“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.””
John 13:34-35 NASB
Awhile back I wrote about the need for love to be infectious, easily spread from person to person, and transforming as it draws people to salvation. Sometimes, love needs to be hard. There are many churches and christians who think that showing love is demonstrated by affirming people regardless of what they are doing. Far be it from us to make some feel uncomfortable.
I have been cursed, or perhaps blessed by being a magnet for criticism and close scrutiny. I have always been aware that I was being closely watched. All my moves and actions were being assessed for any hint of motivation. In my earlier life, I hated the attention. It was hard for me to get away with things. Additionally, my personality was wrongly defined by the projections of others.
After becoming a believer, I began to enjoy the close scrutiny, because it became a means for me to have accountability. I was less willing to walk in sin because I thought I would be discovered. Over time, I grew and matured in the faith and my desired gradually changed. The Lord also brought people into my life to speak the hard truth in love into my life.
I remember one Wednesday night I was attending Pastor Phil’s bible study. We typically had a time of prayer before going into the lesson. On that night I prayed with Pastor. We sat and prayed about some of the needs and about things in the world. All of sudden, Pastor Phil says “Lord, help Bernie with his weight.” I was quite huge at the time and had struggled with my weight much of my life.
The shock of the moment, went to my core. It wasn’t the shock of what he had prayed, but it was the strong feeling of conviction that came over me. God was giving me a dose of hard love. I would not have received that message from a stranger. Certainly not from someone who did not love me.
That is the role of Jesus’ disciples in the lives of each other. We are to call each other out, to encourage each other to greater work, to be better ambassadors of the Lord in this fallen world.
I can tell you that this is increasingly rare. All too often people have a moment like I had with Pastor Phil and they would have fled the church, never to return. By that moment I had gotten to know Pastor well and I had also gotten to know myself better.
As I had gone deeper into the word of God, I had found myself increasingly illuminated within. His word was bringing light into darkness, showing me my weakness and my sinful ways. Through that illumination, I was more sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I no longer relied on what I thought was right, but was increasingly guided by God’s righteousness.
Expressing love is not ignoring sin. When we ignore sin we are hating people. We are saying, by our inaction, that they can go to hell. Our world is full of people heading to that eternity, and few are willing to tell them sin is wrong. In our world, increasingly upside down, we call good evil and evil good. So many cultural shifts underway right now are the result. The consequences are mounting as fast as the bodies.
We wink at the sins of loved ones, hoping that our unconditional love will somehow change the outcome. All we really do is give permission and prolong sins damage. It is like we are painting their caskets with pretty colors. They shuffle off to spiritual death, warm, fed and sort of loved. They are in their pretty caskets, and look lively. Their just dead. Hell is still only half full.
Believers, we are to show our love to one another. Sometimes it is hard love. I dream about my dad every night. I am so blessed by that as I get to see him again. My dad was the epitome of hard love. He was the master of correction, as he made sure that I toed the line each day. I can say that I am the kind of person I am in part because of him.
His setting boundaries for me demonstrated his love.
We need to set boundaries for each other, make each other accountable. That is true love. I often see brothers and sisters doing things that I know will lead to destruction. I pray that the Lord will give me an opening to speak truth into life. This is all part of making disciples. Fostering the growth of other believers can be messy business. Loving each other, more so.
Pray that the Lord help you to go deeper in loving other disciples. Pray the Lord open your heart to hard love and the discipline He can bring to refine you.
THE PRAYER CHAIR IS OPEN! Send me your requests!