Friday, January 4, 2013

Are You A Child Of God?

I'm going to start off rather bluntly.
I am a sinner. I can't call myself a child of God. As hard as i try, i just can't.

I won't put the verses here, because i want to encourage you to open your own Bible and read it for yourself, not to have me spoon-feed you a select few verses and give you my interpretation of them. Read them, read them in context, and come to your own conclusions. Meditate on them.

Firstly, i do ask you to turn to 1 John chapter 3. I'm not going to give specific verses; please at least skim the chapter for yourself before continuing. Draw your own conclusions, your own convictions, your own personal revelations. Whatever you get from it, go ahead and get. What i'm putting is merely how it affects my life. I beg you to find out how it affects yours.

In fact, to make it even easier for you, here's a link to the ESV translation of that chapter on BibleGateway. You don't even have to grab your Bible. You don't even have to search for the chapter. There it is. Just click it.

Matthew 7 says that many who proclaim His name will be turned away for He never knew them.
What i get from 1 John 3 is this: if a person knows God, they follow Him. If they don't follow Him, if they keep sinning, they have not seen or known God.
It gets pretty harsh. It goes on to say that we're either children of God, or we're children of the devil. It says that whoever doesn't practice righteousness is not born of God . . . They're a child of the devil.

Here's why i said i can't call myself a child of God: i have issues with anger, resentment, unforgiveness, bitterness, impatience, and . . . Well, the list goes on. At the pinnacle of this pile of manure within me is hate.
There. I said it. I harbor hate within me. I don't want to, but it's made a home. It's like that friend who lives on your couch; you really want them to leave, but you can't quite kick 'em out, right? That's me and hate. I don't want it staying here, but i don't have the heart to sever it.
Now, you may be saying to yourself that i'm not that bad of a guy, and that i'm being too critical of myself. But no. Let me explain (despite what i said, i am quoting a verse, and will again by the end of this entry; if you want to know which verse, you'll have to read through the chapter yourself in order to find it--that way you'll read it in context, i hope).
"By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother."
So here i am, admitting there are those whom i don't love (Christians, even) yet . . . Yet the Bible clearly says that if i don't love my brother, i am not of God . . . I'm a child of the devil.
I think this proves i'm not afraid to admit my failures and faults, and apply Biblical standards to myself, even ones that may crush me.

We're not to just say that we love, but to actually show it. We're supposed to act on our love for others, we're supposed to show compassion, even if none is shown to us. We're supposed to build up those who would tear us down. We're supposed to actually love, and to love in honesty. In truth.
We're supposed to take action based on love. In a moment, without hesitation, we could make a witty and hurtful comment to someone who's said something hurtful to us. That's precisely when we're supposed to, without hesitation, show them kindness and patience.

We know we're to love one another. In 1 Corinthians 13, it says several examples of what love is (the antonym of many of the things i just said i have issues with), and says, out of faith, hope, and love, that love is the greatest of the three. As long as the three abide, love is the greatest to possess.
But how serious is it to not only be without hate, but to actually love? Well . . . There is the whole "children of the devil" thing. But also, if you don't love, what is left? Nothing? If we don't love, we feel nothing. It's apathy. It's lukewarm. We make our home with death if we do not love. In fact, we're to love to the point of laying down our lives for our brethren in Christ.
Would you put yourself in front of a moving vehicle in order to get someone else out of the way of it? Are you willing to climb onto train tracks to lift another off while knowing you couldn't escape calamity yourself, only spare them?
If the answer is a complacent one, you've taken too long. They've already been hit by the car/bus/train.
If someone knows to do good and doesn't do it, they've sinned, right? You know that saving them is the right thing to do. Anything less than right is wrong.
Again i ask, would you put yourself in the way of danger for someone else, knowing that there's no way for you to escape death yourself?
Now i inquire, are you still a child of God?

I'm not saying this to hurt anyone, but to encourage.
Be filled with love, and be filled with God. I adjure you to love! Love so that you may know God! Love so that you may see God! Love so that you may not walk in the path of sinners, so that you may be a child of God!
Whatever the circumstances, show love, care, concern, compassion, patience . . . Always love.

(here's the other quote i said would be put in):
"By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us."
After reading this chapter a few times and pressuring myself by it, the closing verses are a much needed sigh of relief. It doesn't excuse my wrongs, but i am trying.
I might not be getting better about it, but i am trying, and i know that God is greater than my heart; i know God knows what is in my heart. I know God knows i don't want this to be a part of me. I know God is helping me along. I know God believes in me, and will help me to love wholly if i ask Him to.
God knows i can love. I know i can love.
And i thank Him that He's not given up on me.

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