"Love Is A Verb"
(after singing "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee")
"Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee"! Joyful, Joyful, we adore Thee? Why adore God? Why adore Jesus? Why Joyful?
Do you feel Joyful right now? Is your heart adoring Jesus right now?
Or are there other thoughts and feelings on your mind? Perhaps you have something better or more pressing to think about and talk about?
Now I know that just as sure as there's someone here who doesn't feel like worshipping God right now, there's someone else thinking ..."Of course we want to worship God and adore Him - He died on the cross for us!"
This leads me to the question, "How should we feel, as people whose sins are forgiven?", "What should our response be?"
As people whose sins are forgiven, how should we feel? What should our response be?
In Luke 7:41, Jesus begins to give an answer to this question. He says, "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other owed him 50 denarii. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
What do you think?
The Pharisee Jesus was talking to; a man named Simon, answered Jesus saying, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled."
Jesus said, "You have judged correctly."
The person who has been forgiven most, loves the most.
Do you remember the responsive scripture we read? (Luke 7: 36-38)
It spoke of a sinful woman at the feet of Jesus, weeping and crying. Perhaps in humility, she hadn't even gone in front of him, but remained behind him, down on the floor. She was crying so hard she could wet his feet with tears. Then she wiped his feet dry with her hair and kissed them. Then finally, she began doing what she sought Jesus out to do; she poured perfume on his feet!
THIS is the reaction of one who has been forgiven much!
In chapter 7, verse 47, Jesus says to Simon the Pharisee, "...I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much."
But exactly what he's saying becomes more clear with his next statement: "..BUT HE WHO HAS BEEN FORGIVEN LITTLE, LOVES LITTLE."
This entire passage is centered around the fact that the sinful woman's actions are those of one who has been forgiven much.
Her sins were forgiven from the moment she had faith in Christ! But still, Jesus says to her, in verse 48, "Your sins are forgiven."
Perhaps he did this more for the sake of the Pharisee and the other guests there than for the woman. She had already been saved from the moment she believed. To put it in Jesus' words to the woman in verse 50: "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
If not for this last statement: "your faith has saved you; go in peace.", the men there may not have understood.
They may have thought that he forgave her BECAUSE she anointed his feet with perfume. They may have thought that forgiveness was earned. But that's not the way to salvation. We are saved through our faith in Jesus Christ. Saved from the penalty of our sins - saved from CERTAIN death.
So, we - the forgiven - turn with joyful tears and kiss the feet of Jesus.
We do not merely SAY we love Him, but we SHOW our love. If the sinful woman just stayed at home and loved Jesus, wouldn't this be a bland and dry story?! There would have been NO display of love for the Son of God. There may have been no discussion of forgiveness. There would have been no ILLUSTRATION of the love that results from forgiveness.
We, too, have opportunities in our lives to show love for Jesus. We cannot touch and kiss his feet, but if we could, would we? Would you?
There are many ways of showing our love for Christ - and this action of loving Him serves as evidence of our forgiveness. Do you remember what Jesus said was the Greatest Commandment? (Matthew 22:37)
He said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
AND he said the SECOND greatest commandment is LIKE the first. And it is: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Notice Jesus has said that loving your neighbor is LIKE loving God.
Further on, Jesus also said, "...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)
We have plenty of ways to show our love for Jesus, and for our neighbors. And this love should be pouring out from our hearts as PEOPLE FORGIVEN MUCH!
What is wrong with us when we neglect to show love for others THROUGH OUR ACTIONS? The sinful, but forgiven, woman was a woman of ACTION! Are WE people of ACTION?
If not, what keeps us from being?
For an answer, let's continue in our passage and look at one of Jesus' parables: "The Parable of the Sower."
In Luke, chapter 8, verse 5, Jesus tells this parable to his disciples as a large crowd gathered around:
"A farmer went out to sow his seed" [Imagine the man walking through the field throwing seed from his hand. In between the garden's rows were hardened walking paths.]
"As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up." [Now the ground in much of Israel is very rocky, with limestone everywhere. That's why many of the ancient buildings were made of limestone - because it can easily be found everywhere.]
And some of the seeds fell into this rocky soul, with a thin layer of dirt over the stones. "And when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture."
"Other seeds fell among thorn-bushes, which grew up with them and choked the plants."
What does the "seed" in this parable represent?
The seed represents the word of God. The seed is what we're reading, and hearing, and studying today. (Luke 8:11)
What are the plants we're trying to grow with these seeds?
The plants are good works. They are the practice of gratitude coming from a thankful heart. It is a jar of perfume, an overwhelmed heart, and eyes full of thankful tears. (Luke 7:47, Luke 8:8, Luke 8:16, Luke 8:21.)
What does the soil; THE DIRT, represent?
The dirt is your hearts and my heart.
This seed of God's word doesn't grow on hard ground. It sits there till the birds eat it, which symbolizes the devil taking the word from your heart. This is you if you are not a believer. And YOU don't show the joy of forgiveness because you haven't been forgiven - because you still lack faith (Luke 8:12).
Or is YOUR heart the rocky soil: SOME dirt there, but not very deep! The word of God can't take root in your heart; and when the weather's rough, you fall away. You stop believing. Perhaps your "faith" was never a genuine faith. And you certainly don't feel the joy of forgiveness that expresses itself in love (Luke 8:13).
Or perhaps more common are those whose hearts are full of thorns. Are you choked by life's worries? These believe, but they don't mature. And an immature plant doesn't bear much fruit, does it? Oh how these people wish for the joy of their first hour with Christ (Luke 8:14)
What we WANT TO BE; what we should STRIVE for; is to be people with hearts of good, fertile soil; so the word can plant itself in our hearts and grow, and produce a large, good crop. A large love that proves itself with deeds of kindness for our neighbors and for Christ (Luke 8:8, 15).
We need to free our hearts from thorns and stones. We need to be people with "noble and good hearts, who hear the word, retain it, and produce a good crop"!
The word of God was never meant to be an end in itself. It is a seed, and we need to let it grow in our hearts, and we need to PRODUCE a good crop. That is our goal! (Luke 8:15)
One time Jesus' family was waiting for Him, and he said his "...mother and brother are those who HEAR God's word and PUT IT INTO PRACTICE."
When we put God's word into practice, we give light to the world!
We are lights to the world. As Christians, we are here to light the way to Christ for all mankind! Why do you think we're still here? God isn't finished yet, and he has a job for everyone of us to do!
If he has lit a lamp in your heart, why would you want to hide it? Why would WE want to hide it by not putting His word into practice?
We need to purify the soil of our hearts, so we can bear fruit and be productive.
We must be lights to the world. We must help accomplish in our time what he prophesied to his disciples (in Luke 8:17): "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open." And to whatever extent we are to plant seeds with God word, we have that much more of an obligation to listen carefully to his words to us in Scripture.
His word reveals the way to salvation. His word reveals the love he has for us and that we should have for others. It goes beyond salvation to clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and on and on... So as planters of His word, we must diligently listen to his voice in Scripture.
Now, before we finish here, I'd like to look once again at the account of the sinful woman:
There was a day in her life, a day this passage doesn't even mention, when the word of God was planted as a seed in this sinful woman's heart. We know that the seed took root, for she believed, and was saved by faith. And we know that she produced fruit because this passage showed us the fruit that God's word produced in her heart: This fruit was love for Christ:
She heard he was going to be in the area, at the house of Simon the Pharisee. She took her bottle of perfume and found Christ. Upon finding her Savior, she was weeping with tears flowing like a river from her face.
And on the floor she washed the feet of her Savior with tears of joy, and dried his feet with her hair, and rubbed perfume on them.
And then as if she was not happy enough, she got to hear the voice of her Savior say these words, : "Your sins are forgiven.", "Your faith has saved you.", "Go in peace".
Tell me, what do you think she did next? I'll tell you. She continued to give her love to Christ and to everyone she came to know. Her heart poured forth with love; putting God's word into practice! Her love was not an abstract statement she made in prayers or stated in a song. Her love was an active love, pouring out from her soul to the benefit of Christ and the world around her.
We too must love like this. What keeps us from crying at Jesus' feet? What keeps our hearts from overflowing with the joy of the forgiven? If there are worries in your heart, you must pluck them out! If there are troubles in your mind, you must turn from them, and remember ... the joy of your salvation. Joyfully adore your Savior! Love your Lord, and show your love by doing his will! Give thanks to God by loving him, and love him by putting His words into practice!
Now a good start in doing this would be, if we could, to sing these next two songs like we truly mean it!
(Worship Medly: "I Love You, Lord", and "Give Thanks")