Proverbs 12:14 English Standard Version
14 From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good,
and the work of a man's hand comes back to him.
John 14:23-26 English Standard Version
23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Psalm 118:1-4 English Standard Version
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
118 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the Lord say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
We all do things for a reason. Whether it is for good or bad, we all have a reason for our actions. Criminal investigators and profilers spend their entire lives researching and studying criminals in order to gain insight into their minds and why they did what they did. Profilers look at their childhood experiences and adult lives to determine what could have caused criminals to commit their crimes. By gaining insight into their thought processes, investigators and profilers hope to use that knowledge to prevent another crime from happening.
But, studying a criminal mind isn’t the only way we can gain insight into the inner workings of people. We can study each other. Have you gone to a mall or public venue and just sat and watched people? If you haven’t I encourage you to do so. It is very fascinating to study people and watch them. You will see people do things that seem just out of the ordinary. You will sometimes wonder why they did certain things.
As you watch people, you will see people doing things for good reasons. Some will open or hold open a door for another person. If someone has his or her hands full and drops something, someone will quickly run over and pick up the dropped item and, in some rare cases, will offer to help carry the load. I have been in both positions. I have helped others and have received help from others.
For example, a couple of years ago when I was in the hospital fighting for my life, I would leave my room and help the nurses with things like decorating or organizing bulletin boards. It wasn’t a major effort on my part, but the nurse who I was helping greatly appreciated the extra hand to hold up a border while she stapled it into place. What I discovered is that even the smallest gesture of kindness done for the right reason can make the biggest difference in another person’s life.
You noticed that I had added a phrase to my statement, “for the right reason”. It is truly about doing things for the right reason. If you do something wonderful only for the good of the person receiving it, then you have given a special gift to that person. If you, however, do a nice thing for the selfish reason of recognition or hoping to receive something in return, you are doing things for selfish or evil reasons.
It is all about our motives. If we do things for others for the sake of doing good, then we are doing those things for the right reason. Our rewards don't come from the world, but our action is recognized by our Heavenly Father. It is that recognition that we should strive for in our lives.
In chapter six of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
Jesus talks about our motives for doing things. In the case of giving, if we give only for the sake of earthly recognition, then that is all that we are going to receive. We are recognized by others and that is our reward and that is all we receive. It is often said that all glory is fleeting. When it comes to earthly glory and recognition, that saying is completely true. In time the words of praise will fade and become only a memory.
However, if we do what is good for the right reason, our reward comes from our Heavenly Father. He sees all that we do. If we do things in private and to bless another person, then the Lord will bless us. If we truly are children of God, then we should only be seeking His approval and not the approval of people.
In the past I have seen many try to curry the favor of the few. They go out of their way to be kind to those who have money, fame or power. Their goal is to seek their praise and recognition. They strive only to be seen in the eyes of the rich as being virtuous. In the past couple of years, a new phrase has entered the lexicon of humans, “virtue signaling”.
As I was preparing for this message, I did some research on that phrase. In Wikipedia, virtue signaling is defined as “a form of moral grandstanding, in which a viewpoint or answer is calculated to ‘look good’, thereby making the object or speaker appear virtuous to others, rather than being chosen because it is strictly honest.”
It is often said that people who are virtue signaling are empty and have no morals. Their moral systems are corrupted by the world and they only want one thing, to be seen as morally superior to others and seen as being good and virtuous. Our actions should not be in accordance with the ways of this world. Our actions should only be one with the Lord’s will. We should only do things that are righteous and for the right reason.
In chapter two of his book, James writes, “For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, ‘You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor’—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?”
If you are finding yourself doing things for the sake of earthly recognition or for evil, selfish reasons, then I ask you to reflect on your actions and seek God’s guidance and wisdom. If you seek His approval, I can guarantee you that your Heavenly Father will see your actions and bless you beyond measure. So, give in secret and don’t seek the approval of others. If you do as the Lord directs, you will definitely stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Isaiah 46:3-4 English Standard Version
3 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by me from before your birth,
carried from the womb;
4 even to your old age I am he,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.
Romans 12:14-16 English Standard Version
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
Psalm 117 English Standard Version
The Lord's Faithfulness Endures Forever
1 Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
2 For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord!
Titus 2:11-14 English Standard Version
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Ephesians 5:15-21 English Standard Version
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Psalm 51:13-17 English Standard Version
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Colossians 3:12-17 English Standard Version
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 English Standard Version
The New Covenant
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Psalm 51:10-11 English Standard Version
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Acts 20:33-35 English Standard Version
33 I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Psalm 51:7-9 English Standard Version
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
"If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2 (MSG)
I enjoy a good mystery. In fact, I almost titled this message, "Who Killed Hank Pittleman" because that is the question in the book I am now reading. But the eternal mysteries, those that we don't have the ability to understand completely, are not of this world but of God, and I don't want to cast any earthly shadow over any of them.
How can the human mind grasp fully that the Lord has no beginning and no end? Everything in our world has a beginning and an end. Even though we say the right words when asked about His existence, we can't really understand it.
And how can three be one? The Trinity consists of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God in three persons, as the song says. If Jesus is God, then how was God still in heaven while Jesus was on earth? If Jesus is God, then why does Jesus pray to God the Father?
How is He able to be everywhere at once? With the billions of people on the earth, how can He hear us all at the same time?
Mysteries. And there are Bible scholars who can explain it all, up to a point.
According to today's verse, all that knowledge is worthless if we don't have love. And there are many who proclaim to be "Christians" who refuse to reach out to those who are hurting or lonely or hungry.
There are some behind the pulpit who are terrific orators. They can deliver a biblical message that will knock your socks off. And some of those churches grow to unbelievable numbers. However, one on one with some of these preachers will reveal that they actually take no interest in anything except the messages they preach. They rely on assistant pastors to do all the "people" work because they take no interest in what their flock is going through.
And that is the bigger mystery to me. I don't worry about how God created the universes, or how He does any of what He does. It is enough for me that He knows and I have placed my faith in Him and trust Him completely. But I cannot figure out how someone could be filled with the Holy Spirit and not love their fellow human beings. Which makes me wonder if they are truly Christians or not.
This world is in pain. A quick look at the news will reveal that no matter where we go, there are those who are crying out for someone to care. If we are to be like our Savior, if we are to make any difference at all, then we must be willing to reach out with the love He has demonstrated and placed within us. That is our purpose. We bring glory to our Creator when we minister to those who are in need of His touch.
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you did for me." Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)
Romans 8:1-4 English Standard Version
Life in the Spirit
8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Isaiah 29:22-24 English Standard Version
22 Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:
“Jacob shall no more be ashamed,
no more shall his face grow pale.
23 For when he sees his children,
the work of my hands, in his midst,
they will sanctify my name;
they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding,
and those who murmur will accept instruction.”
Psalm 51:5-6 English Standard Version
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Matthew 6:3-4 English Standard Version
3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.