Monday, July 18, 2022

The Greatest Is Love

The idiom, "water off a duck's back" refers to any criticism or something similar that is spoken by one person and directed at another. If the person to whom the criticism is directed does not let it affect them in the slightest, it would be like water off a duck's back. Unfortunately, many in the church today have given the world ammunition with which to mock Christianity. Due to the wrong example that many Christians have set, it has opened the door for many people of the world to be harsh in their criticism of the church. Sadly, many in the world have witnessed believers, lying, backbiting, gossiping, speaking negatively and even evil against another believer or congregation. This is in direct violation of the command that Jesus gave to us, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) 

The world is not impressed with believers confessions of faith when they see believers mistreat one another, especially when the world looks at the church and sees the many denominations that keep it divided. When you think about it, there would never have been splits in the church, if ALL believers would love one another with the God kind of love that has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who dwells in the believer. (Romans 5:5) By not operating in love, believers have opened the door to the accuser of the brethren, Satan and in all honesty, he has capitalized on it. Also, by not operating in the God kind of love, it reveals just how carnal many believers are. When the world cannot see the difference between the Body of Christ and other non-Christian organization, it is truly a poor testimony of the Love of Christ. 

One of the big reasons why many believers become so easily offended, is because they are too focused on the things of the world. Instead of doing what the Apostle Paul tells us, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8) and "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1-2), their is an acceptance of the ways of the world. Unfortunately like the world, they are always concerned about what someone else may say or do to them; what they think someone thinks about them; and or they are so hurt, they are always looking for someone to offend them no matter what they may say or do. They unknowingly live in constant torment and bondage because they have not received healing for their soul.     

One of the greatest examples in the Bible of this, is found in the life of Israel's first king, King Saul. "Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said: Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom? So Saul eyed David from that day forward. And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul’s hand. And Saul cast the spear, for he said, “I will pin David to the wall!” But David escaped his presence twice." (1 Samuel 19:6-11)

Jealousy was the root of King Saul's offense against David. David the shepherd boy had defeated Goliath the giant and had been promoted to commander of the army. David's only crime was his faith in the Lord who gave Goliath into his hands. When David returned from battling the Philistines, the women were singing songs about him due to his military accomplishments. When King Saul heard it, he chose to be offended. To him, he was no longer number one in the eyes of Israel. Due to this, he gave himself over to jealousy, anger and destructive behavior. Though David fled from King Saul's presence, King Saul chose to pursue David in the wilderness. David was now constantly on the run to avoid King Saul from killing him. Now let's look at how David chose to handle the offense.

"Now it happened, when Saul had returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, take note! David is in the Wilderness of En Gedi. Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the Rocks of the Wild Goats. So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs. (David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.) Then the men of David said to him, This is the day of which the Lord said to you, behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you. And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. And he said to his men, the Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord. So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way. David also arose afterward, went out of the cave, and called out to Saul, saying, My lord the king! And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed down. And David said to Saul: Why do you listen to the words of men who say, Indeed David seeks your harm? Look, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed. Moreover, my father, see! Yes, see the corner of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the corner of your robe, and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor rebellion in my hand, and I have not sinned against you. Yet you hunt my life to take it. Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you. After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? Therefore let the Lord be judge, and judge between you and me, and see and plead my case, and deliver me out of your hand.” (1 Samuel 24:1-15)

As we see, David refused to retaliate. He chose to walk upright before the Lord and let the Lord be the judge. The Apostle Peter tells us, "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For he who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." (1 Peter 3:8-12)

Like David, we are all faced with choices when it comes to offenses. We can chose to let them be like water off a ducks back or we can let them become a root of bitterness that promotes the works of the flesh. (Galatians 5:19-21) The Apostle Paul warns us, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." (Galatians 6:7-8) So, if someone offends you, let us do what Peter said,  "...but on the contrary blessing..."  or in other words, let the offense be like water off a ducks back and make the God kind of love our greatest aim. Amen? (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-8)    

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