To be in love with somebody is a wonderful experience. I remember the dating experience with Elaine. I dreamed about that girl! I used to talk about her all the time, and carried her picture in my wallet, and at odd moments, I’d take it out and look at that simple image of her. I had a picture of her in my room (I still have that picture on my iPhone now). Every night that I wasn’t working, I went to see her. I went to see her as often as my parents would let me! I bought gifts for her and did everything I could to show my love for her.
While we all enjoy being with our families, we also like to be around various other people. Many times you must pause and ask yourself what comes first, family, time with friends, or to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind? It is difficult to think more about God than about your family. That’s a particularly big order for young people who are in love with each other. Though my focus is on providing for the love of my life: Elaine, will I invest in God’s Kingdom work with the same intensity?
There are days when I’m at a crossroads in my life. It is easy to care for my own needs but how much do I care for the work of the Lord? We must learn to have a deeper relationship with God so that our concern is more for the ways of God than for our own ways. The Psalmist said,
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).
Yet, if we are delight ourselves in the Lord, we must learn to approach God openly. Our tendency is to look at the wonderful attributes of our own life. But, we need to look into the recesses of our heart also. The Scripture states it this way:
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).
Notice here how openly Paul talks about himself. He realizes that he must renounce his old ways of deceit and secret and shameful ways. He goes on to say we must, by the manifestation of truth, commend ourselves to every person. I’ve heard pastors take a passage of Scripture and show how many times somebody says I, I, I, as an illustration of a big ego. But, for a Christian to refer to his/her walk with the Lord, it seems to me, is as valid as a tennis pro teaching you how to play tennis. You don’t have to brag on yourself about how good a tennis player you are in order to teach others the skills of playing tennis.
The Apostle Paul says that he has renounced secret and shameful, dishonest ways. Dishonesty is invisible, isn’t it? I’d say that to renounce dishonesty is a big issue! To be willing to be completely open and honest, and forthright is quite a decision, isn’t it? We can say quite easily that this is a good thing to do.
I find that before the Lord I have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, but must renew that covenant over and over again. There are times when I must get down on my knees and say, “Lord, I’ve failed.” It’s very difficult to be willing to tell what is on your heart. In other words, don’t walk in secret ways-to be crafty, shrewd, or slick about putting your point across to other people. Paul says he’s not walking in craftiness and distorting the Word of God.
It’s so easy to write or quote a verse that I don’t live up to, and to tell you to live up to it. We must be careful about that–being deceitful about what we stand for, or pretending we stand for something
that we don’t stand for. Paul says that we must commend ourselves to every person’s conscience in the sight of God. Your conscience must be clean and pure. Then you will be happy. Then you will be able to take anything that comes against you.
A lawyer came up to Jesus and asked him, which is the greatest commandment in the law.
What is it?
Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND’ (Matthew 22:37).
Think about this verse. When you think of all the attractions in this world, reputations that you can make, jobs that you can get, money that you can make, and places that you can go, and the things that you can acquire–How hard it is to keep your focus on God?
Dr. Brandt once told me that he even borrowed money to spend on his wife before they were married. He then asked the question, “Do people ever borrow money to finance a project for the Lord? Are we that anxious to further the work of the Lord in order to borrow some money?
I think our relationship to the Lord can be measured by how much time we spend with Him. How much time do you spend thinking about Christ? Talking to Him? Reading His letters to you? Planning with Him in mind? Important, isn’t it? We must be lost in our love for the Lord if we are really going to serve Him.
How much do I love the Lord? Jesus said:
If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15).
We’ll commit ourselves to an indebtedness to buy a car, refrigerator, or a vacation. But many Christians are unwilling to have that kind of commitment to the Lord’s work. How will I pay my bills? These are real practical issues aren’t they? It’s a time for examination of our spiritual life.
Ask yourself the question today, “Who do I love?”