Week of Monday, January 25, 2020
Opening Prayer (from Collects, BCP 2019)
Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Bible Reading – John 13:31-35
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (ESV)
Devotional – What Are You Known For?
What are you known for? Most of us probably have a reputation amongst our friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. When others think of you, what do they associate with your name? Maybe it is your sharp wit or intellectual acumen. Maybe it is your kindness and generosity. It is also possible that your reputation has negative connotations associated with it, like short tempered or lazy. Whether we like it or not we all have a reputation and it is either a good one or a bad one.
Some might think that what others think of you does not matter, but our reading today says otherwise. Jesus said unequivocally, “By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” If you think your reputation does not matter, think again. Jesus told us that how we are known is so important that it will be the way people around us will know we are His followers. But notice Jesus does not say you should be known for your kindness or your generosity. Those things are indeed important and good, but Jesus tells us that what matters most is the love we have for one another. It is the love we have that is the shining light of Jesus Christ to the world around us.
Having love for others is no small task. It is in fact the most difficult thing in the whole world. It is easy to love the people we like and care about most in our lives, but what about the people we do not like very much. What about the people that really get underneath our skin? Jesus does not give us an out to love some and not others. Love is the defining quality of Jesus, and His love for all people. Jesus did not die for good people. He died for the ungodly. He died for sinners like you and me. When we love others like that it is the most powerful testimony for the Gospel. Only the power of the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ can transform our hearts, allowing us to love others we might otherwise despise.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” When Jesus said people will know we are His disciples by the way we have love for one another, he means that first and foremost our hearts must be transformed by the amazing grace of God’s love for us in Jesus. That love must penetrate our own hearts before it can ever become part of who we are. Until God’s love for us takes root in our own lives, there is no way we can ever have love for anyone else in our lives.
This week let us all embrace the love God has for us. Let us rejoice in the unconditional and sacrificial love he has shown us in His Son Jesus Christ. As we allow His love to penetrate into our hearts and minds, I am confident that it will eventually cast a long shadow of love upon those in our lives. When that becomes a reality, we will be known by others as a disciple of Christ.
Closing Prayer (from Collects, BCP 2019)
O Lord, you have taught us that without love, all our deeds are worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you; grant this for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.