“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
Do you ever just wish that obedience was easy? I know I do! The reality though, is that obedience is hard. It’s difficult. I think the saying goes, “If it were easy, everyone would do it”, right? The truth, however, is that obedience, although difficult most of the time, makes us more like Christ. It shapes us. It molds us. Each step of obedience, no matter how small, is a step closer towards the heart of God. Having been born and raised in the church, I am no stranger to the commands of Scripture. I’ve been taught the truth of God’s Word since I was a small child. With each passing year, I accumulated more and more knowledge of God, His Word, and was instructed in the way I should go. As I neared adulthood, the reality that altered my life was that I had absorbed MUCH head knowledge, but it was of little good if all of that “knowledge” never made the divine transfer to my heart. Head knowledge transferred to heart knowledge culminates in changed behavior.
And now we have a platform to work from with today’s short verse. Many of us offer little more than lip service when it comes to our “Christianity”. We say we believe in God. We say we love His Word. We say we love His people. We say our hearts beat for the lost (because these are all the “right” things to say), but unfortunately, the vast majority of us fear rejection more than a Holy God, and rarely share the life-changing message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost world around us. We stop with our words, leaving the good undone. You see, the difficult obedience is sometimes sitting down for coffee with that beyond difficult person to love, biting our tongues and listening to them instead. The difficult obedience is more often than not giving of our time and energy rather than our financial resources, the quickly scribbling out of the check to cover expenses. Don’t misunderstand me. Both are good: speaking the truth in love, and giving of our financial resources to meet a need. But perhaps, those have both become increasingly easier for us as we leave the latter undone, the hard obediences.
The truth that God brought me back to this past week is found within the pages of 1 Samuel 16:
“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
So, it IS a heart issue. We might be masters at fooling those around us, but we will never fool God. Are we accomplishing nothing more than keeping up appearances? Isn’t obedience primarily a matter of the heart? Do we offer much lip service to God and others, but leave the good, perhaps the better, undone? May it never be so of God’s people to stop at words of love and good deeds, leaving the action of love and good deeds undone. May we rather be agents of God’s love, His hands and feet to those that are hard to love, His presence to those that are immersed in a world of darkness. Let our love be on display for a world to see that Jesus is alive, and He lives in you and me.