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Tag Archives: Love your neighbor as yourself

When Ungodly Beliefs Hinder Your Ability to Love

I was introduced to the concept of ungodly beliefs while reading the book Restoring the Foundations. Authors Betsy and Chester Kylstra claim ungodly beliefs can gain access to individuals through painful experiences. These lies that people come to believe arrive unexpectedly through hurtful and traumatic events. As minds begin to seek answers to why this or that occurred in your life, a strong emotional pull opens a door into your soul. Fueled by doubt and uncertainty, thoughts such as “God doesn’t care about me, I’m not good enough, or I’ll never amount to anything” hinders one’s ability to love.

You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth? This [evil] persuasion is not from Him Who called you [Who invited you to freedom in Christ]. A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church], Galatians 5:7-9.

In the passage above, one of the churches the apostle Paul helped start began to struggle with their own ungodly beliefs. Influenced by a religious sect who added circumcision as a requirement to be saved, a spiritual elitism entered the Galatian church. This mentality became so prevalent that Barnabas and Peter began to withdraw from Gentiles Christians, believing that a close association with Gentiles would make them unclean. This unwillingness to let go of Jewish customs, regulations, and traditions inhibited their ability to love their love as themselves.

But, brethren, if I still preach circumcision [as some accuse me of doing, as necessary to salvation], why am I still suffering persecution? In that case the cross has ceased to be a stumbling block and is made meaningless (done away). 12 I wish those who unsettle and confuse you would [go all the way and] cut themselves off! 13 For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another, Galatians 5:11-13.

This is the context as Paul introduces acts of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:16-24. Depending upon what you allow yourself to believe will dictate the actions that you will take. You can either listen to God’s voice by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit or indulge your earthly desires. Ungodly beliefs are theories you pick up over time from parents, peers, and other spheres of influences. When these beliefs contradict the Bible, payback and revenge will replace love. If this blog finds you in a bad mood, struggling to be nice, explore Restoring the Foundations so that healing will enable you to love your neighbor as yourself.

by Jay Mankus

The Difference Between a Mistake and Sin

Blunders, errors or slip ups are words associated with making a mistake.  These missteps can be blamed on miscalculated, misguided or wrong actions.  A common explanation for this occurrence is being amoral, not knowing right from wrong.  Finding fault or judgment is often excused until the rules are made known to everyone.

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness [ignoring God’s law by action or neglect or by tolerating wrongdoing—being unrestrained by His commands and His will], 1 John 3:4.

Meanwhile, the biblical term sin refers to an act of disobedience, rebellion or transgression.  The basis for law in the Bible is the ten commandments.  The first four detail how God expects individuals to respond, treat and worship the Lord.  The final six set the ground rules for civil law.  In the New Testament, Jesus summarizes these commandments into two brief guidelines.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Love your neighbor as yourself.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others],’ Matthew 22:36-39.

According to one of Jesus’ disciples, a mistake becomes a sin when lawlessness is involved.  The Bible serves as a moral code for life, a line in the sand to demarcate how far you can go.  Boundaries are meant to keep you safe, far from sin.  However, ignoring, neglecting or not enforcing biblical principles opens the door for sin to become a lifestyle.  Therefore, the next time temptation dances, rolls or strolls into your life, don’t be mistaken about sin’s clear and present danger.

by Jay Mankus

 

Its Just Not Fair

The Bible contains two categories of commandments within Exodus 20:1-17.  Commandments one through four are focused on loving God.  The final six are classified as civil based upon how God wants individuals to treat one another.  During a first century conversation with religious leaders, one scholar tried to get Jesus to de-emphasize one of the commandments.  Sensing this trap, Jesus responds with one of the most famous lines in Scripture, Matthew 22:37-40.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Then, love your neighbor as yourself.”  This is the key to obeying the ten commandments.  Unfortunately, mankind is unable to obtain this goal due to the sinful nature.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

As a parent, trying to keep peace in a household of five is a difficult task.  Whatever I do, one of the three will cry foul and perceive some sort of favoritism.  While you may try to defend yourself like me when accused of a bias, I’ve learned that there is only one thing that I can say, “its just not fair.”  Instead of instilling this fact of life within education, Common Core Curriculum is setting children up for failure when they reach the real world.  I’m not sure what happened to Darwin’s teaching on survival of the fittest in public schools, but this concept does apply to the cruelness of life on earth.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere, James 3:17.

Failure is a weekly part of adulthood.  However, its how you respond to obstacles, setbacks and trails that will dictate your future.  Anyone can cry and complain, by casting blame and giving excuses, but what good is this?  Jesus’ earthly brother writes about embracing wisdom from above.  Those who look upward instead of inward will find hope, mercy and peace.  Those who can’t get over past mistakes will end up like the faithless Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years.  As you battle your own struggles with fairness, may you be drawn to Jesus’ two simple pieces of advice.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.  If you don’t apply this, you’ll come face to face with groans of “its just not fair!”

by Jay Mankus

 

Will You Pass the Love Test

For those of you who enjoy taking cup cake classes in school, searching for an easy A, the Bible contains some difficult challenges.  Depending upon how self critical you are, the words of scripture expose darkness with light.  Subsequently, no matter how good of a person you may be, its surprising how many people fail the Bible’s love test.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen, 1 John 4:20.

The one whom Jesus loved opens up this short quiz.  When all other disciples abandoned Jesus following his arrest, John stood by his side at the cross where he died.  What John heard on this day sent shock waves to what he believed about love.  Despite being beaten, mocked and tortured, Jesus cried out, “forgive them for they know not what they do.”  This statement inspired question number one.

1. Is there anyone you despise, hate or treat with contempt?

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins, Matthew 6:14-15.

The second participant chimes as from an unique perspective.  Serving as a tax collector, Levi also known as Matthew worked in one of the most corrupt occupations of his day.  During Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he mentions prostitutes on the same level with tax collectors.  Thus, its highly possible that Matthew made many enemies, cheating and stealing money from hard working citizens.  With this in mind, forgiveness is something that Matthew sought, touched by Jesus’ words above.

2. Have you forgiven everyone who has hurt you or is there a grudge you are currently holding on to?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these,” Mark 12:30-31.

Finally, John Mark is an individual who initially left the mission field, letting down the apostle Paul.  Yet, over time Mark matured, eventually winning back the respect he lost with Paul.  This transformation was made possible with the words shared by Jesus above.  The context of this question involved a trap with Pharisees attempting to trick Jesus into de-emphasizing one of the 10 commandments.  Yet, his words essentially summarize the first four with one comment and the final six with his second statement setting up the final question.

3. Where is your love for God currently and are you following the golden rule in your interactions with others?

If you failed this test like me, may God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy lift you up and fill you with a heart willing to bear with, embrace and love one another.

by Jay Mankus

 

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