Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Correct Response

A desire to fill a request comes from love, even when it's inconvenient.
A refusal to meet a request comes from stubbornness and willful independence.

We know that the words we speak are a reflection of what's in our hearts (Luke 6:45), but so are our actions. Why? Because anything done in obedience but without love remains fruitless even if results are seen. Love is the only way fruit grows.

At first glance, a reading of Esther 1 makes  you wonder if Xeres is a power hungry jerk. He's throwing a huge party to impress everyone with his vast wealth. Typically wealth assumes great power and that you have moved forward because of your presence, abilities, and resources. But when Vashti refuses to come at his call, he doesn't know what to do. Call me crazy, but I would think if you are in a position of leadership, you should know what you are representing and enforcing when it comes to expectations.

Anyway, from the outside looking in, we can make a lot of assumptions about why Vashti didn't go see Xeres. Maybe they'd had a huge fight, maybe she knew he was drunk, perhaps after the last party she told him she didn't like being objectified. Whatever the reason she didn't go, it not only made a statement, it cost her a title.

Assuming the worst about Xeres, it's easy to see why Vashti wouldn't want to do what he asked. And if that's the case, we have to ask what our excuse is when it comes to God.

A quick glance at 1 Corinthians 13 with its definition of love is a beautiful and accurate display of God. Patient, kind, not envious, boastful, or proud. He doesn't dishonor us, he isn't self-seeking, he isn't easily angered, and he certainly keeps no record of wrongs. He absolutely rejoices with the truth, he would never delight in evil, and he always protects, trusts, perseveres, and hopes for us. Learning this information and accepting it in our hearts changes us and becomes the pattern of teaching that claims our allegiance. Not just because it's the right thing to do, but because our hearts become so enthralled with his love and beauty, it just becomes a natural response.

Lately it seems that 1 Samuel 15:22 keeps popping up: to obey is better than sacrifice. When you think about the beginning of 1 Corinthians 13 where we are told that without love nothing we do means anything, it makes perfect sense. Because if we don't really want to do something, it's pretty obvious from the look on our face to the tone of our voice to the amount of effort we put in. But when we obey in love, everything changes, joy emerges, and fruit grows. Our actions are received as they should be done: with love.

This world offers us a myriad of distractions. We stretch ourselves thin in an attempt to do and be more. But if we look at the pattern of Jesus, we never see him rushing from one place, one person, or one task to the next. He did what he did, where he was, for the people he was with, and he sought his father on what to do next. If we were to let go of all that commands our attention and focused on the absolute callings and assignments we have been given, not only would our witness be strong, but the blessings of peace and contentment to follow would likely overwhelm us.

Today, let's take the time to really look at the definition of love that Paul wrote for us and think about how Jesus was the perfect embodiment of it. Let's look at the things Jesus did through that filter and see how his way really is better than how we choose to move about. And let's let his pattern stake its claim in our hearts and move forward in obedience that is coated in love and shows who we worship.

No comments: