Saturday, November 24

The evidence of your love for God

Scripture: Matthew 17-19

Matthew 19:16–22 Just then someone came up and asked him, “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?” 

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” he said to him. “There is only one who is good. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 

18 “Which ones?” he asked him. 

Jesus answered: Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; 19 honor your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as yourself. 

20 “I have kept all these,” the young man told him. “What do I still lack?” 

21 “If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 

22 When the young man heard that, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

Observation

This young man asks what he needs to do to have eternal life.  Jesus answers, “Keep the commandments.”  The young man asks, “Which ones?”  And Jesus responds with 5 of the social commands from the Ten Commandments, and the second half of the Great Commandment, love your neighbor as yourself.  All of these are about how we treat other people.  The most sure evidence of love for God is how we treat people.  

When the young man insists he has done this, Jesus adds one more: “If you want to be perfect (complete), sell your belongings and give to the poor…then come follow me.”  Jesus knows that this young man’s wealth is his god; it’s his idol.  “You shall have no other gods before me.”  But even in this, there is a social component: he is to give his wealth away to the poor.  This accomplishes both a spiritual and social purpose: the young man dethrones his idol and makes God first, and serves people in the process.  Again, the most sure evidence of love for God is how we treat people.  

Application

I love the practicality of the Christian faith.  Our love for God expresses itself in the most practical way: in how we treat people every day.  John says, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.”  (1 John 4:20-21)

Do you want to prove you love God?  Love people.  Do you want to show your devotion to God?  Love people.  Do you want to keep the commandments and have eternal life?  Love people.  

I’m not suggesting we don’t have a deep personal connection with God.  That is indispensable and our first and highest need.  Loving God is the first and greatest commandment.  So we need above all to nurture our relationship with God.  Love God first!  And we love Him and others because He first loved us.  

I’m simply suggesting that our love for God manifests itself most clearly in the way we treat people.  As John said, if we say we love God but don’t love people, we are lying to ourselves and others.  

Today, I want to love people as an expression of my love for God.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for loving and saving me.  Help me to know and love you deeply—and then express that love in my relationship with each person I’m with.