Sunday, June 28, 2009

Loving Our Brother

1Jn 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen

This verse came to mind this morning as I was sitting here but God was showing it to me in quite a different way than I usually think about it. If you are like me then this verse almost makes you cringe every time you read it or maybe a better word would be condemned. Now if we feel condemned when we read it then we must be reading it wrong because of this verse,

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Now if 1Jn 4:20 condemns me then I have to be looking at it from the wrong perspective. The thing that got me to thinking on this was remembering someone I knew many years back and I saw God using them as they ministered to others and the very clear evidence of God's life in them. These days they no longer do the things that God showed Himself through in times past. Now I might be wrong in this because I don't know the exact details but I have seen it in many other places also so I think the point is true even if it doesn't quite match this story. What I saw here was a person take themselves out of ministry because of the sin in their life. This is where 1 John came in and the thought I had was, is this person loving their brother by sidelining themselves and not doing the things where God was so clearly living and showing His love through them? The reason I ask this is because of how we like to think of sin most of the time. I think most of us like to believe that as long as it is not seen on the outside then we do not have any. This is a misconception that can cause us much grief and heartache along the way that might be avoided if we were honest with ourselves. You see sin is not something that jumps on us from the outside like we prefer to think of it. The truth is that this body that we live in is like a bucket, every now and then it gets a leak in it and what is inside starts dripping out. I think this verse bears out this illustration.

Rom 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Dwelleth : to occupy a house that is, reside (figuratively inhabit, remain, inhere); by implication to cohabit:

Some of us spend a lifetime trying to keep all the holes plugged and maybe we do a pretty good job of it but the truth is we have never changed what is on the inside one iota. We have only hidden the truth about what resides in this bucket we call our body. But sin is not the only thing that resides here, we also occupy this body along with God. This body is not us, we only live here as does sin and the great thing about it is that this body will never dwell in heaven and when it passes away it will take sin with it. Can I hear an amen.
But back to the problem with sin leaking out. What should be my perspective and reaction when one of those leaks opens up and what's inside shows itself? Should I run and get a mop and mop up the mess, grab a role of duct tape and seal that leak? I don't think so because none of these are loving to our brother. We should be honest with ourselves and those around us just as Paul was, “sin that dwelleth here”. Ask for forgiveness not for Gods sake but as a reminder that this leak that is showing the sin on the inside was forgiven when the Lamb was slain. The leak is not what needs forgiveness but the sin that was already there, that has been there since the day I was born. And what should be my focus here? I mentioned before that sin will pass away with this body when it dies because it is part of this earth. I think these verses answer this.

Col 3:1-3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Eph 2:5-7 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Thank God that through Jesus dying on the cross He has made us one with Him and this earth, body, bucket is no longer our only dwelling place and our focus should be on things above and not below and I think the mess and the sin qualify as things below.
Before I said that trying to plug the leak or clean up the mess would not be loving our brother and you might ask why. First I do not think that we have the ability to clean up the mess or heal the wounds or leaks that we have, only He can do that in His goodness and mercy. I also believe that the most important thing for all of us in this lifetime here on earth is that we would continually get a taste of God. A taste of Him will change us forever including those around us. I think these verses show what I'm talking about.

Psa 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Rom 2:4 Or despises thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

So the greatest ways we can love our brother is to give him a taste of God. But those pesky leaks? You know it's funny how that many times those leaks that show what is on the inside are the very times that God shows Himself, because remember that sin is not the only thing that lives here.


In Christ Seated in the Heavenly Places,
Johnny


P.S. Waiting for the day when I can kick the bucket. :)

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