Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Safe In The Arms Of Jesus"1 (Lyrics)
"Just love everybody. I'll sort 'em out later. — God"
When I first read that quote recently on a church reader board, I thought that it was a bit flippant and irreverent. After all, the "everybody" in today's world indeed includes many who are far from seeking God, living life simply to please themselves. Am I truly expected to love everybody, even hardened criminals? Yet, there is a kernel of truth in that quote.
Matthew 22:37-39 – Jesus replied, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (NLT)
Loving everybody can take at least two forms: forgiving others and not judging others. Forgiving others means releasing my right to demand judgment or recompense when someone wrongs me, instead leaving it up to God to mete out whatever punishment He deems fit. We know that God is absolutely fair and just, and He will not overlook sin. He will, indeed, "sort 'em out later." Justice will be paid, whether now or later. It is not my prerogative to set myself up as moral judge and jury.
Luke 6:37 – Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. (NLT)
Not judging others doesn't mean that we must condone or approve of someone else's sinful behaviour, nor does it absolve them of wrongdoing. Sharing with others the gospel of salvation is imperative.
Because of how God deals with sinners, we must forgive others because we ourselves have been forgiven much. We must relinquish our tendency to judge the actions of others because we ourselves are guilty of so much. One practical example for me regards following recommended protocols during this time of pandemic. I am accountable for my own actions, but I must choose not to turn friends into enemies if they don't agree with me.
A heart of forgiveness will result in loving and considerate actions toward others as we follow Christ's example of loving us. This may involve not looking the other way when our society seems to moving farther and farther away from God's commands. There are appropriate ways to be a steady influence for good through our personal example and in even more direct ways, such as our vote. Prayer for our nation and its leaders is a powerful force.
What are you — what am I — doing as we walk daily through a sinful world? However hopeless things look, let's love others around us and leave the judgment up to God.
Prayer: Dear God in heaven, give us grace to show love and consideration to everybody around us — whether they deserve it or not! Since You have forgiven us much, cause us to remember that we are to evidence a heart of forgiveness toward others. Amen.