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Defined by Love

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1 Corinthians 4

As we have noted before, people who came to Jesus were not defined by their mistakes, but rather by the love of a Saviour who gave everything He had to bring us life and light and love. His love is something we have the privilege of sharing with others, but it can only be given in the measure with which we have experienced it.

Think of the Pharisees. They tried to be what they thought God wanted them to be. They were so very religious, legalistically obeying the law to the letter. They came from generations of well-intended people who were proponents of that law, given by a loving God to protect them as they wandered in the wilderness, as they fought with their enemies, as they raised their children to become God’s children. Israel became a force to be reckoned with among the nations because their God was with them, but alas! they missed the spirit of the law.

From the beginning God demonstrated His love for everyone. He provided sinners with clothes to cover their nakedness; He still provides sinners with all that they need today. The rain falls on the unjust as well as the just (Matthew 5:45). God met with an Egyptian slave-girl in the desert and cared for her and her teen-aged son,; today that son’s descendants are scattered across the middle east, a powerful group of Arabs bearing the heritage of Ishmael, whose very name means “God listens”. As we go on through scripture we recognize that God’s love saved folks from other tribes, beyond His particular “chosen” people…Ruth and Rehab who are among the genealogies of Jesus, because God’s love defined their choices.

What it is that defines your life and mine? Have you been given eternal life because you received salvation purchased by the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus came to give us an abundant life (John 10:10). What might that look like? His desire was to walk with us day by day, impacting our thinking and our feelings, giving us a new perspective and creating a new spirit (attitude) within each child of God. Through our new lifestyle God uses us to share the light of His truth with everyone we meet….family, friends, colleagues at work and even strangers.

The Apostle Paul had something to say about the way we live out our Christian lives. He taught that God “will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts” (:5). We, as God’s servants, must prove ourselves faithful to the trust we have been given (:2). Paul was practical. “Who makes you different from anyone else?” What do you have that you did not receive?” (:7).

It seems the church at Corinth was fighting against pride and arrogance. Paul draws their attention to the humility required in a servant of God by telling them we might look like fools for Christ’s sake (:10). Then he lists many things we may have to endure, preferably with a loving and gentle spirit (:21). We need to remember we are in a battle for truth and righteousness. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us with kindly thoughts towards everyone, so that we can be true representatives of the love of Jesus. “The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power!” (:20)….power to reach out to those who are unlovely, just as God reached out to you and to me!

Reflection:

What a challenge it is to live for Jesus! First of all He knows our motives. Are they pleasing to Him? Do we behave as He would? Do we walk in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake? Are we motivated by a powerful, compelling desire to please Him? Are our lives defined by the love He poured out at Calvary?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

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