If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. -1 Corinthians 1-3
When scripture says that ‘the way is straight and narrow’, we make that to mean so many things. You might think that ‘straight and narrow’ is hard because you have to refrain from certain activities, but there are people who don’t struggle with the same things the way you do. Some people thoroughly enjoy their life of simplicity and rigorous standards. Maybe you picture ‘straight and narrow’ being hard because one false move on your part, one sin, can get you off the path.
Sin is inevitable and living in fear of it is living FOR it. Why live for something from which you’ve been set free?
If you fear something, then you focus all of your energy to keep your fears from becoming reality. Sin is destructive, no doubt, but it does not have the power to re-label you. Grace has the power keep you and God’s sovereignty has the power to use your failures to ultimately benefit you. Sin never wins. Sin is dead. What is dead cannot define you, therefore you are free from it.
Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. -Galatians 5:13
While you are not willfully choosing to disregard right and wrong, don’t live in fear of doing something wrong as though your salvation depended on you getting it right.
We are free to relax, free to be forgiven, free to learn from our stumbles and free to get back up.
Take the focus off of yourself and get a grip on God’s grace. It is aggressively defending us in spite of our obvious error. If you can grasp the magnitude of what Jesus did for you, you will have a lot more time on our hands. If you don’t have to focus on yourself or your behavior, then you can focus on something far more important:
Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. -Galatians 5:14
We admire others when they boast the lengths they go to be more ‘extreme in the faith’. Your life and limitations are your own choice based, hopefully, on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You don’t get extra credit for being obedient and you aren’t elevated because you have more rules than someone else. This strange comparison religious people do is just a game to keep them distracted from the real requirement. Love.
Love is such and easy thing to command, but the hardest thing to do. Love is a choice. Its’ borders are hard for a person to fit through. The way of Love is straight and it is narrow. Not because it’s easy to get off the path or because you avoid a list of failures. It’s ‘straight and narrow’ because you can’t take your ‘self’ with you.
We are human beings and we need a set of rules to follow so that we can feel more secure. Mostly, that leads to a lack of faith. However, there is a guide in scripture so you don’t have to think very much. Some of them have to do with you and some of them have to do with how you treat people.
My challenge to you is to approach every decision and every relationship with this checklist. Tomorrow I’ll go through the list and bring it to life.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7
God is Love, so if your focus is this, then your focus is God. Don’t ever feel like you’re wasting yourself for someone who doesn’t receive it or change because of it. You’re not doing it for that person, you’re doing it because you’ve been asked to.