I am convinced actions do speak louder than words. I am convinced the way we live our lives and the way we treat others paints the truest pictures of who we are. Our actions display what we stand for and what we think is right. As Christians, we are called to one thing in particular, love God and love others.
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”” – Matthew 22:37-39
We can talk all day about loving others, we can post inspirational quotes on Facebook about living as Christ did every day (that’s me), and we can talk a big game, but what really matters is how we play the game. If we talk all day about love, forgiveness, and grace but never actually live it out, we are hypocrites. I don’t think we intend to be hypocritical; we have good intentions behind what we say. The problem is our sinful nature rams us off track and we fall back into our pride and never actually live out what we said. We are all guilty of this, and I am one of the worst.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10
We want to live out the Gospel, we want to display the love Christ showed us on the cross, and we want to extend the same grace and mercy God shows us in our brokenness, but the enemy often takes us out of the game. The enemy often tries to distract us with things of this world, whether they are pleasing to the eye or frightening, and they throw our focus off Jesus and what is important. I think of Peter when he was walking on the water with Jesus. There was nothing wrong with Peter’s faith, but it was the storm that distracted him. It was fear that caused Peter to lose focus of Jesus, and he began to sink. The enemy is always trying to distract us, make us lose focus, and keep us from actually loving people. So what do we do?
I think the first step is to accept our brokenness, knowing that we will fail. So long as we try to do it ourselves, we will always fail. We needto seek God to strengthen us. In 1 John 4, it says God is love and we can’t love if God is not with us. We need to surrender our lives to God, ask Him to enter our hearts and enable us to live in love. We can’t love like God if we haven’t asked Him to help us. If we are going to be disciples of love, we need to study it day and night. Read the Bible, talk with God, and spend time with the One who is love. God wants us to seek Him, and He wants us to love Him and others well.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:43-45
When Jesus came to earth, He called us all to the big leagues. He invited us to be His disciples and live a life different from the rest of the world. In Matthew 5-7, Jesus gives a powerful message to His disciples. He lays out the blueprints to what being one of His disciples looks like. Every time I read it, I stop at the ‘love your enemies’ part. What?!? On top of that, Jesus says to pray for them. Most of the time, our enemies are our neighbors. The second most important thing God commands us to do is love our enemies and pray for them. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we see that He has forgiven them, showed mercy to them, and loves them just as much as He loves us. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, He enables us to love the difficult people, those we disagree with, those who have hurt us, our enemies.
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” – C.S. Lewis
To be a Christian, a disciple of Christ, we must forgive and show mercy to everyone and love them as if they have never done anythingwrong. Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35.) The way we love demonstrates who we are. The way we live is the first word we speak about the Gospel and the transformational power of the cross. How we treat others is the living example of the love God demonstrated to us on the Cross. To be a disciple of Christ means to love others unconditionally, forgiving the inexcusable of the past, showing mercy, and loving unconditionally with eyes focused on Jesus.
Wake up every morning reminding yourself to keep your eyes on Jesus. Remind yourself that you are becoming a disciple of Christ. Remind yourself that you are learning to be love in a world filled with brokenness. Every day, all day, be with Jesus. Ask Him to join you at work, the party, on the football field, the book study, during chess club, at the movies, on your hike, and during dinner. Be with Jesus, read the Bible, and seek to love everyone, unconditionally, without any limits, forgetting the past, and continually looking to the future.
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