(This is a continuation of a series begun back in February. To find the others, scroll down the page to “Archives” and then click on February 2015 and scroll down to the first one. The plan is to do one hundred, adding to the list from time to time.)
These are brief but memorable scriptures, often overlooked but essential to the health and well-being of the Lord’s church and Jesus’ disciples.
31. Love is something we do. Luke 6:27ff.
Our Lord was not like some of His children who delight in issuing commands to the Lord’s flock but failing to tell them how to achieve it. I cannot count the sermons I heard growing up about the need to reach the world with the gospel, starting with my neighbors, but without a word as to how we might do that. We were accused of not praying and not knowing our Bibles, but never given ways to improve.
After saying His people should love their enemies, Jesus told how to identify our enemies: those who hate us, curse us, threaten us, hurt us, and take from us what is rightfully ours. Then, He told how to love them: Do good to them, bless them, pray for them, and give to them.
There is an emotion of love. But love is far more than an emotion. Biblically, when God tells us to love Him, love our neighbor, love one another, and to love our enemies, He is not telling us to feel anything. He wants action. “Do good, bless, pray, and give.” Read on…
32. When Jesus asks us to love Him, He’s not looking for warm squishy feelings but obedience. (John 14-15).
Repeatedly, in the 14th and 15th chapters of John’s Gospel, Jesus gave us variations of the statement: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” “Whoever is keeping my commands is the one who loves me.” (Note: By “commandments,” He is not referring to the Ten Big Ones of Exodus 20, but to all His teachings and instructions.)
In John 13:17, Jesus said, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” Obedience is everything. “For this purpose I wrote to you,” said Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:9, “to see if you were obedient in all things.” Jesus asked, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do the things I told you?” (Luke 6:46).
Trust and obey. There is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
33. When we do the unlikely thing, and love our enemies, turning the other cheek, giving to those who intend us harm, praying for them, etc., 12 things happen.
Here is the list, in segments of three….
God is glorified, Jesus is pleased, and the Holy Spirit is able to do whatever He had in mind for this situation.
Satan is infuriated, the enemy (the person doing these bad things to you) is puzzled (you are not playing by the rules), and the critics of the church are silenced. The critics had been standing by, just waiting for you to retaliate and to “give as good as you got,” so when you respond by “doing good, blessing, praying, and giving,” you stun them into silence.
The church itself is blessed, Christians going through hard times like you are encouraged and instructed by your example, and outsiders are drawn to Jesus.
Lastly, you yourself are blessed (your anger goes away), and according to Luke 6:35, your reward in Heaven is great and you will be called “sons of the Most High,” a euphemism for “you are like the Lord,” meaning your reputation goes through the roof.
To achieve these 12 amazing things, the disciples of Jesus must do loving things to their slanderers and attackers.
34. Jesus does not want us rejoicing over our victories. Luke 10:20. Anyone can do that.
It’s not that He minds our rejoicing. He loves it when we rejoice. C. S. Lewis said, “Joy is the business of Heaven.” But the Lord wants us to rejoice over the right things. “Rejoice because your names are written in Heaven,” He said.
Jesus knew there would be plenty of times the disciples returned from their missions empty-handed. Sometimes they were glad to get out alive, and occasionally they didn’t even manage that. If their joy is based on the results of their latest effort, sometimes they will be up and sometimes down. The Lord wants His people to be always rejoicing, and for that, we need a better, higher cause: “Our secure salvation.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always; and again, I say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
35. If Jesus asked you to lend Him 10 bucks today and He would repay you in Heaven, would you do it? (Luke 14:14)
Take care of the unfortunate and dispossessed, the handicapped and the dependent, down here on earth, He said in Luke 14, and “you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
We have His word on it.
Proverbs 19:17 says, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done.”
The question then becomes whether we believe Him and whether we are willing to do a good thing now knowing that the reward is down the road a little.
My little trilogy then becomes: “Can you wait that long? Can you believe that strong? Can we sing that song?”
Jesus loves it when we believe Him with nothing more than His word to go on. “Without faith, it is impossible to believe Him” (Hebrews 11:6).