Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Dear Colleagues,

LIFE LESSONS #5: The fulfillment of the Great Commission flows out of our obedience to the Great Commandment. (5 of 9)

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We are a people of action. Hey, just get the job done, whatever it takes! For right or wrong, sitting around pondering the deep things of life is not exactly our national past time. We are the quintessential  Action Jackson poster children.

So, when Jesus calls us to go change the world for him, we are all over it. But 10 years down the road, we find ourselves spiritually, emotionally, and physically spent, and our relationships strained to the breaking point.  All too easily, we have put the cart before the horse, forgetting that its the Great Commandment first (loving God), and then the Great Commission (loving our neighbor as ourselves). (See Matt 22:37-39; 28:18-20)

How easily we forget that it is only out of the richness of cultivating a love relationship with Christ that we naturally love our neighbors as ourselves. We forget that accomplishing the Great Commission is the fruit of our obedience to the Great Commandment. (See Jn. 15:1-16)

In my senior year at the university I finally ran dry after three years in the Marines and four years of college.  To retain my scholarship I carried a full load, coupled with a killer work schedule.  It was in this pressurized environment that I allowed my time with God to be squeezed to the margin of my life. Without realizing it, I found myself totally depleted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In desperation, I cried out to God, making a life-long commitment to never again  allow anything to usurp consistent and meaningful time with God as my first priority in life.

The Great Commission instructs us to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  How do we know when we are being obedient to this command? Let me propose two measurements:

1) Fervor for God: That is, our love for God goes beyond cold, calculating, and dutiful compliance without heart involvement. Paul wrote about the early enthusiasm of the Ephesian believers, particularly their faith in the Lord Jesus and [their] love for all the saints (Eph. 1:15).  40 years later, John, the Apostle wrote to them about how their love for God had cooled to obligatory endurance: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. (Rev. 2:2-4)

2) Obedience to Gods word: That is, simple, uncompromising, and prompt obedience to the Scriptures. It has been aptly stated that delayed obedience is disobedience. Jesus defined our love for him in starkly simple terms: "If you love me, obey my commandments. (Jn. 14:15) (See Lk. 6:46; Jn. 14:21; I Jn. 5:3)

Today, there are so many influences in our lives that can dull our fervor for God, our love for each other, and our concern for the lost: The sheer pace and pressure of life, illness, raising a family, the challenge of staying viable in your professional life, and the pressure of finances, to name a few. And what about the ever present seductions of materialism, climbing the ladder, and sexual impurity?

Question: Tell me, could the transition of the Ephesians from spontaneous love to dutiful orthodoxy be your experience as well?  Did you also once enjoy a fresh love for God that has been ground down to persevering endurance? Would you take a moment to prayerfully ask God if there is spiritual repair work in your life that needs your attention today?

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