Two weekends ago was our annual TOGETHER conference. I felt like our time was so sacred and so special. On Sunday morning, I taught about guarding your heart and we broke open the Word of God together to see what God says about guarding our hearts.
After coming away from the weekend, I wondered how many people, after hearing the Word and how serious God takes it, felt like it was harsh or hard or even felt “gotten on to” as God’s Word was presented.
In truth, God is plenty plain about what He wants us to do and not do. And sometimes it does feel offensive. However, I think why it feels so hard, is because we have always received it the wrong way.
God’s Word was certainly offered by the Pharisees of Jesus’ day as very rules-driven and very dictatorial in nature; almost threatening in such a way that people lived under the weight of their inability to do it all correctly, and feeling “doomed”.
Jesus was not a “rip your head off” kind of guy. He was not a yell at you, belittle you, shame you kind of guy. He was firm and He was authoritative, but His motive was love. Jesus is a loving, caring, compassionate friend and Groom who came to this earth to, among many things, help us see the correct way to approach and receive the Word of God.
The Word of God was never to slam over your head, but to saturate your heart.
Jesus’ approach was out of love. It’s His love that compelled the Scripture, which tells you how to live. It’s His loving protection that outlined the boundaries God places on our lives. Jesus lived on this earth and is intimately acquainted with what we face. (Hebrews 4:15) Out of His sympathy for that, He shared the Word in such a way that we could receive it from a heart of love.
Therefore, if we receive it from His heart of deep love for you, we walk in obedience to it, out of our love for the One who gave it. If God offered His Word out of love for us, we ought to obey it out of love for Him.
If God offered His Word out of love for us, we ought to obey it out of love for Him.
When you grasp that truth and begin to really live in this light, you become hungry for the Word (Matthew 5:6). You want to know what God’s love compelled Him to share with us.
Everything changes when you live for love.
When it comes to marriage, we are mindful of how our actions affect our spouse. We can do or not do things from the motive of “this is what married people are supposed to do”, or from the motive of “I deeply love this person and therefore am very mindful of how my actions effect them.”
Should we do the former, we will be dutiful but our heart will be far from them. This can leave the marriage open to attack and even adultery, because we were created to love and be loved.
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” Matthew 15:8
This same thing can happen in your relationship with Jesus. If you do or don’t do things out of duty or so you won’t get in trouble, the motive is impure and misplaced. And if not careful, you will be committing spiritual adultery unaware, because “this is how it has always been done”.
Oh, but when you do or don’t do from a place of deep love, you wouldn’t want to do anything, ANYTHING, that would hurt, compromise, or sabotage the relationship. You would hunger to know how to have a deeper, better, stronger relationship.
Are you hungry for God and His Word? Do you go to worship with Bible in hand and a notebook? Do you sit on the front row so as to have no distractions and focus in on your loving Father to hear what He has to say? Are you not scared or weary of His rebuke, but rather welcoming of it?
May we today evaluate the motive of God’s heart when He wrote the Bible, and may we evaluate the way we approach His Word.
Because when you live the Christian life in and out of love, you welcome and embrace His Word, and every motive, every action, and every conversation changes.
Do it for love.