I walked into the grocery store yesterday morning, but unlike the many people looking at the large variety of flower arrangements just inside the door, I was there to buy food. When I got to the check-out, there were two lanes open—the express lane and a lane dedicated to flower sales only. Yes, it was Valentine’s Day, the one day a year set aside to celebrate love with hearts and flowers, red and pink. Now as much as I think that you should show your love every day of the year, I don’t have a problem with setting aside one day in particular to make a point of showing it. I think mothers should be celebrated every day of the year too, but if it weren’t for Mother’s Day, we might not ever get around to saying thank you.
My problem with Valentine’s Day is more about people's perceptions of what love is. Real love is not all about hearts and flowers. It’s not always pretty. Love is about commitment and sacrifice. When you make a vow to love someone until death separates you, that is going to take some work. For all those who made or accepted proposals of marriage yesterday, you need to realize that a time will come when those warm fuzzy feelings will wear off, and you will have to face reality. I hope that you never have to face devastating things together, but you might, and you will certainly have to face daily routine—jobs, laundry, bill paying, choosing between one person’s wishes and the other’s. Are you willing to put someone else’s needs and desires above your own? Are you willing to risk your life for them?
John 15:13 tells us that there is no greater love than laying down your life for someone else. This is what Christ did for us. God loved us so much that He sent His son (John 3:16) to pay the penalty for our sin, to be our substitute so that we would not have to face the punishment that was intended for us. (Romans 5:8, I John 2:2, I John 4:10) It is hard to imagine that kind of love, but that is what Jesus commands in John 15:12. Love others as I have loved you. There is no greater love than laying down your life for your friends. You are my friends if you love each other this way. (John 15:12-14 LC paraphrase) Do you think that you are ready to show that kind of love? Peter thought he was too, (Mark 14:31), but after the rooster crowed in the morning he realized the truth. (Mark 14:66-72) Loving as Jesus loved is a lot to live up to, but this is what true love means.
- We are not asked to obey our parents simply to make our lives more challenging or less fun, but so that we may have a long, good life. This is the first commandment with a promise. (Ephesians 6:1-3)
- Parents, don't just try to make your kids go crazy with rules, but bring them up to be like Jesus. (Ephesians 6:4)
- Work as though you were working for Christ. Do your best no matter who is watching because God always is. God will reward those who do the right thing, even if the circumstances are less than ideal. (Ephesians 6:5-8)
- Masters, employers, need to keep the same principle in mind and treat their slaves, employees, the way Christ would. (Ephesians 6:9)
- We live in a world that is a battlefield between good and evil. God has provided resources for us to fight this battle, if we are willing to make use of them. (Ephesians 6:10-17)
- Pray. All the time. About everything. (Ephesians 6:18-20)
Please share your thoughts on Ephesians 6 in the comment section.
Something I said in my last blog post (John 1:14, January 7) inspired me to look up Colossians 3:23-24. My question from the passage in John was how would it change your life if Jesus moved in next door? Colossians 3:23 tells us that it doesn’t matter what we are doing, or what human person asked us to do it, we are really working for God.
From the previous verse we see that this passage refers to slaves working for their masters, but in today’s context the principle would apply just as well to employees, children and students. How do you react when your boss asks you to do something that isn’t technically in your job description, or you feel is beneath you? What is a child’s usual response when asked to clean his room? What about students who let other members of the group carry the load on a group project? Would it make a difference if Jesus had asked you to do it? It’s true; your boss’ motives may not be as pure, selfless and forward-thinking as Jesus’ are, but her authority still needs to be respected.
Verse 23 also tells us to work with enthusiasm. The King James version uses the term heartily; the original Greek means from the soul. Now think about this for a minute. When you are doing the dishes or the laundry or taking out the trash, are you doing it with enthusiasm? These are not the most glamourous tasks, but they deserve the best of your ability. They may seem like thankless jobs, because there’s a good chance that no one ever says thank you for doing them, but the Lord will reward you. When you are working for Him, what others think won’t matter to you.
You may not get a raise or promotion by working those overtime hours when your boss asks you to at the last minute. You may not get an A on that group assignment, or a bonus in your allowance for cleaning up your room. Earthly rewards are not always fair or reliable. Sometimes you get praise for what others have done, and sometimes you don’t get the praise you deserve. Sometimes it seems like your efforts are quickly forgotten. God doesn’t forget. Your reward from God will not be based on the amount of talent you have, or how popular you are, or how much money you earned. The reward He gives you will be for your attitude and your faithfulness. Did you give God your very best effort? Jesus will be doing your final performance review; are you ready?