I am a very young mom; by young I mean I received the “teen-age mother stare-down” from most of the delivery nurses when Quinn was born. This youth and immaturity has been a wonderful “condition” (for it is a state I do not intend to remain in long, Lord willing) for Christ to discipline and grow me in huge areas. Two areas in particular: covetousness and loving the brethren. Oi Vey.
“Susie’s crawling at 3 months!”
“Tommy’s walking at 5 months!”
“Johnny is potty-training HIMSELF! (here are some pictures for your enjoyment)”
…my bitterness wells up and my heart is a cesspool of self-centeredness and discontentment. Picture after picture, my hatred escalates. What a filthy sinner I am indeed. However, I have a blessed redeemer Who is greater than any iniquity.
The disciples revealed the master over their hearts in Mark 9:33-35. After witnessing the MESSIAH, the “I AM”: perform thousands of healings, cast out unclean spirits, raise the dead, feed 5,000 men (women and children excluded), command the seas and storms, walk on water, feed another 4,000, transfigure into His heavenly glory, and not to mention His various teachings beyond the I.Q. of your average carpenter and His uncanny ability to read hearts and minds; they’re walking around wondering, “Hmmm, who out of all of us is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Now, I would like to think that if I were there I would have the self-control to say, “Are you kidding me? He is THE ‘I AM’ the Messiah!” But, unfortunately, I hopelessly prove my own excellency to myself, everyday.
So, after I realized how vain these competitions indeed were (seriously the DEFINITION of “havel”), what now?
Praise the Lord! The faithfulness of the Word of God is profound. While I wallowed in vain despair, the scriptures picked me up, smacked me around a bit, and gave me JOY. Oh my goodness, JOY! This is what JOY is? How much time have I wasted in discontentment and jealousy!? Studying 1 John put the wellspring of my heart into a bold picture. Worldliness, envy (no love for the brethren), and pride.
“For this is the message we have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous… We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down out lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:11+12, 14-16 NASB
Evil deeds (murder, envy, discontentment)+ of the evil one = Cain
Pure + righteous + love + sacrificial Lamb = Jesus
I am either of the evil one, or of the righteous one, and my deeds will attest to that. My “slaying” of my brother was every nasty thought I allowed in my head about one of my sisters. Instead I am commanded to love them! What does loving them look like? Instead of thinking, “They have it all together” I GO to them and ask, “How can I pray for you?…I really admire this thing you did, can you teach me?…I really admire the patience you have with your 2 year old, can I ask that we pray together that I would grow in this? Or, do you have any verses that you meditated on that helped you grow in this fruit of the Spirit?”
Maybe at this point you’re thinking, who talks like that? WE do. We are the Bride of Christ! That means we are NOT of this world, we are wholly and completely of Him. That means we are humble, and when we are humble we receive grace, as He promises (James 4:6). And when we receive grace, we grow in Christlikeness, and when we grow in Christlikeness we love the brethren. Which is THE only commandment He gives to us. Love. Love for Him, and love for His children.
“This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” 1 John 3:23 NASB
Sisters, would you join with me in loving with the fullest joy and freedom! Love your sisters and brothers. Serve, encourage, seek after, and pray. Oh, if we grew in this, how gloriously would our Savior shine? After all, that is our goal. That He would shine. That we would be the salt of the earth, a city on a hill (Matt. 5:13-16) reflecting the pure Light of our Creator.
John the Baptist said it! “He must increase, and I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
He increases when I love the brethren, actively, purposefully, prayerfully.