Do Christians have an inherent obligation to always be loving, kind and compassionate? If yes, do you believe most Christians are aware of that obligation? Sometimes, I’m not so sure…
I saw a meme recently that read: “I am so tired of people running around with a mouthful of Scripture and a heart full of hate.”
That statement carries a lot of power. Its similar to the statement that in today’s age of instant information and communications, “we’re drowning in information but starving for knowledge.” I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to the idea that there are Christians who are in truth, quick to quote Scripture, but secretly (or not so secretly), carry in their hearts anger and hatred. How can we reconcile this contradiction?
We can read the Bible or sit in Church and hear a sermon, but if we ignore the lessons and messages and go out into the world to quote the text, but disregard the teachings, then aren’t we in effect hypocrites?
‘You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends.” – Matthew 5:43-46
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” – John 15:9-17
And if we read more about what Jesus commands of us, we learn that as in the passages from Matthew and John, He commands us to not only love, but to be kind, gentle, fair, compassionate, generous and faithful to God. If therefore we spew Scripture and think that doing so makes us good Christians, but we harbor anger or hatred in our heart, then are we really being true and good Christians? If however, we live the words and lessons given to us by God and His Son Jesus, then we will be endeavoring to live and act as we are taught.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that he chose love, because hate is too great a burden to bear — and he was right. Love is easier than hate, forgiveness is easier than harboring anger and resentment, compassion is better than cruelty and generosity is better than greed.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” – Lamentations 3: 22-26