By God’s grace and mercy, we are becoming people of fully realized potential.
Primary Text: Ruth 1:15-18
15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
We have identified the four most important decisions every human being decides for becoming people of realized potential.
- With who will I travel and stay?
- Who are my people?
- Who is my God?
- Am I fully committed to these three decisions?
Today we consider the question, “Who is my God?”
When God said (Exodus 20:3), “You shall have no other gods before (besides) me,” He clearly established the significant importance of correctly answering, “Who is my God?”
Upon saying, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart,” God revealed one’s deities are matters of the heart.
It is fair to say, “whatever you love with all your heart will contend for deification in your life.”
Augustine is the person most known for thinking through competing loves in a Christian heart.
But living a just and holy life requires one to be capable of an objective and impartial evaluation of things: to love things, that is to say, in the right order, so that you do not love what is not to be loved, or fail to love what is to be loved, or have a greater love for what should be loved less, or an equal love for things that should be loved less or more, or a lesser or greater love for things that should be loved equally. (On Christian Doctrine, I.27-28)
For Augustine the question, “Who is my God?” is best answered through the lens of “rightly ordered love.” (City of God, XV.23)
Today’s text, 2 Chronicles 27:6, honors a young king, Jotham, for properly ordering his life and rule.
“So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.”
The Psalmist prayed, “Keep steady (Order, establish) my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.” Psalm 119:133
C.H. Spurgeon, commenting on this Psalm said, “A holy life is no work of chance, it is a masterpiece of order.”
The sound of Spurgeon’s sentence rings true to every human’s deepest soul, “I want to be a masterpiece of order.”
- There is order rather than chaos.
- There is order that is harmonious with God as revealed in the Bible.
- There is numerical
There is an order of substance and weightiness.
“God was saying that the human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things.” Tim Keller, “Counterfeit Gods.”
We are invited into the glorious love of God for His world. John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
In this way, I am most like God when I love His world.
John, the same inspired author who wrote John 3:16 also gave us 1 John 2:15.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
In this way, I am most like God when I do not love the world.
In reflecting upon the ordered loves of our lives, we learn there is substance and weightiness in both the love and the world in John 3:16 that is NOT to be there in 1 John 2:15.
Learning to give proper substance and weightiness to loving the Creator and created things (at the same time) is the essence of rightly ordered loves.
Consider the longing for proper substance and weightiness available in a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus, that the pop singer Madonna seeks.
“I have an iron will, and all of my will has always been to conquer some horrible feeling of inadequacy . . . . I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being and then I get to another stage and think I’m mediocre and uninteresting . . . . Again and again. My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. And that’s always pushing me, pushing me. Because even though I’ve become Somebody, I still have to prove that I’m Somebody. My struggle has never ended and it probably never will.” Lynn Hirshberg, “The Misfit,” Vanity Fair, April 1991, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp. 160-169, 196-202.
The “Seven Deadly Sins” all receive inappropriate substance and weightiness. In the early fifth century, Prudentius wrote Psychomachia, in which the deadly sins fight a battle against virtue.
|Pride||Humility (Blessed are the poor in spirit)|
|Greed||Liberality (Blessed are the merciful)|
|Lust||Chastity (Blessed are the pure in heart)|
|Envy||Kindness (Blessed hunger and thirst)|
|Gluttony||Abstinence (Blessed are the persecuted)|
|Wrath||Patience (Blessed are the meek)|
|Sloth||Diligence (All the beatitudes)|
Our longing to be a masterpiece of order is fulfilled by rightly ordering all our love and loves.
The Holy Spirit invites and enables us to recalibrate the entirety of our lives toward God.
Is it possible for me to refocus my entire heart toward loving God and become a masterpiece of order? YES, because Jesus is praying for you!
“I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:26
MCA Church LIFE Group Homework
Listen – My Story
- What is your favorite masterpiece?
- For which person are you praying to trust in Christ and begin the masterpiece journey through this year’s Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames?
Learn – Digging Deeper
- In both the Old and New Testaments God makes it clear that properly following Him is a matter of the heart. Please read 1 Samuel 16:7 and consider the human tendency to look on outward rather than inward things.
- This week’s text, 2 Chronicles 27:6, instructs us to remember everything in our lives is “before the Lord.” What might you or others change if we are mindful that God sees everything in our hearts?
- What of little substance and weightiness do we love? What of great substance and weightiness do we not love? Consider 1 Corinthians 3:12-13
Lift – Prayer
- With which of the Seven Deadly Sins do you most struggle? Pray for God’s strength to equip you to overcome.
- Please pray for God to direct you to the involvement in Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames He intends for you.
- What love is out of order in your life? Pray for God to give you grace to rightly order your love.
Life – Taking it Home
- What is the Holy Spirit asking you to add, delete or recalibrate in your life?
- Is there a change you need to make TODAY in rightly ordering your love?