For August 9, 2020
When asked which two are the greatest of all the commandments God wants us to follow, our Lord Jesus Christ replies,
You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.1
Isn’t it amazing how so many of us Christians claim to love the Lord and our brothers and sisters. Yet, we actually keep a close track of the times when people offend us. We bear grudges against them—when our love should dictate we overlook the offense and forgive the offender.
Often, we are guilty of “rating” faults or offenses on a “sliding scale” as though one is more egregious than another. However, we cannot make any such distinction since all of us have sinned; we all are deficient of God’s righteous standards as Romans 3:23 tells us.
Imposing an arbitrary “rating scale” on others is outrageously hypocritical when we have unresolved “blind spots” as Jesus teaches,
And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, “Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,” when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.2
All of us are frail and fallible human beings with our own set of flaws in the form of hatred, bigotry, prejudice, envy, jealously, ill-will, pride, and selfishness. Thus, our “sliding scales” have to be discarded.
Jesus died to redeem us from our sinfulness, and He graciously gives us His Holy Spirit to make us righteous before God on the inside, and on the outside.
Once aliens, God has now reconciled us to Him when He called us out of darkness into His marvelous light as 1 Peter 2:9 teaches. He supplies us with unlimited power to love God and others when we trust in Him to save us. Only then can we forgive others to the extent that He’s forgiven us—at Calvary’s Cross.
Using His life’s example as our model, we can form and nurture meaningful relationships with all others that can improve our collective social conditions. We can also advance the causes of others and treat people with the respect and dignity they deserve.
We are created in God’s image; we are equals. So it is incumbent upon us to love others by interacting peacefully with them, without bigotry and prejudicial lawlessness (regardless of our class or gender or social/political ideology), just as 1 John 4:20 (NIV) teaches,
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
It is sad to witness heightening racial and social hostility in the US when civility, acceptance, and understanding are needed so desperately.
As a natural-born US citizen, when I ponder my personal history and that of my foreparents, there were unfortunate historical events, which yet evoke rage within many of my people today.
Although some rage may appear to be justified, ours is not a perfect world. Exploitation and victimization happen everywhere to everyone indiscriminately. Therefore, there is much work to be done—within all races.
In other words, one particular race did not “corner the market” on victimizing or being victimized. Other races have either imposed or faced discrimination, injustice, and hostility in this country as well.
I am grateful to the Lord to live in a country where we can freely worship, express our opinions without censorship, elect our representation, and travel anywhere indiscriminately. Each of us also benefit from a capitalistic system that supplies us with goods and services that enhance our standard of living to improve our overall quality of life.
Yet, social and political attacks increase against our leaders and elected officials when the Bible teaches in Romans 13 that we are to obey the laws of the land by submitting to and praying for them, regardless of political affiliation.
Moreover, the heightening of personal attacks against others (we want to “pay back” for hurts we’ve perceived or experienced) using social media is wrong. God holds us accountable for our social media malevolence (whether done maliciously or in jest). Besides, we would not want someone to degrade or humiliate us even if they felt it was justified.
We should never keep a record of past wrongs as if we were some self-appointed vigilante. If we all did this, there would be no one left unscathed since we are equal debtors in the sight of God. The Lord Jesus rightly says in John 8:7 (NIV), “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.”
Love restrains us from practicing the sin of harboring grudges, and expressing ill will toward people. Instead, the “Jesus Christ in us” allows us to give them a “clean slate” and treat them as if they have never wronged us just as the Lord tells us in His Model Prayer (my emphasis),
And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us…If you forgive those who sin against you, your Heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.3
Our Christian lifestyle should apply to all areas of our daily, human interaction as we filter everything we think, say, and do through a Bible-based perspective.
In other words, we are people of the Bible who abide by its principles. Although we may listen to secular experts, the Word of God is the lamp for our feet that lights our path every day as Psalm 119:105 teaches.
Won’t you give God’s love the opportunity to change you and people around you for the better…today?
What a Wonderful Savior!