“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
“Man’s basic problem is preoccupation with self. In the final analysis, every sin results from preoccupation with self. We sin because we are totally selfish, totally devoted to ourselves, rather than to God and to others.” –John MacArthur
Jesus has a cure for our preoccupation with self and our incessant hunger to be properly validated:
“Will any one of you who has a servant… thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.” Luke 17:7-10
This doesn’t sound fair, does it? We deserve recognition for a job well done. We even want recognition for thanking and praising others! We want praise for just about everything we do because it feels so good when we get it. I know! I also claim to know that God is the only one who deserves all honor and praise. The two don’t mix.
The god – who – serves – ME requires flattery, not worship. –Tom Wells
“If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
Why do people aggravate us so much? Why do we feel so underappreciated? Might it be that our focus is on our own ease and agenda? Co-workers, spouses, children, strangers… aggravate us! The cheek we are to offer up is our own cheek. It hurts!
Sometimes we try to soothe ourselves by saying, “Ah, don’t take it so personally!” Good point, don’t! Instead, take it godly; direct your focus to trusting God and serving others.
Turn the other cheek and give him your coat also. Why? because he is sinning against your heavenly Father, who is yet merciful and patient! Walk the extra mile because you love Christ who has walked in excruciating pain, carrying the weight of all our sins as His own!
And what will be our reward? We will be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect!
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Mattew 5:38-48
Why do I always have to be the one? After all I’ve done? Why can’t things ever go right for me? You’d think I’d deserve better than this by now! Sound familiar? Do we ever stop to consider that we have already been given much better than we deserve for all we’ve done; that things have gone right countless of times in spite of our going and being wrong?
If we lack wisdom or understanding, God promises to provide it. If we lack worldly goods or even the best of health, we need to stop and look at what we do have—life everlasting in Christ Jesus! We’ve already been given a better hope, a better promise, a better place, and better and lasting possessions!
Consider God’s tender mercies sustaining us, His loving providence supplying us with every good and perfect gift! If we lack recognition or approval from others—or worse, if we are scorned or ridiculed—let us praise the One who makes us holy and who rejoices over us with singing! We deserve none of it, and yet we want more. Oh, that we would want more and more of Him!
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
We know this, don’t we? We understand that salvation is a gift from God, that we could not contribute even the slightest thought or thing because we were dead in sin. We agree wholeheartedly that we can not, dare not brag here. Friends, we can’t brag anywhere!
“For we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10
Even our good works are not ours to boast in! These also are a gift from God, prepared beforehand! We can’t take any credit even if we obediently walk in them, because we should walk in them. Paul doesn’t add, “if you feel like it, or when it’s convenient for you.” (Look at Luke 17:10 again!)
When we love and seek God first and then others and lastly our selves, then all will be well and we shall be happy, right? No!! Then, we will be holy and God will be happy! because He has already given us all of Himself!
Great peace, joy and content, such as exceeds all our earthly understanding, fill our hearts whenever we focus on loving God and others. Yet even this is a gift of God’s great grace. Oh God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED
translated by Joseph Morris
Rough our way and dark the night,
Strong our foes but small our might,
Prone to droop our faithless mind,
Life before, but death behind:
Sing we as we journey on,
Friends are few nor can they heal
Sorrows which we deepest feel;
And when needed most forsake:
Unto Jesus we’ll betake,
Breathing oft, while toiling on,
When of every joy bereft,
Nought but broken idols left,
Lone we lie upon the earth,
Strangers long to thought of mirth;
Then we’ll sigh though weeping on,
Bleeds our heart the world to see,
Chained by guilt in misery;
We would heal our brother’s woes,
Break his fetters, bind his foes:
We will cry, while passing on,
When our Home shall shine in sight,
When our fears are lost in light,
When we hear the summons given,
“Bring my way-worn ones to heaven!”
We will shout, while wafted on,
In that perfect world above,—
Perfect light and perfect love,
At HIS feet our crowns we’ll cast,
And while heaven itself shall last,
Swell the anthem ever on,
“Christon EstaurOmenon” — “Christ Crucified”
There is great peace and joy, such as exceeds all our earthly understanding, whenever we focus on loving God and others. Yet even this is a gift of God’s great grace!
Thank you for reading!