What would be your response if you carefully selected a gift and presented it to someone dear only to have him or her leave it wrapped? A myriad of emotions undoubtedly flood your mind as you consider such an ungrateful response on the part of the recipient. Putting the question in the context of God’s gift of unmerited love to us (John 3:16) is there a possibility that you might be neglecting to unwrap the one our Lord graciously custom selected for you by choosing to withhold love to others even when they are undeserving? May I encourage you this Christmas season to unwrap your gift of unmerited love and generously share it? Two Christian character qualities will assist us in unwrapping the package, graciousness and impartiality.
Graciousness and impartiality are Siamese twins. Graciousness is blatantly absent in twenty-first century Christian culture which suggests that the incidence of impartiality is most likely missing as well. Gracious is defined as being kindly disposed or showing favor and mercy to someone, usually by a person of superior position and power. (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, “gracious.”)
Scriptural instances portray Potiphar dealing graciously with Joseph (Gen. 39:4), Ruth finding favor in the eyes of Boaz (Ruth 2:10), and King Ahasureus’ gracious treatment of Esther (Esther 2:17; 5:2). Biblically, our heavenly Father sets the standard for graciousness toward human beings, as stated in the ancient liturgical formula: “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). Ps. 86:15 portrays God as “full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.” Psalm 103:8 declares, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy” while Psalm 145:8 affirms, “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.” (See Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God, A Guide to Developing Your Biblical Potential, p.145-6.)
Impartiality means not partial or biased; (Random House Dictionary, "impartial); to understand impartiality you must first define partial—which, from a biblical perspective, “originally referred to raising someone’s face or elevating someone strictly on a superficial, external basis, such as appearance, race, wealth, rank or social status" (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, note at James 2:1). James 2:1-17 passionately challenges Christians to shun the sin of partiality (2:9) by focusing on how the Lord Jesus, the King of the Universe, chose to make His advent on earth—He was born in a stable (Luke 2:7), possessed a less than impressive genealogy (Matthew 1:1-16), lived in the humble village of Nazareth for 30 years (Matt. 2:19-23, Luke 2:39), selected men engaged in a variety of professions for his disciples (Matt. 18:22; Mark 1:16-20), ministered in Galilee and Samaria, two communities notoriously held in contempt by Israel’s leaders (Matt. 1:23-25; John 4), ate with tax collectors and sinners (Matt. 9:10-12), and associated with women of questionable reputation (John 4:1-26, 8:1-11).
James compares the church’s reaction to the rich and the poor (2:2-4) and concludes that the church is to be a classless society, since its primary concern is to fulfill the royal law and love your neighbor as yourself (2:8). “James is not advocating some kind of emotional affection for oneself—self-love is clearly a sin (2 Tim. 3:2). Rather, the command is to pursue meeting the physical health and spiritual well-being of one’s neighbors (all within the sphere of our influence; Luke 10:30-37) with the same intensity and concern as one does naturally for one’s self (Phil. 2:3-4).” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, note at James 2:8). Kelsey’s Korner provides you with some practical suggestions of how to give the gift of unmerited love to others this holiday season and throughout the coming year.
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”
2 Corinthians 9:15
Christ in John 13:34 commands His followers, saying “just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” This may be a seemingly simple command, but the weightiness of its depth is found in the words of Romans 5:8, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This small sentence contains the ultimate example of selfless, unmerited love, because despite our state of active hate and rebellion toward God, Christ loved us and freely gave himself up for us that we might live. This is the love that we are commanded to likewise extent to others.
- Practically, loving others should always begin with prayer. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44 to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. Christ knew the power of prayers not only on our enemy’s hearts, but on our own—it is impossible to continue despising someone that you daily intercede before the throne of God for. Additionally, loving others by our own power is a futile attempt. Believers must ask for the help and power of the Holy Spirit who will manifest the true workings of love in our hearts (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
- When someone upsets us, we are to react in actions of love. If a child insults our cooking or a husband constantly tracks mud into the house, our first reactions are often to withdraw our normal services—we desire to stop cooking dinner or cleaning mud off the floors in order to teach them that if they are not willing to respect what we do, we will stop serving them. This is unbiblical thinking simply because the one whom we work under and serve is God, not man, so “quitting” our God given jobs defies His command to sacrificially love and serve others and displays a disobedience to our true Master. Endeavor rather to see these frustrations as key opportunities to show love in such a way that resembles Christ.
- Lastly, when we have been wronged by someone, we are to react in words of love. Most people respond to an insult in one of two ways: they may erupt in anger with a raised voice, or they may retract in bitter silence, yet both of these reactions cause divisions and create distance between people. A raised voice almost always portrays destructive, ungodly anger, and Scripture teaches us to be slow to speak (James 1:19); we cannot, however, avoid speaking. Punishing someone with silence is just as wrong as reacting in explosive anger. Looking to Christ for our example we see that no matter how His redeemed children sin, he responds in love. Believers can have full confidence that God will not react in condemnation (Rom. 8:1) or separation, but rather we are told that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:39). When we respond in anger and verbal aggression, however, we are speaking a condemnation on those who wronged us that not even Christ spoke on us. And when we give someone the silent treatment, we are causing a separation or retraction of love and favor which Christ has promised never to give us.
If God has given himself to show love to rebels who hate and malign him so as to bring them back, how much more should we give the gift of love to one another when it is least deserved. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God has said, “All things work together for good to those who love me, and to those whom I have called” (Romans 8:28).
Therefore I may boldly say, “God is aware of every situation I encounter and can fit it all into the master plan He has for my life.”
A GIFT FOR YOU!
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Blessings on your day as you focus on making your house a home!