I think about the prophets in the Old Testament. They lived in a time when God’s chosen people were in blatant sin and rebellion. They had broken every command that God had given and on top of that had made idols with their own hands, worshipped the false gods of the nations around them, even going as far as offering their own children to the god Molech by casting them into the furnace. These profits had to preach a ‘turn or burn’ message. These were the words that God gave them to speak. But those men, most of them, prayed for mercy, wept and lamented over the sin of their people, sorrowed over their sure destruction. What kept them motivated? God’s promises. His promise to Abraham that he would father a great nation. His promise to David, that one of his descendants would sit on the throne forever. God’s promise to save a remnant who He would bring back to the Beautiful City, Jerusalem, and His promise of a savior, the Messiah. The promise of His continued love, to those who did as He commanded.
We have it so much easier. We don’t have to shave our heads, cook over cow dung, marry a prostitute, tell our families and neighbors that the enemy will triumph over them, will dash their babies to peices. We get to tell them that God loves them, wants to bless them. Our object lesson is LOVE. We get to show them how much they mean to the one who created them. We can’t be like Jonah, with his attitude of, “they should get what they deserve.” He is a great example of a prophet that was NOT motivated by love. God had to force him to go and tell Nineveh that He was giving them another chance.
God never asked us to quote scripture at people. We use scripture to learn about God, and who He is, encourage ourselves and one another, those in our family, who know the language of heaven. We use them to declare God’s will over our lives and those of others. Quoting scripture to someone who isn’t saved is like speaking French to a Mexican, they aren’t going to understand what you are talking about. God did ask us to show people how much He loves them. It is important we know scripture, that we are intimate with the Word. But that isn’t so that we can prove our expertise and by our understanding of scripture somehow convince the lost of God’s love. They don’t recognize God’s word as TRUTH. They don’t know it’s alive and living. Think of it this way. If you told your husband at the breakfast table that it was against Canadian law to eat toast on Tuesdays, what would he say. “I’m not Canadian.” Or if one of your children tells a friend, “you can’t watch that pg13 movie, my dad doesn’t allow it” what would you expect the friend to say? “He’s not my dad.” So why do we think giving an unsaved person scripture about do’s and don’ts will convince them they need to be saved. They aren’t part of the same family, or a citizen of heaven like we are.
There are Churches who quote scripture, (mostly out of context) who are portraying God as a hard task master who is ready to punish them for their sin or who hates them because of their sin. They interrupt funerals of fallen military men and women, screaming at mourning family members. They stand on street corners and spout off about the end of the world, doom and destruction. How many people are they bringing into the Kingdom. The media depicts God as a foolish old man, or an angry deity ready with a bolt of lightning. They depict Christians as bigots, and self-righteous, and unforgiving people. Or even worse, they show us as the crazy psycho people who live in corn fields, killing torturing others.
We are all appalled by those things, but is it any better when we turn a cold shoulder to someone in need? When we are more concerned with how someone looks or smells, than the condition of their soul? How are we portraying God when we are too distracted to help, too busy to go out of our way for someone who needs Him. God says that it is HIS GOODNESS that turns hearts to repentance. He uses us to show them His goodness.
I John 3:17 “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”
Hebrews 13:16 The Message (MSG) “ Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.”
We all have ample opportunity to show God’s love. It starts in our homes and radiates out through our lives to those we touch in small ways throughout our days. We have to be ‘rooted and grounded’ in His love. If we aren’t we’ll reflect the world around us, instead of the Father’s heart. God’s love is ‘shed abroad’ in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Not confined in a closet. Shed abroad. Scattered to the wind, cast on many waters, an endless supply, and more than we will ever need. His love doesn’t run out. It is there for us personally, and then more for us to share. We can’t always love people with our own human emotions, let’s face it, some people are hard to love. But we can always love people with His love. It isn’t an emotion. It is a gift, we just have to choose to use it.
Sometimes we can backslide into a place where we aren’t motivated by love anymore. We may be working out of a sense of duty or for self seeking reasons. A good litmus test is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
The Message (MSG)
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Have you given up on someone? Do you look back on their past mistakes? Are you waiting for them to fail? Do you lose patience and are easily irritated with others? (That was a big one for me!) Are you filled with pride and self-righteousness? Do you put yourself constantly before others? (Now I am not saying don’t take care of yourself, especially you mom’s, we have to have time for us and down time, that’s not what I am talking about). If you answered yes to any of these things, or all of these things, then check your motives.
We know we are walking in love when we expect the best for others, put them first and keep going, keep praying for them.
Isn’t that what God has done, and continues to do for us?