The Spirit of Love

I had a few discussions over the last week concerning tithing and 401K plans. I just wanted to make sure that I was tithing correctly. One of the people I discussed it with, a pastor, mentioned not getting into fear about it. I stopped and thought about that for a moment. I searched my heart and found that there was no fear in my heart about making a mistake in tithing. However, I did find that because of my love for God I wanted to make sure I was doing things right by Him.

It reminded me of this scripture.

Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. (2 Corinthians 3:6; KJV)

I thought about the spirit behind God’s instruction on tithing. It is God’s Spirit that is breathed into His Words to us and He is love. When we become legalistic about doing things and get into fear about doing the things of God we miss the Spirit of God behind the instruction. And He is the life in the Words. God loves us and His commands to us are for our good because He loves us. His commands lead to life.

This scripture was part of my daily reading this morning and I believe it gives us an insight into His words and His love.

“Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom; develop good judgement. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them. Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.” (Proverbs 4:4-6, NLT)

Follow my commands and you will live. The spirit behind that instruction is one of love. It is not saying, “Follow my instructions or else I’ll take you out.” God is saying, “Follow My instructions because they lead to life. I love you and I want you to live an abundant life.”

Here is a good example of the letter of the law killing.

And He entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. and he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? To save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And the Pharisees went forth, and straight way took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him. (Mark 3:1-6, KJV)

Just a few verses before this account, Jesus had said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27, KJV). The Pharisees had become so legalistic about the command to rest on the sabbath, that they lost sight of the spirit behind it. “I love My creation man and I have created a day of rest for him.”

The Pharisees were upset that someone was healed on the day of rest because they considered that work and work was prohibited on the sabbath. They were so upset that it drove them to plot to kill the One Whom they believed was breaking all the rules. I guess they forgot about “Thou shalt not kill”. But Jesus being led by the Spirit of God, demonstrated the heart of God.

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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17, KJV)

For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world… (John 3:17, Amplified)

God is not trying to find a reason to judge, reject or condemn you. He has given us commands because He loves us and wants us to live abundant lives. Read and meditate about how much He loves you. Follow His commands, not because you are afraid not too, but because you realize He loves you.  Obey Him because you love Him.

If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands. (John 14:15, KJV)

Hear the Spirit behind the command. It is the Spirit of Love.

The Sabbath

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. (Genesis 2:2-3, KJV)

Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD… See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath… So the people rested on the seventh day. (Exodus 16:23, 29, 30; KJV)

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God… (Exodus 20:9-10, KJV)

This may not be a challenge to everyone reading this post, but these days it seems that people are on the go more and more. It may not be working at your job every day of the week, but it may be running from one church meeting to another. It may be running from one soccer practice or football practice over to gymnastics and then on to the next thing. People are on the go like never before.

Here in the Old Testament we see that God, as it states in Exodus 16:28, gave His chosen nation Israel a command or a law to rest on the seventh day. Now in an earlier post I mentioned that the laws and the commands that God gave the Israelites always proved to be to their benefit. One example being the command to wash their hands before eating, which kept the Jews safe from infection and death during the Bubonic Plague.

I’d like to point out one word in the scriptures above that’s very important along with another very important scripture. In Exodus 16:29 we see that it states that God had “given” them the Sabbath, the day of rest. Also, in Mark 2:27 (KJV) Jesus said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.”

I like that. Once again one small word I want you to see in that scripture. It’s the word “for”.

God gave man a day of rest. God made a day of rest for man. God put something into place because He was thinking about His creation, man. It wasn’t about yet another law for man to keep. It was about Him keeping His man.

He created our bodies and He created them to rest at least 52 days a year.

Once again some of you may not have a problem with that but us high achievers sometimes find this hard to do. Just the other day I found myself at a loss for what to do next. I asked the Lord what He would like me to do that day. He wanted me to read a fiction book. My friends will laugh because they know I don’t read fiction. I love to study. I love to learn. I love to put together teachings to share with others, but I don’t like to “waste my time” reading fiction.

So I read the book. I enjoyed it. I read it in two days. Then I asked the Lord why He had wanted me to read the book. What was the great revelation I was supposed to get from it? What was the life changing part of it? What did He want me to share with others from it? His response, “I just wanted you to relax.”

God wanted me to relax. Why? Because He loves me. Because He wants to take care of me and my health and well-being. I like that about Him 🙂

One last thing about the Sabbath. In the New Testament we find that some of the religious people fell into the ditch on the other side. They became so legalistic about this that they would get upset when Jesus healed people on the Sabbath. Instead of rejoicing over their healing, they got onto them for it (see Luke 13:14).

That’s what was happening in Mark chapter 2. The Pharisees were getting on to Jesus for plucking corn to eat on the Sabbath. That’s when Jesus said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath”. It wasn’t about a legalistic law. It was about the fact that God cares for people and He’s trying to take care of His people.