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LOVE AND COMPASSION ARE GIFTS OF GOD

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

9 MARCH 1997

by FRANK L. HOFFMAN, PASTOR

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Proverbs 10:4-5, 26
            20:4
            26:13-16
John 3:16-17
Ephesians 2:1-10
Revelation 21:3-4

True love and compassion are gifts of God.

Some people believe that love and compassion are things we have to work at, and in a way we do; but because they are gifts from God, it's not so much that we have to work at these things as it is to practice them and perfect them.

Salvation, for example, is a love gift from God, which is expressed in one of the best known verses in the Bible, John 3:16. As we look at this verse, note the following verse as well:

16. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

17. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.

This is God's love. This is God's grace.

This free gift of love was, and still is being offered to everyone.

It does not come to us as a repayment for something good we have done, or it wouldn't be a gift.

Salvation is a pure gift of love and compassion. All we have to do is receive it and, then, we find we have passed from death into eternal life.

Paul explains this love gift more fully in his letter to the Ephesians, 2:1-10; and it applies to us, today, just as it did to them some 2,000 years ago.

1. And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,

2. in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

When someone has done something evil, or is evil through and through, and throws your offer of love back in your face every time you offer it, it is sometimes hard to continue to offer it.

But that's exactly what God continues to do all the days of our lives here on earth.

While we live in sin, we usually don't want to accept the fact that it brings us everlasting death in hell.

We falsely think that God will accept everyone into heaven, no matter how much we reject Him.

And this is what Paul is writing about: that people would realize how great a love gift God is offering, and that they would receive it and be saved.

And then he gets personal as he speaks to the people of the church.

3. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

4. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

5. even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

6. and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus,

7. in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Do you sense the unconditional love and compassion being offered?

Not only will the Lord forgive us for all our sins, but He also will seat us with Himself in heaven.

Have you received this love gift?

If you haven't, let go of the things of this world, and seek the Lord and receive His love.

8. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

9. not as a result of works, that no one should boast.

This should prove to us that we cannot work our way into heaven with good deeds.

We have to come to the Lord in the simplest of ways.

All we have to do is believe that He died for us, to pay the price for our sins, and receive this gift of love by faith.

It is only then that something else happens.

10. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

This is where our good deeds begin to come into play.

Not that we are to want something in return, but that we have become so filled with God's love, that, in love, we simply want to do things for Him and His creation.

In essence, what this is telling us, is that there can be no such thing as a lazy or carnal Christian.

If we are truly Christians, we should have a tremendous desire to read and study Godís word, and then share it with others, both in word and in our changed lives which reflect Godís word.

We should have this intense desire to make a difference in this world, through our lives, and by bringing a portion of heaven down to earth.

Note what we are told in Revelation 21:3-4:

3. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them,

4. and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

To a great extent, we can bring this about today, here on earth.

Through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, God does indeed dwell among us; but more specifically, He dwells among the believers, who have been commissioned to spread the good news throughout the world.

If we are truly born again, then the love of God in us should overwhelm us in spreading the Word through our changed lives.

A Christian cannot be lazy.

As an example, why don't Mary and I eat meat?

Because the eating of meat of any kind, brings about unnecessary suffering and death - the suffering and death of an animal.

We can feel the pain and suffering of the animals; and through peaceful means, to whatever extent we can stop this, we try.

As Christians, this is one of our ways of eliminating unnecessary suffering here on earth, and promoting love and compassion.

There can be no such thing as a lazy Christian.

Another example:

People tell me that my services of death and resurrection are something different and special, not like most others they have attended.

Why do you think this is the case?

It's because I can feel the pain and suffering of the people over the loss of their loved one.

And when you feel this way, you can no longer simply read words. You are compelled to bring comfort to those who mourn, and hope to those who feel only loss.

This is bringing God's love and compassion into the world in a way to lead others to Him.

Yet another example:

As you probably know, geese mate for life; and when a hunter kills one of them, the remaining goose suffers loss as we humans do and mourns just as we do.

God says that we are worth more than the animals; yet how can we ever learn to truly feel for another human being, if we cannot feel for a goose?

It's because I feel for the goose, that you see my feeling for my fellow humans in the service.

We need to rekindle our sensitivities, all our sensitivities, and we need to work at it, practice it, and perfect it.

There can be no such thing as a lazy Christian.

And this isn't a New Testament concept. This has been what God desired of His believers ever since He created the animals and Adam and Eve.

Listen to a few of these passages from Proverbs about people who are lazy:

Proverbs 10:4 Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.

5. He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

If we are filled with God's love and compassion, then we should see that now is almost the harvest time for the Lord.

If we are filled with God's love and compassion, how can we just sit back and allow people to die in their sins and go to hell?

If we say nothing, and do nothing, we allow death to consume them, instead of bringing them life in the harvest time.

There can be no such thing as a lazy Christian.

Proverbs 10:26 Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,

So is the lazy one to those who send him.

Do I make your life bitter?

No. To the contrary, I do my best to make your life sweet in the Lord.

Do I simply blow smoke in your eyes when it comes to matters of the Lord, and of love and compassion?

No. I lay out my life on the line before you, and I try from the depth of my soul to let you see the Lord for yourselves.

And if you're a true believer, you can and should do the same.

This is what happens when a person is truly filled with the Holy Spirit.

There is no such thing as a lazy Christian.

Proverbs 20:4 The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, So he begs during the harvest and has nothing.

This is the problem with the Church today.

Too many people are just sitting back and hoping others will do the work.

To be loving and compassionate is easy if we live it ourselves, and so is the speaking forth of the Gospel message.

Proverbs 26:13 The sluggard says, "There is a lion in the road!

A lion is in the open square!"

Satan is like a lion on the road. If we see the danger and don't warn others, we cannot really be the Lord's.

14. As the door turns on its hinges,

So does the sluggard on his bed.

The funny thing about people like this is that they do most of the complaining.

No matter how many times you open and close a door, the door still goes nowhere, and is no different from a lazy person.

15. The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;

He is weary of bringing it to his mouth again.

I hear people all the time saying, tell me about God's word, yet on their own, they are too lazy to open their Bibles and eat of God's word.

And I think, "How can they be true Christians, and not desire to do this on their own?"

I simply don't understand.

16. The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes

Than seven men who can give a discreet answer.

This is so true about lazy people. They always think they are more important than they really are.

God has given every true believer the love gift of salvation, but they must wholly receive it and open themselves up to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and be filled with God's love and compassion, even to overflowing.

And then we need to share this immeasurable love and compassion with others; all others, whether human or non-human.

This is a gift to be shared.

There is no such thing as a lazy Christian.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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