Week 4, Part 2: The New Testament and Children
Day 5: Loving Beyond Beautiful – Matthew 5:9, 45; Luke 6:35
As you read some of the blogs in this section of the series on the “New Testament and the Fatherless” you might wonder what it actually has to do with the fatherless since they are not mentioned. The purpose is to help establish God’s perspective not only of the fatherless but also of children in general. As mentioned before, children are frequently overlooked in our busy lives, but God does not overlook them.
Often the Scriptures compare us to children in our relationship with God. Matthew 5:9 is one of those places. It makes me smile to think of the transforming power of God. How many times do I remember my sisters and I squabbling over… well, over nothing. Just squabbling to squabble. We each knew where the other had their goats tied and we knew how to get at them. We knew how to taunt and tattle to keep the fight going. Most children are skilled “squabblers”.
This isn’t the case with God’s children, at least it isn’t supposed to be the case, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”, Matthew 5:9. God desires that His children seek peace. In fact, in Psalm 34:14 God said, “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” Only God can take a bunch of squabbling children and turn them into children who go about seeking peace. And not only do they seek it, but they seek it to such an extent that it becomes a primary trait by which they are identified as God’s children. That is an amazing transformation.
In the same chapter we have another illustration comparing us to children in our relationship to God. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48
It’s just like a child to do something amazingly kind to someone who has been amazingly mean in order to show them they are loved and don’t need to be that way. That is the way God wants His children to behave as well. Once again, it is an identifier that we are His children. Not just “loving” as we so often do, but LOVING as we more often need to. Loving with that love that thinks not of self, but of the one loved. Loving beyond beautiful.
In my book, “The King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption”, I tell the story of a man named Igor. In the book, I relate his drunken, beaten condition to the condition in which God found us in our sins. (See Ezekiel 16:4-6) But what I don’t tell is the background behind our meeting. In the days preceding that incident the Lord had given me an opportunity to spend some time resting. During those three days, I passed a lot of time in prayer and Bible study. Over and over I saw my need to love those who were not loveable.
That weekend we went on a Bible distribution to one of my favorite-named cities in all of Russia: Solnichnogorsk (Sunshine City). We passed out New Testaments all around town and had nearly come to the end of our supply. I headed back to the train station with a couple of others from our ministry. Along the way, we passed through the bus depot: a parking lot full of busses, and a kiosk where tickets could be purchased. That is where we met Igor in all his bruised, bloody, drunken glory. As I stood there sharing the Gospel with him, I knew he was the answer to my prayers – uhum, not the knight in shining armor prayer, the other one – the prayer that God would teach me to love the unlovely.
But here, God goes beyond the Igors of this world. With the Igors of this world comes an instant element of pity, and a clear, unmistakable understanding of the depravity that has led them to that moment in their history. Once the initial repulsion factor has been overcome, an instant longing for a soul so clearly lost follows. But God asks us to go beyond the outwardly ugly and into the realm of those who have hurt us. Those who curse us, hate us, despitefully use us and persecute us. Those are the ones we are to love, and when we do, it will be undeniably clear that we are the children of God, because it is only by His grace that such a feat can be accomplished.
We find a corresponding passage in Luke 6:35,36: “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” Hmm… there’s that idea again. Mercy. He is kind to the unthankful and the evil. Can that be said of us? If we are His children it is to be one of our defining characteristics.
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Also Check out Rachel Miller’s Book: The King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption