Hello Church Devotion Aug.15, 2013

N is for New Commandment

Many when they hear the words, “New Commandment”, immediately are haunted by the thought that here is one more thing that God is requiring of us. Yet, if we look back to the 10 Commandments, we see them through the cross of Christ as being words that define relationships: Relationships between God and us as well as relationship between human beings.

We see the first 3 Commandments as being pivotal in understanding who God is, what God is, and how we as the creation are to relate to Him. The next six Commandments deal with our human relationships between each other in the family. Parents to children; People to life including that in the womb; man to women in marriage and in sexual relations; man to worldly possessions; man to others in regard to integrity and way of life; man to others in regards to other peoples possessions.

Unfortunately, we as sinful human beings, have interpreted these original commandments as burdens and have mistakenly not kept them with love in our hearts, but rather we have amended them; forgotten them; and twisted them into our works instead of being an outflowing of our love relationship with our heavenly Father.

Parents go to bed one evening with all their children in the house and safe. The parents are awakened in the middle of the night by the door bell ringing. Going and answering it, they find their child had ventured out of the house and had locked themselves out.

The child, upon having the parents let them into the house, was not grateful. But on the contrary was incredibly vocal that the parents should have heard the doorbell much sooner and let him in faster than what had happened. No mention by the child was the fact it was his fault he was locked out. But, rather, the blame for his mistake is twisted and aimed at the parents, who out of love, opened the door for the child.

Do we do this to God? We go about our lives without thinking or involving God until we meet with something that we cannot solve ourselves. Then, when we get God involved, we rebuke God for doing things the way He did. Is there any respect of God in this? Or is there any understanding that we are reaping what we sowed in unrighteousness.

John 13:31-34

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, 'Where I am going you cannot come.' 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

The New Commandment we receive is to love one another as God has loved us. Remember, back to Catechism Class in Confirmation, how does Martin Luther explain each of the Commandments, “that we should fear and love God”. God didn’t give us the Commandments to punish us, but rather, out of love, He gave us some boundaries to protect things that are precious to Him and to us.

Of course, we just twist things around due to the sinful nature inside each of us. Yet, God still loves us and that love of God changes us and our response to one another. We have value because God values us. And because of that love and value that God places upon us, we are transformed and made into new life and are able to then weakly love others by the power that God’s love makes possible.

In Mark 12:28, Jesus is asked “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answers quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength”. Then significantly, Jesus answers the question which had not been asked by saying: “The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.””

The Commandments are based upon a love relationship with God. God Himself has established and has defined what is good and precious. In the Catechism, I find it helpful to see the things that God has defined as being precious as addressed in the 10 Commandments: God; God’s Name; God’s Word; God’s Representatives; God’s Gift of Life; God’s Gift of Marriage; God’s Gift of Possessions; God’s Gift of a Good Reputation; God’s Gift of Contentment; God’s Gift of Contentment.

1 John 2:7-12

7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.

Jesus dying on the cross has solved the problem of sin in our relationship with God. For in Jesus, sin is fully atoned for and paid for with the blood of the perfect Lamb of God. So by faith in Jesus, we don’t need to be perfect in order to be given eternal life. That means we don’t have to keep the Commandments as if our salvation depended upon them. Rather, now that God has demonstrated His love for us in Jesus, the cross, and the empty tomb, we want to follow the way of the commandments as we walk in the new life that God has provided us.

Hear that? We don’t have to… but rather… we want to!

See how love has changed the burden of the Commandments to something desirable for us to do? What a God we have who can change a heart of stone into a compassionate and caring heart that wants to do its Father’s bidding! May God grant us each day, a putting off of the old self and burdens, and a putting on of the new self that is being renewed in the image of its Savior.

We still because of sin can’t keep the new commandment to love as He has loved us perfectly, but God forgives our repentant hearts and will renew us each day.

Prayer: Lord, keep my heart to be compassionate to others. Help me to show forth in my life the attributes of goodness and patience as I deal with others who are encountering difficulties and trials. Keep my heart focused on Your love so that I can show that love to others. Lord, may the actions of my day be ones that are guided and directed by love rather than of selfish ambition and my own agenda. Only by your power, can my life be changed and charged. Changed by the power of the cross in my heart and charged with compassion for those around me. Enable me to love others as You have loved me. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

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