Saturday, April 08, 2006

Walking In The God-Kind Of Love

Learning to walk in love is the most important thing we’ll ever do in the area of faith. Often in studying the subject of faith, we’ll go to Mark chapter 11. To tell you the truth, everything we need to know about faith is found right there. MARK 11:22-25 22 “Have faith in the God,” Jesus answered. 23 “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it , and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

We rejoice in Mark 11:23 and 24, and we’re quick to quote those verses, but did you ever stop to think that Mark 11:25 goes right along with them? Verse 25 begins with the word ‘and,’ a conjunction. In other words, verse 25 joins what Jesus is about to say with what he just said. “And when you stand praying….” He is still talking about praying in faith, just as He was in verse 24. And what are we to do as we pray? “..If you hold anything against anyone, forgive him...” I know from teaching along this line for more than sixty years that unforgiveness is the main reason why faith doesn’t work and why people fail to receive healing. Many know it is wrong to hold something big against someone, but they say it doesn’t hurt if you hold just a little something against someone. This text says, though, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him….” (Mark 11:25). Did you look up the word ‘anything’ in the dictionary? It means anything at all – little, big or middle-sized! An Old Testament verse says, “…the little foxes that ruin the vineyards..” (see Song of Solomon 2:15).

So many times, it’s not the big things in Christians’ live that keep their faith from working and their prayers from being heard. Rather, it’s the little things – just a little ‘anything.’ I have said it for more than sixty years so I’m not going to quit saying it now, because it’s true: If my prayers and my faith didn’t work, unforgiveness would be the first thing I’d look for. Though all these years, I’ve refused to allow into my life the least bit of animosity towards anyone. I won’t allow it to touch me for a moment. I’m just as careful about that as I would be with a rattlesnake, because wrong feelings toward someone else can be just as deadly as a rattlesnake bite.

Once when I was a pastor I invited a certain evangelist to hold revival meeting in our church, and I won’t go into detail, but he didn’t treat me right. And the devil said to me, “If I were you, I wouldn’t receive another offering for him. I’d just wait until Sunday night.” Now, ordinary, when we had a visiting evangelist for revival meetings, we received an offering for him Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday nights. On the other nights, we’d receive offerings to cover revival expenses such as advertising and the evangelist’s room and board. But the devil said to me, “I’d just wait until Sunday night. And then I wouldn’t make much of it. I’d just get up and say, ‘This is Brother So-and-so’s offering. We’re going to pass the plate.’” But that’s that old “get-back-at-him” attitude.

You still have that in your flesh even though your spirit is born again and has become a new creature in Christ (see Second Corinthians 5:17). That evangelist wronged me; there was no doubt about it. The devil wanted me to take revenge on him, and my flesh wanted to side with the devil. But the Bible says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, ‘ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). It is better to let God do it. He’ll do a better job than you will. If I had tried to take revenge, I would have gotten that evangelist and myself in a mess.

Instead, I said, “Now just for that, Mr. Devil, I’m going to receive an offering for him every night. In this last week of the meeting, I’m going to give him twice as many offerings as we ordinary would. And if you say anything else to me about it, I’ll receive two offerings for him every night.” The devil never mentioned it to me again. He doesn’t want any preacher to get two offerings a night! He’s angry about them getting even one! Now that evangelist usually preached in large and medium-sized churches. Because our church was medium-sized, I asked him what his average income was. When he told me, I gave him three times as much as he was used to getting, and a third of that came out of my own pocket. I sent him away feeling good. And I felt good.

No, I never would allow the least bit of ill will or wrong feeling toward anyone, no matter what he had done to me or said about me. Instead of fussing and fighting, I’d just keep walking in love and preaching the Gospel and enjoying the blessings of God. There is another text that helps us understand the connection between Mark 11:25 and the verses preceding it. Notice what Paul said in Galatians 5:6. GALATIANS 5:6 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Faith works by love. If there is no love, faith won’t work. And forgiveness has to do with love, doesn’t it? God loved us and forgave us. Did He forgive us because we deserved it? No.He forgave us because He loved us. In Ephesians chapter 4 we read, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (v.32).

Why would Paul have to write to the Christians and tell them to be kind to one another? He had to tell them because they were living in unredeemed bodies. Paul told them to forgive each other “…just as in Christ God forgave you.” We can forgive even as God forgives. Why? Because the Bible says, “..God is love” (1 John 4:8,16) and “…God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Rom. 5:5). The kind of love that God is has been shed abroad in our heart – our spirit, our inward man. That love is in there. We don’t have to pray and fast for it. If we’re saved, we have it. If we don’t have it, we’re not saved. It’s just that simple. First John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers….” Now we haven’t passed from physical death yet. Thank God, physical death will be put under feet someday. It is the last enemy.

But John is talking here about spiritual death. And how do we know that we have passed from spiritual death unto spiritual life? We know “…because we love our brothers.” That is how you know you’re saved. In my hometown, I knew a businessman who had a light stroke because of high blood pressure and wasn’t able to function very well. He walked with a cane and dragged one foot, and people had to help him sit and stand get in and out of a car.This man was in his sixties. His wife was quite a bit younger, and they had a little nine-year-old daughter. Well, this little girl got saved and filled with the Holy Ghost at the Full Gospel Tabernacle.

Neither her daddy nor her momma ever went to church, though the mother had been born again. Because of that little girl’s simple faith in God, that businessman and his wife decided to go to church with their daughter. And during the first service they attended, his wife went to the altar, rededicated her life to God, and was filled with the Holy Ghost. The businessman didn’t get saved right away, but he kept going along with them, and, eventually, during a revival meeting, he was born again. Because he couldn’t kneel, he just bowed his head on the pew in front of him and asked the Lord to come into his heart and save him.On another night during that revival, everyone was kneeling in prayer except the businessman. The evangelist may not have known that he couldn’t kneel and went back and asked him, “Are you saved?” “Yes sir!” he replied. “How do you know that you are saved?” asked the evangelist. “Well,” he said, “I’ll tell you how I know. I’ve been coming here to church for the past three years.

Every Wednesday night they have a testimony meeting. And you can count on it – there’s a certain old man who’s always the first one up to testify. He’s just an old codger. He doubles up his fist and says, as if he’s challenging folks, ‘I’m saved and sanctified and baptised by the Holy Ghost!’ And I’d get so mad, I’d sit there and quietly cuss under my breath. “And then you could count on the same old lady the very next one up to testify.Her husband used to work for me. I knew that old woman was always trying to get everyone saved. She’d be out trying to win souls, and he’d go home and find the kids running up and down the back alley, the beds not made, the house not swept, and supper not cooked. I was sure that old lady didn’t have anything spiritually, as she claimed, and it would make me mad hear her testify. I’d sit there and curse under my breath. “But I bowed my head on the back of the pew during this meeting, and the Lord saved me.

And ever since then, I just dearly love to hear that dear old brother testify!” (Before he was saved he called him “that old man”) “Oh, he’s a little eccentric, but he loves the Lord! “And I love to hear that dear sister testify too!” (Before he was born again, he called her “that old lady.”) “Now I know that she may not be a hundred percent perfect, but then, none of us are. Right on the other hand, her husband, who worked for me, would tell me. ‘I’m going home. If my wife has supper on the table, I’m going to get mad and cuss her out and knock it off the table. And if she doesn’t have supper ready, I’m going to whip her!’

Naturally, she’d be gone when he got there. I tell you, I dearly love to hear that dear sister testify!” (I noticed later that that sister got all of her children and her husband saved. I went back there to visit, and all of them were sitting on one pew. Glory to God!) Now how did this businessman know that he was saved? That is what the evangelist asked him. Does the Bible say “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love them that love us or are good to us?” No. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers” (1 John 3:14). If we’re born again, we have the life and love of God in us. Hallelujah! Thank God I learned early the importance of walking in love.

More than sixty years ago I pastored a little church in north Texas. In a larger metropolitan area about forty-five miles away, one of the ministers got into a moral difficulty and was dismissed by our denomination. And at a sectional convention in our church, the sectional superintendent preached him right into hell, as it were. He didn’t call his name, but we all knew who he was talking about. I was about twenty-four years old. Some of the men from my church heard about it and asked me if I thought the sectional superintendent was right in what he did. I repeated some of what he said , then added, “”Yes, I concur with him.” The convention ended and a week or two later my father-in-law and mother-in-law came down for the weekend. They lived about firty miles away. After the Sunday night service, my wife and two small children went home with them. I planned to drive up after Wednesday night’s service, because I had some church business to attend to.

Monday night I was alone in the parsonage. I’d finished the business that I needed to take care of. I listened to the news on the radio, then turned the lights off and knelt immediately by the foot of the bed and prayed. Suddenly, the whole room lit up! I could see every piece of furniture. It was a bright light. And out of the light I heard “Who art thou that condemneth another man’s servant?” I knew it was the Lord. I said, “Lord, I didn’t condemn Your servant!” I knew immediately who the Lord was refering to. He was talking about that minister who’d gotten into trouble. “Who art thou that condemneth another man servant?
The Voice asked again.“Lord, I never condemned Your servant!” I repeated. “Who art thou that condemneth another man’s servant?” the Voice of the light asked the third time. “Lord, I didn’t condemned Your servant!” I exclaimed. “Didn’t you say such-and-such about Brother ___?” He called him “brother.” We wouldn’t call him brother – that dirty rascal! That buzzard! I said, “Lord, I was just quoting the sectional superintendent.” “Yes, but when you repeated what he said, that was tantamount to your saying it. Who art thou that condemneth another man’s servant?” The Lord was quoting Romans 14:4: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

He knocked the props out from under me. I said, “I thought that minister who was dismissed was wrong. I mean, didn’t he do wrong?” The Lord never told me whether he did or didn’t. Instead, He asked me, “Whose servant is he – Mine or yours?” “If he is anyone’s servant, he’s Yours,” I answered. “He sure isn’t mine.” “Well, if he’s My servant, I’m able to make him stand.” And He did. The Lord made him stand, and that man became the most outstanding minister in that part of the state. He was highly respected even though he had missed it at one time. From that day to this, if I hear something negative about another minister, I keep my mouth shut. I won’t speak against anyone. Such things cause people ill health. About the same time this happened, I had another experience along this same line. My wife and I were holding a meeting in a Full Gospel church down in east Texas. We were going from that meeting to a convention of our Full Gospel denomination. I had heard that one of the minister in that part of the state got into difficulty and had to leave his church.
He didn’t lose his credentials, but he messed up.

The pastor I was holding the meeting with was on the sectional committee, so I asked him, “What did he do? When he told me, without thinking, I said, “Looks to me like anyone with any sense would know better than that.” And never thought any more about it. We closed that meeting and went on to the convention, and we were having services all day long and at night. Now, ordinarily, I feel good physically, but at that time I just didn’t feel up to par. I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t know why. And after two nights in a convention, going all day long and then not able to sleep at night, I just fizzled out!
During the third sleepless night, I said, “Lord, I can’t go tomorrow to the convention. I’m just worn out.” I got out of bed and got down on my knees. I said, “Lord, what is wrong with me? I’m not making a connection here.” You see, I’d been making all the right things, but something wasn’t right. And the Lord spoke to me in my spirit, in that still small voice in which He speaks to believers.

He said, “Didn’t you say such-and-such about Brother ___? (He named the pastor who had messed up.) I said, “Lord, all I said was, ‘It looks like anyone with any sense would know better than that.’” (I was telling the Lord that I thought what I said wasn’t so bad.) “Do you know what pressure he was under?” the Lord asked. “No,” I said. “Do you know the circumstances that surrounded this situation? “No.”Then He said to me, “If you’d been in the same position, you might not have done as well as he did.” With tears, I said, “Oh God, forgive me. My God, forgive me! I repent!” Instantly, I was well, and I climbed into bed and slept. It is easy to criticize the other fellow, isn’t it?

But Jesus told me that I might not have done as well as that other minister did under the same circumstances. Walking in love makes a difference! Every step out of love is sin. If you missed it – and being human, we are prone to miss it – just get back as fast as you can to walking in love. It is unsafe to walk out of love because Satan can attack you. So don’t wait until you go to church. When you see that you’ve missed it, stop right then and say, “I’ve missed it. Forgive me, Lord.” Get back to walking in the God-kind of love. Have no ill or unforgiveness toward anyone. Your faith will work when you walk in love! (Credit : Kenneth E. Hagin, The Word Of Faith, Issue December 2000)

No comments: