Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 10 April 2023:
Job 30:10 — They abhor me; they keep aloof from me; they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me.
Christians should anticipate that others will not treat them fairly. Keep perspective: God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). All love comes from God (1 John 4:7). The closer you are to Jesus and the more you know Him, abide in Him, and obey Him, the more you can love others as His love overflows from you to others. (Read John 15 to understanding abiding in Him) So, leading others closer to Jesus implies that you are closer to Him than they are, which by definition means you can love them more than they can love you – the exchange of love will be uneven, ‘unfair.’ Some don’t know Jesus at all — “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Those who God has called you to reach can’t love you back, which is why Jesus said, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves (Matthew 10:16).”
Jesus calls us to love the unloving, to take up the cross in our relationships and share in His suffering as an act of worship and fellowship with Him. Our love for others, particularly for the unloving, is how we love Jesus — “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us…. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him…. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:10-12, 16, 19-21)
Being a leader in love is never a “fair trade,” it is a gift, a crucifixion of self. Christians don’t love others for personal gain but rather as an act of worship to God who is love. Don’t expect equal love back from those to whom you give it. Love to glorify God, not to get a return on investment, and don’t be surprised or resentful when those less loving than you fail to return the favor. Grace is a gift. You will always be frustrated, disappointed, and bitter if your acts of kindness were self-centered.
In Job 30 we see that, although Job hadn’t changed, everyone’s attitude towards him did when he became needy, despite the fact Job spent a lifetime taking care of people in need. People tend to avoid and even ostracize the poor, suffering, sick, and needy, displaying the condition of their hearts. How we treat those who can do nothing for us and who are hard to be around reveals our character.
Job simply wanted people to treat him the way he treated others; however, as stated above, reciprocation for kindness is rare. The likelihood of reciprocation should never influence how we treat others, and we must not allow ourselves to become bitter when our kindness is not repaid.
Listen to this message on Mark 15:1–15 by the late Dr. R.C. Sproul — https://www.ligonier.org/learn/sermons/mark-jesus-pilate
Mark 15:2 — And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”
Some have legal authority to lead, and others have the moral authority to lead. By law, Pilate was the ruler, but by God, Jesus is the KING of kings, and Pilate could not deny the true leadership of Jesus. Before imparting the Great Commission to the disciples in Matthew 28, Jesus reminds them that all power and authority had been given to Him, and under that authority, the disciples were commissioned to lead the world to Him. He then reminded them that they would not lead solely on their own power. You may not have much legal authority, but you have been given the moral authority and the power to change the world one heart at a time.
Mark 15:10, 15 — For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up….
Religious envy and selfish politics condemned Jesus to death. What destructive impact have you seen from envy in your own life and in the lives of others?
Mark 15:18 — And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
The guards callously mocked and abused Jesus, The Truth. There is no limit to what the godless will be willing to do in defiance of the truth and those who proclaim it. God’s plan includes allowing His people to suffer for His glory. Whatever you are going through, remember what Christ went through on your behalf — He is not one who doesn’t understand your suffering. And remember, there is a big difference between persecution and prosecution. Too often, Christians suffer because of their own foolish behavior and then call it martyrdom in order to justify themselves. Most of our problems in life are self-induced.
Mark 15:28 (KJV) – And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.
God had a plan for even the robbers to fulfill prophecy. As written in Isaiah 53:12, Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Mark 15:30-32 – “Save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
Self-preservation is the human way; the cross is God’s way. Will you live a life focused on saving yourself or a life of sacrifice for sake of the Gospel that others might accept Christ and be saved?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 April 2023: Today, focus on loving unconditionally, regardless how others might treat you. Let your love of unmerited grace bestowed upon those around you be a testimony to the grace you have received through Christ which is your salvation.