Saturday, March 28, 2015

“Love, Joy, and Holiness”

    Unbelievers seek to live long, happily, and healthily.   In the brief span of earthly existence they perceive as their only being and opportunity, they have no other option.  "Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (I Corinthians 15:32).

    Conversely, born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, while having nothing against length of days, happiness, and health, seek rather to live lovingly, joyfully, and in holiness.  

    "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 222:37-39).    
     "My soul shall be joyful in the Lord" (Psalm 35:9).
    "Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).

    Believers seek quality of life rather than quantity.  This leads to love, the love of God and love for God, along with loving others.  We were made for this glorious experience of God's character, nature, and way first revealed to us, and then formed in us through the presence of the indwelling Spirit of Christ.  Nothing else can serve as the primary purpose and foundation of our lives, even as the Apostle Paul declared in I Corinthians 13 that without God's love, we are nothing.

    We also seek to live joyfully rather than happily.  There is a difference.  As the old adage suggests, "Happiness is based on happenings; joy is based on Jesus."  Indeed, Christians can know the joy of Christ even in our saddest times - "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (II Corinthians 6:10).  We rejoice in Him rather than in the pleasant circumstances and conditions required by the world to know its limited and fleeting happiness - "rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).  One of the great miracles of God's grace in the Lord Jesus involves His joyfulness known where it could not seem to possibly be.  The anthem sounds and resounds through the ages from venues of pain, loss, grief, agony, and forsakenness as the Holy Spirit reveals to hurting believers that the Light shines best and brightest in darkness.  Indeed, if we could presently find the most joyous Christian in the world, he or she would likely be discovered in a circumstance that would seem to preclude joy.  "Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness" (Psalm 112:4).  

    Finally, the believer seeks holiness, the ongoing recognition of who we are in Christ, and Whose we are in Christ.  We blessedly do not belong to ourselves - "ye are not your own" (I Corinthians 6:19).  We are the sons and daughters of a Father, the stewards of a Master, and the Blood-washed, Spirit-enlivened branches of the True Vine, the Lord Jesus.  Holiness relieves us of seeking to determine our own destiny, while still giving us a vital role of faith, devotion, and submission in the process of God conforming us to the image of His Son (Philippians 2:12-13).  Thus, the cruel tyranny of a constantly troubled mind about the health of my mind and body dissolves in the glory that in truth, we have no mind and body.  They belong to Him!  The Lord may do with His own as He sees fit.  Our calling involves keeping this blessed truth fresh and vital in the heart so that the Holy Spirit may lead our minds and bodies in His possession, presence, and power.  "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).

    A frenzied world concerns itself with the temporal, limited realities that comprise its only perception and hope of existence.  A faithful family of God in Christ concerns itself with the loving, joyful, and holy opportunities of today whereby we may know and honor our Lord, while rejoicing that our best days lie ahead.  Or rather, a glorious eternity beckons us with its promised glory of hope…

"And so shall we ever be with the Lord."
(I Thessalonians 4:17)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Who can understand his errors?  Cleanse thou me from secret faults.
(Psalm 19:12)

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