Give me a word, Lord: PROVING OURSELVES

Matthew 25:34-40 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’  “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

This morning as I was sitting down to write my devotional, Jeff called my cell phone and asked me to come help him at the barn. Yesterday, we bought a new fainter buck named Big Boy. He’s a cutie with nice long horns, and he can faint at the drop of a dime. He is also very gentle and was hand raised by our goat guy, Raymond. He will make an excellent breeder buck for our little herd of fainters. He is our only buck currently, however, we do have a small flock of blackbelly sheep out there too. The master of that flock is Mr. Man. He too is a very gentle, hand raised male, and he has an astonishing set of curling horns. Even though they are of two different species, they are the only intact males in the barn, and naturally, each one feels the need to prove himself. They needed to prove themselves so much that they broke out of the barn this morning. Mr. Man was right on Big Boy’s tail at the far end of the field when I arrived on the scene. They were both completely fine, and neither was injured in the least. I shooed them back to the barn where Jeff was waiting with a bucket of feed, and Mr. Man was placed in a stall with two of his concubines for a little time out. These two will get used to each other eventually when they realize they aren’t competing for the love of their girls. They each have their own little herd to attend.

That brings me to thinking about humans, and what we feel we need to do to prove ourselves. People will strive to be the best at their job, the best spouse, the best friend, and even try to be the best Christian. This proving of oneself looks different depending on the person that you are asking, but really we needn’t try to prove ourselves. Jesus never asked us to prove ourselves. In fact, we can never do anything to earn salvation or any higher honor in the kingdom of God. So how do we prove ourselves as Christians? There is a great hymn that answers this question, “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love’, and God too will know we are Christians by our love. Our pastor frequently shares this point with us: “You can gauge your love for God by how well you love others.” You can either say amen or ouch, but folks, that’s it. We prove our love for Christ by how well we love.

In fact, Jesus tells us that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and He says that the second is equally important which is to love your neighbor as yourself. We are commanded to love God and love others, and others will see Christ in us through this love for God and others. Thankfully, we don’t have to go out in a field and try to prove ourselves as king of the mountain. We merely have to love. And how do we do that? Well, we just have to fall in love with Christ, and once we truly love Christ, we can’t help but love others.

We love others through our actions. Love is an action word. Take a look at Matthew 25 for a great example of how to show love. We need to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, invite the stranger into our homes, and clothe the naked. That sounds easy enough, right? But what about those people we don’t like? Do we have to love them too? Well, of course we do! We may even need to love them a little harder because those are generally the ones who do not know Christ, and they really need to see the love of Christ in you. You may be the only reflection of Christ that person ever sees.

We can try all day every day to prove ourselves to Christ, but there is no need. Christ knows our hearts. He already knows His children, and He knows each and every one of us individually. There is nothing that we can do to make Him love us more, and there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less. However, we can show Christ how much we love Him but showing His love to others. If we are being inspected under the magnifying glass, is our love for God and others shining through? You don’t have anything to prove, Peeps. You just have to love! They will know we are Christians by our love…by our love!

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