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truth

Challenge Accepted!

It’s a balancing act…

Have you ever been forced to choose between two options when you really wanted both? Eggs or bacon? Peanut butter or jelly? Soap or water? Sometimes we want both. Sometimes we need both.

When it comes to truth and love, we really need a balance of both.

Truth is a big deal. Truth builds a strong, lasting foundation, holding up everything we do. Love is just as important as truth. As Christians, we are called to speak the life-changing truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we are obligated to speak it with love:

“Then, we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church” (Ephesians 4:14-15).

What does a mature Christian look like?

A mature Christian knows the truth. We don’t believe everything we hear. We aren’t easily tricked by lies. We know the truth because we know God’s word. We may lose our debit card, we may lose our keys, but we must never lose our commitment to God’s word.

A mature Christian speaks truth in love. Yes, we know the truth. Yes, we speak the truth. But we aren’t careless about how we speak the truth. We don’t speak the truth harshly or in anger.  We speak the truth in one way only—in love.

A mature Christian is in the process of becoming more like Jesus. Jesus told the truth, even when it was difficult, but he always spoke truth with kindness and compassion. When Jesus met the rich ruler (Mark 10:21), he spoke the truth—the ruler was too attached to his possessions. But the Bible also tells us that Jesus genuinely loved him. Truth and love work together.

One of our great challenges is to balance truth and love. The Bible instructs us to, “always stand for truth” (2 Corinthians 13:8), but also emphasizes that, “whoever does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8). We must be concerned about lost souls, but when we speak the truth of Jesus we must also be concerned about being compassionate and kind. The truth of God’s word must be balanced by the goodness of God’s love.

Truth spoken with love builds up and heals. Every day, we encounter people who need truth and who long for love. Let’s be committed to sharing God’s truth and love with a world that desperately needs both.

Dear God, help me know the truth by knowing your word. Immerse me in your love so I am kind and gentle with the hearts and feelings of others. And, Lord, please give me wisdom to balance truth and love—telling the truth of salvation and doing it with tenderness and love. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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love

Minister of Reconciliation

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

We were all estranged from God at some point in our lives. We did things that hurt him and offended him. But while we were in that estranged and sinful state, Jesus came to earth and died for us so we could be reconciled to him. To reconcile means, “to restore friendly relations between.” God, out of love, did what had to be done—what we could not do for ourselves—to restore friendly relations between us and him.

The magnitude of the love that saved us is beyond our imaginations. We couldn’t earn it. We didn’t deserve it. But God is relational. He actually IS love. So he sacrificed for us. He paid the price for us. He forgave us.

Now that we’ve been extravagantly loved and generously reconciled, he has placed us in the Ministry of Reconciliation. England has a Ministry of Defense, a Ministry of Housing, and a Ministry of Justice. God has a Ministry of Reconciliation. And we all have been appointed to a position there.

We are to reconcile ourselves to others, point people to reconciliation with God, and help other people be reconciled with each other. “Minister of Reconciliation”—that’s our calling. That’s our job. Every one of us.

A Minister of Reconciliation has this job description: Love God. Love people. Every person. All the time. That’s it. That’s why we’re here. You want to know what your purpose is? It’s simple: Love God. Love people. Every person. All the time. Making a living, the work you do at church, raising your family? That’s all just settings and vehicles to love God and love people—every person, all the time.

Our job on this earth is to share love with others, to be more and more loving every day, because God is love and we’re in the process of becoming more and more like God.

Here’s a word from Ephesians 5:1, “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”

If we want to sum up what it means to be a Minister of Reconciliation, it’s right there in Ephesians 5:1. Not cautious love, but extravagant. Not to get something from someone, but to give everything to others. It says that, mostly, what God does is love us. Mostly, what we should be doing is loving God and loving others, with a generous, brave, God-given love. Every person. Every day. With everything we have.

Father God, your love is absolutely incredible. I can hardly fathom it. When I couldn’t help myself, your love pursued me and rescued me. I love you, Lord. Continuously fill my heart with your love so I can give it away to others. Let me be your ambassador and an enthusiastic minister of reconciliation. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Pursued

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6).

There’s an old joke about two friends camping in the woods. It goes something like this: Stan and Andy are sitting by their tent when they see a ferocious, growling bear running toward them. Stan starts putting on his tennis shoes. Andy says, “What are you doing? You can’t outrun a bear!”  Stan replies, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you!”

We may never be chased by a bear, but we are being pursued. The goodness and unfailing love of our heavenly Father pursues us. And we can’t outrun it. It will pursue us relentlessly all the days of our lives. Summer or winter, weekdays or weekends, sunny days or rainy days, when we’re successful and when we fail, the love and goodness of God will be there.

Goodness and unfailing love are part of God’s character. These traits spring from the very essence of God. This means that those who seek God are rewarded with the constant presence of goodness and love.

Even if we wanted to, we can’t get away from his love: “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38).

No event in our lives shuts down the flow of God’s goodness and unfailing love. Fear, worry, demons, even death cannot move us out of the reach of God’s love. He just keeps following us, chasing us, pursuing us, and wrapping us in the security and protection of his goodness and love.

We don’t deserve God’s extravagant love or his goodness and mercy toward us, but he showers us with it anyway. Parts of the future may be unclear, but we know that when we wake up tomorrow, his lovingkindness will greet us. It will be there for every one of our tomorrows, for all the days of our lives.

Dear God, I don’t always deserve your love, but I am so thankful you love me anyway. Your extravagant, never-failing love amazes me. My soul rests easy knowing your love will relentlessly pursue me and you will never stop loving me. Teach me to love others as you love me. In Jesus’s name, amen.