My dad had a soft spot in his heart for our oldest son. You can see the gentleness on his face as he held him. My dad was not always gentle. He grew up in the Upper Peninsula of MI, his father was an iron ore miner. Those who are “Yoopers” need no further explanation. If the harsh winter weather didn’t kill you, the tough conditions that the miners endured drove most of them to drink.
The oldest son, according to our Finnish culture, was responsible for his mom and the family property. Because of his birth order, my father gave up any chance to attend college, but he proudly watched all five of HIS children (raised on a blue-collar wage) graduate from four-year Universities.
In this passage, I’m challenged to take a moment to know when to be gentle and when to be “no-nonsense” (like my dad). Those who are false- full of lies or deceit- are not operating from God’s Spirit.
Fear is absent in the presence of love. On the other hand, falsehoods and deceit can threaten people’s reputations or livelihoods, aka make people act cowardly out of fear. Love is based on trust, knowing God’s intentions toward us are for life everlasting (not destruction).
One of my seminary professors, Dr. Merilyn Copland, taught us Hebrew. She explained why the “law” to an Israelite is a source of joy and celebration. It was God pouring down a blessing on His people to abundantly provide for them should they choose to follow it! In light of that, who would NOT follow the Ten Commandments, the most important of God’s laws?
With God’s Spirit abiding in us and His provision around us, we can exude love for others. This may appear at times gentle and at other times “no nonsense”.
Although my dad went to be with the Lord quite a few years ago, his example lives on. One thing is for certain, people know when they are loved. -Teresa #confidence
1 John 4English Standard Version
Test the Spirits
4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
God Is Love
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen.21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.