Loving And Being Loved

Steve Arterburn

Spiritual growth is a fragile process.  Without vigilance and encouragement from others, you live with the prospect of slipping back into sin.  In the face of this, you need help from others who have courage and sensitivity toward your situation.  Harsh condemnation will not help you, but neither will friends who flatter you with falsely positive words.  Working with faithful support is what you need.

Consider John’s short letter in the book second John.  In this letter, John balances condemnation and encouragement, proving himself to be a wise counselor and a great example to us.  Recognize the past successes of others and affirm your brothers and sisters in Christ.  At the same time, be willing to point out hazards ahead when you see them.  Share your hard-won wisdom with warnings when necessary.  Pointing out the obstacles ahead and encouraging others to be careful is the loving thing to do.  

Loving one another is the most basic act of obedience to God.  It’s also an essential element in your spiritual growth.  At times, you may tend to focus inward and become self-centered.  We live in a dog-eat-dog, every man for himself world.  But that’s not Christianity.  Remembering to be loving toward others will not only please God, but it will also help you to think of others and build good relationships.

Malachi’s Message

Steve Arterburn

The prophet Malachi brought a message of hope to a nation that knew repeated failure.  After being restored to their homeland, the Jews had forgotten the one who had delivered them.  We often make the same kind of mistake.  As soon as we overcome our pressing problems, we forget the one who delivered us from them’God.  Without a continued relationship with God, our hope of sustaining spiritual growth is slim at best.  You and I need to keep our eyes on God, the source and means for our continued spiritual growth.

God’s love to the people of Jerusalem and to us cannot be explained.  God knows the depth of your sin; he knows how weak you are; yet he still loves you.  There is nothing that you can do to lose this love that you never deserved in the first place.  God’s love has the power to heal all the broken places in your life.  Your failures, setbacks, and defenses cannot stop God from wanting to heal you.  This fact should give you hope, no matter how terrible your failures in the past.  He already knows about the anger, betrayal, addiction, lies’you’re not going to surprise him.  But it’s time you confess and seek his will for your life.

Are you willing to turn to him for healing and forgiveness?  He was patient with the people of Israel for hundreds of years, in spite of their sin.  In his grace, God patiently waits for you as well.