What’s the difference between being tempted to sin and having our faith tested? It’s an important distinction to make. John 10:10 shows us the key to determining whether we’re being tempted or tested. We see two people, each with a different purpose. The thief brings death and destruction, while Jesus gives abundant life.
Deception is the act of leading someone to believe something that is not true. It’s presenting a lie in such a way that it looks and feels like the truth. Satan has been a master of deception since the first temptation in the Garden of Eden. And we still fall for it! As with Eve, he tempts us by creating just enough doubt in our minds to draw us away from what God actually says.
According to Jesus, loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is the Greatest Commandment. But He doesn’t stop there. The second greatest commandment should be an outcome of the first. When we love God with our entire being it naturally creates an awareness of the people around us. Jesus is the perfect example of living in all-out love for God and in loving service to others. So, let me ask, “Do you love like Jesus?”
Many Christians have a linear idea of what loving God looks like. We come up with formulas such as, God first, family second, work/school third, etc. While I agree with the order of priorities, we need to go further than just loving God first. Let’s consider the question, “How much do you love God?”
The word, “love” has lost its significance in our culture because we use it to describe our feelings for anyone or anything we like. Saying that we love chocolate or football diminishes our understanding of the Greatest Commandment to love God. Because our concept of love is so skewed, it’s hard to answer the question, “Do you really love God?” What we need is a better understanding of biblical love.
What’s the most important thing God wants us to do? That’s the question posed to Jesus in Mark 12. Without hesitation, Jesus zeroed in on Deuteronomy 6:4-5. While the heart of the Greatest Commandment is about loving God, let’s not skip over the Lord’s instructions to listen to what He’s about to say. So before we go further into the Greatest Commandment, I need to ask, “Are you listening?”
In today’s passage Jesus tells us to expect hatred, trouble, and persecution if we choose to follow Him. How’s that for truth in advertising? Now, Jesus isn’t talking about the ordinary troubles of life. Nor does He mean the issues that arise from voicing our social and political convictions. The blessing of persecution is the result of suffering on account of Christ. We need to understand the difference between suffering for His sake and suffering for oursake.
Although Jesus knew He was entering enemy territory, He came to Earth as a peacemaker. Actually, making peace between His Father and mankind possible is the entire reason He came. As one who has accepted God’s generous peace offering, the Bible tells me that I am now to be a peacemaker, literally begging others to make peace with God.
One of the ways that Christ’s followers display His righteousness is by having compassion for others. The mercy and forgiveness we receive from Christ compels us to share the mercy that is in Christ. The righteousness of Christ doesn’t make us superior to people without Jesus. It makes us sensitive to their need and calls us to act in compassion.