I am a blessed man. God has blessed me so very greatly. He has blessed me first of all by saving me by His loving grace. I have the best pastor’s wife any man could ever pray for. Together, Kristie and I have been blessed with three awesome boys and have opened our hearts and our home for another child at God’s leading. On top of that, we have been blessed with the privilege to serve the Lord at a most awesome church, Walker Baptist Church.
The last several months have been especially trying. Being a pastor is one of the most fulfilling and yet painful jobs a person can have. As believers, we are commanded to love one another (John 15:12). In our Box family devotion time, we have been reading 1 John and one of the themes we have been looking at is how our love for one another, as believers, is directly connected to our love for Him. In fact, our love for one another is actually a witness to a watching world. Jesus Himself said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35, ESV). Love for God and love for one another are inseparable.
Over these past several months, God has been doing some great things in my heart and has even used the unkind and unloving expressions of others in this process of purifying my heart. For instance, my love for people has been tested. Thankfully, through prayer, I can honestly say, by God’s grace, I love everybody, even those who are not loving toward me. In fact, I can honestly say I would get up right now and go to the aid of any person, regardless of their love for me, or lack thereof. It is quite easy to have compassion on individuals who are kind and loving toward you, but what about those who are not? Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 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” (Matt 5:43-45, ESV). So, its not just our love for one another as believers that demonstrates our love for God, but also our love for our enemies.
Our Lord has also been gracious to show me issues of pride in my heart. I believe C.J. Mahaney described it best when he said, “I am a prideful man, seeking to be humble by the grace of God.” I am not sure that I would have seen those things had it not been for the circumstances I have endured recently. Its not easy to have individuals tear you down and at the same time point to something or someone else they declare to be superior to you. Perhaps, as you read this, you know something of this feeling. Perhaps, you have people tell you or make you feel as if you are not good enough. We can either respond to such things with anger, or we can allow those cruel and painful things to be used by God to bring humility in our lives. Only God can take such things that are intended for evil and bring good out of it. Thankfully, He has reminded me that He didn’t call me to be anybody other than who He makes me by His Sovereign Grace. That is why Paul wrote, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain” (1 Cor 15:10, ESV).
Finally, the Lord has taught me a lesson in patience. I have been reminded to wait on Him and to trust Him, not only with my situations, but also with the outcomes. He will take care of me. In the mean time, I will cling to Him. I will stay in His Word. The Psalmist wrote, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts” (Ps 119:92-94, ESV). I will not return evil for evil, but will give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all (Romans 12:14-21). I will seek to love everyone, to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving. I do this to bring glory to my Father, who saved me by His loving grace. And I do this in the hope that the world might see the love of Christ in me and they too would glorify the Father. I love you all. God bless each of you.