Tag Archive | perfection

Evil for Evil, 1 Peter 3:9

Buddy.Looking.WP

I have an elderly neighbor named Fran that loves Buddy, so we try to visit him most nights so that he can have some dog time. His daughters have been visiting and brought a little Chihuahua-Chow mix with them called Sammy. Sammy is one pound of fur, one pound of dog and a hundred pounds of nasty. He growled and snapped at Buddy’s nose when Bud walked over to him to say “Hi”.

Now Buddy considers Fran’s house his second home. Sammy is an interloper. But how did Buddy respond to having his nose nipped? Surprise. He didn’t snap back, growl or attack the little runt. Everyone in the household enthusiastically declared what a sweet dog Buddy is.

Now, as you can see, Buddy has a better attitude than I do. I was not at all happy that this “little runt” attacked my dog. I love Buddy and am very protective of him. But he’s more noble than I am. He didn’t even bark at the dog but I feel irritated that Sammy tried to hurt Buddy.

I wish I could be more like Buddy. Both the Old and New Testaments command us to “treat others the same way you want to be treated,” Apostle Paul exhorts us to not to “return evil for evil” (Romans 12;17), and Apostle Peter wrote:

“not returning evil for evil or insult for insult but giving a blessing instead;”–1 Peter 3:9

Too often my first impulse is to retaliate when someone insults or mistreats me. Even though I know that Proverbs says, “sweetness of speech increases persuasion,” I still want to verbally thump someone who says something I think is ignorant, ill-informed, or just plain wrong.

Sometimes I think God put dogs into our lives to show us that it really is possible to be kind when others are unkind, to love unconditionally. Often Buddy shows more mercy and kindness than I do.

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”–Jesus, Matthew 5:44-45

When I take a moment to reflect on Jesus, I realize how the majority of people ignore or hate Him. Being omniscient, God knew that most people would reject Him, yet He still chose to give up His glorious home and restrict His divine power to live as a human being and die on a cross for our sins.

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”–Romans 5:6-8

God did it so that He could turn enemies of God into children of God by removing the sin barrier between us. God cannot tolerate evil and must punish it. Yet, instead of destroying the human race, He chose instead to suffer horribly and take our punishment for our sin.

What keeps me from being kind at times is a lack of humility.

Because when I’m rude and retaliating when someone is unkind or selfish, I’m forgetting that I once was an unbeliever till God had mercy on me. Who knows what kind of person I’d be today, or what foolishness I’d believe, if Jesus hadn’t convicted me of my sins on March 7th many years ago. Or “there but for the grace of God go I” the old saying goes.

“…to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy…”–Titus 3:3-5

And, sadly, what keeps people from knowing God is a lack of humility, the inability to admit that they’re sinners and need a perfect God to die on their behalf. Most people think they’re good enough to get to Heaven and don’t need someone to pay for their sins.

But God only accepts perfection to get into Heaven. “Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Jesus, Matthew 5:48

Personally, I know I fall short and cannot justify myself before a perfect God on Judgment Day. I just need to remind myself, before I’m tempted to “return evil for evil or insult to insult,” that God commands that I be kind, because He is kind to all.

In a rambling sort of way, what I’m saying is, that I need to be reminded to be kind when other people fall far short of how I think they should behave, because God is kind to me and accepts me as His child although I fall far short of His standards every day.

It shows how fallen I am that I even NEED to be reminded to be kind.

Thank God for His kindness and great mercy to me.

And bringing such a sweet and loving dog into my life to remind me what unconditional love really is like.

Thanks for reading and for your time. God bless you. Love from Dawn and Buddy

 

 

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God Is Love, 1 John 4:16

Buddy.Cute.WP

One reason I love this photo is because I love Buddy. He is great company, particularly when I’m alone in the house at night. And because I love him, I don’t think about the bad boy things he has done: I see him as perfect and totally lovable.

The Apostle John, who laid his head against Christ’s breast when Jesus walked the earth, declared that “God is love,”–1 John 4:16

When most people think of Heaven, they think of angels on clouds and green meadows full of flowers and meeting their loved ones again, looking young and healthy. They usually don’t think of it as a place where God dwells.

Since God is love and dwells in Heaven, guess what Hell could be defined as? Not as a place of fire and brimstone, but a place where God does not dwell, a place totally absent of love.

Please think about that. Hell is a place with no mercy, no kindness, no laughter, no joy, no peace, no faithfulness, no goodness, no patience, no freedom…(Galatians 5:22) I’m sure you can think of many others.

I think most people, if mentally healthy, would prefer to go to Heaven and not Hell, but they have a misunderstanding about how to get there. This will shock most people: IT’S NOT BY BEING GOOD! or , like pictured in an Egyptian papyrus painting, I have, “IT’S NOT BY HAVING YOUR GOOD DEEDS OUTWEIGHING YOUR BAD.”

To address the latter firstly: If you think it’s by having your good deeds outweighing the bad, how do you define your good and your bad deeds? God is perfect. His definition of “bad” is far broader than ours is. The longer I’m a Christian, the more I realize how bad I really am, because I become more familiar with what God’s standards really are. When someone asked Jesus what he must do to “inherit eternal life”, Jesus responded, “No one is good except God alone.”–Luke 18:18

This seems to me a really iffy program to place my hope on to obtain eternal life in Heaven. How do you really know when your good deeds outweigh your bad? How many points does gossip get versus donating a toy to Toys for Tots? That method would keep me awake at night.

Most people don’t understand the gospel (which means “good news”). It’s not good news to tell me that I need to work really hard to be good and hope that maybe I did well enough to pass muster on Judgment Day. God cannot tolerate evil, i.e. sin. He demands perfection. In the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus declared, “You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”–Matthew 5:48  I blew that one a long time ago.

That’s why Jesus had to die. Only He was good enough, being God in the flesh, to live a perfect life and take our punishment for God’s wrath against sin. We don’t do anything to earn Heaven except humble ourselves and admit we’re sinners and need Jesus’ blood to cover our sin for us. And because He rose from the dead, proving Himself to be God and His sacrifice acceptable, ask Him to empower us by giving us the Holy Spirit to live His life through us.

Then God sees us as perfect and totally lovable, just like I love my Buddy.

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”–Psalm 103:12

And that’s good news, not working for my eternal life but accepting that Jesus already did it for me.

Sadly, admitting they’re not perfect is just too difficult for most people.

PS. If someone says this is wrong, it’s not by faith in Christ but good works, then ask them, “Why did Jesus have to die?”

***

If you agree with me, “Hey, I’d like to go to Heaven and live with this loving God for eternity, and I know I’m not perfect, I’ve missed the mark,” please pray:

Dear Father, I’m sorry I’ve screwed up and fallen far short of your standards. I know I’m far from perfect but I believe you love me and want me to spend eternity with you. I believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and died for my sins. That He lived the perfect life I couldn’t live. Please forgive me and grant me Your Holy Spirit to lead and guide me. Amen.

 

Being Perfect: Matthew 5:49

Perfect.Buddy

To me my little Silky terrier, Buddy, is perfect because I love him. Is he really perfect? No. But when I look at him, I’m not thinking about the times he’s been a bad boy: I’m thinking about how fun he is and loyal and quirky. I’m not focusing on his bad traits (which are very few, of course).

Many Christians love Jesus with all their hearts but don’t really understand their salvation, so oftentimes they’ll preach the bad news to unbelievers. Yet, the Gospel is called “the Good News”. What makes it good, and not bad, news?

During the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus’ most famous sermon, He tells how to be a good person. It’s very convicting because no one can live up to it 24/7, no matter how hard a person tries and how sincerely. Yet Jesus proclaims during the sermon:

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Matthew 5:49

Perfect? God expects me to be perfect?

Often, in sincerity, Christians will proclaim that you must do good deeds and live up to God’s Laws to be pleasing to Him. Some even claim you can lose your salvation if you aren’t good enough. But Jesus said that God’s standard was “perfection”. James also proclaimed:

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”–James 2:10

What James is saying: if you try to please God by attempting to live up to His standards, yet fail just once, you’re guilty. The law of good works condemns you to Hell.

So anyone who tells you that you can be good enough to be pleasing to God, just doesn’t have it quite right. Because it’s impossible to be perfect. God is so incomprehensibly far holier than we could ever imagine or hope to be in this lifetime.

But here’s the GOOD NEWS: “By grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast.”–Apostle Paul, Ephesians 2:8-9

God declares you righteous by faith, not by your good deeds (works): not by being good enough or staying good enough. The truth is: You can NEVER be good enough in this lifetime.

It’s a GIFT: You don’t work to earn it. It’s an act of mercy by a loving, yet holy, God to bring you into a love relationship with Him.

The GOOD NEWS is that you’re saved by faith in Jesus Christ. What is that exactly? By believing that Jesus was God in the flesh, died on the Cross to take the penalty of God’s wrath for your sin, and that He was resurrected from the grave.

“My righteous one shall live by faith.”–Hebrews 10:38.

“And without faith it’s impossible to place Him…”–Hebrews 11:6

And, because it’s still impossible to be perfect after your salvation, you maintain your walk by faith (Galatians 3:1-3). You’re declared “not guilty” by the Great Judge because Jesus nailed your sin to His Cross (Colossians 2:14). If you come to faith in Jesus, on Judgment Day, you will “stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy.”–Jude 24

When you believe in Jesus and become born-again (receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit), God looks down on you like I look at Buddy: with eyes of love and not condemnation.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus.”–Romans 8:1

“And their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.”–Hebrews 10:17

More later on the counterbalance: Actions have consequences.