Title: Unfeigned Love
Theme: Practical Application of God’s Love
Series: Essentials for Church Growth
James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
The Holy Spirit moves James to reveal a truth from heaven which enables the spiritual heart to grasp a practical application of God’s love being expressed to others. “Unfeigned” is not simulated, is not pretense or just having an appearance. Unfeigned love is genuine or sincere love that is expressed through works. (New College Edition, The American Heritage Dictionary) James the half brother of Jesus became a prominent leader in the church at Jerusalem. (Matthew 15:55; Acts 15; Who’s Who In the Bible) He says, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
I would propose to you that the man who claims to believe in God and Jesus Christ strives to gain Biblical understanding on how to express true Biblical love to others.
What is mankind to watch out for? What is true religion? Who are we ministering too? Will there be a day of accountability? Will we be rewarded?
True Christianity is an expression of life lived through the enabling of the Holy Spirit with Jesus being revealed in and through the Body of Christ. Christians who grasps this truth study the Word of God so they may know how to live a life pleasing to their Maker, so they can imitate Jesus Christ who sacrificially gave His life for them.
Fear of being seen as having only a form of Godliness
The first step to expressing true religion is to have a reverent fear of being seen as having only a form of Godliness. Jeremiah 10:21 says, “The shepherds are senseless and do not inquire of the Lord. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy that in the last days there would be those who have “…only a form of godliness…” (2 Timothy 3:5) Paul also wrote to Titus informing him of those who “…Claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. …unfit to do any good.” (Titus 1:16)
“Shepherds” (ra`ah) here refers to pastors of churches and civil rulers who are given the privilege and responsibility of governing a people. (A Commentary, Critical, and Explanatory; Commentary on the Old Testament, Delitzch; The New American Commentary) Failure to prayerfully seek the Lord through the counsel of His Word leaves the flock of God and the people of a nation to be governed by the human flesh, a world view and even the lies of the devil.
The second mark of the last days is a powerless religion that is not changing people into the image of Jesus Christ. Let the Holy Spirit place this truth within your heart, as we approach the return of Christ, there will be religion. There will be churches, temples and great worship centers which have glorious worship services with intriguing ceremonies full of singing, ear pleasing messages and a false fellowship that satisfies self.
These worship centers will have attendees who have an outward profession, an appearance of godliness. These church attendees will profess God, Christ and mention the Holy Spirit.
William Barclay in his exposition writes, “The final condemnation of these people is that they retain the outward form of religion, but they deny its power. That is to say, they recite the orthodox creeds, they go through the movements of a correct and dignified ritual and liturgy and worship; they maintain all the external forms of religion; but they know nothing of true [Christianity] as a dynamic power which changes the lives of men.”
They will be baptized, partake in Communion services, talk about God, show interest in religious ceremonies and rituals, and recite religious sounding slogans. (The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible) They will gather a great number of teachers to tell them what their itching ears want to hear “…to suit their own desires…” They “…will not put up with sound doctrine…” (2 Timothy 4:3)
One key word from which to grasp truth is “desires,” (epithumía) meaning that which satisfies a carnal appetite. (The Complete Word Dictionary of the Bible) The Practical Word Studies in the New Testament gives us nine different applications of the use of this word. One of them is having a dominating desire to get gratification from religion and being seen as righteous. Another one is seeking gratification through good works and benevolence. There is a lot of self satisfaction to be had and reparation enjoyed by doing good works in the name of a certain church, organization, or fellowship. However, Christ can be left out.
Thus, Christians who desire to be involved in religion that is pleasing to God fear the dangers of having success in practical helps ministries, for it can entrap them in a form of godliness which is displeasing to the Lord.
Where does the Holy Spirit find your spiritual heart? Is there a desire to partner with Christ in a genuine work?
Christians who desire to enjoy pure religion avoid the religious trap that Judas Iscariot fell into. He was taken captive by the devil thus he betrayed Jesus and he was a hypocrite. Judas did all the religious things that the other apostles did and he even claimed to be a defender of the money bag for the poor. We read in John 12 of the time Mary took some “expensive perfume” (John 12:3) and poured it on Jesus’ feet. The Bible says, “But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray Him, objected, ‘Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages.’ The Bible says, “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:4-6) Satan looks for the religious weak links, people who have an appearance of following Christ, with hearts are far from Him.
Christians minister to the Christ who died for them
A reverent fear keeps the spiritual heart from the bondage of false religion and enables Christians to minister to the Christ who died for them. True Christianity strives to meet the needs of the needy and it is to be done as doing unto Christ. Jesus taught, “…Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.'
Then the righteous will answer Him, `Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?'” (Matthew 25:34-40)
The Bible records Jesus saying, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.” (Matthew 25:41)
This powerful teaching of Jesus Christ refers to the time when He will come at the finial Judgment, when He will be dealing with all of mankind. (King James Bible; New American Standard Bible; English Standard Bible; The New Bible Commentary) It is not an illustrative story, it is a vision of the future, a time yet to come. (The New Bible Commentary; The New American Commentary) This is an individual judgment and it is imperative that you understand this is not a teaching of good works to Christ Jesus so you can be saved, is it a reflection of good works produced from those who love Jesus Christ.
Jesus is speaking to individuals who are separated into two eternal destinations. Matthew 25:31-40, which I have just read, records Jesus’s words toward those producing the fruit of genuine love. Matthew 25: 41-46 is spoken to those who do know Christ as personal Savior and Lord, “…Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after Me.'
The Bible says these people will say, “…`Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help You?' Jesus will say to them, “…I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
There are many truths to grasp in this teaching of Jesus Christ, however, what the Holy Spirit wants you to grasp in this portion of the message is a truth spoken to both those who loved the Lord and those who did not love Him. Matthew 25:40 says, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.”
To those destined to punishment He said, “…I tell you the truth, whatever, you did not do for one of least of these, you did not do for Me.” (Matthew 25:45) Catch the truth, “did or did not do for Me.”
Pastor Ronald Scheimo has always proclaimed “It is what is done for Christ that counts for eternity.” Jesus taught that showing love toward others is a reflection of our having the love of the Lord within us. In His teaching on the greatest commandments, our Lord said, “`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.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." The beloved John sets before us a truth regarding true knowledge of God. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:7-12)
In a letter from Gary Wilkerson dated January 19, 2009 I read, “I have known personally the sheer joy of bringing food to the starving children in Africa. I have been so blessed to see God provide life saving medicine to the rural mountain villagers in Peru. …The practical love of Jesus is making things better [for those we reach out to]. Yet as good as these things are, there is something better, far better.” Pastor Gary Wilkerson goes on in His letter requesting prayer. His desire is that all that is done to minister to the poor, God would use it to draw people to know Jesus Christ.
People can become bitter toward the work of God when they do not see people respond in an appropriate manner to the acts of charity done through the Body of Christ. Christians remain steadfast in what God has called them to when they see every stranger as an opportunity to do good in reaching that person for Christ. The opportunity to reach a stranger is seen as the privilege of serving the Lord, especially if that person turns out to be a Christian. If someone is sick, hungry, imprisoned, thirsty, or having any kind of need, we should minister to that person with the love of Christ in hopes that God will use it for His glory. If the person in need is a born again Christian, when you minister to that person’s need, you are ministering to Christ. Born again Christians have Jesus living in them through the person of the Holy Spirit of Christ. (John 14:17; Romans 8:9,11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:22; 2 Timothy 1:5; 1:14)
All works of kindness should be a response to the Holy Spirit as He moves the Christian to minister to the needy, thereby enjoying true religion. These works of kindness may be for the purpose of reaching the lost for Christ or simply for the privilege of ministering to Christ as they help meet the needs of the Body of Christ.
Look for people to serve
Christians expressing true love are active in a ministry that is pleasing to the Lord and they look for people to serve. Galatians 6:10 says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Hebrews 13:16 says, “…do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Jesus said, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36)
It is easy to give up, grow weary and not do our duty with regard to doing good for our fellow man and those in the Body of Christ. We have to watch and guard ourselves. Christians are not to put the burden of doing good to others on spiritual leadership alone. They are to take on the role of a servant as well. The believer is not to miss his opportunity, but stay alert, keep his eyes open for ways of making opportunities available. He rushes to the aid of others, Christian and non-Christian.
The Bible teaches that the work of God is to be done in an orderly fashion. Similarly, a person is responsible for his family first before he takes on the duty of ministering to those outside his family. So it is with the Body of Christ, Christians are to make and take opportunities to serve the family of God, then have outreaches that minister to those lost in this world. Jesus gave a special command to His followers that must be obeyed if they are going to be influential in their work with Him. (The New Bible Commentary; The Bible Knowledge Commentary) "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)
The Holy Spirit has two truths for you in this portion of the message. Do good to all of mankind and make sure you are doing your part in ministering to the Body of Christ. One of John Wesley’s rules was, “Do all you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, and as long as you can.” (Knights Treasury of 2,000 Illustrations)
Walter B. Knight wrote, “There was a little girl who dearly loved Jesus and she wanted to serve Him. ‘How can I serve Him? I am so little and to weak to do much.’ One day she read a simple truth in her Sunday-school paper. ‘One cat power, working all the time, can do more for Jesus than an engine of forty horse-power standing idle.’
The little girl said, ‘I will not have many chances to serve the Lord while I am small. But [by His grace] I will use the one-cat power I have, and serve Him all I can.” (Knights Treasury of 2,000 Illustrations)
We all have done something good for someone without seeing the results we hoped for. Often our efforts were unappreciated. Worse yet, we set before our spiritual hearts wrong expectations of the act shown through our human love. Thus, we struggle in doing good for those to whom we have shown our human love.
Let the Holy Spirit put this truth deep with in your spiritual heart. You are not to do good to others because of your expectations of certain results. You are to do good to all as the Lord makes the way, simply because God’s Word tells you to. Holy Spirit Illuminated Christians exercise true religion through agape love. This love comes only from God, thus enabling the child of God to first express unfeigned love to the Lord, then to the Body of Christ and then unto all of mankind.
There will be a day of accountability
Unfeigned love is expressed by your doing what God tells you to do because of the knowledge there will be a day of accountability. Acts 17:31 says, “For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead." Romans 14:12 says, “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 2:16 says, “This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.”
The New American Standard Bible says that God has “Fixed,” (hístēmi) meaning that the day of Judgement has been set, already determined. (The Complete Word Study of the Bible; The Preacher’s Outline Study Bible) This is a righteous judgment dealing with how men lived and behaved.
Jesus Christ will be the judge who is worthy. He took all the sins of the world upon Himself. God raised Him from the dead thus giving our Lord victory over sin and death. (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:17; Acts 2:24) Unlike all other judges, Christ never sinned. (Hebrews 4:15)
The Lord, Jesus will some day review and evaluate the ministry of His servants (The Bible Knowledge Commentary; Matthew Henry Commentary) and not only Christians but all of mankind. (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary) The whole of Scripture teaches us that Christians and non-Christians will give an accounting of their time, how they improved on their opportunities, what they did and how they lived their life on this earth.
There is nothing that speaks more terror to unrepentant sinners and gives more comfort to the Body of Christ than the Biblical fact that Jesus Christ is a righteous Judge. The secrets of men’s hearts will be exposed, judged, then rewarded or punished according to what is found deep within the heart of mankind. (Matthew Henry Commentary; Jeremiah 17:10; A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory; The Bible Exposition Commentary) The Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to proclaim a truth that should be grasped by Christians and non-Christians, “God will give to each person according to what he has done." (Romans 2:6) This truth proclaimed by Paul agrees with the truth written by the psalmist who wrote, “Surely you [O’ God], will reward each person according to what he has done.” (Psalm 62:12b)
Daniel Webster was asked, “‘What is the greatest thought that can occupy a man’s mind,’ He said, ‘His accountability to God.’” (Abel Ahlquist, Light on the Gospel)
There is an incident recorded by Walter B. Knight regarding, Abraham Davenport which so clearly reflects the heart of people who know that there will be accountability to their Maker. It is placed under this title, “Found at the Post of Duty.”
“Nearly two centuries ago, darkness came upon the midday hours in parts of New England. Cattle made their way to the barn and chickens went to roost. Many people fell on their knees, believing that is was the Day of Judgment. In Hartford, Connecticut, the State Council was in session. All were frightened, one member moved that they adjourn. Abraham Davenport objected to the motion, saying, ‘If this be the Day of Judgment, I want to be found at my post on duty. I move that we bring in candles and proceed with the business at hand.” (Knights Treasury of 2,000 Illustrations)
People who are convinced of the truth of accountability to God, trust not in the notions of mankind nor friends, they move in their hearts to seek the counsel of God’s Word so they may be found at their post, serving the Lord. Holy Spirit illuminated Christians are aware of the fact that God’s judgments will be based on the standard of truth (Romans 2:2) and it will be impartial (Romans 2:11).
Service to the Lord will be rewarded
A full understanding of future accountability to God leads to a service to the Lord that will be rewarded. Mark 9:41 says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”
The teaching of Jesus Christ here is simple, unmistakable, and salutary. It declares that any kindness shown, any help given, to the people of Christ will not lose its reward. It should be noted how simple the help really can be, the Lord does not ask for any great task or thing to be done, only that which can be done by the means He has already provided. (Daily Study Bible Series) The cup of water may be taken literally, however, when viewed symbolically it refers to any act of hospitality. (The New American Commentary) Anyone who shows acts of kindness to the children of God does well and will be rewarded. Not only does this truth offer reward, it shows reward only comes when ministry is done with the proper motive.
Many a false cult, business and organization have appeared righteous by doing acts of charity, but in truth it was to gain proselytes. Therefore, Jesus lays out a simple, but powerful teaching to keep us in the right heart condition, to help us recognize who to partner with and the condition by which we may enjoy a secure reward.
This portion of Scripture does not say when the person showing Biblical hospitality will receive his reward or what his reward will be. Nevertheless, those who grasp the truths to Jesus’ teaching in Mark 9:41 agree in their spiritual hearts with what is written by Walter B. Knight,
“Who does God’s Work will get God’s pay. However long may be the day, however weary be the way. Though powers and kings thunder at will, who does God’s work will get God’s pay.
He does not pay as others pay… But God in His wisdom knows the way, and that is sure, let come what may. Who does God’s work gets God’s pay. (Knights Treasury of 2,000 Illustrations)
Many a child of God has learned that the Lord never rewards us for our labors unto Him and for Him as we think He will. Payment does come when we choose to wait upon Him and just do what we are called to do.
The Apostle Paul presents a sobering truth that produces a reverent fear of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
Unfeigned love finds its foundation in a reverent fear of the Lord. Christians who exercise it regularly seek the whole counsel of God’s Word, not wanting to be labeled with Judas Iscariot, having a heart that only has a form of Godliness.
Unfeigned love enables Christians seeing other Christians who in need as opportunities to minister to Christ. Christians see those who do not know Christ personally as opportunities to present the love of God in practical ways. This enables everyone to grasp the whole picture of true worship unto the Lord.
Unfeigned love moves the Body of Christ to become very active in looking for people to serve, doing all they can, by any means, in all ways, in all places, at all times, to all people, and for as long as they can.
Unfeigned love birth’s an awareness of accountability – thus preparing the heart for God’s rewards.
Unfeigned love causes the child of God to examine the motives for which he enters into service to the Lord. Doctor Howard H. Hamlin wrote in an article titled, “What Motivates Your Service?”
“It is said that Wendell Wilkie asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt, ‘Mr. President why do you keep that frail, sickly man, Harry Hokins, at your elbow.’ The President replied, ‘Through that door flows daily a constant stream of people who almost always wants something from me, all Harry wants to do is serve me.” That is unfeigned love!!!!!
The church is full of activities, programs and projects, all being blanketed in prayer to God, in Christ’s name for Holy Spirit anointing. The Lord is not looking for people who are always petitioning Him. He places at His elbow, Christians who want to serve Him. Jesus said, “The greatest among you will be your servant. (Matthew 23:11)
Let us pray!