Sunday, April 21, 2019

From the Heart: Love Test

Read Matt. 5:38-48

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and with truth.

1 John 3:18

A story about a professor of psychology illustrates the difference between showing love and simply talking about it. The man had no children of his own, but whenever he saw a neighbor scolding a child for some type of wrong doing he would say, “You should love your child, not punish him.” One hot summer day the professor was repairing his concrete driveway. Tired after several hours of work, he laid down his tools and grabbed a towel to wipe the sweat from his forehead. And as he started toward the house, out of the corner of his eye, he saw his neighbor’s little boy putting his foot in the freshly finished cement. He rushed over, grabbed him and was about to spank him when a neighbor leaned out his window and said, “Watch it, Professor! Don’t you remember? You must love the child!” At that, he yelled back furiously, “I do love him in the abstract but not in the concrete!”

It’s easy to talk sentimentally about love as an intangible thing, but it’s much more difficult to put into practice, especially in trying situations of real life. Jesus made this clear in His Sermon on the Mount, by setting before us a way to test our love. Without minimizing the importance of punishing the wrongdoer, He commanded us to display kindness and grace, and even pray for those who mistreat or show ill will toward us.

We see where Jesus lived out these words, as He was nailed to the cross, He prayed for his persecutors, (Luke 23:34). Other Christians such as Steven put this command into practice, a fact that surely impressed one of his persecutors named Saul. (Acts 7:60)

Can we measure up to that high standard? Have you ever done a good deed for one who is your enemy? That’s a real “Love Test.”

“Returning good for good is commendable; returning good for evil is Christlike.”

Prayer:

Holy Father, Never has anyone loved as Jesus did. I can only imagine how difficult it was for him to allow himself to be beaten and ridiculed and then nailed to that awful cross. There to suffer such pain and agony and to willingly die that physical death but to be spiritually separated from You Father for a while must have been the ultimate pain and sorrow. To think that my sins caused that, Father, is hard to bear but by your grace I have been forgiven, and not me alone but all who will believe on Jesus as your only begotten Son and turn from their sinful ways. Then as the beautiful old song says, “Trust and Obey!” Lead our hearts and minds Father as we study your Holy Word. Guide us in the Truth and give us the courage to obey “Your Will” and hold fast until we are called home. 

In Jesus Holy Name, AMEN!

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