I knew the time would soon come when I'd write about it because every day, my heart grew heavier and heavier at just the thought of how many times the meme was "liked" and shared. Then, just the other day, I ran across a picture of a t-shirt that is very much like the meme, and it bothered me SO MUCH that I was on the verge of tears in prayer.
As I talked to God about it, I cried out for those who merely love Him with their lips but have hearts that are far from Him. And shoot...after reading the memes, I wondered, "Do they even love Him with their lips?"
Since the meme, and even more since having seen the picture of the t-shirt, a slew of questions have been pounding away at my heart. Why do we, who claim to love Jesus, glory in the fact that we still knowingly and voluntarily behave contrary to what He desires of us? Why do we knowingly and voluntarily do what He tells us not to do?
I understand that we don't get saved and give our lives to The Lord and get delivered from everything all at once. I get that. And I know that some things in our lives take more time than others to be completely surrendered unto the Lord. I know that we are daily "working out our salvation" as The Word says we should, but when did it become okay to flaunt that we engage in acts of sin? When did it become okay to make sport of our unwillingness to live and walk as He says we should?
To say, "I love Jesus BUT..." says quite a bit.
Those words alone are evidence that we know loving Him requires more of us. When we say BUT, we acknowledge that what comes after the BUT isn't pleasing to Him, and that it does not represent who He is. It's like saying, "I know I shouldn't eat these cookies, BUT..." You know that you've been working hard to lose weight and your personal trainer said that cookies are out of the question. You want the cookies, and even though you know you shouldn't eat them, you eat them anyway. You know that what's on the other side of the BUT is no good for you, but you do it anyway. You let the cookies win, and at that moment, you show that the cookies have the power. The cookies have control.
When we say, "I love Jesus, BUT I cuss a little and will cuss you out," we say that sin has more of a hold on us than the Jesus who we claim to love does.
We say, without saying (which really says it all), that sin is our master and that it has the power to rule over the Jesus who we claim we love. And that shouldn't be. When we've given our lives to Jesus and said that we want to live for Him, sin SHOULD NOT be our master. (Sin, in its simplest explanation, is anything we say, think, or do that does not please God.)
Romans 6:14 - "For sin shall not be your master because you are not under law, but under grace."
Romans 6:18 - " You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness."
God's word tells us to be self-controlled and temperate (Titus 3). It tells us to not let any unwholesome speech come from our lips but only what is helpful for building others up. The Word of God tells us to get rid of rage and malice, and to be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:29-32). When we lose control and allow rage and malice to take over and "make us cuss", sin has become the master.
Jesus says, in John 14:15, "If you love me, you'll obey my commandments." That's it. It's plain. We don't show Him we love Him by simply saying we love Him. It doesn't work that way. He sees our love for Him when we do what He tells us to do. Love is an action word, and He showed it first with the ultimate display of love--death on a cross so we could have life. He showed His love for us and now requires that we demonstrate our love for Him. One way we demonstrate our love for him is by taming our tongues.
We want those who love us to show that they love us. We're not okay with them just saying they do, especially those of us in relationships with a significant other. When those who say they love us don't show it, or do anything contrary to what love looks like, we question that love. Others may even see that their "love" doesn't look like "love" based on their actions. Why should our love with Jesus be any different?
What do others think when they see someone who "loves" Jesus not "loving" Jesus, but doing things and saying things that look like they don't even know Him?
We not only have a responsibility to "love" Jesus, but we have a responsibility to show others what the love of Jesus looks like. If you have given your life to Christ, know that there are people who are specifically assigned to you. God has them strategically placed throughout your life's walk to learn from the life you live. Lead them in righteousness by living a life that pleases God. I urge you, if you love Him like you say you do, SHOW it in how you live for Him. SHOW it in how you obey Him. Love Him for real.
By all means, continue to work out your salvation and allow the Lord to captivate your heart and gain complete control over sin in your life, but please, for the REAL love of God, don't blast your sin to the world like it's okay. Don't parade your voluntary, I'm-gon'-do-it-anyway sin and become a stumbling block for those who may be watching you as Christ's representative. We all have struggles that are worth sharing, but we share our struggles when they'll benefit someone else, and we share them when we stand on the other side of them so others can see how we came through and how we overcame. Talk about your struggles when you can let the world know how God delivered you. Let them hear about what the struggle WAS to show them that they, too, can be free from their own struggles. Until then, take your sin to The Lord, and let Him have it. There are lives at stake! Others' lives could change based on the way we live ours!
When we sin, we should have Godly sorrow, and Godly sorrow doesn't boast in displeasing God. A heart that really loves God suffers and breaks when it knows it's not pleasing to God. That heart...that life...wouldn't dare stand boldly before God and say, "Lord, I love you. And I know you sacrificed and died for me, and you provide for, protect, guide and love me unconditionally, but I'm gon' live any kind of way and drag your love through the mud." The heart that loves God cries to Him to change it so it can look more like Him and so it can not only look like it loves Him, but SHOW that it loves Him. It wants its actions to line up with who He is. It wants to go and hide under a rock if it doesn't! The last thing it wants is to post its sin--its voluntary, I'm-gon-do-it-anyway sin--on the mountaintop for all the world to see.
When Christ lives in me, and I develop His mind and His way of thinking as my own, I should WANT to live like Him. When I love Him, I look like Him. When He truly lives in me, the words that come out of my mouth represent Him.
I'll close with this last meme. I was so glad when I saw it. It was my glimmer of hope. It was a sweet reminder that there are those who labor with me...with us...who honor God's word and love Him with not just our lips but with our actions. There are those of us who know that cussing a little could hurt a LOT. We know that "going off on people" doesn't represent Christ. We know that fits of rage exhibit a lack of self-control, and we refuse to engage. We refuse to join those who take part in the Christianity Circus because we prefer the Christ-Like Kingdom! Will you join us?