Have you ever noticed how hard it can be to accept somebody? I know I struggle in this area. How can we truely love our neighbor if we can't even accept our neighbor?
I have two best male friends in my life. I have known one since I was a child and other since college. My best friend from college is alot like me. It's easy to get along with him. We share similar interests. Our families get along excellent. Everything about this relationship is easy. Accepting him for all his faults and features is easy. It is easy to apply the concept of loving my neighbor in this case. I can say openly that I love this best friend. Almost from day one we connected well together. I am sure some of you reading this have similar friends.
My other best friend, that I have known since childhood well... that relationship was not so easy in the beginning. We are polar opposites in almost everything, including our beliefs. I don't have any tattoos, his body is almost covered in them. I try my best not to cuss, he cusses like a sailor. I can remember at my wedding him giving the best man's speech to all our guests with the F-Bomb being droppd like every other word. I mean the pastor who married us even said something and my best friends next word was the F-Bomb followed by another F-Bomb.
I try to have a relationship with my wife that shows my respect to her. He has no problems in telling his wife where to take it and stick it....(I can tell you they have one of the most openly verbal relationships I have ever seen, that is next to his father and mother's. They are my second parents.) In the beginning we fought literally everyday. I am not talking about just verbal, but I am talking about a good can of A** whopping on him. He never stood a chance, but he kept coming back for more every day. And then one day, it was like all of the past was behind us and we are best friends at that point. Growing up, if I was someplace, he was there and vice versa. It was just how it was. He was my boy. I knew he had my back as much as I had his...even to the point of being escorted out of the state of North Carolina by law enforcement. Yet, we were polar opposities in everything.
As I look back on these friendships that have literally played a part in shaping who I am today ...besides my relationship with Jesus Christ...I realized something. I don't have to accept my friends actions, behaviors, likes or dislikes or anything else about them to love them. I simply have to accept them for who they are are...God's creation.
To react to purpose is a life long road. You never just react once and then bam your done....you have to constantly choose to react. Each reaction will be different. In this case, reacting to love somebody that you absolutely feel you can't accept could be a road block. You could come across somebody that you know needs to know Jesus and you could be that person to lead them to Jesus... But if you can't get past accepting them and looking at them as God's creation, how will you ever be able to lead them to Christ?
Can you just imagine if God accepted or in this context... didn't accept people the way we do? Oh my Joseph Smith, who among us would be worth enough to be accepted by God. Oh my Budda, who among us would be worth enough of Jesus' Death on the Cross. The answer....not a one of us.
So what am I saying here? To react 2 your purpsoe you have to learn to accept people for who they are not what they do. It won't be easy. At times you will have to fight to accept somebody. I did. It took a lot of work on my part pounding the hell out of my friend. But now we are best friends.
If you are like me, you have heard the term "For The Glory of God" or "may the Glory be given to God"...but do you know really know what Glory means? Glory means weight. There is a weight concerning God which is the ultimate reality of life and more important and more powerful than anything and everything else. With weight, there is a thickness or girth to it.
So to fully understand the Glory of God you have to be willing to probe your understanding of God. When you know God as nothing more than a concept, you are weighter and heaver then God. You can't trust God which means you are more Glorious then God. When God is only a concept to you, your life doesn't change. There is no concrete reality. Sin teaches you that your identity is in yourself which something other than Christ. When your identity is in yourself and what your capable of, the Glory of your life then is yours...not God's. When you have a concept of God, you find it easy to justify why you don't need God. You carry an attitude of...I've Got This God, You Can Sit This One Out! When you carry around a concept of God, you carry a verison of God that you can twist, distort and manipulate as you see fit. When carrying around nothing more than a concept of God, you don't serve God, God serves you! In other words, your verision of God is nothing more than a mailbox version of God that is there for you when you can't handle the situtation at hand. You can call upon him and expect him to deliver.
On the other than, God may be a reality to you. When God is a reality to you, everything in your life changes. When God is a reality to you and things around you don't make sense to the world, they make sense to you becasue of God. When God is a reality to you, you realize that God has extended his grace and mercy to you. You realize that you are his adopted sons and daugthers. So when you think God sees you at your worst, he is actually seeing you as his best. When God is a reality to you, you have the confidence in knowing that your righteousness rests in what was done for you by Jesus dying on the cross.
Most importantly, once you understand the reality of God in your life, you can never walk away from God. If you can, you only have a concept of God.
Who am I most like....this is the question you have to ask yourself concerning righteousness. Do I want to be most like God or most like myself? There are two types of righteousness. The first....is works based righteousness. This is the righteousness that comes from "hey look at me, and look at what I did." Then there is the second type of righteousness that is based around gifts. God negates the first and confirms the later.
To react to purpose means moving beyond hey look at me, because let’s face it, the hey look at me is really you thinking that you will be graded on a curve, but you don't realize that you will not be judged on your case. Reacting to purpose requires knowing that works based righteousness does not equal value and worth to God. Reacting to a purpose from God requires you to know that your righteousness is based on what has been done for you, not what you do.
To react to your purpose from God means going to God empty handed. Otherwise you are bringing to God exactly what Isaiah said in 64:6 where your righteousness is like bringing dirty menstrual rags to God, or as in Paul’s letter to the Philippians (3:8) is nothing more than to steaming pile of crap. (I know the NIV says rubbish but the real translation is SCUBLA which is Greek for a nice way of saying CRAP.)
So what are the differences between Works Righteousness and Gifts Righteousness?
1) Works is man centered not God centered.
2) Works is comparing yourself to someone other than Jesus
3) Works is value based on performance.
4) Focuses on the external and ignores the internal. You are trusting yourself more than trusting Jesus.
5) God is no longer our judge. Other people are.
6) Leads to pride.
7) Works causes contempt, not compassion.
8) Works offends God. By this kind of behavior you are murdering God be is not as righteous as you are.
Gifts Righteousness is realizing that you will never be any more righteous than Jesus. By gift righteousness we change so people will be unable to deny the presence of the holy spirit in a persons life.
So what are the attributes of Gift Righteousness?
1) Gifts righteousness causes you to compare yourself with Jesus and the word of God. This interns causes you to humble yourself and realize you are a sinner.
2) Despise and do not excuse, tolerate or celebrate your unrighteousness.
3) You humbly repent to God. Focus on your sin to God.
4) You receive Grace and place your faith in Jesus Christ.
5) You receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ and become justified in the sight of God.
6) Become sanctified by the spirit of God to your good works. We are saved to our works not by our works for God. Our works are based on his perfection, not ours.
Just as it was in Luke 18: 9-14 the tax collector, the sinner beat on his chest and said, "God have mercy on me, a sinner. The Pharisee went to God thanking him for the fact that he was not like the Tax Collector. Who are you. The Tax Collector willing to REACT to the Gift Righteousness of God for the Glory of God, or are you the Pharisee thanking God your not like the sinner next to you?