Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Pride and Jealousy

I was reading in 3 John this morning and verses 9-10 are verses I've tended to quickly skim over but the Lord brought it to my attention this morning:

I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.

As I was reading this passage this morning, I was reflecting on the fact that I always thought... how dare Diotrephes prevent this church from hearing what John wrote to them! But as I look at it more closely and look at my own heart, I see my own tendency to pride. Have there been times in which someone had better insight into something, and I chose to speak rather than listen? That sounds much more holy doesn't it? I just spoke rather than listened--one of those sins that we as Christians tend to sweep into the "it's okay" pile. But at the root of my desire to speak rather than listen was pride--I was "loving to be first". How many times have I put others down so that I look better? This is an area that God has really been working on my heart in the last several years. It was something I was constantly doing. I made excuses in my head like: "It's all in fun"... "I don't really mean it"... "They do it too"... etc. But at the root of all those things was the pride which God opposes. Take a look at Psalm 138:6:
For though the Lord is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar.

Proverbs 3:34:
Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.

Proverbs 29:23:
A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.

Matthew 23:12:
Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Luke 1:52:
He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.

James 4:6:
But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

1 Peter 5:5:
You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

May we walk in humility today, being quick to hear, slow to speak, putting others and more important than ourselves. What do we have that we did not receive? And if we did receive it, why do we boast as if we had not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Love: Because God is Our Father

Often times in our Christian walk, we lose the "because" in our actions. We treat others with love and respect because it is what is expected of us by others. It is easy to start relying on the opinions of others and acting accordingly. I believe this is actually a great gift from God that He puts others in our lives to spur us on to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), but that can't be our ultimate source of why we do what we do. It is also true that the fear of man brings a snare (Proverbs 29:25). When we start relying on the opinions of others (who ultimately will fail us because they are fallen sinful beings just like us), where their opinions stray from God's ways, we can start to also sway from God's ways. I was reading this morning in 1 John 4 and it was really clarifying for me. Take a look:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

John starts out be encouraging us to not believe every spirit. This is a sobering reminder that not everyone who names the name of Christ is truly a believer. This is another warning that we need to rejoice when others spur us on to love and good works, but continually come back to God as our source of why we love others. He goes on to say that love is from God and our actions of love demonstrate that He is our Father. Of course, we can appear to love and not really love. We can put on a display of "love" in order to make other people love and appreciate us, and that is actually not love at all. Motives are so tricky. We can love for the right reasons at one moment and the next moment love out of selfish motivation. We need to continually come back to Christ as our why. He came and died for us. Now we have an example of the most amazing love there is... and out of that, we can love one another.

Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

One of Jesus' last commands to his disciples was to love one another as Jesus loved them. Little did they know that He was about to lay down his life for them. He had poured into his disciples, served them, washed their feet, fed them, but he was about to die for them and they were about to start to understand what love really looked like. May we love today because we have been loved by a Great God and He is our Father.