Maybe you were the child that all your parents had to do was look at you sternly and you stopped misbehaving. Or maybe it took much more effort from your parents before it finally sunk in that what you were doing was wrong. Parents correct their children out of the love they have for them, not because they want to be mean, but because they want only the best for them. Our Heavenly Father does the same for us. Deuteronomy 8:5 says, “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” When we can view difficulties in our life as loving correction from God rather than just punishment…our entire spiritual perspective and faith will be impacted and increased.
To move towards loving one another…we must move away from hate, anger, and bitterness. Here in Ephesians we are told to get rid of these negative traits and emotions. Interestingly enough, the Greek word for “get rid of” in this verse actually means to put away vices. Vices, a word you don’t hear often…a word that according to the Dictionary means habitual faults or undesirable behavior patterns. Sadly, too many children take into adulthood bad behaviors that were first modeled for them by their parents. They watch as their family inappropriately handles conflict and confrontation, and listen as others are slandered and vilified around the dining-room table. We learn what we see and hear, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put off our old fleshly nature and move away from adverse behaviors that are causing us pain and resentment.
Having a really bad day? Go outside then, take a deep breath, and look up into the sky. Now celebrate the fact that God’s majesty is on display just for you. Thank Him that He sought you out in your brokenness and worked a miracle in your life. Proclaim to Him again your trust in His son, Jesus Christ. Gaze up into the sky and recognize… that vast expanse above you can not start to contain God’s love for you.
The Lord would like you to know that you are loved. You are valued and precious in His sight. Regardless of where you come from…how notorious your background may be, or how far you’ve walked away from Him…Jesus loves you. You may say to yourself, “No one can love me…I’m too bad of a person.” But you don’t know the Lord, and if you would just take a peek into His Word, you’d see that all of Scripture is a love letter to you. It’s written just for you, to encourage and exhort…to strengthen and establish and allow you to become the very best person you can be. By His wonderful grace – God’s loving kindness towards you – there is the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation back to your Heavenly Father. There’s no need to walk out this life alone with feelings of isolation and loneliness…Jesus loves you, just as you are, right where you are today.
God so loved the world that He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ. This overwhelming love was evidenced by Him sending Jesus to die for our sinful world…placing such unwarranted value on us, though we certainly didn’t deserve it. What we deserved was God’s wrath and judgment…but what we received was the sacrificial lamb of Jesus… Who died in our place.
As a Christian we live two lives. One is our inner life…or our vertical life. This is our very intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father and consists of prayer and Bible study. This vertical life is spent getting to know God. The other is our outer life…or our horizontal life. This is our relationship with others as an ambassador for Christ. It consists of being the hands and feet of Jesus. This horizontal life is spent showing the love of God to the unloved and unlovely. Both are vitally important and interdependent on each other…for both are necessary to a vibrant and growing Christian walk. Our vertical relationship with Christ sparks us to reach out horizontally to others with His love… which sends us back to Him to be refilled…only to be again compelled to reach out for Him.
Jesus loves us with an unconditional love…it has no bounds…no restrictions. But can we love each other in the same way? Maybe it can be in what we don’t do that can show the love of Christ more effectively to those around us. Instead of yelling in anger and frustration at the kids…we don’t. Instead of becoming upset and disappointed with a co-worker…we don’t. Instead of allowing discouragement and despair to break apart our marriage…we don’t. For sometimes the greatest way to demonstrate God’s love to others… is in what we don’t do.