These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. They say to the seers, “See no more visions!”, and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!”
This reminds me so much of our society today. “Don’t confuse me with the truth. Don’t remind me of God. Leave me alone here with what we believe is good. Stop confronting us with Christ. We don’t want or need hope. We don’t want to be free of guilt, anger and sin. We choose false hope and emptiness. God offers us truth, life and peace. No thanks.” People can say “No.” to God’s offer of real life, peace and joy in a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Their rejection doesn’t change anything. God is still God and His offer still stands.
The Lord says, : These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.
This passage is certainly descriptive of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. If salvation comes by one way only – Jesus Christ, how can the rules of men be any kind of worship. Only a heart that recognizes its sinfulness, and gratefully receives the gift of salvation can worship.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.
These are commands, not suggestions. Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Then, at the end, do everything in LOVE. While you are on guard, while you are standing firm, while you are being courageous and strong, do it in love. We are called by God to a lifestyle of love.
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
We are different because of grace (the unearned, undeserved friendship and love of God) which changed us. One definition of grace says, “it is the Divine Favor spontaneous and free, designing joy and pleasure for the receiver”. So great a gift we have received…why are we reluctant to share it with others?
There are many people in our lives, and ministries who do not deserve our love and friendship. God has set the example for us. He means for us to follow it.
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts,….
There are a lot of instructions to the church in this chapter. To me, the most important one is the first: “follow the way of love” In all of our life activities: church, school, supermarket, work, home, vacation…follow the way of love. How do we determine that way? Jesus has instructed us in Matthew 22:37 – 39, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love never fails.
This is Scripture, so we know it is true, but if we are thinking of love the way we love, this statement is idealistic and unattainable. Fortunately, we do not operate on human love. As believers, we access the perfect, unending, unconditional love of God. It is that love – His love – that never fails. We can live this way if we surrender to this amazing LOVE of God, leaving our “rights” and grudges behind, and allowing Him to love through us. Our lives will be changed forever if we allow God’s love to be the engine that drives us.