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Saturday, October 28, 2017

10-28-2017         A Higher Standard
              A Higher Standard                      Love God/Love Others

In the past, a brother (in Christ) frequently complained to me about being held to a double standard.  He said that it always seemed that those around him, friends and brothers in Christ, could do whatever they felt like but always reprimanded him should he step even just a little to the left of God.  Finally, the Holy Ghost had me suggest that maybe it wasn’t these other people holding him to a double standard, but just perhaps, just maybe God was reminding him to hold to His standard???  He immediately rejected that possibility believing that they were trying to make him hold to a standard that even they, themselves,  weren’t willing to keep.  Why couldn’t they treat him just they did others?

I don’t know where he is at with this today, but I do know God does NOT hold us to a ‘double’ standard, but He does hold us to a higher standard.  His standard.  It is up to us to seek and function in that standard.

What is God’s standard?  A couple of hints: God is love (1 John 4:8).  Love is God’s nature.  If we don’t love (to some degree), we don’t know Him, but if we do love, His nature flows through us.  His love us so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that we might have eternal fellowship with Him (John 3:16). 

If this sounds a little familiar, the Pharisees posed a question to Jesus and in His response, Jesus gives us ‘just a subtle little hint’ as to how we should live: “… The Lord our God is one Lord, love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, this is the first commandment and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:29-31).”  If you will, one commandment, two directions – up to our Father and out to those around us.  God showed us His ultimate love when Jesus hung on the cross.  There is no greater love than a man give his life for his friends (John 15:13) and Jesus calls us His friends when we are obedient to Him (John 15:14).

Double standard?  No, God calls us to a higher standard.  Because He always has our best interests at heart, living according to His standard glorifies Him in our living and our thinking (1 Corinth. 6:20) and He does that which is good for us (Rom. 8:28).   

Now, understand, God gave Israel the law so they might comprehend something about His love.
The ten commandments reflect Mark twelve passage.  The first four commandments to look up as they define our relationship with the Father: 1. No Gods before Me, 2. No idols to bow down to, 3. Don’t take My name in vain (flippantly) and 4. Keep the Sabbath, it is Holy (take time for Me).  This helps us keep our focus on God so we can abide in His love.

The other six commandments define our attitude towards those around us: 5. Honor mother and father, 6. Don’t murder, 7. Don’t commit adultery, 8. Don’t steal, 9. Don’t lie against your neighbor and 10. Don’t desire what your neighbor has (wife, possessions, etc.).  As we keep this portion of the law, we don’t do things to harm our neighbor and give honor unto whom honor is due (Rom. 13:7).
Father tells us that we shouldn’t judge others because that judgement will come back on us (Matt. 7:1-5).  We need to keep our own house clean and then we may find ourselves not so judgmental.
The woman at the well had been married several times and was currently living with a man not her husband (co-habitation, sound familiar?).  Jesus di not condemn her for her lifestyle, but rather announced Himself as the Messiah to her, and then she ran and told the people in the village and many came out, saw and believed for themselves.  Jesus operated in love and drew many souls into the kingdom because of that (John 4:1-42).

Should we dare mention the woman caught in adultery?  The people brought her to Jesus trying to get His agreement in stoning her.  Jesus showed Father’s love by putting it back on the people “He who is without sin …) and stooped down and drew in the dirt.  The people were convicted and walked away leaving Jesus and the woman.  Jesus asked her if there were none left to accuse her and she replied none.  Having already forgiven her, Jesus gave her a charge “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”  The Son of man has the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:10) and we are commanded to forgive sins so Father will forgive ours (Matt. 6:14).     

Paul spends a lot of time telling us to edify the church (1 Corinth. 14:26).  So we live in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost for in so doing we find ourselves acceptable before God and man and we edify each other (Rom. 14:17-19).

As we learn to live in God’s love we may sit back and evaluate what is going on around us.  The world has gone crazy but Father told us this would happen (Matt. 24:1-51).  Jesus tells us that there will be no peace for the fighting around the world (the Mideast), false prophets will come and go (Jim Jones, David Koresh, Sun Myung Moon, etc.), nature will go bananas, sexual immorality will abound (2 Peter 3:1-10).  Sounds a bit like today, doesn’t it.  Just remember the Apostles looked for Jesus to come back soon (Acts 1:11, OK, maybe not that soon).

Remember the law gave direction on what people “did”, the actions, but going back to the ‘double standard’, Jesus holds us accountable not only for our actions but our thoughts or intents as well (Heb. 4:12).  An example would be actually killing someone and just ‘thinking about it.  Thinking about it is hating and hating someone is the same as killing them  (1 John 3:15).

So Father does not hold us to a double standard, but to a higher standard.  He expects nothing from us which He isn’t already (is).  Yes the world is judged by its actions (Rev. 20:12-15) for their action show their intents.  But Christians may hide their intents from the world and look good on the outside, but not be so good on the inside (Matt. 23:27).  God wants our heart pure (Matt. 5:8) for when the heart is pure, the outside will follow suit (Prov. 27:19).


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