I was in prayer last night, around 11 p.m., praying for certain people in my life, praying for their salvation from sin and for their surrender to Jesus as Lord. Many of these people have known the Scriptures since childhood, but they have not yet surrendered their hearts to the Lord, to let him truly rule their hearts and minds.
And, then that old song, “My Grandfather’s Clock,” (1) began playing in my mind. I recalled that the Lord had reminded me of that song one other time, which he had me write about in February of 2008. The song is about a man who was given a clock when he was born. It served him well until the day he died. But while he lived, the clock was his pride and joy (his idol; his god).
The clock numbered the seconds of his life. It was his faithful servant. “It kept in its place, not a frown upon its face, and its hand never hung by its side.” For, it was a god made of wood, which never confronted him with his sin, for it knew its place. And, it was never unhappy with him, but it always served him faithfully all throughout his life, no matter what.
And, this is the kind of god that many people are worshiping today, even those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. They are worshiping a god created in their own minds who coddles them in their sins, and who just “loves on them” even while they are engrossed in absolute depravity. Their god never rejects them, is always there for them, and accepts them just the way that they are, even if they are engaged in all manner of evil against Jesus Christ.
Romans 12:9-13 ESV
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
But our God doesn’t love like some people think he does. His love prefers what is holy, righteous, just, honest, pure, and faithful. His love for us considers what is truly best for us, so his love doesn’t coddle us in our sins. His love confronts us in our sins, and it calls us to repentance and obedience to our Lord, for that is what is for our good, for our wellness – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
And, when we love others with this agape love, which is of God, we won’t coddle people in their sins, either. But, we will speak the truth in love to those we love because we don’t want them to die and go to hell, and because we don’t want them living a life trapped by sin’s deceitfulness, worshiping false gods which just make them feel good (temporarily), but which destroy them and which hurt them and the others in their lives.
When we love with this kind of love, which is of God, we are going to hate what God hates and love what God loves, so we are going to hate evil and we are going to hold fast to what is good, as God defines “good,” not as man does. For, “good” is what is healing, wholesome, and for our benefit, not what will do us harm or that which will lead us into evil.
Nonetheless, when we truly love others as Jesus loves us, and we give up our reputations and our personal comfort in order to present to them the truth which will set them free, we may not be treated with kindness in return. We may face their rebuke and their rejection of us, and we may be persecuted for righteousness’ sake because we loved enough to tell the people we love the truth so that they will be free from their chains.
Romans 12:14-16 ESV
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”
But if we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and for loving others with the love of Jesus (of God), we are not to do evil against them, in return. We are not to willfully do what we know will cause them harm. Instead, we are to do to them and say to them what will be for their benefit, for their good, as Jesus spoke good into people’s hearts, too. And, he spoke the truth.
As far as rejoicing with those who rejoice, we are never to rejoice with evil, so we should never rejoice with them if what they are doing is evil. It is the same with weeping. We weep over the things God weeps over, not necessarily the things that the world weeps over. So, we need to be discerning here.
And, the same applies regarding living in harmony with others. We are first and foremost to live in harmony with God and with his Word, and then as far as we can live in harmony with others without being out of harmony with God or with his word, then we should do our best to do so. But we should never compromise our faith or the word of truth to unite with other people.
And, then we need to guard our own hearts here against spiritual pride. We are not better than others. We are all sinners by birth, and those of us who believe in Jesus are only his by his grace to us, and not of ourselves. So, we have no right to have a superior attitude as though we gained this salvation and this righteousness by our own goodness in our own fleshly efforts.
But… this does not mean we lower ourselves to a level inconsistent with God and with his holiness just so we appear humble, or just so others won’t think that we are self-righteous. We can be confident in our walks with the Lord without being arrogant, and we can maintain our walks with the Lord without being haughty. For, it takes true humility to walk with Jesus.
Romans 12:17-21 ESV
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
So, we don’t get even with those who hurt us, but we love them with the love of Jesus. But, the love of Jesus speaks the truth in love to others for their good. So, we love others by doing what is for their good, even if they do evil to us, in return.
And, just as Jesus gave his life up for us so that we could be free from our slavery to sin, we must lay down our lives to see others be free from their bondage to sin, too. So, we need to share with them the gospel of Christ. For, people are spiritually hungry and thirsty, too, and they need to hear about the bread of life and the living water which will satisfy the deep longings of their souls, in addition to giving them food and water.
But, when we do this, we must guard our own hearts against evil so that we are not led astray to evil while trying to help someone who is trapped in evil.
And, going back to the beginning of this writing about the grandfather’s clock, we all must remember that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. So, don’t make time your idol thinking that time will never run out. It will. And, one day you will be dead, and you will have to answer to God for how you lived your life while you were on this earth. So, don’t mess around.
Surrender your life to Jesus Christ today while you are still breathing.
Bow the Knee
Chris Machen and Mike Harland
…When the path grows dim and our questions have no answers, turn to Him.
Bow the knee; Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee; Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity.
And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan,
In the presence of the King, bow the knee…
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