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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When I was growing up, my parents always gave my brother and I an Easter basket. It was usually filled with different candy and trinkets and we would use this basket to hunt for hidden Easter eggs in the house or backyard (depending on the weather). Now when I say “hidden” what I really mean is, “in plain sight.” My parents would never really hide the eggs but place them strategically out in the open so my brother and I would easily find them. Each egg was filled with something different: candy, a penny, and if you were lucky, maybe a dollar. Now that I am a dad I get to see the Easter egg hunt from a fathers perspective. We recently did an Easter egg hunt with my family, my brothers family, and my parents. As we pulled up to my parents house, you could see the “hidden” Easter eggs placed in plain sight. I stood behind my daughter as she ran to each egg, gave it a shake, and placed it in her bunny themed Easter basket. What a special moment to share with my entire family and invoke memories from my own childhood hunting for Easter eggs.
What made this Easter so different was now I am on the giving end of the Easter basket instead of the receiving. My perspective is that of the father, not the child. What my daughters experienced during that Easter celebration was the love from her parents and grandparents and memories that can never be taken away. I think what made the day even more special was that I got a small glimpse into what the Father’s love for me is like. Scripture articulates GOD’s love in the most straightforward fashion:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV
For GOD so loved that He gave. He gave His everything, His one and only Son. Sometimes love doesn’t feel like love. Even with spouses or children there are moments where we don’t feel love for that person, but feelings are fleeting and roots don’t grow deep because a tree feels like a tree. Roots grow deep because a tree grows into a tree. Actions produce love and love is produced by actions. C.S Lewis is his book Mere Christianity ends his chapter on Charity with this statement: “But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifferences; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.” GOD’s love for us costs Him everything. Jesus came to this Earth, lived a sinless life, and died a criminals death on the cross so that we could have a relationship with Him forever. GOD’s love was displayed in the gift of Jesus. It wasn’t just the feelings of love or the words of love, GOD displayed his love with His actions. There is no questioning the love that GOD has for you and for me. How can there be? Someone might tell my wife that I don’t love her, but she sees me everyday cleaning up the dishes, helping her fold laundry, and going to work to provide for our family. She doesn’t need to hear me say, “I love you” (Although I would encourage every husband to do this on a daily and even hourly basis) to know that I love her. She sees my love. We see GOD’s love in the Easter story in the fact that He gave Jesus. He doesn’t need to say anything else. The gift has been given for you and for me. Now, I’ll bet, if you would sit quietly, turn off your cell phone, and come to a place where all you can hear is yourself breathing, GOD will meet you in that moment and you will hear Him whisper, “I love you.” GOD loves you today, tomorrow, and forever.
He is Risen! Happy Easter!
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