Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (Romans 13:7)
It shows up in the class room: loud, non-cooperating misbehavior of school students. Experienced teachers can spot them easily. They are wounded and painfully aware of their deficit. So, they roar like a lion to show themselves strong and fierce. I saw it when I was teaching school.
s a high school principal, it was almost a daily challenge to sort through the hidden trouble in the lives of misbehaving students sent to the office for me to “take care of.”
A high school student went down the hall, opening each class room and flipping off the classroom lights. When she was brought to my office, the obvious question was: “Why did you do it?” But I didn’t ask the question. I sat there and looked at her a minute as she looked down at the floor. Only the Lord really knows these students. I asked the Lord for some insight. Sometimes, insight can be as troubling as the problem. Now that I know, I’ve got to tell this young lady.
I said: “I know what’s bothering you. You’re angry with God for making you taller than the other students in your class.” Her lips began to tremble and tears ran down. I believe the Holy Spirit gave me that insight. “Do you know how much God loves you and that He made you like He did because He has a special purpose for your life?” She didn’t need to be punished; she needed a meltdown, a confrontation with something that was buried deep inside.
A student from the previous year came by my office to chat a few minutes. She leaned against the door frame and was fiddling with a car key on a chain on her index finger. I asked her how she was doing and she was going to just be friendly and do regular chit-chat. The key looked new and I asked her if that was the key to a new car. She replied that it was and suddenly the tears began to roll down. “I don’t really want a new car! I want my daddy to have time for me! I sit down to talk and instead of talking, he gives me money to go buy new clothes. He doesn’t have time to talk to me!”
OK. It’s my turn. What do I tell this young lady who has spilled her insides in one short outburst? To this day it is one of the most heart-wrenching things that ever happened to me. I couldn’t fix it. She needed her daddy and I wasn’t her daddy. I tried to assure her she was loved, but that was a hard sell.
There is the need for breath, for water, food, and sleep. In this list of needs, the need for significance probably comes next. Our need for worth is deep-seated. We need to be valuable to someone and it needs to be communicated to us in a way that is meaningful to us. The context of “honour to whom honour” (above) is talking about fidelity to government authority over the Christian. But the wording “to whom” surely goes beyond a government setting. It would not mean to be mindful of human duty to government officials and leave room for us to be disorderly and destructive to people outside of government.
For many settings, “what is due” is simply love. Jesus said: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34) One definition I read of love is “meeting the essential needs of another person who cannot provide those needs for himself or herself.” We have the example of this in Jesus’ death on the cross.
Jesus explained this to the brilliant and religious Nicodemus: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) Christians are obligated to love others, which means that the act or attitude toward another person is within the reach of our will. It is something we decide to do. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1John 4:19-20)
I’m using the word “significance” to indicate something within us that we crave and at the root of it is the desire to be loved. If you marry without truly loving the person you are about to marry, you are not having your best day. I must be up front about this. I have seen a lot of “stuff” going on in the lives of people in the last 60 years. I see children who are deprived of love and they are a disaster on their way to tragedy. People will do all manner of strange things to satisfy this craving for love, significance.
It is central to the Christian message that we love one another. If we do not get the point from those words, we can look at more words in the true “Lord’s Prayer” in John 17. It is about relationships with each other and notice the short word that’s used to convey this meaning: “one.” That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21-23)
I didn’t always understand this important truth. There came a time in my life when I understood that my supreme identity is in this: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I saw this quoted from another old man, somewhere, and I acknowledge the truth of it, but I didn’t get my understanding of this from reading about another old man.
I WANT YOU TO LOVE ME and I will do reasonable things to stay on your good side but I must tell you up front: if you decide you don’t want to love me, then I’ll have to make do without it. But you will not have affected the foundation of my soul. If you don’t love me, God will still love me as surely as the sun comes up every morning. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. (Psalm 27:10)
Friends and even family may turn against you and you may have to leave a dear loved one or friend at the graveside. But, train yourself to always look toward Heaven. My worth comes from Heaven, from a loving heavenly Father that will never forsake me. That is my significance. That is my first source of certain love. Gather what love you can from family and friends but don’t forget to look heavenward.
I’m worth something to my Heavenly Father. He made me and then He redeemed me by the blood of the Lamb. I’m really somebody! I have this standing with God and no one can take it from me. Not only so, but God does not love me any more than He loves you. Did your father or mother slight you? I am blessed to have strong memories of a loving father and mother who would have given their lives for me. But I have listened to people who do not have that satisfaction and I am always made sad when I hear it.
But, regardless, there is one who loves you and has decreed that you have worth, real worth, significance, real significance. He proved this when He said, “I Love You, Written in Red.” Was there ever a greater song than that?
Love lifted me. It is the dirtiest song in the song books of rescue missions because dirty thumbs of street people have held the book open at that page. I have preached in missions and thumbed through the song books, looking for the dirtiest pages. It’s always the dirtiest song in the book. Another dirty page is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” The other dirty page is “Amazing Grace.” These songs have had great power to lift the hopes of hopeless people who came in off the street to get a bowl of beans and a dose of love for their souls. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
OCTOBER 26, 2017 – THURSDAY
A.M. Jeremiah 17-19 P.M. 1 Tim. 6
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Good Verse to Memorize:
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. (Hebrews 4:2)
Song for Today:
I Love You Written in Red (4:13) (Janet Paschal – Gaither)
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