VIDEO The Grammar of Love

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11

Sometimes Greek grammar can illuminate our responsibilities as Christians—as in 1 John 4:11. When the Greek word “if” is followed by a certain kind of verb form (in this case, “loved us”), the “if” condition is assumed to be true. So we could translate the verse, “If God so loved us”—and indeed, He did—then we also ought to love one another in the same way. “So loved us” forces the question, How did God love us? The answer is found in the preceding verse 10: He sent His Son into the world to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Putting verses 10-11 together, we see our responsibility. God loved us sacrificially. If God loved us sacrificially—and indeed, He did—then we also ought to love one another sacrificially. Our responsibility, then, is to love one another the same way God has loved us. God sacrificed His Son to love us—what have we sacrificed to love others? Have we sacrificed anger, pride, resentment, material goods, time, self-interest?

Greek grammar makes our responsibility clear. Since God sacrificed for us—and indeed He did—we ought to sacrificially love others as well.

Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
Isaac Watts, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”


62 1 John 4 – Pastor Chuck Smith – C2000 Series

I Am His Hands

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” 1 Corinthians 12:21

Jia Haixia lost his sight in the year 2000. His friend Jia Wenqi lost his arms as a child. But they’ve found a way around their disabilities. “I am his hands and he is my eyes,” Haixia says. Together, they’re transforming their village in China.

Since 2002 the friends have been on a mission to regenerate a wasteland near their home. Each day Haixia climbs on Wenqi’s back to cross a river to the site. Wenqi then “hands” Haixia a shovel with his foot, before Haixia places a pail on a pole between Wenqi’s cheek and shoulder. And as one digs and the other waters, the two plant trees—more than 10,000 so far. “Working together, we don’t feel disabled at all,” Haixia says. “We’re a team.”

The apostle Paul likens the church to a body, each part needing the other to function. If the church were all eyes, there’d be no hearing; if all ears, there’d be no sense of smell (1 Corinthians 12:14–17). “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ ” Paul says (v. 21). Each of us plays a role in the church based on our spiritual gifts (vv. 7–11, 18). Like Jia Haixia and Jia Wenqi, when we combine our strengths, we can bring change to the world.

Two men combining their abilities to regenerate a wasteland. What a picture of the church in action!

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

Based on your spiritual gifts, what part do you play in the body of Christ? How are you joining with others to fulfill His mission?

Holy Spirit, thank You for giving me spiritual gifts and arranging me in a body where I’m needed.

Hunger and Thirst for God

Only a believer of God can experience full satisfaction and a yearning love for Him

Psalm 63:1-11

David’s love for the Lord inspires us to want that same kind of relationship ourselves. But where does such passion for God come from? It’s not manufactured or created by effort or willpower, nor can we work ourselves into a genuine emotional state of yearning. Love for God comes only from Him, as a gift to those who belong to Christ (1 John 4:19).

This means the only ones who can truly hunger and thirst for God are believers. The rest of the people yearn for other things—like wealth, security, control, or prominence—which they mistakenly think will satisfy their soul. Many go through life trying to create whatever kind of personal connections they can, in hopes of fulfilling desires they don’t even understand. All too often, the result is empty relationships, excessive work, and immoral behavior. 

David knew God was the only solution to the constant yearning in his heart. As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in [Him].” Are you feeling empty from trying to satisfy your soul with something other than the Lord? Come to Him with all your heart, and discover the fullness He offers. 

Crying for Help and Clinging to Yahweh

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

Life is hard! “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). No one is immune from the toilsome stuff of life. Relationships sour, medical solutions stalemate, finances fracture, and loved ones pass away—and this unrelenting list continues to pile sky high.

How often do we find ourselves crying for help with all our options depleted? To whom do we cry, and who will listen? There are at least 184 mentions of the word “help” in Scripture, where we find many of God’s chosen facing devastating events. In turmoil, our knee-jerk reaction is to cling to the fleeting stuff of this world, but shouldn’t we cling instead to Yahweh, the Creator God and Maker of heaven and earth?

Intensely crying out to Yahweh for help (Hebrew sa-aq) is modeled in Psalm 107 in four cliffhanger vignettes, illustrating both the unbeliever’s dire need for salvation and the believer’s need to daily embrace Yahweh. Disoriented travelers cry to Yahweh, who guides them to an inhabited city (v. 7). Prisoners rotting away in confinement wail to Yahweh and are freed (v. 14). The morally foolish, plagued with life-threatening  diseases, weep before the Lord, and He graciously heals them (v. 20). Sailors who are suddenly caught in a storm plead with Yahweh, and He stills the waves and leads them to a safe harbor (v. 30).

Where do you place your reliance? Do you have a dependent relationship with this temporal creation, or do you cling to our Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, and Savior—the Lord Jesus Christ? CM

His Love

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love. The Lord is good to everyone; His compassion [rests] on all He has made… Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; Your rule is for all generations. The Lord helps all who fall; He raises up all who are oppressed. All eyes look to You, and You give them their food in due time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing (Psalm 145 vv. 8-9, 13b—16).

When I think of God’s Father love, I see his grace and compassion (v. 8), his goodness and compassion (v. 9), his faithful promises (v. 13), and his open hand (v. 16).

Our God is not stingy but lavish in his gift-giving. He is a God of extravagance. He delights in caring for his children. Over and over again in his Word, we are reminded of his gracious provision, both physically and spiritually:” They are filled from abundance of Your house; You let them drink from Your refreshing stream” (Ps. 36:8). “You crown the year with Your goodness; Your ways overflow with plenty” (Ps. 65:11). “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack” (Ps. 23:1). The refrain is echoed in the New Testament:’! have come that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10).

That greatest Gift was God himself in human flesh!

Personal Prayer

My Lather God, I thank you for your open hands which have satisfied the deepest desires of my heart through Jesus Christ…and keep on giving every day of my life!

The Only Cure

Take words of repentance with you and return to the Lord.—Hosea 14:2

How do we deal with demandingness? We must repent of it. Our passage today tells us how.

First: “Return to the Lord.” The key to ridding ourselves of anything that is spiritually injurious is to return to God. The pursuit of God involves a shift away from dependence on one’s own resources to dependence on God. Doing good and correcting wrong behavior does not automatically make us good people. Obedience is extremely important, but it must be accompanied by deep, heart repentance.

Second, the passage says: “Take words of repentance with you.” This phrase means that we must put into words a clear description of what we are repenting of. If we are not clear about what is going on inside us, how can we repent of it?

Next: “Forgive all our sin.” Repentance puts us in touch with God’s forgiveness. We can work to bring about change also, but the greatest catalyst for change is humbly positioning ourselves before God and asking for His forgiveness.

Then: “Accept what is good, so that we may repay You with praise from our lips.” The thought here is: “Receive us that we may worship You more effectively.” The purpose of all restoration is to worship God. We will be drawn into true worship when we give up insisting on our own way and learn to trust God for our own happiness. When repentance moves us from a spirit of demandingness to absolute trust in God, then we are in the place where God is able to make our feet like “hinds’ feet” and equip us with the ability to ascend into the heights with Him.

Prayer

Tender and skillful Invader of my heart, I yield my stricken being to You for healing. “Be of sin the double cure.” Drain every drop of demandingness from my being. For I want not only to be better but to be whole. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Jl 2:12-18; Isa 55:7; Ps 34:18; 51:17

What does God not despise?

What does it mean to “rend your heart”?
.

The Incorruptible Christinas

2 Corinthians 9:15

It would soon be Christmas again. With what anticipation we had watched the baking of sugared delights, the arrival of the mysterious packages from aunts and uncles, the unpacking of bright decorations that somehow never grew tacky from year to year.

Mother’s gasp of horror upon entering the house and the impact of the ravished apartment struck with horrible suddenness. While we had been at church, someone had broken in and stolen what valuables they could unsheathe, including my mother’s typewriter and my brother’s rented accordion. But to our childish minds, what devastated us was the sight of the tree leaning crazily-wounded and raped of the bright packages that had once adorned it like jewels at the base of a crown.

We were shuffled off to bed and listened long to the subdued voices of the adults before we finally fell asleep. A kind of order was restored. The tree was righted, and the preparations for Christmas resumed. But in my heart, anger moved in like a predatory bird and nestled in stolid silence over my incubating dreams. Our Christmas had been stolen.

On Saturday morning before Christmas my mother dressed to go out. Mother never went away on Saturdays. I recall confronting her with this fact while frowning up at her from the bathroom door. “I’m going to the jail,” she told me quietly. “I’m going to talk to the man who stole our things.” The thief, known to the police, had been apprehended.

My mother scooped me up gently and smoothed back strands of dark hair that shadowed my eyes. “I’m going to tell him that God loves him and that he can be forgiven. I think if he knew that, he’d never want to steal again.”

My angry tears overflowed. “But he stole our Christmas!” “Oh, no, honey,” she said with a shining in her eyes that I remember with more clarity than her words. “No one could do that. Christmas cannot be stolen. It’s here in our hearts where no one can take it away.”

Of course, Christmas came again that year. Somehow mother managed to procure a few small gifts which she lovingly wrapped. There was the same indefinable warmth, the wonder that is Christmas. But in my heart lived a new awareness—a knowledge that I, like the thief, was loved and forgiven. That year I understood that whatever men may try to do to demean or annul this sacred holiday, Christmas cannot, will never be, destroyed. In all its sacred wholeness and light, it is incorruptible.

Marlene Chase, The War Cry