Attitudes and Actions

In Matthew 5:20 Jesus called his disciples to a spiritual level higher than that of their religious leaders. He was asking the disciples to grow beyond those who led their times of worship and taught in their synagogues.

To the disciples this must have sounded impossible. Those religious leaders very carefully followed the law of Moses and the many interpretations thereof. They were the theologians and seminary professors of their day. They wrote the Sunday School literature and scriptural commentaries. They tithed, attended all the festivals, gave special offerings, prayed three times every day, fasted several times each year, and sacrificed at the correct times and in the appropriate manner. How could these “working stiffs” ever exceed such righteousness?

They could love their neighbors!

Jesus did not fault the actions of these leaders. Their actions were impeccable. But He knew their hearts (Luke16:15). He called his followers to a set of attitudes that were more pleasing to the Father. He called them to love others. 

If God were to call us to judgement today, would we want him to judge us on our actions or our attitudes? Which come closer to the meeting his standards?

What should be our primary attitude toward God? Love! (Matthew 22:37)

What should be our primary attitude toward people?  Love! (Matthew 22:39)

What actions should we take to show God we love Him? Obey Him! (John 14:15)

What actions should we take to show others we love them? Serve them! (John 13:4-5)

Musings #4

When we look at a sinful world…the lying, injustice, greed, murder…do we feel more anger and outrage toward the perpetrators than sympathy and compassion for the victims? Do we want to punish more than help? Do we want to accuse, blame and hate more than we want to empathize, assist and love?

In Matthew 16:22 Peter contradicted Jesus because what Jesus was saying differed from what he had been taught as a child, what he had believed all his life. Do we sometimes let what we have been taught in the past interfere with what God wants to teach us now? Do we let old attitudes and opinions keep us from accepting new revelations?

It seems we Christians are more willing to hate the things God hates – sinful behavior-than we are to love the things God loves – sinful people. Why? Could it be that loving costs more money, time, energy and commitment than hating does, and we are unwilling to pay the extra price?

When I sin, I want to find excuses for my behavior and put the blame on outside explanations and circumstances. In sports jargon this takes the form of “It took a bad bounce” or “The sun was in my eyes” or “The referee made a bad call.” But when I do good, I want to take all the credit and pat myself on the back because I am such a “GOOD” person. God hates this attitude.

Is the term “proud servant” an oxymoron? Not for the Christian! I am a servant, but I am proud of the one I serve. I am a servant, but I am proud to bear my Master’s name. Being a servant is not a bad thing because I have the perfect boss.

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 2

Loving the unlovable was—is—a major Christ-like quality all his children need to develop.  We can never love in the way and to the extent He does, but with the aid of the Holy Spirit we can always become more loving than we are now.

It’s much easier to love those who look like, act like and think like us than to love those who are different from us. The tribalism that is so rampant in our world today is a  strong indication of how much we have wandered away from the Heavenly Father.

Jesus loved me when I was unlovable. I was about as unlike Jesus as any human could possibly be. He proved his love by leaving heaven, living a perfect life for thirty years, disappointing his family, accepting the hatred of his home-town leaders, being abandoned by his father and dying on the cross.

We may spend much of out time in eternity praising Jesus for loving the “unlovable different.”  And I will be front row center.

__________

In Acts 26:16 Paul stated that Jesus had “appeared” to him so he would be a “witness” of all things he had learned and would learn.

Can I be anything else and still be true to his desire for my life?

__________

As a Christian I should view the past through the lens of gratitude, the present through the lens of obedience and the  future through the lens of expectation.

Christians Are To Be Uncommon

Romans 12:1 Take your everyday, ordinary life….and place it before God as an offering. (MSG)

Any time a group of Christians is challenged to give more time or money to God, there is almost always someone who will say something like “Yes, I could give Him more, but how much more is enough? I have to use common sense to know how much to give and how much to keep so I can meet my obligations to my family. God doesn’t want my kids to have only rags to wear and He expects me to spend time with my loved ones. We have to use the common sense God has given us.”

The basic concept of this response is undoubtedly true, but we must remember that God expects us to use His sense of proper giving and there is nothing common about that. Christians are uncommon people; we are children of the King and heirs to His riches and glory.

Our giving should not be like that of the world. We should give generously and sacrificially (Luke 21:1-4).

Our thinking should not be like that of the world. We should think with the wisdom of God (James 1:5).

Our attitude toward others should not be like that of the world. We should love everyone, everywhere, all the time (Mark 12:31).

Everything about God’s children should be uncommon – uncommonly loving, patient, kind, strong and pure. We must stop using common sense, behaving in common ways, loving to a common degree and serving others to a common limit.

We have an uncommon God. Jesus made an uncommon sacrifice for us on the cross. Let’s be uncommon in our devotion and service to Him.