Big and Best

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Hmmmm. Quite interesting verse there.

Sometimes we who tend to overthink things really need to discern if that’s such a bad thing. I often berate myself for thinking too deeply or too much. But the truth of the matter is that if the thinking is in all reality, exploration and digging into the heart, then it’s actually something that can be productive (even if it’s a pain in the rear).

It can be part of the sanctification process, for sure.

Searching our hearts is so very important. I know that for me, I have dark crevices in there. Those are dangerous, you know. Sometimes we have to dig to find them. We have to prod and twist to bring them to the surface so the poison can come out and fruit that is good can grow. Actually, it’s the Lord who prunes us, not ourselves. But at the same time, we must be willing to do the work He asks for us to do. As always, living in true relationship with our Savior is just that – R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S-H-I-P: it’s got to be two-way.

This verse slays me. If you look into a crystal clear pool of water, you will see a pretty clear reflection that stares right back at you. It is a true representation (that reflection) of your true face. And yes, you guessed it! Just as the verse says, our heart is a true reflection of our character, and our life reflects our heart.

All of it.

Thankfully, we are covered by Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross. And although that makes our salvation something that we can’t earn, it doesn’t get us off the hook for how He asks us to live our lives or the work that He asks us to do so that He can live in and through us as He so desires to if we are His true followers.

So how does that life we live reflect that heart of ours? Well, for starters, it’s in how much we nurture that relationship with our Savior. But then, it is seen pretty clearly in how we treat one another.

“He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. Job 6:14

Do you have a healthy fear of the Lord? Do you stand in awe of who He is? Do you know that at the same time He now calls us “friend” if we are saved by Jesus Christ and have entered into a true relationship with Him, that He is still our King and All-Powerful, Sovereign, and Mighty God? That spells reverence. That spells respect. And that usually entails listening and praying for Him to guide us and fill us with His power to obey His commands.

If you know this fear and awe of the Lord, then it’s important – soooo important to truly listen to what He commands us to do. We are NOT TO WITHOLD KINDNESS FROM A FRIEND.

Withhold: To hold something back; refuse to provide. To take away from or withdraw. To keep in your own custody. To refrain from granting, giving, or allowing.

This is big stuff folks. BIG!

Lest you think I am standing in judgement of your heart or you as a person, dear reader,  please know that I am only speaking the truth in love. I would strap Annie up first if I was responsible for going down the list of people who need to suffer the consequences for withholding when the times get rough or tough.

But I also know that I am not alone in this. I care for all of us in relation to this important command from Christ, and the Lord has told me to share this without fear or trepidation. He does tell us that there need be no condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus, but there definitely needs to be exhortation (an address or communication emphatically urging someone to do something).

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17

This is for everyone, but in particular it is for the body of Christ. And Annie is a part of that body of believers. Annie has failed miserably at times in loving others with reckless abandon.

We’re all guilty at times, aren’t we?

  • I’m not feeling it today.
    I don’t want to deal with that person.
    That person wounded me, so I have to protect myself.

Oh..and by the way. “Friend” by the world’s standards is “a person whom one knows, likes and trusts. But Jesus says we are brothers and sisters in HIM, we fellow Christians. That makes us “friends” by acquaintance. Actually, we are family. If Jesus calls us friends, shouldn’t we treat one another that way, even when it’s  hard?

I’m not sharing today about healthy boundaries. I’m saying we need to tear them DOWN. If there is a problem, maybe we can’t solve it completely (it takes at least three – the person, the other person, and Jesus), but we CAN show love in the process. We CAN choose the loving gesture. We CAN stop withholding. Jesus didn’t withhold from the criminal on the cross right next to Him!

Here is my reminder to myself (again) before I go off to spend time with the Lord before bed tonight: This is not an option – This is a command from the ONE we serve!!!!

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:12-14

That tells me something – something BIG and something IMPORTANT about Jesus and what He expects from us. It tells me that to be called His friend, I need to love others the way He has loved me.

That means no withholding. That means correction in my heart in the places I am withholding. That means risk. It means choice, regardless of feelings, wounds, hurts, complications, confusion, moods, circumstances. It means what it means. Period.

It means dying to myself more and more each day and letting Him fill that dark with light. Hopefully, my heart can be filled with more and more of Him each day, so it reflects His beauty instead of my ugly.

He can and will do it, you know. If we allow Him to take up full-on residence in our hearts, what we see shining back at us when we look to Him for the love, to Him for the ability to love like He does, will be a vision of real love.

We will see HIM instead of ourselves. I don’t know about you, but that seems far more pleasurable a thing upon which to set my eyes.

And that is not only BIG, but it is also –  BEST.

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