My wife and I are very different when it comes to our personalities. She is extremely patient, I am not. She will face confrontation if need be, I am passive aggressive. She is very systematic and organized, my methods can sometimes be inefficient and messy. What makes us different makes our marriage work, but what I see in my daughter Brooklyn is a mix of both our personalities. Brooklyn is very passive aggressive when she plays with other children, but she likes her toys and books organized and in a certain order. When she smiles I see her mom and her love for music evokes memories of my own childhood growing up and listening to music. Brooklyn has the very nature of her mom and dad. You can easily see it when you spend time with her. GOD’s desire for His children is to emulate His nature in every area of life. Sometimes that’s the hardest when we have been hurt. Jesus knew we would face many different hurts and pains, but through them all He taught that our nature should match that of the children of GOD. In Luke 6:27-35, Jesus is teaching what we now call “The Sermon on the Mount:”
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise."
“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful."
Did you see what Jesus said at the very end? He said your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. Check out how The Passion Translation puts it:
"You will receive a rich reward and you will be known as true children of the Most High God, having his same nature. For your Father is famous for his kindness to heal even the thankless and cruel. Show mercy and compassion for others, just as your heavenly Father overflows with mercy and compassion for all.”
The Greek word for reward is misthos and the literal definition is “pay for service or wages.” Jesus is saying if you take care of those who curse you, if you are generous without looking for anything in return, GOD will reward you. GOD will make sure that you are taken care of. I know it sounds counterintuitive to how we are feeling in the moment: In the moment we want to lash out, scream, punch, or tell someone how we really feel, but that is not what Jesus is calling us to do. When someone is mistreating us, or hurting us, our first thought is how can I get payback or justice, but Jesus blows those thoughts up. He says, “You go be generous to them. You find a way to bless them.” Maybe it’s a parent or a spouse who has caused deep pain and the thought of doing something nice can’t make it past the unforgiveness still locked in your heart. Maybe its a friend or sibling who left you when you needed them most and now they need a friend. Its your chance to reach out and be there for them when they weren’t there for you, but the memory and hurt is too fresh. We can either let that pain and hurt keep us locked in or we can step out and show others what true children of GOD look like. The characteristic of GOD is unconditional love and forgiveness and that same nature lives in each one of us. We have the ability to show others that even through our pain, disappointment, and grief we can still display the awesome love of GOD. The same hands that reached down to comfort us can now reach out to those who hurt us and comfort them. Our prayer is that GOD’s children will be so full of the goodness, love, and the favor of GOD that others around us will not be able to deny that we are the true children of GOD.
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If you were to ask my wife what is the one thing that I can not live without (Excluding Jesus and her of course), she would emphatically tell you “coffee!” I am a coffee junkie. To me coffee is my water. I believe that GOD made Adam and Eve and when they had children he introduced them to the coffee bean. Because of my infatuation or better yet, need for coffee, I find myself inside coffee shops many times throughout the week. My usual routine when ordering coffee is pulling up the app on my phone, ordering my coffee, and then sitting inside on a nice comfy couch waiting to hear my name called. In the moments between ordering and picking up my amazingness, I typically just scroll through the news feed on my phone or text my wife back and forth. A few weeks ago GOD called my attention to the other patrons enjoying their cup of joe. As I scanned the room, I observed about 75% of the room either looking at their phone, iPad, or some sort of tech device. The other 25% were either in line or sitting with another person. I couldn’t help but think how connected we are online, but how disconnected we are in the real world. Coffee shops were meant for communion with friends, family, or complete strangers. A place to go and enjoy conversation and purposeful interaction with other physical human beings. I felt very misplaced at that moment. How many times have I slipped onto my comfy couch, immediately pulled out my cell phone or computer, and focused my attention to the bright light radiating from my screen. Who have I missed? What lonely individual had come looking for coffee just like myself, but needed to hear a simple “hello” or “how are you?” How many times have I stood in line without even noticing the person behind me or the name on the tag of the barista taking my order. “This will stop today,” I emphatically declared. No more missing the world going on around me for the world that is in my pocket. From that moment on, my aim is to not just be in the moment, but to thrive in the moment. I want to see eye color and pay attention to name tags. I want to hear someone’s voice and recognize the emotion behind it. I want to get out of my little world and see the world that GOD has divinely ordained around me.
Jesus is the perfect example of someone who connected with the people around Him and through those connections He was able to offer hope, healing, and salvation. One of my favorite stories about Jesus is more of a transition than a story. It’s a transition in Jesus life, but He used it as a great opportunity for intimate connection. In the last few verses of John 8, Jesus is having a pretty heated discussion with the religious leaders of the day presenting Himself as The Christ. The leaders in turn became very angry and picked up stones to kill Jesus, but Jesus just concealed Himself and left the temple where He had been teaching. Chapter 9 starts with this verse:
“Afterward, as Jesus walked down the street, he noticed a man blind from birth.” John 9:1 TPT
Afterward. After the heated discussion where the religious leaders tried to kill Jesus. Afterward. Jesus had just exchanged one of the most prominent examples to the Jews that He was not only The Christ, but that He existed with GOD from the very beginning. I am sure that emotions were running high for Jesus, the religious leaders, and His disciples, but Jesus didn’t dwell on what just happened. As He walked down the street He noticed a man blind from birth. Jesus was always looking for connections. Always looking for someone He could encourage or speak life into. There was never a wasted moment in the life of Jesus. If Jesus ministry was happening today, He would ignore the constant vibrating of His cell phone to connect with that person who is sitting alone at dinner. The rest of chapter 9 is an incredible story of the healing of this man who was born blind and the glory of GOD that was shown that day in Jerusalem. The same day that Jesus was in an emotional heated conversation with the religious leaders. The same day those same religious leaders tried to kill Him. That same day He noticed a man born blind and stopped everything to show the everlasting love of GOD. My question to you and myself is how can we be more like Jesus in our transitions? When life is busy and we are running from one place to the next, how can we slow down enough to notice? Let us not be people who are defined by the cross around our necks or the place we go on Sunday, but let us be defined by the actions we take in the transitions and the love that we show in the busyness of our day. My declaration will be this:
I will be more purposeful and intentional with my daily interactions—wether that’s with my wife, kids, family, or a complete stranger. I will take Jesus into every interaction, every conversation, every insignificant moment and let His grace and mercy move through me.
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