EXPLORING THE WORD
Loving God, Hating Others
By Don Strand
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Continued from Page One
So this is the context of Luke 14:26. Jesus calls people to Him by faith alone and expects them to respond by putting Him first. And, it is possible to put Jesus first and put love for God first and still love others. In fact, that is exactly what a true believer is to do, to love Jesus so much that they want to love others, to help the poor, to have compassion for those who are hurting, are in need, or are poor, hungry and thirsty. A follower of Christ is to show compassion, to offer a cup of water in His name, to visit prisoners and shut in's "in His name" and by doing so, demonstrate the love that God has shown. All around us are those thirsty for truth and imprisoned in sin. If we claim to have faith in Christ, we should have compassion for them.
The question is, do we do this? In our daily lives, do we show love for our family and friends by putting Christ first and then doing what Jesus commands us to do — to love others and point them to Christ? While most of us don't know actual widows or prisoners, we do know those who are literally alone without God and imprisoned by sin and in need Christ. Plus, we can have compassion for actual widows, orphans, and prisoners by serving them through our church, through our support of local missions and by encouraging those who are ministering to people in these kinds of situations by praying for them and supporting their efforts.
God wants us to enjoy the blessings, desires, and gifts He has given us, and expects us to have healthy hobbies and entertainment. God wants us to enjoy the blessings He has given to us in our relationships and interests. So we do other things, but always with the mindset that we love Christ first and foremost. And it's important to remind ourselves that, unlike the Pharisees, our righteousness is not won by what we do, but by what we believe. It is our God-given faith that saves us and gives us the righteousness of Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). With that faith, we then desire to do the good things that God has prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). So we walk in those good works, including enjoying our family, friends, hobbies and our vocation as we glorify God by our commitment to Christ.
We all have times when we think we can't love God because we can't see Him, or we have trouble putting Christ first because He is not with us. But when we do show love to others and enjoy the healthy things God has given to us, that is loving God. By the gift of faith, we can and do love God as we go about our daily lives. The Apostle Peter says this: "Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory," (1 Peter 1:8, ESV). The rejoicing and joy we feel because of our faith spills over into loving others and enjoying our lives by pursuing what gives us pleasure. And this joy extends to helping others see the joy of Christ. Therefore, we are to "...seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33, ESV).
May God continue to bless, assure and comfort you as you seek to serve Him.
Image Credit: Freeimages9; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | God-Father | Jesus-Christ | Personal-Relationships
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