Plumbing the Depths of God’s Love – Transparency

3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long.  4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah.  5 I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah (Psalm 32:3-5 NKJV)

Are you living transparently with God and with those who mean the most to you?

Remember the points under discussion this week.  We have all sinned, sinned against God, and God alone.  He will forgive us of our sins.  Only He can.  The result of our trust in this…in His mercy through faith is that we can live a blessed life regardless of our circumstance or relationships.  This is a great promise and hopeful perspective.  Yet we don’t always allow God to forgive us…we either ignore or deny the sin in our life and the consequences are grave.

David describes how terrible it was to keep his sin to himself.  His bones wasted away through his groaning all day long. His strength was dried up and the hand of the Lord was heavy upon him.  David is describing the burden of the guilt of his sin.  His sin is eating at him continually and the guilt is wearing him down.

What does this look like in your lives?  Do you carry around sin and the associated pain?  Does your conscience keep after you with ever present reminders of the fact you did something you shouldn’t have?  Sin hurts us individually and it hurts those we care about.  Sin ultimately and initially hurts God!

It’s there for all of us whether it is a sucking chest wound or a mere flesh wound.  It doesn’t matter, it’s there.  Ignoring sin leads to committing more sins.  In fact, what we think of as small sins (flesh wound) grow into more serious sins (sucking chest wounds).  For some reason we truly think we can get away with our actions.  For some reason we think that since we can hide our sins from one another and from our family, God will not know.  This course of action leads to our own spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical destruction.

God is going to work on us to bring the sin to light.  He is not going to waiver in this and when we can see the sin and the destruction it is causing, like David did, we will go from “worldly sorrow” to “Godly Sorrow”.  World sorrow deals with fear of being exposed or sorrow from being caught.  Godly Sorrow comes when we are looking at the Lord and not ourselves and realize we have done all this wickedness to God and we need to make it right.

David is no longer in denial here.  He is not looking for the easy way out.  He is done trying to fix things.  He “acknowledges” and “confesses” his sin and iniquity to God.  No more hiding!

This is man’s part.  We have to go to God with our sin…no more hiding.  God is faithful to do His part…forgive, atone, not impute our sins, transgressions or iniquity upon us.

Let’s change our mind.  Let’s not just expect others to “be right” or “make right” or “be exposed” for what they have done, but let’s demonstrate reconciliation in our own lives.  We are all exposed…God sees…God hurts…God longs for reconciliation.  When we get that right, then our feelings for others go from “being hurt because of” to “hurt for”.  Because we want everyone else to feel the same peace/joy we have found…we hurt when we see them languishing in sin like we did.  We can endure that kind of hurt.  God does.

No more excuses.  No more denial.  No more trying to hide.  No more trying to “fix it”.  Acknowledge your sins, confess them, ask God to forgive.  You and those most important in your life cannot afford anything less.

Plumbing the Depths of God’s Love – Part 3

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2 NKJV)

We sin…but can be blessed.  How?  Why?

The three words used to describe sin by David are transgression, sin, and iniquity.  Each word has a specific implication and the three words used together communicate the nature and gravity of our actions when they are against God’s standard of Holiness.

Transgression means rebellion or revolt describing how we go away from God and His authority.  It reminds us when we sin we are sinning against God and departing from the course He has prescribed for us.  The word sin is most like the Greek word in the New Testament and means to fall short or miss the mark.  This is an archery term describing when an arrow falls short of the target and in our lives God’s law is the target and we fail to measure up.  The final word, iniquity, means corrupt, perverse, twisted indicating what we do to the standards of God and corrupting ourselves in the process.

This is where we are without our Heavenly Father.  We are in rebellion, falling short, and corrupting ourselves by twisting God’s standard in thought, word, or deed.  This is not a position from which we can be an effective man…a blessed man…someone who can stand strong in their own life and in the lives of others.  Think about what we said earlier.  Billions of people on this earth all sinning and falling short of God’s standard.  It is no wonder we find all the hurt, pain, and evil in the world.  We hear it all the time…how can there be a God with all this evil in the world.  Man hurting those closest to him.  Man not valuing the soul of another enough to be decent to them.  Man making decisions or taking actions without regard of the consequences to another.  All of this creates pain, turmoil, confusion, dread and certainly does not communicate or espouse hope.  So what do we do?

Well, we are right back where we started.  We recognize that we are sinning and that we are sinning against God alone.  We recognize that if left to our own devices our life and the lives of others will continue to be lacking, pain-filled, confused, and without the direction needed to go from tragedy to triumph in Christ Jesus.  We will lack the perspective and state of being required to make it through this sin cursed world to Heaven…where there is no sin…where God is.

So we go back to the true source of our manhood and we find the one thing we need the most…forgiveness.  David also uses three words to describe the forgiveness we receive from God.  The first is forgiven which literally means “to lift off”…God lifts the burden of our sin off our shoulders and we can stand a little taller.  The second word used is covered which is taken from the imagery of the Day of Atonement on which the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat (lid) of the Ark of the Covenant.  We are blessed because the all-powerful and cleansing blood of Jesus not only covers but washes us clean of our sins.  The final word/phrase is “not impute” which means to not count or account or think of.  This is a bookkeeping term and David is telling us that God does not count our sins on a ledger sheet when we are forgiven…He forgets too.  We understand from our own lives how awesome of a power that is…to forget.

The message is simple.  All of our sins, our corruption, and our rebellion is lifted from us, covered, and not counted against us when forgiven by God.  When we recognize we are forgiven…then we can forgive.  Our life might seem like a drop in the bucket this big world but think about the drop of water falling in the middle of a still pond.  It makes the pond a little fuller and the ripples stir the reeds on the banks.  That is impact.  We have impact…but only in a life lived blessed because our Heavenly Father forgives and empowers us…when we ask Him…but that is a discussion for tomorrow.

For today, don’t wash over the terrible and grave nature of your sin in your life…no matter how big or small.  Don’t forget that when you sin, you sin against God and God alone.  Don’t forget, that even though you sin, God will forgive you and only He can.  And remember, reconciling the sin in your life with your Heavenly Father results is the source of blessed living.  If you consider what you have done and what God has done, you are so much better equipped to reflect the grace, mercy, forgiveness, love and hope of God to others and that will have an impact.  That will make the terrible conditions we face in this world a little brighter and a little more loving for us and those we come in contact with.  Recognize your sin but never forget your Father will forgive you…He is on the porch ready to run to you with open arms (Luke 15)!  What an awesome God we serve!  What an awesome man you can be with His help.  Live blessed today!

Plumbing the Depths of God’s Love – God and You

This week the MDB articles will be written by my dear friend, Shane Blackmer. Thanks Shane!


17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—  19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:17-19 NKJV)

The depth of God’s love is that it can receive and cover the sins of EVERY repentant sinner EVERY time!  What does this realization do to how we handle our relationships?

Over the past several months I have been challenged in my relationships at home and at work.  I know I am not alone is this.  All of us are challenged as husbands, fathers, brothers, neighbors, professionals…to fulfill our responsibilities, to love unconditionally despite disappointment and sorrow.  It seems we often view people for how they hurt us.  We have trouble getting past it.  We can’t forgive, forget, trust, grow…this seems like a natural response and challenge.  Further, what seems natural to us men is to “fix it”.  We try to go after the relationship problems and either fix the “issue” or even worse “the other person”.  This is a trap…and a lot of times everyone loses.  So what should we do?

I have learned that in my life I have spent a great deal of time thinking and worrying about what other people think and feel.  Don’t get me wrong…having a genuine concern for others and humbling ourselves in relationships is not a bad thing.  The trouble starts when we become solely focused on the other person or lose perspective on the relationship.  If we have an outward perspective, we are missing the most important relationship…our relationship with God.

Do you believe that this relationship is the most important?  Do you believe that if this relationship is broken all other relationships suffer?  Do you believe we can completely miss this and spend all of our time working on the wrong relationships?  I do.  I have!  What I should do is come to the realization David did:

4Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. (Psa. 51:4 NKJV)

In doing this, I can first get my most fundamental and important relationship right…be reconciled with my Heavenly Father so that I am in a position to be reconciled to my wife, children, brethren, colleagues, etc.  What this does is takes all the judgment, condemnation, resentment I feel for others and turns it inward.  I acknowledge first and foremost I am a sinner…we all are!  Yet, when we sin, come to ourselves, confess, and repent…God forgives us!  And a life forgiven is a life worth living and an empowered life in which we can forgive and love others.

And here is the kicker…God forgives me every time I ask Him with a repentant heart.  Think about that for a minute.  Think about all times you sin in a day.  Think about how many people there are on this planet.  Think about all the times we sin in a day…billions of times…and God is ready to forgive every one of them.  Is that not a deep love?

If we think about that…about how God is the first person rejected in every relationship that is in err…and He is willing and able to forgive every time…won’t that change the way we see conflict in our relationships.  Won’t we come to understand that no matter how much another person hurts us…it is no more than how much we hurt our Father every day.  Won’t we see the grace, mercy, love, and hope we have with our Father despite this terrible wrong we have committed…and think about how we might have that same kind of heart for others?

If we do, we can go from being hurt “because of” someone else and go to being hurt “for” someone else.  We realize that we are all struggling to make our way through this life and we are all rejecting our Father and bringing great grief upon ourselves.  So let’s do our part to bring Him back to the center of our relationships by ensuring He is in the center of our individual lives.

With this in mind, let’s spend the week looking at Psalm 32 (read Psalm 51 too…they go great together) and consider how David figured this out…because he didn’t get it right at first.  He struggled with trying to deal with his sin alone…the influence this had on his relationships…and how he came to repentance, confession and forgiveness and how much more effective he could be as a husband, father…as a man in the world.

We can’t expect our relationships to improve if we haven’t worked on our first relationship…with God.  Once I come to that realization, that we have first sinned against our Father and He is faithful to forgive me, I am well positioned to work on other relationships and demonstrate the same love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and hope…so let’s start with us and get that right first.  Looking forward to a great week with you.

Have You Seen God?

Have you seen God? John was very plain in saying, “No one has seen God at any time.” Do you know what God looks like? Many have undergone the futile task of trying to imagine what God looks like. All kinds of paintings and sculptures have been done through the centuries, and those artistic works reflect the imagination of the artist. They do not reflect reality, because no one could even come close to describing the features of God. God is a Spirit (John 4:24). We see in Scripture that He has hands, eyes, and arms, but we also see God described as having wings. It is all figurative and descriptive.

We go back simply to the words of John, “No one has seen God at any time.” But then again, I ask the question, “Have you seen God?” I can with all certainty and conviction say most positively, “Yes!” I have seen God, face to face, because His image and heart is being reflected and lived out in His people.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit (1 John 4:11-13).

“If we love one another, God abides in us.” Did you see that? God is seen in His people. Christ is reflected in His body. I often preach and discuss the concept of “putting skin on” these Bible concepts. I didn’t come up with that, God did. Notice how John begins his gospel account in chapter 1,

And the Word became flesh (put skin on) and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (John 1:18).

See that phrase again? “No one has seen God at any time.” But Jesus put skin on, He became flesh and we saw God in the flesh. When you see Jesus in Matthew through John, you see God face to face. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. Not only do we see God in the face of Jesus, we now see God in the face of the people who walk with Him. Jesus develops His heart and His love within His people and then we reflect the face and nature of God in our lives. We become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Have you seen God? Well, if you like me have experienced the love of God lived out among His people then you can shout from the mountaintops with all confidence that you have seen God.

So who will be seen in our lives today? Will people see God through us? Do they hear God when we talk? Are we reflecting the image and glory of God in our relationships?

May God be seen in us today.

The 5 Love Languages

Last week in response to the article about Valentine’s Day, I received a note from a friend and brother, Geoff, who emphasized the importance of the 5 Love Languages. He made the personal observation that his wife could care less about the gifts, but really appreciates acts of service, like cleaning the kitchen while she is away from the house.

If you are not familiar with the 5 Love Languages book by Dr. Gary Chapman, it would be a great book to read. We all speak different love languages, according to Dr. Chapman, meaning we all communicate and receive love in different ways.

Here are the 5 Love Languages:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Physical Touch
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Gift Giving
  5. Quality Time

Here is a short trailer on Gary Chapman’s YouTube channel that illustrates the 5 languages.

Learn your love language – Use this link to take the quiz to learn your love language.

This is so important because we sometimes are trying to speak our own language to our spouse when that is not how she communicates love at all. A simple example would be if a wife wants words of affirmation, but a husband is giving gifts or acts of service, she is not receiving what she really needs. He can give gifts all day, but if his words are not affirming her preciousness and value, then the gifts have no value.

Have you ever had someone buy you a gift for Christmas or your birthday, but the gift was really something that person likes, not what you like at all? They didn’t really consider your interests and personality, they thought of what they would like to receive. This is that very same concept behind the love languages. Am I considering how my wife communicates and receives love, or am I trying to demonstrate love based upon how I communicate and receive love?

Paul makes this point in Philippians about considering the needs and interests of others above our own. Let’s meditate upon this in our marriages today, men.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus… (Philippians 2:3-5).

Many waters cannot quench love

Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised (Song of Solomon 8:7).

The love song of Solomon and his bride is beautiful. As husbands, it is good for us to revisit this book on occasion with our wives. We can learn a lot about intimacy, communication, and the sexual relationship from this divinely inspired marriage manual.

This love, that a man has with his wife, has incredible strength and endurance. The floods and storms of life come against it, and yet cannot quench nor drown that love. In fact, when we are walking with Christ side by side as husband and wife, those storms make our marriages even stronger.

Solomon also said in the above verse that the value of this love, this marriage relationship, is inestimable. Would you rather have billions of dollars or a great marriage? I’ve seen couples with a great marriage with not a lot of money in the bank. It is clear they would rather have the marriage than the money.

Here are the lyrics of an Alan Jackson song, “Livin’ on Love.” Great lyrics and ties in well with the above passage.

Two young people, without a thing
Say some vows and spread their wings
And settle with just what they need
Living on love
She don’t care ’bout what’s in style
She just likes the way he smiles
It takes more than marble and tile
Living on love
Living on love, buying on time
Without somebody nothing ain’t worth a dime
It’s like that old fashioned storybook rhyme
Living on love
It sounds simple, that’s what you’re thinking
Love can walk through fire without blinking
It doesn’t take much, when you get enough
Living on love
Two old people, without a thing
Children gone but still they sing
Side by side on that front porch swing
Living on love
He can’t see anymore
She can barely sweep the floor
Hand in hand they walk through that door
Just living on love

 

Reaffirm your love to him

This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:6-11).

Please meditate upon this passage for today. The context here is about a brother who was living in sin. This brother was corrected and disciplined by the congregation at Corinth.  The brother had made things right, and it is all over, right? Wrong.

There is something else the brethren who did the correction need to do. What is it?

Reaffirm your love to him

  • Forgive him. To release or pardon. It is about “letting go.”
  • Comfort him. Literally to call to one’s side to reassure. A form of this word is used for the Holy Spirit in how He is our “Helper” and “Comforter” (John 14:26). Our responsibility is to call that brother to our side for encouragement.
  • Reaffirm your love to him. The word “reaffirm” here means to make valid or to confirm publicly, as you would “ratify” a covenant (Gal. 3:15). In other words, you want it to be perfectly made clear that you, without a doubt, love this person.

This responsibility is not on the part of the sinner, but on the part of the ones doing the correcting.

Why? Paul tells us why.

  • Lest perhaps someone be swallowed up with too much sorrow. What is possible? Someone can be overwhelmed and consumed with guilt and grief. It is more than they can bear. They don’t need anymore help in feeling bad for what they did.
  • It is a test as to whether we are obedient in all things. Being obedient is not just about correcting the wrong, it is about restoring the brother who is heartbroken over his sins. We can feel justified in stamping out the sin, but if we do not restore the sinner and the relationship, then we have not been “obedient in all things.”
  • Lest Satan take advantage of us. How can Satan take advantage of us? By jumping in after the correction and discipline to create a situation where a person cannot even lift his head because of guilt. Satan’s “devices” are not just about getting us to sin, they are also about destroying us after we have sinned, even after we have come to God for forgiveness. He is the master deceiver and the father of lies.

Is there a lesson here for Dads?

Today is Tuesday, and our MDB theme for Tuesdays is about dads. The above concepts apply to all Christians, but let’s think about applying this as fathers, too.

Fathers, when you correct your children, do you…
  • Forgive them? Do you release it and let it go?
  • Comfort them? Do you call your kids to your side and encourage them after the correction?
  • Reaffirm your love to them? Do you reassure them with the strongest terms possible that your love for them is unchanging? They need that. You needed it at some point, didn’t you?

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged (Colossians 3:21)

Simon, Simon part 4

Jesus said, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent (Revelation 3:19). We sing, “Jesus loves me, this I know,” but are we willing to take what comes with the love of Jesus? If Jesus loves us then there will be times that He has to “reprove and discipline” us. Any relationship that is worth its salt is going to require some difficult discussions at times. Many try to avoid those tough talks, but the relationship suffers and dies as a result. It is absolutely necessary to dive in and get to the heart of the matter and sort things out.

Read John’s account below of the difficult conversation that Jesus had with Peter to help restore him.

This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:14-19).

Jesus loved Peter enough to have the tough conversations with him.

First of all, consider the grace of Jesus even to sit down with Peter and talk to him. Friendships and marriages have broken up for less than what Peter did to Jesus. With open arms, Jesus welcomed Peter back. However, that doesn’t mean Jesus was going to ignore what happened.

Secondly, it is no coincidence that Jesus asked Peter three times about his love. Peter denied Jesus three times. His first question to Peter was “Do you love Me more than these?” The “these” I believe is a reference to the other disciples. It was Peter that made the bold claim that even if all of the other disciples fell away, he would “never” do it (Matthew 26:33). Peter had claimed a superior commitment to Jesus. The Lord is right to ask Peter about that, “Do you love Me, really love Me? And if you love Me, what does that mean?”

Am I willing for Jesus to test my commitment to Him? What if your wife begins to wonder if you really love her? How would you handle the challenge? Yes, Peter was grieved the third time being asked, but it needed to happen.

Thirdly, Jesus directed Peter’s attention to the high calling of leadership and the unbreakable tie to love. If Peter really loves Jesus, then Peter will love Jesus’ sheep. You cannot shepherd (feed and tend) His sheep until you truly love the Chief Shepherd. Think about it, would you let someone watch your kids if you doubted their love and commitment to you? What was the purpose of the previous 3 1/2 years with Jesus? It was to prepare Peter (and the rest) to shepherd the flock of God.

Follow Me

Finally, Jesus tied the strength of Peter’s love and commitment to what would be asked of Peter later in life. Peter was going to be brutally persecuted and martyred for Christ. “Do you love Me? Really? You are going to need that love, because hard things are going to be required of you in following Me.”

Love requires difficult conversations, are we willing to accept that?

Here are the links for the previous three articles in this series:

1 – Simon, Simon (October 17, 2016)

2 – Simon, Simon part 2 (October 24, 2016)

3 – Simon, Simon part 3 (October 31, 2016)

Simon, Simon part 3

If you were at your lowest point and your best friend stabbed you in the back, would you seek him out later for reconciliation? Picture if you will being abandoned and betrayed at your darkest hour. How willing would you be to go looking for him later? Fat chance, right? Would you even consider putting that person in one of the highest positions of leadership in your organization after that betrayal?

That is precisely what Jesus did for Peter. Jesus knew that Peter was going to come back stronger. Peter would be “converted” through this process (Luke 22:31-32).

Jesus loved Peter enough to create the safe environment for Peter’s return.

“But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you'” (Mark 16:7).

The Lord didn’t write off Simon Peter, saying, “I’m done with him! If that’s the way Peter acted when I needed him the most, then that’s it!” There were no burned bridges on Jesus’ part.

Jesus specifically appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5). That tells us Jesus sought him out. Sheep wander – shepherds seek out the lost sheep. Shepherds don’t sit at home and wait for sheep to get found. Jesus as the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4) went into the wilderness through the thorns and thickets to rescue the sheep from certain peril.

It is fascinating to me that after the resurrection, Jesus used an occasion when Peter was fishing to call upon a past memory. Jesus, as He did early in His ministry, guided Peter and the rest to an unbelievable catch of fish. Compare Luke 5:1-11 (early in Jesus’ ministry) with John 21:1-13 (post-resurrection). Peter responded to this great catch of fish by saying, “It is the Lord!” He jumped into the water and went to Jesus. The Lord sent a very clear message to Peter here. It’s safe to come home to Me, Peter. My love and care has not changed one iota.

Look at the words of the elderly Peter about Jesus.

…and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls (1 Peter 2:24-25).

That same environment exists for you and me. The same loving God wants us to come home, no matter how much we have hurt and betrayed Him (Luke 15).

Next week, we will consider how Jesus loved Peter enough to have the tough conversations with him (John 21:15-22).

Here are the links for the first two articles in this series:

Simon, Simon (October 17, 2016)

Simon, Simon part 2 (October 24, 2016)

Simon, Simon part 2

Last Monday, we looked into how Jesus loved Simon Peter. That love led Jesus to teach Peter everything he needed to know. This love also prompted Jesus to pray for Peter’s strength not to fail. We will look today at another way Jesus loved Simon Peter.

Jesus loved Peter enough to allow him to make his own choices and to feel the sting of those choices.

Jesus could not fight this battle for Peter. Along with this, Jesus loved Peter enough to allow him to face the heat of the consequences of his sins.

Relationships are built upon love, and that is a choice we make of our own free will. It amazes me that when the twelve were with Jesus on the night of His arrest, that “Satan entered Judas” (John 13). Jesus knew that was happening, and He allowed it. Judas, like Peter, had to make his own choices. Yes it hurt Jesus, no doubt, but love is not love if it isn’t a choice.

As parents, we want to keep our children from making the same mistakes we did. We would love to shelter them from what we endured because we rebelled against God and His wisdom. In fact, we may try to live vicariously through them trying to fix our own past by controlling their choices. But that just doesn’t work. Are we trying to shepherd our children to make their own choices based on their convictions, or are we trying to assuage and appease the guilt within that plagues us from our own sinful past?

How can a person’s character develop until it is challenged? The answer is, it really can’t. I heard someone say once that, “Faith that is not difficult is not faith at all.”

The Sting of Sin

Luke’s account tells us that after Peter denied Jesus for the third time that Jesus turned and looked at Peter (Luke 22:61). Peter felt the sting of his own sins and betrayal, and he went out and wept bitterly. In order for Peter to appreciate the grace and mercy that he would soon receive from Jesus, he had to feel the pain of the broken relationship first. This is all part of having free will, there are consequences to our choices. I’m very sure that Peter felt just awful that weekend.

Thankfully that isn’t where it all ends.

Next week, we will consider how Jesus loved Peter enough to create the right environment for Peter’s return.