8/27/2000 11:00 AM
Christ was asked what the greatest commandment was and he summarized the essence of serving God. We need a love for God that brings us to live all our days for him. We are to love God with all our heart/affections, all our soul (our very being), all our mind (our understanding), and all our strength (turn our strength to his purpose). Many people can say they love God, but they have problems when it comes to loving their neighbor. God wants our love for him to be manifested by the way we deal with our fellowman.
How does this fit with love for God? Our love for God is not just an emotion or feeling. How far would you be willing to go for God? How is it when trouble or difficulty comes? Sometimes folks you call brother may hurt your feelings. How much can you bear to serve the Lord? Be prepared to bear hurtful things for God. Look at the end goal and those that have gone before. What kind of attitude are you bearing reviling with? Is it a "poor me" attitude or an attitude of rejoicing at being in "good company" (the prophets and others who have gone before)? Be prepared to bear some things... and bear with rejoicing. We can't get hung up on every little insult that comes along.
This is an example of these who were reviled by religious folks, but were able to go away rejoicing because "they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." We should be prepared to bear those things. Not all of our difficulties in living for God will come at the hands of strangers. We need to be able to suffer patiently for Christ's sake.
Paul was reminding them of the things they had gone through. We need to allow God to be a help to us so that we can be a help to others. We can k now we have something better in heaven.
Our concern should be that we are not the source of offense to others. If offense comes, accountability and responsibility comes with it. We need to be careful not to be an intentional offense to others. We should ask ourselves, "Did I create a problem for someone else? Did I cause someone else to have a problem with turning to God?" This doesn't call for compromise of truth, but for carefulness in how we live.
If we are always offending people, is it any wonder that people are hard to win? Offensive actions will not make people winnable. The bars of a castle are put up for the protection of those within, and they keep the occupants inside. In contentions people are building walls between themselves and others. Be careful in action and word. If we are offensive we will be a hindrance to that which we are trying to do. The goal is not to win the argument, but to win the soul.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Paul points out the importance of the love of God in our heart toward our fellowman. If people don't see the love of God in your heart, the other things won't convince them. All these things done without the love of God are a manipulative act. The love of God gives without wanting something back. We give love because we want to be a help. What is our goal? Yes, we want people to be saved, but we shouldn't be focused on the results. You can be a help to a soul and you may not know it or see the results. Have a heart filled with the love of God. This has a real manifestation in the love we show to others. Religion makes the job harder because they don't show God's love. Have a commitment to God to bear things in his name.