“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10
As human beings, we are constantly moving toward either death or life. The enemy has it out for us. He steals, he kills, he destroys. And when left to our own devices, apart from Jesus, we often gravitate toward death too.
But God didn’t leave us on a path toward death. He sent Jesus so we could have life. Forever. For the Christian, there is no eternal death. There is no lasting destruction. We have life abundantly! And thus we have hope.
At times, death and life may not seem clear cut. In our world, they get distorted. Displaced. Throughout Scripture, we read cautionary tales about ways of living that may seem to bring life but actually result in death. In His grace, God has given us heads up after heads up as if to say, “You see this way of living? This will eventually bring pain and destruction and death! I don’t want these things for you! There’s another way! Take the path toward life!”
In James 5:1-6, we see one of these warnings. He cautions those who are obsessed with wealth - those who don’t pay fair wages, who oppress, who mistreat others for their own gain, who have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. He even says, “You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter.” (5:5)
If hoarding things and living in self-indulgence leads to a day of slaughter, what’s the alternative? What’s the path toward life? What's the response of the Christian?
“But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18)
When we are filled with love that brings life – which is God Himself – it gushes out of our being in practical, tangible ways. Rather than hoarding, we give generously. Rather than living self-indulgently, we learn the life-giving gift of living self-sacrificially. We don’t close our hearts. We OPEN them. The Holy Spirit in us gravitates toward life.
Granted, at times the love and life trickle out of us. We flirt with self-indulgence. We hoard. But by His grace, this isn't who we are. Even when we begin to walk back toward death, He draws us back to life.
Father, In Your presence is fullness of joy and fullness of life. You have loved us generously. In light of this reality, may we live and love generously. God, there are GREAT needs in our world right now. We know You are a God of justice and mercy. Where there is oppression, give us the courage and means to intervene in Your Name. Where there is poverty – both spiritual and material – please move us to action. And where we are choosing spiritual poverty over the riches you have offered us, please help us in our unbelief. We want life abundantly. Please let Your love and life overflow from us in deed and in truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
See you Sunday!