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We often find ourselves dealing with people who are hard to love, difficult to deal with, and even hard to like. This person can be our spouse, our child, our neighbor, or those with whom we attend church. (Sorry for being so painfully honest this morning.)
Personalities that are so opposite our own or manners or habits that clash so dramatically with our most basic value system make loving those people a chore.
Hebrews 6:10 “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”
God speaks of remembering your “labour of love.” That is good news. God knows that we labor to love certain people.
As in most of society today, we are overly indulgent and pitifully short on character. The ability to do something hard gives people anxiety attacks, drives folks to drink booze, use drugs, or throw fits of rage. Honestly, we just need to face up to it: some things are hard and we need to accept the fact.
Love is not always easy. “Love is a commitment.” (Brother Hyles wrote with this title.) True love is not the love story seen in a movie in which all the aspects of love fall into place and loving someone never takes any effort. That is only in the movies and it is a big lie.
Our Lord spoke so often about love because loving is not natural. Loving the “easy to love” is nothing special, but loving your enemy or blessing those who curse you is not easy — it is a “labour of love.” So the Scriptures exhort us to remember that although it will be labor, God still expects us to love, and He will reward our labor.
God defined love when He gave us His Son — certainly not an easy task. John wrote, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) Demonstrating real love costs us. As Paul wrote, ” Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Ephesians 5:25)
Men, we are directed to love and GIVE ourselves to our wives. That sounds like labor.
Colossians 3:19 “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.”
That shows things will happen that could cause bitterness, but God commands us to not be bitter. It is a labor of love.
Be willing to labor at this thing called love. We labor for money, we labor for our children countless hours. Think of all a mother does for a baby, all the late nights, lack of sleep, inconvenience, all of that is a labor of love. Think about the hours of labor a man will put into a hobby, cars, yard, sports, all because he loves it.
May we be willing to labor at our love for spouse, family, and others, but especially for the cause of Christ. Yes, loving God will cause us to have to LABOR.
Peace is something that is entirely underrated. We seek things, we strive for the praise of men, the attention of others, both friend and stranger, yet we rarely seek things that accompany to peace.
Luke 19:42 “Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.”
Regardless of our financial standing, peace should be the ultimate desire. Regardless of how many children or cars we have, having peace of mind, peace in our heart, and peace in our home is the real prize in life.
Our Lord said the things that BELONG TO OUR PEACE were not known. Many of the people in Israel had missed finding peace. They had failed to grasp the One Who would bring peace to their troubled world.
We are to seek peace;
1 Peter 3:11 “Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.”
Psalm 34:14 “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it”
Jesus is our peace;
Ephesians 2:14 “For he is our peace,”
Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:… The Prince of Peace.”
The Bible brings peace;
John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.”
As long as we seek peace the same way the world seeks it, we will fail;
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
One reason we lack peace lies in our feeble attempts to gain the peace of the world, a peace which, judging by their unstable lives, is obviously empty.
Deuteronomy 23:6 “Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.”
Our peace comes from a quiet walk with God — praying, reading and studying the Bible, and seeking to know Him better;
Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Having peace is the great desire of all mankind. We will not find it in the world, but in diligently seeking that which is not of this world.
In today’s world, information is a far too accessible through various types of media, and the information is not only often wrong, but also dangerous. The more frequently people come in contact with it, the more likely they are to believe it.
Equally dangerous is familiarity with sin.
Romans 16:19 ”For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.”
God directs us to be well-informed concerning good and uninformed concerning evil. The trouble with TV, movies, the Internet, and all other forms of social media is that so much shame and so much evil that would never have been known 50 years ago is now readily viewable.
To be simple about evil means to know little about it, to not understand, to not have the facts, to be uninformed. Sadly, we are very informed about wrong. Every kind of evil deed or shameful act can either be seen on the news or vividly shown in movies or police shows on television.
So little good is put in front of us that it is necessary for us to search out good. If we are going to to be simple concerning evil, we must avoid wrong.
Jeremiah said, “Mine eye affecteth mine heart,” and only too well the devil knows the importance of what the eye sees. Guard young eyes; guard what enters the eyes and heart of your children. Very understandably David wrote, ”I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes…” (Psalm 101:3)
Make it a mission in life to be simple, to know little about others who have failed or about those who have done shameful deeds. Study to know the good and decent things in life.
This is God’s instruction on how to have a happy life. He really does know best.
On our senior trip we enjoyed extra time, recreation, and an absence of routine — to say the least. Being with 19 teenagers for a week will definitely remove all routine. However, one thing that is not removed is conversation. There are lots of words. The uplifting power, as well as destructive power of words is amazing.
Proverbs 15:4 “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.”
When we speak right words, our words bring forth life. Kind and decent words heal, strengthen, and build.
Proverbs 12:18 “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.”
Notice the rest of Proverbs 15:4 “… but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.”
When we speak perverse words, they break or tear the spirit. Parents and leaders are very unwise to allow their young people to speak improperly. Ugly words, vulgar words, hateful words — – all these will break the speaker’s spirit as well as the spirit of those around him; for unholy words hurt the speaker as much as the listener.
Foul speech will create a breach in the spirit of the young people in a youth group or classroom, on an athletic team, or in a family.
We underestimate the power of words.
David says words are like a razor;
Psalm 52:2 “Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.”
Psalm 59:7 “…swords are in their lips:”
Psalm 64:3 “Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words:”
James says words are like a fire;
James 3:6 “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”
It is vital that we control our own words as well as the words spoken by those under our authority.
Control the critic, and you are likely to prevent a church split. A breach in spirit is the ruin of a marriage; therefore control the words you use toward one another.
After being denied some activity, a foolish child told her mother “I hate you!” The mother (many decades ago) spanked the child and wisely said, “You can hate me all you want, but you will never say that again.” Allowing free expression of emotions is dangerous. We may feel all kinds of emotions, but to let them pour out of our mouth is not only unwise but foolish.
At this point, let’s discuss texting, note writing, and late night conversations between young people. Words that would not normally be expressed will be spoken or written due to the lateness of the hour or the privacy the teen has. Words are powerful. To allow our young people to text all day long, and worse yet, into the late hours of the night, is dangerous beyond measure.
A man who is frustrated in his marriage is in a dangerous spot. When he goes to work and shares WORDS with a woman who is likewise frustrated in her marriage — both marriages are headed for shipwreck. Thoughts and feelings put into words can knit hearts or destroy lives.
May we guard our own words but also the words we allow others to say in our presence.
God is so amazing to love us (even as stupid as we people often are)! I saw a bumper sticker once that said, “The more I get to know people, the more I like my dog.” For me it should read, “The more I get to know people, the more amazing I find John 3:16 to be.”
In Genesis 3 we find, what I think, is the first RULE for men, and with the rule came the promise of punishment for the violation of that rule.
In Exodus 20 we find the ten commandments.
All through the Bible there are specific written rules accompanied by very specific punishments.
From a human perspective, the most tragic rule is that if a person does not accept the free grace and forgiveness of God, then he will end up in Hell — there is no exception.
As we discussed the lack of enforcing rules, or perhaps the lack of having rules themselves, someone mentioned to me how most of us made the choice to start doing right from our heart, not from someone pounding a rule into our head. I agreed, unless it is fair and just to let young people do wrong without any punishment. You can not get away from the fact that rules are a part of the Christian life according to God.
A pastor is to be the husband of one wife. Whatever that means to you or me is not the issue, the issue is, violate that rule and you are not supposed to be a pastor. That is God’s rule.
We call them laws now, but the number of rules or laws throughout the Bible is huge. God promises to abase the proud.
James 4:6 “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” So the rule is, get proud, and the punishment is that God will abase you.
Another law is that God will draw nigh to those who draw nigh to Him.
James 4:8 “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” That rule is repeated often.
Luke 18:14 “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
It is tragic how America is trying to test to see if rules are “nice” when we should be concerned about rules being “right.”
One taste of forbidden fruit doesn’t seem to merit being kicked out of the garden. But the Lord owns the world and the Lord will make up the rules. We can not chose if we think the rule are fair — God said it and that settles it.
The point is, we need rules. Leadership should have rules and they should be enforced. Punishment should be meted out according to a predetermined plan. It is a grave danger to let wrong go unpunished;
Ecclesiastes 8:11 “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”
If wrong is committed and leadership does nothing, the heart gets SET to do evil. Like cement that is wet may be removed, but once it is SET you can not shape it or move it. I asked a college president recently, do you kick kids out of your college? I continued, If a student violates a dress code, does anything happen to them? That matters to me! I want young people to get their heart surrendered to God, but to think skipping rules will do that is unscriptural. How may of us would drive safely with no speed limit? How many of us would pay our taxes if there were no punishment? How many of us have co-workers who would be lazy or skip days at work unless there were employee rules? Of course we need rules, and of course we need punishment. Any logical person knows that.
As leaders, parents, teachers or anyone in authority, we must correct wrong quickly. If we let wrong go unpunished it will do grave damage.