When I think about all the evil up front and in our face these past six months I can’t help from thinking about the words of Jesus who said concerning the last days, “Because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24: 12-13). You might say that the horrific acts of lawlessness were so despicable that it would be wrong to mention them in the same context that “the love of most will grow cold.” Perhaps if we understood the true meaning of love as Jesus spoke of it then it would be easier to see the connection. Jesus Christ gave us a new definition for love that has set His followers apart from the rest of the world for two millennia. So incredible is this love that volumes have been written in a quest to plummet the depths of its sociological significance. In the past two thousand years only a few groups have come close to applying its principles to their social interaction, but like bright shining lights in the firmament they too have just as quickly faded out as burning embers against the night sky. True Christian love goes so far against the grain of our human nature that it’s quite impossible to emulate apart from a radical transformation in Christ Jesus. The simplest yet the most profound definition of Christian love is, “it’s selfless.” It takes no thought of self but is completely other centered.
On the other hand, when we look at the face of evil we see evil manifested in selfish acts which almost always demands a very high cost to others. We as a nation are still horrified about three Cleveland women who were kidnapped and held captive for a decade to be used in a “Self-gratifying and self-serving way” by a very wicked and detestable man. Most all of us will look at this and say quite candidly that we would never do such a thing – just the thought of it causes great anguish and a sickening in our spirit. Or we may look at the woman who nearly decapitated her boyfriend perhaps out of jealousy driven by selfishness and have the same feelings. To look at the other horrendous crimes would be beyond the scope of this article, but hopefully we are beginning to see that these great evils start and end with selfish acts which always exact a cost to others. Yet, Jesus said that the love of “many” would grow cold, which tells me that selfishness will reign in the last days. I believe there will be more horrendous crimes against others that will shock our insensibility, but if we are honest then we will admit that selfishness has raised its ugly head in our life also seeking to control our behavior at every turn. The good Christian soldier must aggressively wage war against the enemy of our soul knowing that every selfish act has the ability to hurt others and drive us further away from the selfless love that God has called us to in Christ Jesus.
For the Christian soldier to truly fight and win this war we must always strive to be other centered rather than self centered. This axiomatic change is so desperately needed especially in the Christian church. For most, I am afraid; this will be a completely different way of thinking. Instead of asking what can I do for myself I must ask what can I do for others. To ask and answer this question will put you on the path to loving others unconditionally. Every single person that you come into contact is deserving of this self giving love without ever expecting anything in return. Jesus Christ made this so abundantly clear in His teaching from the Sermon on the Mount, which I have covered exhaustively in my new book: “Stand Firm.” For example, the man who was encouraged to go the second mile in carrying the belongings of a, no doubt ruthless and demanding, Roman soldier would understand clearly the message of loving others unconditionally without expecting anything in return. From giving your inner garment to those who wish to take your outer garment to giving to all who ask, step by step Jesus Christ was driving home the point that true love is a selfless act of courage. Now here is the beauty of it – God wants to love others through you.Dear friends, let’s not follow the world where the love of most will grow cold, rather let’s reignite the love within each of us to do good to all and especially to those of the household of faith.
Furthermore, in the Church God has gifted every Christian to express their love to others by utilizing their Spiritual gift. Clearly our gifts are never meant to elevate our pride and make us more self centered. On the other hand, Spiritual gifts are given to edify and build up the body of Christ. That’s it – to build up and edify others in the Church. Having said that, it’s imperative that we discover our gifts. Take time to read through all the Spiritual gifts in the Bible and you will soon discover that each gift is used for others not for our own glory and pride. Therefore, it’s absolutely essential that we extend our love by using all the gifts in each local church so that the whole body becomes healthy. The health of a church is never measured by the number of its members, but by the use of the Spiritual gifts one to another so that we all grow up in Christ so as not to be tossed about by every wind of doctrine. Here is a test. If your Spiritual gift does nothing to build others up in love by displaying a selfless act of courage, but only manages to magnify your pride then you are not using the gift for which Christ has given you. If you are not on the path of selfless love to others then you are walking too close to the world, influenced by the enemy, and will eventually display the face of evil. Dear friends, we must not allow our love to grow cold because of the increase in wickedness. Stand firm.
Copyright © 2013 Rev. Daniel W. Blair
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