Faith, love, and the task set before us

Sources: Ligonier.org, https://www.focusonthefamily.com, Macarthur Hebrews Commentary

Run For Your Life

Hebrews 12:1-2 wrong

1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Lay Aside every weight

4 Laps. 1 Race. 1 chance to go to the CIF southern section. I vividly remember that day. A few years of intense training. The race was the 1600m district Final. The best 7 runners in 5 high schools for the mile race; slightly less than a mile which is 1607m. The gun went off. Top 3 runners make it. Lap after lap went by fast. Last 100m- I can see the finish line. It looks like I’m going to make it. 50m- I get passed but am still making it in 3rd place. At the line- confusion. The race was so close I had to lean my chest forward to increase my chances of placing; that’s how they measure it; by the chest. Miraculously, I was passed at the line and lost by one tenth of a second. 4th place. So close, but no cigar.

I write this not because I want to tell you about my race but because I think it’s a good way of thinking how we should run the race of faith. MacArthur points out that there are those who haven’t entered; unbelievers that need to get into the race. What a blessing it can be to evangelize and take people with us on this race of faith! It takes love. It takes care. Ultimately, it takes God to give them grace through faith to believe. We can love others by encouraging people to race the race with us. Sometimes that requires running at their pace so they can catch up. But it’s worth it because true love understands and slows down so others can get to where you are. I’m not saying pursue Christ less, but I am saying doing the basics with someone can be a blessing to someone who doesn’t know much at all.

Christians are running the race, but at different paces. There is a wide spectrum of Christians who compete with intensity and those who are merely jogging. So it goes with running cross country and track. The guys that didn’t care were on the team but didn’t really seem to care about doing well; they ended up kind of coasting through the year with no progress. And then there were those on the team who I looked up to. The runners who would run even on the weekends because they wanted to do well. Running is agonizing. Interestingly, the Greek word is the passage for race is agon from which we get agony. The race set before us is going to be tough. It’ll require discipline, perseverance, tenacity, and commitment. But ultimately, to run well, you need love. The love that is mentioned as the first of the fruits in Galatians:5. The love that is greater than faith and hope in 1 Corinthians 13:13. “13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” It’s the love quoted from Deuteronomy:6 in the shema that contains the Greatest commandments: Love your God and Love your neighbor. Are we running the race with an intensity that puts aside every weight (sin) and loves others that emulates the love of Christ who died for us? He died for sinners. People who had no hope, and no faith. In the same way, we can die to ourself and exhibit the agape sacrificial love that puts our desires last and other people’s needs first. It’s a love that can only come from God. God is love. The true test of a Christian is one who loves others.

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:4-6)

Race well. Strive well. Bring others with you. Run to win the Prize. Running well requires love. A sacrificial love that only God can implant in your heart. The gun has fired. We are rounding the corner and the finish line is in sight. Finish well by loving well in light of the hope set before us. See you at the finish line.

Loving Well II

Sources: Ligonier.org

truth-in-love

Love and Evil

It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6).

Rejoicing at wrongdoing

Rejoicing of other people’s sins

Nowadays we can be quick to point out other peoples faults and fail to look at the log in our own eye. We love to use our tongues as a fire for gossip that perpetuates the sins of others that assumes the motivations and hearts of others without clear evidence. The tongue is powerful. It has started wars and caused great strife. It also builds brothers and sisters up in Christ. It’s a double edged sword.

True love

True love thinks the best of others. Without clear evidence, only God know the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Note: This is different from seeing clear indications of sin.)

Accountability

What is accountability? Accountability helps those around us walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Ultimately, it’s walking in a manner worthy that loves God and loves other people. Usually, it’s our close friends that can help us keep us accountable along with the leadership and elders of the church. Accountability provides protection and requires humility to accept.

Loving through accountability

Sometimes people think accountability is unloving. That people should be able to go their own way and do whatever they want. Confronting sin is important and should be done in specific circumstances. Ideally, guys should holding guys accountable and girls holding girls accountable. Through accountability, we effectively love God more because we are taking off the weights of sin and putting on righteousness. We are living out our calling by mutual discipleship. Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens the face his neighbor,”

I hope that through an understanding of what God’s word calls us to do, I can rejoice with the truth, believe the best about people when there aren’t any clear indications of sin, and have an accountability to live out the calling. True joy comes from delighting in God and living out the will He has for us on our lives.

 

 

Loving Well….Put Off

loving as a way of life

 

Are we loving others well? In my own life I’ve experienced a wide range of Christians that love well and others that don’t. Sometimes unbelievers can love others better than the Christians around us. Its sad. 1 Corinthians 13 provides an outline of how to love. However I wanted to start out with situations I’ve encountered in my own life because it’s what we should put off. We put off the unloving actions,  thoughts, attitudes, renew our mind, conform more to the love that only God can give us. Once we know what to put off, we can renew our minds and put on the love of Christ.

Put Off unloving actions.

Cliques

-People have cliques. They want to stick to their group and talk to no one else. Relationships are good. Best friends are great. But we need to be talking to people who come across our path. The homeless person. The person with no friends. The socially awkward person. The person that doesn’t have anything to offer us. People are relational beings. They need our friendship and sometimes just someone to talk to. Love is sacrificial and we won’t always want to talk to these people. What kind of love do we have if we only love those that we get a benefit from? It’s healthy to reach out to those who are outside our age range as we do life together. I’m not saying be good friends with them, but we can get to know those around us who don’t exactly fit the mold. We choose our friends and who to do life with but we also choose who to love as we cross paths with the people around us. And that’s all I’m saying. Love those who you cross paths with. Love them well and learn from them.

Assuming People’s heart motivations, intentions

-Most people are guilty of this. I’ve been guilty of this. It’s funny that the people who know you the least end up assuming the worst of you. Assuming the worst is a catalyst for gossip and brings about a tense environment. We need to be encouraging people toward love and good deeds, assuming the best of them. Ultimately, its the Word that judges the thoughts and intents of the heart. We need to get back to a unity that is centered on the Gospel, encouraging each other toward our calling of love and good deeds as a witness to the world. Most of the time we don’t know people’s hearts. And we may never know. But we will all give an account one day and in the mean time we are called to love well.

Wanting to control people’s lives

-I’ve seen friendships torn over this. People disagree with someone’s actions and the friendship becomes torn. The actions aren’t even sin. People don’t want to hang out with certain people because of x, y, and z. There is a lack of forgiveness in the heart. Because of the above, they don’t want them at church or will avoid them. It seems immature. And it is. But I’ve seen it happen so I’m bringing it up. We can’t control what people do. But we can encourage them toward love and good deeds and be happy that they are at church. Everyone needs to be at church. Unbelievers need to be at church so they can hear the only message that gives them hope. Believers need to be at church for edification and learning how to live their life by the Word of God. The list goes on. There are many more situations. But its helpful to think of things not to do so we can more fully embrace what we should do.

Loving as a way of life.

God is love. Christians are called to love. Loving God is a mark of a true believer. Sometimes I don’t do it well. But we strive to drink from the pure milk of the word and become mature in our faith and love others well. Time is of the essence. We don’t become mature over night. It’s a process of continual examination, and being directed by the Word of God. And it’s practice as a way of life. It’s like anything else. As we continually practice loving others well, we become someone who loves as a way of life. It’s becomes what we are known for. It becomes who we are. It’s what Christians do. It’s the love of Christ emulated.

 

 

The Foundation of Love

Sources: Ligonier.org, desiringgod.org, logos bible Software

love-one-another

Why blog about love?

Love. The Epitome of the Christian life and the first fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.

It the greatest commandment stated in the New Testament to Love God and to Love

your neighbor. (Mark 12:30-31) It is the Shema quoted in Deuteronomy 6. Love is

important. God is love (1 John 4:8) And we are to emulate God and his attributes out

of the desire of our new hearts. I want to love God and love others well. I want to

spur others toward love and good deeds.

Christ loved us First..and we should want to emulate it

1 John 4:10 New International Version (NIV)

10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Because Christ loved us first, we can be thankful and live out the love he showed us to begin with.

Romans 5:8 New International Version (NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Love as a Mark of a Christian

“the one who loves has been born of God and knows God”

(1 John 4:7)

“We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14)

Faith

Piper said it well….

“Thus, we conclude that faith, when understood as deep contentment in the promises of God, always works through love. Therefore, the way to become a loving person s to set our hope more fully on God and delight more fully in the confidence that whatever is encountered  the path of obedience is for our good.”

Love starts with being a new creation in Christ. It is emulated because Christ first loved us. And love is a mark of a true Christian, made possible by the fruit of the Spirit. These are the foundations of true love. What makes love possible. Why we should love. And is the essence of the Christian walk. Loving God, Loving People. Loving the Word. Loving the hope set before us and living in light of that reality. Love. God is love. Christians love. Sometimes the final apologetic to a world that needs the only message that saves. Love well.