad or disgusting or whatever. But it is not loving. Love is patience, right? There is no substitute for getting to genuinely know someone. Many evangelizers I have met don't really care about people, they just want to win over people to the Lord, so to speak. They don't want to get too personal. "Oh, I don't have the time for that." Then maybe you have no business preaching on behalf of the Lord.
And as always, one should attend to a person's physical needs if
they are in need just as Jesus did before he preached a sermon to
people. James asks in:
James 2:15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?
Love must be accompanied by real actions. One can't just say they love. One has to prove it by the way they act, what they do. Otherwise, you would be a hypocrite.
One might read the Bible ten times over and know every word by heart but without love . . . well, you know! One might convert half the nation, but without love, it is nothing! Are you convinced by now? Understanding the Bible and God's will is important. Reading the Bible is important. But most important is showing love for people. It may be hard at first but with practice and effort it will start to bear fruit.
But lets be real clear on something here. Love takes real effort and work. Caring takes real effort and work. It is not easy, it is hard. It is a challenge, a strain, a struggle. It is not for the weak of heart or those with no resolve. Hell, if it was easy then everyone would do it. It is precisely because it is hard that so few do it. But anything worth having is worth working for, and working hard. It is worth the effort and struggle. While love is hard to pursue, it does have very big payoffs. So muster up your courage and strength and with patience and long-suffering, you will eventually receive a handsome reward if you endure.
The Ultimate Love
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Oh, I am going to fool you on this one. Bear with me. This article was one of a handful I first wrote in Dec. 1999. I then added a section or so in 2009. But today in 2013, it suddenly dawned on me and here we are. I had long been thinking of the major theme over the last few years that to not use your brain to its fullest ability is a sin against yourself and God, who gave you that marvelous miraculous brain. I stand by that. But I now have an even better explanation for why that is.
I was telling my father of yet another article discussing the "cloak of invisibility." It has been discussed in scientific realms and given lots of attention in the press. To many, if not most, it sounds too far off and fantasy like. But to those who know about all the clandestine technology alleged and somewhat verifiable, if you accept the rules of conspiracy investigation I have concocted (but have yet to fully publish, but will get to it).
I pondered to my father that there was no excuse for not being curious and wanting to know about things. No excuse for not caring about things around you. Not having any real interest in benefiting and protecting yourself through useful knowledge and wisdom. Why was that? And there is was in my head, suddenly. So many people today are so wrapped up exclusively in themselves, they could care less about anyone else around them or anything else. They are obsessed, exclusively, with what they want, what they are feeling, what they are experiencing, what they think (which is very little).
My proof? Look at all this stupid twitter stuff, facebook updates, cell phone pictures sent to all their friends, immediate texting and messages, so that you can show the world everything going on in your insignificant life, as if it was major news and an entirely new revelation from God. We have blown our own self importance and significance so far out of proportion. We have become clueless.
I know some pictures are amazing. I am not completely against cell phones or whatever. But it has always been a fact of life that we need to filter out the least important things in life and focus on the most important. We need the right sense of priorities. Our parents have grossly failed us because they and their generation have failed to distinguish what is truly important and meaningful and got totally side-tracked on the stupid and trivial, leaving their kids in the dark, knowledge wise and love wise.
Worse, parents have spoiled their kids, taught them to be selfish and self-centered little bullies at school, who take control of their manifest destiny to rule the world and begin there at school, by dominating and ruling their peers. These kids get anything they want. Their parents live vicariously through them. The parents might even wish they did not have to work when they were kids and that they had cars while in school, etc. In fact, at least 2 generations have never been without those benefits.
But Babyboomer parents knew better, if just by nature, than to spoil kids. Nearly every well-to-do kid I knew in school worked at least a small part time job. Not much more, since they did have to take advanced tutoring lessons in some subjects to they could take honors classes in school. They did not have cars. They could sometimes borrow their parents' cars.
Our football field was humble and as it had been for many years. But now we built a 6 million dollar football field with lights, astro-turf of some sort, fancy new seats, the works! Of course, our taxes are quite high now. But the more well to do of the city, a city nearly as expensive to live in now as San Diego CA, way up here in Portland Maine. They know its easier to pass the cost on to the broader public, who make far less and can afford it far less. They did learn something about bullying, after all, didn't they? So their kids enjoy the best of everything, far more than we ever had.
It is not that having such ting is automatically wrong, but we did well without them and self-sacrifice and modest living are essential practices. They give evidence that we put the most important things first and those least important are not given that much concern. But we have no evidence for such sound thinking. We all want to live like the rich and pay taxes like the rich, and live way beyond our means and not be content with a cheaper easier burden to carry. No, we want to go into debt for everything we have and pay through the nose.
This selfishness has gone mad. It is out of control. We have not reigned our kids in. We have allowed them to expect everything and be denied nothing, even for just a few seconds. Recall dear Veruca Salt (pictured left) of the Willy Wonka movie of 71-72, near to there. She was the classic spoiled brat played so beautifully by the delightful Julie Dawn Cole. The character was totally out of control. Yet, by today's standards, she might be a role model by comparison today.
What does this all boil down to? First, its not just the rich or upper middle class that has this problem. It might have started with them but we all went along with it. Now we live beyond our means and all on credit because we can not wait or be denied, as parents of the 70s and earlier often were, temporarily. We got so stupid over the years, that we do not know which way is up. We did just about everything wrong that we could, in bringing up the latest generations. Now we will all pay for that. but no one will pay more than these latest generations.
God warns that in the last days, our days, few will find God and be moved to obey God. But for those who do not, God promises that not a one of them will be found written in the book of life. This generation, referring to all those alive in this time, will utterly fail to be of any good or value to God and His plans. He will allow them all to perish at the hands of the devil, since they, by default, have chosen the devil to follow.
How does this all related to an invisibility cloak? I was afraid you'd ask ;-) OK! An invisibility cloak or just invisibility, period, relates to UFO technology. UFOs can remain invisible, letting light pass through them so that they are not seen. UFOs were predicted and designed by Nikola Tesla, near to 1900. They are old technology by this time. But this technology has been kept a very good secret. But not as secret as you might think.
Because people do not care about anything around them, and are not curious about their own long term welfare, but only pre-occupied with their own selfish immediate desires, they do not care in the last about any alleged hidden technologies, no matter how amazing they are. They only care that they get what they want, in food, material things, attention, prestige, or whatever. They are so wrapped up in themselves and their friends who they feed off of, that they ignore the far more important things.
Tesla tech and UFO origins have been dealt with on TV. Nick Cook, of Jane's Defense publications, an investigative researcher and writer, of "Hunt for Zero Point," among books he has published, also did a show on, I believe, the History Channel, dealing with that book. He shows the way German technology was transferred to the USA after the German surrendering in WWII. There are a number of books, tapes, YouTube videos, that deal with this very same subject and beyond.
This stuff is readily available to any who might want to seek it out. Likely part of an agreement between God and the devil as they laid out the terms of their legal contest over who is right between them and what the human species really is, for ability and capacity, and even worthiness of what God had originally planned for them. But why do so few seek this out or know about it? Because they could care less about anything going on around them, unless it specifically caters to what they are most pre-occupied with at any given time, which is themselves and their own selfish, immature, primitive needs.
Long term vision and thinking have been wiped off the face of the earth. We have become short-sighted and completely selfish. We do not care about others. We only care about ourselves. That is why "this generation" as a whole, will be unacceptable to God. But it does not have to be that way for you or me, if we chose otherwise. We can obey God and be spared the cataclysm that will soon by upon us, by the hand of the devil and selfish people in power, who don't give a damn about people in general.
The Ultimate Love is Love for God, love for ourselves, love for others, and love for that very special gift God gave to us, that distinguishes us from the rest of the animals and species, our potentially brilliant minds. Love for ourselves balances our interests with those of others. We do not slight others in order to have, for ourselves. We do not overlook our long term welfare, but seek it out so that we can live the right way that will preserve us and our offspring and make for harmony, peace, and enjoyment of life.
Paul says Love does not seek its own interests, but those of all. Love is not exclusively selfish. We seek good for all, knowing this will also protect us and make life nice for us. We set the right priorities and pursue the more important things. We use our wonderful minds, rather than neglect them and let them go to waste.
The Ultimate Love is the opposite of selfishness. It seeks what is best for all. We all live as one, united by God, not men. So if we do not have love, we have nothing at all. So this is why I say that stupid people, which is nearly the same as selfish people, are not wanted by God and will not be allows in His kingdom. Using our brains is like faith and love. If one has faith or love, one will have something to show for it, says James. Faith produces works (actions/results) that befit faith. Love produces works that befit it. Love produces thinking! You have to think to care. And if you truly care, then you truly love. We have to care about what does on around us for how can we be any good to ourselves if we do not know what is truly going on around us.
So in order to live up to God's expectations, we must use our brains and we should enjoy doing that. I think, therefore, I love. All good qualities go together. Love the the foremost of those.
Cultivating Fruits of
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It does little good to say to people that they should obey God if we do not. And we can not administer love well if we are not filled with the spirit of God, and by that, I do not mean that miracles are being displayed through us. Being filled with the spirit or moved by the spirit is evident by the fruits we bear. Am I not right? We might not be very pleasant people to be around if we do not produce the fruits of the spirit. Among the fruits of the spirit, of which Paul only lists a few in Galatians 5. He also shows the fruits of the flesh in contrast as well. James lists a very important aspect of fruits of the spirit in highlighting how important it is to show and produce results that can actually be seen; what he calls works, and what we might call works of the spirit, works of love, works of faith. For really, works are fruits, fruits of the spirit and fruits of love. Without them we can not claim to have any spirit of God nor claim to love God for God is love.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit,
21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.
24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
26 Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?
17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
20 Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works,
23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God.
24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.
(GLT) 1 Corinthians 13:
4 Love has patience, is kind; love is not envious; love is not vain, is not puffed up;
5 does not behave indecently, does not pursue its own things, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;
6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth.
7 Love quietly covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
translation of (BBE) 5 Loveís ways are ever fair, it
takes no thought for itself; it is not quickly made angry, it takes no
account of evil;
Love is many things. Love is a fruit of the spirit. I could make quite a list from the above scriptures on what are the fruits of the spirit of God. If we have faith and we have love, we should be producing the fruits, the manifestations, the works (which James rightly calls them) of the spirit of God. He who claims to have faith and love can not be absent of the fruits-works of the spirit. Some will protest that "works" can not buy your way or justify your way into heaven. True! But, for one, this applies more to works of the law, not works of faith and there is a big difference between the 2. 2nd, though works do not justify us, we can not be without them or the absence of works will condemn us to judgment and destruction. So while works to not buy salvation, they are still absolutely essential. You can not be without them.
So he who is without the fruits or works of the spirit is also without God. God is love and he who loves God obeys God and does the works of God. He who does not bear the fruits of God's Spirit does not have God, either. He who hates his brother or has an abundance of the fruits of the flesh does not have God, either. This is very important in the next section.
Love Your Enemies
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Matthew 5:38 You have heard that it was said: "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;" [Ex. 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21] 39 but I say to you, Do not resist the evil; but whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 And to him desiring to sue you, and to take your tunic, allow him also to have the coat. 41 And whoever shall compel you to go one mile, go two with him. 42 He asking you to give, and he wishing to borrow from you, do not turn away.
Matthew 5:43 You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor" and hate your enemy; [Lev. 19:18] 44 but I say to you, Love your enemies; bless those cursing you, do well to those hating you; and pray for those abusing and persecuting you, 45 so that you may become sons of your Father in Heaven. Because He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust.
Luke 6:27 But I say to you, those hearing: Love your enemies, do good to those hating you, 28 bless those cursing you and pray for those insulting you. 29 To those striking you on the cheek, turn the other also. And from those taking your garment, do not keep back the tunic also. 30 And to everyone asking you, give. And do not ask back from those taking your things.
Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be much; and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the unthankful and evil ones.
I believe Jesus was saying these things with particular reference to secular authorities who might be our persecutors and take things from us or compel us into involuntary servitude. We are not to resist and are to go along with what they do as long as it does not violate any of God's commands. We even pray for our persecutors! We are not supposed to resist evil, particularly referring to governmental authorities.
But the point here is that we are to love our enemies, not fight and kill them. This subject deserves far more consideration but I do so in another article, Neutrality and War. But while on this subject of love and fruits, I thought there were still a few points in that other article that should be here as well.
Many so called Christians happily trot off to war without hesitation. But I believe they should reconsider for a number of good reasons. If serving in a war or the military is going to cause excessive harm and destruction of a person's mind and psychology, such as might be the case with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), formerly called Shell Shock. Such people upon returning home, are often hard to live with or deal with and can even easily angered or even become violent. It is well documented and beyond dispute.
Now In the latter 19th century, war became far more hideous and cruel. Weapons improved so much that any war not became a blood with massive killings as men went up over trenches and into a wall of bullets. It is also quite possible that war was used strategically to substantially reduce populations and wipe out large numbers of good men so that a nation of people would be easier to dominate with the better minds and morals our of the way.
There are a lot of other effects from war. Parents lose sons, wives and children lose husbands and fathers. Siblings lose brothers. Good men who die can not go back home and help their peoples and nations. The bums, losers, and cowards are left behind to run the country. Economies are depleted. Labor is wasted. The men who do return home are often damaged and scarred psychologically. They often make poor fathers upon their return. They come back, having had to kill fellow human beings. They may have had to kill civilians. They had to act in ways completely contrary to what they would normally do. They have to become hardened or sever their humanity all together. It is very hard putting it back again.
They often come back, taking out their confusion and vague anger on their wives and kids. Families suffer psychologically and kids grow up damaged as a result. Many kids have to go without a father who dies in a war. This often has bad results as well. Some returning vets become trouble makers and criminals, no long able to abide by rule they see as phony lies. Phony wars lead to angry young and old vets. There are so many and affects of war the linger for generations afterward. And with enough wars, you end up with an accumulating effect as well. generation after generation is harmed and further harms the next. Its a real nasty affair, really.
God did not want His people becoming hard, cruel, or damaged psychologically for no good reason at all. So in His great foresight, God told us to stay out of it all. We would have enough to contend with, without adding war to it. And fighting in wars in more recent centuries has really only aided and supported the devil and his cause and God was not about to give the devil any support for his wicked designs.
War makes a man mean and nasty or can. It can destroy our humanity and good frame of mind. There is enough in the world without war to harm us. War adds insult to injury. When a man fights war, he always fights an enemy who will use any means possible to win. There is nothing either side will not do to win. That means soldiers will be asked to violate ever decent convention of war, even though there are said laws against it. No one follows them in a war. This is no atrocity that has not been employed on both sides. It is silly the way the losing sides are punished for war crimes when truth be told, there are lots of atrocities on both sides always.
God does not want us to have to stoop to such horrors and outrageous violations of humanity. Christians are to cultivate the fruits of the spirit, such as love, joy, kindness, tenderness, mercy, compassion, goodwill, patience, and the like. These are incompatible with war and war is incompatible with the fruits of the spirit. So God forbids war to us. Our job is to learn about God's kingdom and tell others about that kingdom. We are also obligated to cultivate the fruits of the spirit, not destroy them for a shameful cause, serving the devil and his diabolical interests.
If we are to remain warm decent kind and relatively sane people, we need to avoid the getting our heads screwed over by treacherous leaders and their military organizations which only destroy minds as well as bodies and goodness and decency throughout the world. We are to remain spotless and without blemish or stain of sin. We are to have nothing to do with anything evil or treacherous, that the devil is behind. We are to be innocent as doves, a holy and clean people to be offered as a spiritual sacrifice to God and His cause, not the devil's. Anyone serving the devil will die with the devil and will not be in the book of life.
Surely, you do not object to God asking you to stay out of all this nastiness, do you? I hope not. Yes, there will likely come a time when it might cost us and cause us harm by refusing military service, but it is the right thing to do and God will reward us for our faithful obedience. If we die refusing, God can bring us back and will. Death will not be permanent as it will for those who insist on fighting. But this is also why we do not engage in revolutions or civil wars, either. We do not fight or resist evil but we turn the other cheek and submit to evil as long as we are not required to slight God and His rules. We would rather die than do that, right?
So you see, it really is a good thing to stay out of all military conflicts. It is not only good, it is required by God that we do so.
Do we show our families love if we come back as psychologically damaged and easily irritable? Do we show love to our neighbors and enemies when we fight wars which are often of questionable motives and intents, especially in the last days we are in? Is war a fruit of the spirit. Not since I last checked. It is of the flesh and the devil, is it not? He who kills does not know God but is well acquainted with the devil and is the devil's good friend.
John 15:8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.
I have one more article essential to consider on the subject of love. That would be on Sharing.
Love Does Not Have Boundaries or Limits
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(NIV) Matthew 5:43-48
"You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. [this was Jewish tradition and not the Bible] But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Christians are supposed to love their enemies, not taunt, harass, persecute, terrorize, or exact vengeance upon them. Christians are told to "turn the other cheek," not to return an offense (Matthew 5:38-40). Christians are counseled to love their neighbors as themselves. (Matthew 19:19). 1 John 4:20 has a stronger way of saying it:
"Anyone who says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, is a liar, since a man who does not love the brother that he can see cannot love God, whom he has never seen. So this is the commandment that he has given us, that anyone who loves God must also love his brother."
Not only is war not justified, but really, so is not showing love to those who are not of our group or church. We show love to all people. Jesus showed love to prostitutes, tax collectors, and I'd be willing to wage that there were closet homosexuals in Israel and Judah then as now, even as Josephus witnessed when Rome attacked and destroyed Jerusalem. Jesus no doubt showed them love, too. I am sure he preached to them and they dot to see his miracles even as everyone else did.
So our love has to extend to foreigners, immigrants, homosexuals, whores, drug addicts, drunkards, gluttons; yes, everyone. Not all do this but we have to. Jesus noted how even the nations love their own. That is no big deal at all. But God is merciful and gracious to everyone and Jesus died for everyone's sin, not just a few. We have to love those in other countries and those in other religions, political parties, those in secret societies, police, those in the military, businessmen and stock holders. Oh God, dare I say it, even politicians and rulers! Oh, wait, I already covered that with whores, didn't I? Oh, I didn't mean that. Whores don't deserve that, do they? And I guess while we are at it, I might as well include the bottom of the barrel, doctors and lawyers. There is no one who is not owed love by us, according to God.
(GLT) 1 Corinthians 5:
9 I wrote to you in the letter not to associate with fornicators;
10 and not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or with plunderers, or with idolaters, since then you must go out of the world.
11 But now I wrote to you not to associate intimately; if anyone is called a brother and is either a fornicator, or a covetous one, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a plunderer, with such a one not to eat.
12 For what is it to me also to judge the ones outside? Do you not judge those inside?
13 But God will judge the ones outside. "And you shall put out the evil one from you." [Deut. 17:7]
You see, most denominations of Christians avoid most associations with "worldly" people or "secular" people, and often look down on the rest of the world. It is understandable that some in the world are not the kinds of people that even other non-Christians care too much for. And there are limits to what we might seek out in people outside our faith. But on the same hand, it is very important that we not look down upon those outside the faith. Jesus was well noted by his enemies for hanging around "questionable" people such as prostitutes, tax collectors and other despised types. Now that does not mean the Jesus sought out any and all prostitutes for company. But he did not avoid them or look down on them, either. Recall that he saw the masses as sheep without a shepherd and he came, not to heal the healthy but to heal the sick.
Likewise, we are here to deliver a message of hope, love, acceptance, understanding, and salvation. We do not offer this to perfect people for there are none. We offer it to those who are in need of such a message. Will they accept that message if we look down on them or act uncomfortable around them? I think not! We really have to take a hard look at ourselves and work hard to bring our feelings into harmony with God's purpose. And for us, God's purpose is that we show love. Love is what people are lacking and need. Good sincere honest love, not that phony love to get people into your church and then you simply use them or then neglect them.
We welcome one and all, but especially the poor, the downcast and down trodden, those without status, the "cripples" so to speak, those who have little or nothing to offer you.
8 Then he said to his slaves, Indeed, the wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.
9 Then go onto the exits of the highways and call to the wedding feast as many as you may find.
10 And going out into the highways, those slaves gathered all, as many as they found, both evil and good. And the wedding feast was filled with reclining guests.
12 And He also said to him who had invited Him, When you make a dinner or supper, do not call your friends, nor your brothers, nor your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also should invite you in return, and it become a repayment to you.
13 But when you make a banquet, call the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
14 and then you will be blessed, for they have nothing to repay you. For it will be repaid to you in the resurrection of the just.
(RSV) James 2:
1 My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
2 For if a man with gold rings and in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,
3 and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "Have a seat here, please," while you say to the poor man, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet,"
4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?
6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you, is it not they who drag you into court?
7 Is it not they who blaspheme that honorable name which was invoked over you?
8 If you really fulfill the royal law, according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well.
9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
So many people, when they do things, do so to get recognition, attention, or to get favor, kiss some ass, try to impress; in short, to get a selfish reward. They seek their own interests in what they do. Yet Paul does say to us in 1 Corinthians 13, the "love" chapter (quoted earlier), verse 5, that love does not pursue its own things--takes no thought for itself but pursues that of the other. So invite those without status, money, popularity or anything else by which you may gain. Instead, like a good shepherd, like our Lord Jesus, invite those who need love, do not have a lot and do so without attention and notice and Jesus says your reward will be great in heaven in the resurrection.
Further, we note in James 2:9 that partiality or what I call favoritism, is strongly condemned. God does not show partiality or favoritism. He rewards merit, that is, those who give Him good reason to reward them by the good things that they do. Again, love does not know any boundaries or favorites. It seeks out the interests of all and particularly of those in need. Sinners are in need. Not of condemnation or avoidance, or of being made to feel like a leper, but in need of love and understanding. It is the repulsive of our congregations, the undesirables of society, the "untouchables," if you will. This means we need to love those who are not Christians and could even hate us. We know their hate is based either on ignorance or on finding other Christians who are not so nice and are rather hypocritical. So we have a chance to show them there are good Christians as well who are not hypocrites. Now one more lesson for us!
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christís have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
As regards good acts of the fruits of the spirit, there is no law, no limit, no punishment. You can be as nice and kind as you want without guilt. And don't get me wrong, I know that our laws in the USA and probably many other nations as well, thanks to corrupt law and judicial practice and lawyers, made it essentially dangerous to show kindness. Liability and loss of money could result. It is a sign that we are living in very wicked times where even acts of kindness or telling the truth have become illegal or risky when they should not be. But in the eyes of God, there are no limits as to the amount of love and kindness.
Paul mentions in 24 above, that those who belong to Christ have, in essence, crucified (punished) the flesh with its affections and lusts that come with it. Indeed, seeking selfish longings in what we do for others is one of those fleshly tendencies we have. Looking out for others with no concern for your own gain is not easy. But it is right. That which comes, often with struggle, is a bit like affliction to our fallen selfish flesh. But if we are to imitate God, then we must fight our sin daily and rise above our flesh and its tendencies seek the spirit, which includes love. If we walk in the spirit and not the flesh, then it can be said that we truly live in the spirit and have the spirit. Many claim they have God's spirit but do not show the willingness to battle the tendencies of the flesh all the time. Now just one more little scripture, although it is not really little. In fact, its huge.
4:17 Whoever knows what is right to do and
fails to do it, for him it is sin.
This is a very powerful statement. And this may be about the only place where it is stated so plainly and clearly. Most people think that sin is doing wrong and avoiding doing wrong is not sin. But it really is more than that; much more! If we know what is right to do, what is good to do, what is beneficial to do, for someone else and we do not do it, it is sin. If we can help and we do not, it is sin.
There are said to be 2 types of sin. Sins of omission and sins of commission. Sins of commission are committing deliberate acts of sin. But omission is where we simply avoid doing good or warning someone they are headed for trouble or whatever. Some see sins of omission as far less evil or less harmful. But this simply is not so. Both types are equally bad.
We know what love now requires. We must actively seek, not only the interests of our brothers in the faith, but also of those of the world outside the faith and those who many might look down upon. I note that many so called Christians seem to look down quite a bit on homosexuals, perhaps imagining them as greater sinners, which they are not, or perhaps as having chosen their inclinations, which is also not true. These Christians seek to prevent gay people from marrying and having the benefits of marriage allowed to them. Christians are very politically involved, though they should not be. And they believe that their country must live according to God's laws.
True, we do think God's laws are the best and most beneficial but that is our own choice. We would not want to shove our ways down someone else's throat, just as we would not want others to shove anything down our throats. The USA is not our country or God's country. It is, in fact, for the time being, the devil's country, according to the will of God and the agreement He made with the devil to allow the devil a certain amount of time to do as he pleased with the earth and its nations. And we could not allow fellow members of our faith to practice homosexuality but there is nothing to prohibit homosexuals outside the faith from practicing or from having the same benefits and privileges we all enjoy.
How better could we show love for the ostracized or rejects of society than to wish and grant for them the same decent treatment and respect that we would like to have as human beings. How better to promote the gospel, the kingdom of God, and God, Himself that to show love, kindness, mercy, respect and decency toward all. Indeed, tolerance from within the faith has substantial limits, but outside the faith, it has none! Isn't that what Paul said in Galatians 5:23 above? No limits on love, no laws against it. We can show as much tolerance and respect as possible. Isn't that great? We don't have to be mean or judging! God wants to handle all that Himself and He has a right to do anything He wants and we better not be standing in His way.
God has reserved the right to Himself to judge the world and has forbidden that right to us. Our only command has been to love and love perfectly and completely. To know what is right and not do it is sin. To not love is to sin. So don't be caught not loving for it comes with quite a penalty I hear.
So we have the perfect law of love. So lets pursue the fruits of the spirit and show the love of God wherever possible.
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