The command of Jesus to “love our enemies” can be very difficult to accept especially in the light of evil, injustice and other atrocities, but he did not tell us to love our enemies only until they crossed a threshold beyond redemption. We are to be people of mercy because as James says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Psalm 34 was written in a very difficult time in David’s life. In some ways he was the victim of his own success or perhaps more accurately, the success that came from being obedient to the Lord. God’s favor upon David’s life caused Saul to be jealous and as a result David was on the run.
Motivation is a huge component in our lives and we quickly realize that not everyone is motivated by the same factors. In the business world and in athletics, the leaders who excel are the ones who have learned how to use a variety of incentives and disciplines to maximize their organization’s effectiveness. Someone who is good at motivation helps others by getting them to focus on things larger than themselves.
Very few “normal” people look forward to difficult trials and tribulations in their lives. In fact, most of us will do everything that we can to avoid hardship and testing. But should we?
When we asked Jesus to forgive our sins, and we accepted his gift of salvation, we became a member of the great and glorious body of Christ. But there is also an expression of the body of Christ at the local level; we are many members with many different backgrounds, gifts, interests and abilities. This is in part a mystery as to how God can take different people from different backgrounds and experiences and mold us and unite us together into the body of Christ.
It can be uncomfortable at times to welcome and embrace someone on the fringes. You’re never quite really sure if they will do or say something that might cause embarrassment for themselves, but more importantly, the rest of us. However, there is treasure to be found by stretching our reach a little farther. Love and acceptance can make a great impact upon someone who has experienced ostracization and rejection. Life may seem less complicated if our criteria for acceptance is narrow, but we will miss out on what God has in store for us.
Many Christians believe that sound doctrine or teaching is important, but they do not always know why it is important. Sound doctrine is not an end in itself, but instead it serves as guard rails to keep us on the road of faith. Following sound doctrine will lead to sound living, sound ministry and sound hope.
It is not enough to simply believe things about Jesus. We can believe that Jesus was sent from God, born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, suffered and died, rose again and will someday return and still not believe in him. We can believe all of the correct doctrine and yet still hold something in reserve that we are unwilling to commit to him.
I recall a Christmas when I was about 10 years old when I did not receive the gifts that I wanted or expected. I was vocal in expressing my displeasure to the dismay of my parents. I was neither pleasant nor civil with my disrespect and ungratefulness. I was immature and did not appreciate all of the blessings and advantages that were mine, but today it reminds me of Christians who are begging and even demanding favor from God. They do not realize how much favor they already possess.
“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes.” Luke 6:43–44 (NLT) We may find it astonishing that someone who does not act like us or think like us can produce good fruit, but Jesus commanded us to love one another and in doing so, each one of us will produce even more fruit in our lives for the glory of God.