Reading: John 13:18-38
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
They were possibly the most influential three years in the history of mankind – those years that Jesus spent with the twelve men he had gathered around him. It was a time full of surprises, an opportunity to live with God on earth and discover first hand exactly how he wanted them (and all the rest of us) to live together. And how was that? Like him. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Love was to define them. So much so that when others “looked in” and saw that love, they would automatically assume, “Oh yes, those people must be followers of Jesus.”
When it all boils down, to “Love God” and to “Love others” are the two ultimate purposes of my life. And how much do I have to love? For God, I am to love with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. For others, Jesus simply says, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” On a scale of one to ten, that's a ten on both counts.
It's clear to me that I fall woefully short of what Jesus has asked me to do. He must have known that would be the case. And yet, he asked me anyway…
I find myself suddenly taken surprise by the thought that my capacity to love both God and others, whilst still walking on this planet, may be enormously greater than I have previously dared to dream possible. Because ultimately, love is from God. There is no end to his love, but if it is to flow through me, I need to be a willing and open channel, like a wide open artery not blocked up with deposits of “gunk” but open and free.
It's really the work of the Holy Spirit in me and through me that will increase my capacity to love. What's required from me is simply the willingness to say, “Holy Spirit, let's go!”
Jesus, I confess that fear of what might be required of me makes me hesitate. And yet I love the thought of being an open channel for your love. I want to reach the potential that you see in me to love you, and to love others. Please will you deal with the obstructions in me and dismantle all my silly objections. I submit them to you, and offer you my whole self. Holy Spirit, let's go!
See also Perfecting Me
“Holy Spirit, let's go!” was a favourite prayer of the late Ray Edmonds who, I believe, prayed this every morning, and took every opportunity that came his way to share Jesus with those he met.
Reading: Luke 5:17 – 6:49
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers.
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:43-45 (NIV)
I am intrigued by the idea that goodness can be “stored up”. Jesus tells me here that “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart…” God also “stores up goodness” as seen in Psalm 31:19 (NIV): “How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.”
Goodness: The state or quality of being good; moral excellence; the beneficial or nourishing element of something; kindly feeling; generosity; essence; the best part of anything.
What an amazing thought, that God has stored up “the best part” for me! He knows exactly what I need and what delights me, and has something beneficial and nourishing ready to give me at just the right moment. And he has placed in me this same capacity to store up goodness, ready to share “at just the right moment” with the people he would lead me to. What a privilege, to be like God!
Goodness is the fruit of the Holy Spirit's presence and work in my life as I submit myself daily to him. If goodness can be stored, I'd like my cupboards to be large! And the more often I can empty them by bestowing goodness on others, the more often God can fill them afresh. He never runs out of goodness.
Best there be a door not just on the front of the cupboard, but also on the back, for “inward goods”. Or better still, let's just make that an open hatch! And whenever I find myself on the receiving end of a particular blessing from God, whether that be a financial blessing, or a 'happy turn of events', or an answer to prayer, my first reaction after giving thinks to him can be to intentionally look for some way to share the blessing of God's goodness with someone else. Goodness in, goodness out.
Lord God, you have been so good to me. I love the idea of being able to share your goodness with others. Please continue to renew my heart that I might be a good man, and enlarge my capacity to be able to receive and share your goodness. I look not to my own supply channels but to you for all I need. And I pray that you would indeed bestow your goodness on me “in the sight of men”, that all may see what a good and gracious God you are.
See also, Before eBay or TradeMe, there was God…