Grace to Us. Day twelve...
“I was just thinking about you. I've been meaning to call.” How many times have I used that line to try to provide cover for letting the time get away from me in contacting people?
Not to incriminate myself, I wasn't lying. But the “just thinking about you” part was maybe not as recent as I indicated.
Good intentions fly through my head all day long. And while that's better than having bad intentions, intentions have no value when they don't have some action attached.
In a court of law, “She meant well,” is not much of a defense against inaction or inappropriate action, when appropriate action was critically needed. And it's not much of a defense to use against our heart, when our heart condemns us for not loving other Christians.
As I mentioned yesterday, good intentions are meaningless.
If you've been attacked by thugs, stripped of your clothes, beaten half to death, and left by the side of a road, you are not going to be interested in my intentions—no matter how noble. You are also not going to be interested in my words—no matter how encouraging. You are only going to be interested in my help—my practical, hands‐on help in getting you to safety.
In this instance, for me to say to you, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God (1 John 3:1a NKJV)!” sounds encouraging… sounds noble…. But it is not enough; you are still at risk. This love the Father has for me must flow through me toward you in the form of action, or you will remain at risk. And my heart will condemn me as a consequence.
When we get hit with a condemning heart, rather than try to deal with it by putting it out of our mind through some kind of distraction or diversion, we need to hit back with some real love—the kind of love that fixes things.
But there is another powerful incentive to love in both deed and in truth.
(See 1 John 3:18.) And that incentive is increased access to God.
By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:19–20 ESV)
When condemnation strikes there is always some kind of accusation behind it. The devil accuses us (see Revelation 12:10) day and night before God—hoping to get something on us that will stick. And so much the better for the devil… if our heart happens to be condemning us as well; he will be more than happy to make matters worse. Of course, most of the time we are clueless as to what's really going on.
But all is well as long as we can remember that God is greater than our heart.
God is larger and stronger than our heart. Our heart is no match when put up against His grace. His desire to help us in ways we do not deserve overcomes any resistance from our heart.
He simply overpowers our heart because He knows all things. He knows everything. He knows right where to go to show us the reason for the condemnation we experience and He stands ready to help us deal with it.
But nothing happens without our consent. We must invite Him to be greater than our heart. If we don't, our heart will continue to condemn us all the way to our grave. (If you're not convinced, take a look at how many older Christians live in condemnation.)
God will help us learn, through His grace, to love our fellow Christians in both deed and in truth. Instead of just good intentions and kind words, God will help us move into action.
But this action is not simply action geared to help us feel better about ourselves. This action is informed in truth. To love another person in truth is to do what is in the best interest of that person from God's perspective—not man's. To love in truth is to say, “I'm more interested in your welfare than your opinion of me.”
It is a love that is compassionate, responsible, and effective.
If it is a love that is compassionate without being responsible or responsible without being compassionate, then it is a love that can never be effective.
Please note: Do not miss the “truth” part of loving in deed and in truth. A love that is based on emotion rather than the Biblical model of love might look and feel wonderful at the time, but can cause more harm than good.
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:21–22 ESV)
Look at the access we have to God when our heart is not condemning us.
When we are feeling condemned we question our worthiness to receive anything from Him. But when we are free from condemnation we have confidence in God that we will actually receive from Him what we've asked for.
I don't know why we would ever feel unqualified to receive His grace. It's kind of silly when you think about it. His grace is already undeserved by even the holiest person on the face of the earth. We are all unqualified to receive His grace. That's why it's called grace!
When we allow God to be greater than our heart, we give ourselves the opportunity to experience His grace in a way that's far beyond what we could ever think or imagine.
Have a good day,