Gotta Stand Pt.4

      Angela from had this to say in response to one of the posts in this series. “When I became a Christian my life changed COMPLETELY – (thankfully!)
_I_ didn’t change. I had no part in it. HE changed me: His life IN me changed me.”

     She brings out a powerful truth about life with her comment. We can all acknowledge the need to change certain things about our lives. But without Jesus actively working in our lives, lasting change is not possible. In the end what I will achieve in this life will be a reflection of His work in me not an evaluation of my work (Eph. 2:10). In short, I achieve more when I trust than when I strive.

     That said Paul gives us benchmarks to trust for in Ephesians chapter 4.

“don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil….. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:26,27,29-32 NLT

             Paul encourages us to stop letting anger control our lives.  Specifically he lets us know that God would have us: stop swearing, stop being hard or cruel in our dealings, and stop complaining about people behind their backs even if what we have to say is true!  Instead we are to pray for the spirit of love, joy and kindness to reign over us.

     I am always amazed at how practical God can get with our lives.  Christianity is not some nebulous philosophy that leaves people doing whatever seems good to them. It’s a relationship with a Father who runs His household after a fashion He has established. He wants His world to be a certain way. He wants His people to live in harmony with that way even though it is not the current “way of the world”.

     With the whole world stacked against us, living Christian is not only difficult it’s impossible; That’s why Christ died. His death not only purchases us forgiveness but releases into us a new life that overcomes the world. John 16:33

    Going back to the anger thing, we live in an angry society that is constantly pushing us to react in rage. Our only ability to hold  peace comes from the fact that Jesus in us calms the storm when we turn our attentions away from this exacerbating world and look to Him who has overcome it.

Have you overcome anger? How did Jesus help you?

Rapid Fire

    In his letter to the Corinthian church Paul machine guns the following qualifiers of  real love. He says, “It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” I Cor. 13: 5,6 NIV

    These are pretty self-explanatory on the surface. But as the adage goes they “are easier said than done”.

   ” Love is not Self-seeking.” How many times have I mentioned throughout this study that love is about others and not-self. The truth is, though, we never have a chance to test out our level of selflessness until we have to give up something we really want for what someone else really needs. 

     Selflessness is the wife and mother who gives up the career she loves for the family she loves. Selflessness is the husband who stays at the job he dislikes in order to keep his kids in sneakers. Selflessness is the grandma and grandpa who give up their retirement years to raise the grandkids.

     “Love is not easily angered.” The New Living Translation puts it, “Love is not irritable”. Paul is taking love beyond action and into the realm of attitude. Not only is love other-centered, it is happy about it!

     Love is the wife and mother who gives up the career she loves for the family she loves and yet retains her sweet spirit. Love is the husband who stays at the job he dislikes in order to keep his kids in sneakers and never complains about it. Love is the grandma and grandpa who give up their retirement years to raise the grandkids and who count themselves blessed to have the privilege!

     Love keeps no record of wrongs.  “Logizomai”  is the word Paul uses. It’s an accounting term referring to balancing the books in an office, making sure all the debits and credits match. Paul is saying that love takes “wrongs done” off the books so that there needs to be no balancing done with an equal and opposite reaction from you.

    Forgiveness means letting someone go without punishment even though they deserve it. Love “let’s it go.” It looks so simple in print but to live it out is another matter. 

     Love keeping no record of wrongs is the spouse forgiving the repentant cheater and moving on without divorce. It is the abused child reconciling with the parent who has successfully gone through  anger management. Keeping no record of wrongs is love ferociously battling in the warfare of life that is this world.

     “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”  I think there is an interesting correlation between this verse and Matthew 24: 10-12 Jesus said:

      “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…” Mat. 24:10-12

    The time Jesus is referring to is the here and now. We are seeing in our society the dampening of love, as wickedness increases. 

   People in leadership tell us to let go of old-fashioned ideals and join the rest of the world in the 21st century. False prophets abound and declare that the only way to true cultural peace is tolerance and acceptance of all views and mindsets.

    The greatest problem with this philosophy is that it is a lie. Embracing and delighting in wicked choices causes love to grow cold. Without love there can be no peace.

      So love rejoices when the truths of Scripture win out and undo wickedness in men. For then love can freely grow.

       So love call us to self-sacrifice, to keep a sweet attitude even in the worst of circumstances, to forgive the unforgivable, and to fight against increasing cultural pressure to accept things we know are wrong.

     I don’t know about you but that seems a pretty tall order for me to fill. How can I do it? Why would I want to?

      Well I can’t make myself this kind of lover but God can. Further He does. As I open my heart to His Word through study and prayer God changes what I cannot change myself and I find more power in myself than I first thought possible. (2 Peter 1:3)

    As to why I would want to walk this pathway of self-sacrifice, love is its own reward. It is the one power in the universe that will never be undone. To have love is to have everything.

     I will pursue the way of love. How about you?