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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sermon Lessons: Consideration

6"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat."
(Matthew 5:6 - The Message Bible)

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   for they will be filled. 
(Matthew 5:6 - NIV)

12-13Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.
(James 2:12-13)

A good appetite for God creates a desire to live in a world where justice is the rule.  There is both a commitment to be just in your dealings and a desire to have others be just in their dealings with you.  Justice requires some mature consideration when decisions are required - there is an evaluation of facts.  In order for us to "act well", we need to understand that without factual accounts of "happenings" we are making assumptions that may be incorrect.

We should be very grateful that God wants first-hand knowledge of our lives instead of a second-hand accounting from someone who may or may not know our real heart toward him.  God considers the intention of our heart, not just the actions of our hands.  He'd be honored if both were in alignment all the time, but he knows that as long as we live, we may have a "disconnect" between what our heart and conscience tell us to do and how we actually respond.

Mom raised me to understand that the "golden rule" was that if I wanted to be treated well, I needed to treat others well.  That meant that I had to "model" what I expected to see from others.  Imagine my disappointment the first time somebody did not respond to me with the consideration I thought I had modeled!  Was the "rule" faulty - no!  The person was!  The rule was good - the intentions of that person's heart may have been, as well.  Yet, what came across as harsh, judgmental, or critical in response to my loving, caring, concern just did not align with what I expected.

Imagine how God feels sometimes when he looks at us!  He sees the intention of our hearts - to love and serve him with our entire being.  Then he sees us interact with that slow driver on the freeway and he knows exactly where the disconnect is!  We "want" to live considerate lives - but actions are harder than intentions!  Thank goodness for God's grace!  No one better exemplifies the grace of God in his life than King David.  He repeatedly failed to honor others, bring honor to God, etc.  Yet...the most awesome words that could ever be spoken by God of any man is that he "had a heart after God".  

Learning to "consider" our actions - seeing if they are aligned with our hearts - is an art.  God knows we won't get it "right" all the time - but that doesn't make the "trying" any less important.  When we align our hearts with his, we are taking the first step to begin to live justly, or by his grace.  When we align our actions with our God-aligned hearts, we are learning to live considerate lives.  When we begin to live by the "rule of grace" instead of the harshness of judgment, we are modeling the heart of God to a hurting world.