I recently wrote on this issue, love one another vs. bold speaking.
Let’s examine what LOVE means in the Bible some more.
“Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12–14, KJV)
If you’ve made the move to Logos along with me, here’s some topics to research: Blessing, Rewards. Search them one at a time, then compare your results.
How we treat one another is very important to God.
Those who try to advance themselves in a clever or a blatant way will be humbled, but those who are genuinely humble before God will be exalted by him. Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, vol. 3, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), Lk 14:7.
Here’s your first tip:
Be humble before God. I touched on this a little in my Bible study series that nobody liked, when I mentioned that if you approach the Bible with an attitude of, “I know what this means” then God teaches you absolutely nothing.
Be humble before God. There is no case in the Bible, none, of anyone approaching God with Arrogance and saying, “Lord I am HERE! Your worries are over! Use me!”
You will be abased. ταπεινόω, tapeinoo, made humble. It is FAR better to humble yourself than let God humble you. Although i daresay, everyone reading this will have been humbled by the Lord at least once in your Christian walk.
Here’s your second tip: Exalt others over yourself. “But what about my pastor?” You do know that the living of a shepherd was a lowly career, right? And the word for servant basically means the lowest of slaves?
Christianity is a unique religion, in which we constantly are enjoined to diminish ourselves, and exalt God. Today’s Christians really have no fear of God. In many ways, I guess from Televangelists who routinely think they can order God around in the HARSHEST of tones, today’s Evangelical Christian really has little in the way of feare of God. They see Fundamentalists, who very often treat God as if God is a hugely powerful being and can destroy us if He wants to, and cannot understand that mindset. But the Rabbis say, “There is no worship without Yirat Hashem (fear of God).”
The Evangelical, if he or she begins to read his or her Bible, begins to understand when Jesus Christ says “Fear God who can destroy you in Hell”. If they read their Bible.
As you progress in your relationship with God, it begins to temper with the understanding that God is completely within His rights to utterly blot us out. All of us have sinned. All of us have fallen short of the Glory of God.
And yet, He loves us.
He loves us with an amazing love we call Grace, which means unmerited favor. God so loved YOU that He sent His only begotten son that if you just believe, BELIEVE, you will have everlasting life.
Third hint, Love is a verb, not a feeling. Biblically, love is not a fuzzy warm emotion. It is a verb, it denotes action. The parable of the Good Samaritan tells us that. The judgment in Matthew 24 tells us that. “When I was hungry, you fed me.” “When did we feed you Lord?” “When you fed the least of these, you fed Me.”
I’m telling you, we haven’t grasped that yet. These are LIFE CHANGING WORDS, and most of us rush right on by because we’re too bothered and in a rush to finish our devotionals to really stop and DWELL ON what we read in the Bible.
See, if you put all three of these together, this is the essence of what being a Christian is! “Love one another, as I have loved you.” “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Throw those three words in to the ending of the Shema, and it ceases to be a routine prayer you have to pray before you can drink your morning coffee – but a rule for conduct. Love your neighbor as your own self.
Really, a lot of us skip over our study of the books called the General Epistles. But there’s a LOT in there. a Lot! 1 John, James, Jude, 1 & 2 Peter give us SO MUCH we really need to study and learn! The value of a book in the Bible cannot be estimated by its size! I spent a week once in serious study of Philemon, and really was enriched by it.
If I walk through the church building feeling warm fuzzy thoughts at everyone, that is not love, that’s medication of some kind.
But if you notice the poor new couple in the church, and you notice that they’re not dressing properly for church – well, stop and think… have you ever seen them wear anything other than those clothes? It just might be… that’s all they could afford at a thrift store. They could be taking a casual attitude towards church, or it might possibly be that they’re eating mustard sandwiches at night because that’s all they can afford.
When I first got married, I can seriously remember walking home from work (it was several miles) and carefully picking up every coin I saw, and praying urgently it would amount to enough money we could go to the Bakery Thrift store and buy a loaf of bread with it, and some honey buns or something for dinner. I didn’t have money to buy a suit for church.
Maybe if you got together with some of the deacons, and raised a few dollars and bought them some clothes… and hey, some food.
The whole idea about church is that, some Christians begin getting blessed by God. Did you ever stop to think it’s perhaps because God is testing you with a little increase to see if you’re going to use it properly? Maybe the whole idea behind church, besides the preaching, is that it’s a way for the very, very poor to be taken care of by those who are wealthier.
Maybe a reason churches die is because they forget the poor.
POOR, ORPHAN, WIDOW Three groups of people of the lower social classes in need of legal protection from the rich and powerful who sometimes abused them (Job 24:3–4). God’s promise of care for the poor, the fatherless, and the widows was a tremendous source of hope during times of severe difficulty. Gary V. Smith, “Poor, Orphan, Widow,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1311.
The Bible regularly addresses the topic of poverty; the biblical writers were primarily concerned with ensuring that the impoverished were not ignored or oppressed by the wealthy and powerful. The biblical writers are also concerned that justice and mercy be brought into the world via those who serve God, so that the impoverished no longer suffer. A. Chadwick Thornhill, “Poverty,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
If you want to make your church a success, consider this: it takes genuine concern and care for the poor to make that church something in God’s eyes. If you begin to prosper a little, and someone in need shows up in your church, here’s your test. Do not fail that test. Humble yourself. Exalt the poor, the needy. Love thy neighbor as yourself…
…and feed them.