by Paul Benson
We love him, because he first loved us. -John an apostle of Christ
To love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30) is not only quite fitting (and well-deserved on the part of the Lord), but it is also a commandment. But who among us can say he has fulfilled this commandment to the fullest measure? I make no such claim personally; though I would very much like to.
But thankfully our Heavenly Father is full of grace and mercy; and I truly believe he considers an honest effort at fulfilling the First Commandment as acceptable. Through the strength of the Holy Spirit and the leading of the Word of God we absolutely can show the Lord a good return on the love he has invested in us.
And through the Scriptures we have much insight as to just what truly exemplifies a genuine love for God. Let’s look at that.
Feed The Flock
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. John 21:15
The fact that Jesus repeated this request to Peter three times is not wasted on those who understand biblical terminology. A double or triple witness in the Scriptures is a sure sign to us to recognize a matter is being heavily emphasized or firmly established. Such as when Jesus would say ‘Verily verily (truly truly) I say unto thee…’ . Jesus was saying: ‘Listen! Listen, and listen closely!’.
In this exhortation to our brother Peter we can see that Jesus was clearly asking him to demonstrate his love for his master by taking upon himself the task of ‘feeding’ the flock of God. Jesus the Great Shepherd has an immense concern for those who place their trust in his as Lord and Savior. Taking upon ourselves responsibility for the well-being of the Body of Christ is one of the greatest ways we can show our love for the Lord.
No, not everyone is called as a teacher or an elder. Not everyone is called (or equipped) to vocally minister the Word of God to the congregation. But we can all contribute to the nourishment of the flock in one fashion or another. Though the Word of Truth (when brought forth by the Spirit of Truth) is most assuredly the most important ‘food’ for a believer, there are also many means by which we can ‘feed’ one another.
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. Romans 14:19
Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 1Thessalonians 5:11
For me, one of the clearest definitions of the word ‘edify’ is that of a battery charger. When a battery is run down, and we apply a charger to it to replenish it, we are ‘edifying’ that battery. We need to see the supply of the Spirit of God in us in a similar fashion. It can wax and wane like the charge of a battery.
When we seek to build up each others spiritual charge in the ‘inner-man’ we are edifying one another. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. Prayer for each other, words of encouragement or affirmation, practical helps like financial gifts or a helping hand, (or even the course-correcting effects of Spirit-led rebuke) are all means of spiritual edification. They are truly means that ‘feed’ the flock.
And we can all take part in the safeguarding of the doctrines being fed to the flock by habitually immersing ourselves in the Scriptures, and having enough love for the truth to raise alarm or make serious intercession over any teachings or practices that are not in line with the Word of God! The silence of the flock over improper doctrine or wayward practices creates an atmosphere where the truth gets cast aside, and heresy and foolishness can then flourish. We ought not be allowing our brothers and sisters to be being fed rotten food without making a fuss over it!
Let’s show our love for our Lord by making effort to feed his Lambs in whatever capacity possible; and by taking concern (and action) over what others are feeding them!
If ye love me, keep my commandments. John14:15
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. John 14:23
The Word of God directly ties obedience to not only true communion with Christ and the Father, but also to a genuine love for the Lord. If we love the Lord we will have a heart to not only believe his Word is true, but also to pattern our behavior in a way that proves it! (For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26)
He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. John 14:24
As assuredly as obedience to the teachings of our Lord are a sure indicator of our love for him, this truth is also quite frightening in that it is inversely proportional. Disobedience to the Words of Life are an unmistakable evidence we are NOT walking in a love for God. The Apostle John gave strong witness to this truth also:
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 1John 2:3-4
Though those preaching what I sarcastically call the ‘modern gospel’ would very much like to ignore that fact, it remains an absolute truth of the Scriptures regardless of modern opinion. If we walk in disobedience to God we are not living in a manner that exemplifies a love for him! We need to ignore the apostate teachings of man being pawned off today as gospel; and honestly apply this standard of truth to our lives.
I am NOT talking here about earning your salvation; I am talking about evidencing proof of your conversion!
Holding ourselves up against this standard (obedience = loving God, and disobedience = not loving God) can be quite convicting and even life changing. For some it could even be a matter of deliverance from perdition! (James 5:19-20)
If we are going to show God we really do love him we must ever keep this standard before us; and make sure we are on the right side of the equation!
The Death of Self
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
There is no greater expression of love than self-sacrifice. And it does not have to be the extreme act of a martyrdom that takes you from this world. Which is harder? To die for Christ, or to live for him in the way he exemplified? I think there could be good argument for both sides of that question!
Living a life of self-denial for the betterment of others takes an on-going commitment and discipline. It is a life-long battle against the desires of the flesh, the mind, and the draws and distractions of living among a fallen humanity whose ways are totally contrary to those of the Father. And I believe there are those who have lived such lives of self-denial whose eternal reward (a mountain of reward built one small act at a time over many years) will actually eclipse that of some who died for their faith but had spent little time or effort laboring to benefit the Body of Christ!
For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 1Corinthians 3:9
As members of the Body of Christ we are all called to labor together with our Savior. Though the Western Church has morphed and molded the pattern of Christian ministry into a self-satisfying perversion (where the duties of the faith are all lain upon a ‘clergy’ we reward with a paycheck to do our responsibilities for us) this ought not be so!
We ALL have duty and purpose in the work of God.
But the effective performance of our individual duties most often requires we lay aside personal pursuits, and all the ‘want-to’s and ‘need-to’s life seeks to burden and distract us with, in order to see our calling fulfilled. We have to die to this world to truly live for Jesus.
It’s Not Rocket Science!
Those who know me know I am a big fan of simple truths. Here is a simple truth for us all to grasp: We will never get the tasks assigned to each of us accomplished if we are busy doing something else! And this world is sooooooo full of ‘something-elses’!
We must each ask ourselves: How much of what I am doing with this short life given me is being done instead of what I ought to be doing for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God? And I ask myself that question often.
Do I, Paul Benson, live in an absolute perfect manner that says I love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength? Certainly not! And I would be lying if I said so. But as I stir myself to obey that commandment in a more complete fashion my life (and my faith) then takes on a deeper and fuller richness.
And I believe that was God’s intent in the first place!
He wants us to walk in a steadfast love for him, not only for his good pleasure, but also for our own benefit. Do yourself a big favor: Take stock of your life, and stir yourself to show a greater expression of love for your Lord and Savior.
You will greatly please the Lord, and greatly enrich your walk at the same time!
Blessings to all who love our Christ;
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