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Friends in Christ Weekly Message
January 25, 2001

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, "Love others as much as you love yourself."
Matthew 22:37-39 (CEV*)

   If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
   If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing.
   If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (The Message*)

We may be inclined to prove we're a good Christian, or just a good person, by doing all sorts of good things. The Bible makes clear that this is not the key.

It's not that there is anything wrong with doing all sorts of good deeds. That's not the point. It's that the key to life is not our deeds, but our love.

Being full of love for God and other people will naturally result in good deeds, as real love manifests itself in the way we live our lives. We will see others with the same kind of compassion Jesus saw people, and we will respond like Jesus responded.

Doing good deeds to earn our way into heaven, or to win brownie points, leaves us bankrupt, as Paul says in Peterson's translation. We can't earn our way. It's who we are, not what we do, that's critical. Trying to earn our salvation may well lead us to breakdown or burn-out, while pure love is energizing.

It's relatively easy to identify good deeds, and go out and do them. But how do we become more loving? That's not simply an act of human will. We need to let God work within us, changing our hearts.

Bill Samuel

* Contemporary English Version ©1995 American Bible Society; The Message version © by Eugene H. Peterson.

©2001 Friends in Christ, Inc.

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Document last modified on Saturday, 27-Dec-2003 11:57:10 EST