Let love be without hypocrisy …. give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord …. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Romans 12:9A, 10B-11, 14-16
But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’” Luke 14:16-24
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
Being ones who genuinely love others is the focus of today’s Romans Passage. It boils down to whether we are caught up in “regarding others” or in “self-regard.” Our passage helps us see the contrasts between regarding others and self-regard: preferring others or preferring self, serving the Lord or serving self, blessing others (goal of mending) or cursing others (goal of hurting), mainly focused on the joy and sorrow of others or mainly focused on our own joy and sorrow, pursuing common ground (same mind) or promoting our agenda , relating to anyone (no one beneath you – humility) or having nothing to do with certain others (some are beneath you - pride), and finally, esteeming and valuing others for who they are and what they bring to the world or thinking you are God’s gift to the world (wise in your own estimation).
Obviously, regarding others is what love is all about. It is self-regard that messes everything up. When self-regard is strong in us, even that which might be considered as love for others, regard for others, and doing for others becomes twisted. Underneath it all is our need to derive something for ourselves from others in return. This is what our passage is calling us away from when it says, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” Genuine love is all about the genuine regard of others over the regard of self. This is pure or unconditional love – it is the “agape” love of God.
So, if we want to love others genuinely so that all that comes from us to them is an expression of regard for them and not ourselves, we must experience a supernatural transformation from God. This is why we are Christ followers: so that through our relationship with God we can know his unconditional love on a daily basis, we can be transformed by the experience of God’s love day by day, and we can impact our world with the outward regard of genuine love that flows daily from us for the sake of God’s kingdom and glory.
Once again we turn to Luke 14 with its emphasis on banquets. Yesterday, we saw that Luke 14 began this way, “It happened that when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching Him closely.” This opening will help us with the banquet story we are going to examine over the last three days of this week’s Devotionals. Our story is simply about a man inviting people to a banquet and how people respond to his invitation. We should keep in mind that Jesus shared the story over a meal at a leader of the Pharisee’s home. We are told “they” were watching him closely. Jesus is speaking to a group of Pharisees who were far from being positive in their response to Christ.
The story is illustrative to how people respond to the invitation of Jesus to become his followers. Ultimately true followers of Christ will join him at the banqueting table of the redeemed in his eternal kingdom where they will celebrate the redemptive triumph of Christ. While we equate the man who “invites” with Christ, we equate the slave who “calls people to respond” with those who are already Christ followers. We equate those who “make excuses” with the Pharisees and all those who cling to the religious system of the day (we will look at those who come to the banquet on Thursday and Friday).
The point for today is that we are servants of Christ who are sent out to say, “come.” While many will have excuses, we don’t ever want it to be that we are their excuse. How we say “come” has everything to do with how we live before those who need to “come” and how we love them. This is how our Ephesians passage goes together with our Luke 14 passage. As was said earlier, this is why we are Christ followers: so that through our relationship with God we can know his unconditional love on a daily basis, we can be transformed by the experience of God’s love day by day, and we can impact our world with the outward regard of genuine love (words and deeds) that flows daily from us for the sake of God’s kingdom and glory.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, I see that it all comes back to pursuing you fully. Help me seek you with all my heart and help me go forward in a full relationship with you. I know that being a genuine lover of others and being used significantly for your kingdom will follow. May everything about me (words and deeds) help others “come” to you. I love you and worship you, Lord. Amen!
Posted on Wed, February 27, 2019
by Ken Hart