Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. (1 Peter 4:8-9)
What do you have difficulty embracing?
How do you handle sin in someone else’s life? Does it differ from how you handle sin in your own life?
How hospitable without complaining are you?
Just as God wants us to love what He loves, He also wants us to know what is outside His intention and ideal. No matter what someone is doing, God doesn’t hate the person. Each person is His creation. God has purpose for each person, whether he or she fulfills it or not. He doesn’t want to lose a single person from eternal life with Him, but He gives us choice, and our eternal lives are impacted by those choices. God hates sin. He hates anything that comes between us and Him. We are made in His image, and He intends for us to become more like Him every moment as we pursue Him through faith. We need to know what He loves and what He doesn’t. However, it’s not about legalism. We cannot consider God’s justice without His grace.
We don’t carry the responsibility of God’s justice. We are not the moral police. He is the judge. There’s a difference between being the judge and jury and being a discerning believer who isn’t gullible enough to accept falsehoods or too proud to acknowledge or assume truth. As we become familiar with God’s will and He stirs the passions within us, He will let us know when we need to respond appropriately to something that angers Him. And He will equip us to confront, speak the truth, and love in His way. We don’t have to fix everything. We don’t need to convict someone. But we also don’t need to stand beside the road and ignore what is outside of God’s intention and ideal. The key is discernment, trusting God’s timing in every response of thought, words and actions. Just as Jesus did, we will often be prompted to embrace the outcasts, ill, and misunderstood.
Give a hug today. In fact, give as many as you can.
What spiritual gifts do you believe you have?
Are you content with what gifts you believe God has given you?
How well do you fit and work together with others who are different but can complement your gifts?
God gives us instructions. He deals with us as a general group of people, yet He also communicates with and relates to us individually. He is personal. He keeps the whole in mind and intends for us to serve alongside each other, working together to accomplish His work; yet He gives each of us very specific gifts, instructions, and timing. He has certainly not created drones.
Life—and faith—isn’t about uniformity. It’s about unity in God’s will and conformity to Him. We live by the same standards, but we lead different lives. We have different struggles, personalities, and experiences. We have different relationships, abilities, and weaknesses. He knows the details of each of us, and He invites us to be unique in the ways He’s created us…but unified together for His purpose. He doesn’t want us to be the same with each other…just the same with Him. Of course, that means as we conform to Him, we will have many similarities. But we will never become drones that follow the exact same pattern of life.
As we follow God well, we have a lot of freedom. We don’t have to demand everyone else respond to the instructions in the exact same way that we do. We don’t need to copy or envy someone else’s work because we like it. We need to follow God and be creative. After all, He is creative, and He made us in His image.
As you walk behind or sit with someone today, try to carry yourself, walk, sit, and gesture in the same way as him or her for at least one minute. How uncomfortable is it? Celebrate your differences as well as similarities. Thank God for your uniqueness.
The Pharisees and Sadducees approached, and as a test, asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them: “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be good weather because the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy because the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to read the appearance of the sky, but you can’t read the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then He left them and went away. (Matthew 16:1-4)
We need to be able to discern when people approach us with authentic curiosity and when they are only testing to find fault.
But notice how Jesus called them out. Here were people who were ready to recognize signs in nature, but look past the truth of Jesus right in front of them. That’s often the case today. People are willing to accept certain prophecies and signs and ideas that line up with their beliefs but can’t see truth in front of them. I suppose we’re all like that a bit. Our filters can get mixed up and clogged.
Hence, the need for discernment, which is sort of like keeping our filters clean and ready to sift through everything that comes our way.
Then Peter replied to Him, “Explain this parable to us.”
“Are even you still lacking in understanding?,” (Jesus) asked. (Matthew 15:15-16)
Even Jesus got frustrated and exhausted with discipleship. It’s a persistent process. Of course, Jesus stayed engaged. He worked through the difficult moments, because He knew how important the process was.
How committed are we to discipleship? How often do we walk away because of disinterest, misunderstandings, or frustrations? How ready and willing are we to explain, wrestle with, and listen to people as they grow?
It takes effort, patience, and humility.
And it is necessary and worthwhile.
I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:36-37)
Careless words get us into trouble.
What exactly qualifies a word as careless? Anything we speak without giving sufficient attention or thought to avoiding harm or errors. It’s the words we speak without enough concern. And that concern involves so many aspects. Concern for truth. Concern for impact. Concern for motivation.
Just a few verses before, we find, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” (Matthew 12:33-34)
Careless describes our words and our motivations. It also describes us.
Just then, a woman who had suffered from bleeding for 12 years approached from behind and touched the tassel on His robe, for she said to herself, “If I can just touch His robe, I’ll be made well!” But Jesus turned and saw her. “Have courage, daughter,” He said. “Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that moment. (Matthew 9:20-22)
A women who was vulnerable, weak, and devastated from a chronic health condition pursued Jesus with strength and faith. She trusted Him and leaned forward toward Him. She reached with everything she had.
I think of her often as I pursue God. No matter how I feel, do I pursue Him with a similar strength and faith? Do I stretch with everything I have to reach Him?
Jesus responds to the woman with power and sensitivity. He encourages her.
He knows our pursuit and our faith, which encourages me. I can’t physically reach out and touch Him, but I can reach Him. And He responds with power and sensitivity. Every single time.
But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why are you thinking evil things in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4)
This might seem like an unsettling Scripture, but to me, it’s comforting. It reminds me that God knows my thoughts. And it challenges me, too, that He knows my thoughts!
No matter what you’re going through, no matter what you’re thinking about, God is well aware, and He’s interested. He always wants more and better for you. You can trust Him to guide. Let Him filter everything in your life, including your thoughts. You might be challenged, but you won’t be disappointed.