Monday, November 2, 2009

Genuine Love results in genuine Action!

“Genuine Love results in Genuine Action!”
Romans 12:9-21
Rev. Glenn F. Merritt

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

The title of my message is Genuine Love results in Genuine Action!

My children of God and friends of Jesus;

I’m the luckiest guy around. As the director of disaster response for LCMS World Relief and Human Care, I respond to disasters your on behalf and your genuine love results in genuine action for those in need. I’m the luckiest guy around!

Let me give you an example—

This summer, I was in Iowa visiting with folks affected by the massive flooding. One family really caught my attention. Not only had they lost their home and all their possessions but also the husband and wife lost their jobs as a result of the floods. Their three adult children, two with disabilities, lived with them as well as an infant born out of wedlock to a friend of the family. Their situation was desperate and growing worst by the minute.

FEMA and the Red Cross had done all they could do and now they had nowhere to turn, that is until I showed up with her pastor representing you—the members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. On your behalf and working through their local congregation, together we provided this LCMS family with 6 months of transitional housing, with gift cards from local businesses for food and clothing, and with funds for the immediate medical needs of their family.

Your Genuine Love resulted in Genuine Action. For 15 minutes the adult daughters hugged me and thanked me. I received the hugs that you deserved (you can claim them later if you like) but do you see what I mean? Your caring, concern, compassion, and generosity led to love in action. What a great job!

The other night I read a Bible passage that made a lot of sense to me--

Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful. When God’s children are in need, be the one to help them out. And get in the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night.

Spring tornadoes followed by heavy rains sent rivers over their banks, killing at least 24 people, leaving thousands homeless, destroying businesses, and washing away farmers' crops. 83 counties in Iowa were declared state disaster areas; in Wisconsin, 30 and more in Indiana 29, Missouri and Arkansas.

Speaking of inviting people home for dinner or giving them lodging, a couple of weeks ago I was on the Texas Gulf Coast following Hurricane Dolly. I ran into a retired couple whose mobile home had been destroyed by the storm. There was a gapping hole 20 feet long in the ceiling and the floors in the living room and kitchen had collapsed from water damage. They were living in their van with the motor running 24 hours a day so they could have air conditioning and charge up the wife’s oxygen machine. She was unable to walk due to chronic respiratory disease and her husband was in worse shape. They were living on diet root beer, peanut butter, crackers, and a few MREs they had gotten from the National Guard. They were helpless and hurting with nowhere to go, no family to help until you showed up.

Together we helped a local pastor move them into an air-conditioned efficiency apartment, get food and medicine, and get their clothes laundered. Get this—they were not even members of the church yet she held my hand, thank God for the help, and said, “Nobody has ever been this kind to us, you must be an angel.” Maybe we are all angels; ministering spirits bring goods news to those in need.

I never get tired of doing what I’m doing. Together we’re doing a lot of good. The pastor and I shared the gospel and now this couple is joining our Lutheran church in San Benito! Just think about it—Genuine Love results in Genuine Action, which brings in a harvest of souls. It like Paul wrote to the Galatians:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

The result of God’s love found in his grace given through Jesus Christ is action. Genuine Love results in Genuine Action! Our response to the hurting and helpless in our world, especially the household of believers, is a direct reflection of God’s love. It isn’t easy to love as Jesus loved us. Sacrificial love is hard. It takes ‘sacrifice’ but such sacrificial love is the litmus test of our faith.

Love for one another is the proof positive of faith and discipleship. Love always sacrifices for the sake of others.

Of course, we know the story of God sacrificing his Son. Remember this verse—“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.”

Here, the Father—our loving heavenly Father—allows his Son to die to save us from the dreaded enemies of sin and death. God’s actions had nothing to do with our love—“not that we loved God”—and everything to do with his love—“but that he loved us….”

The love of the Father is made visible through the sacrifice of his Son. The love of the Son is made visible through his sacrifice at Calvary. The love of both the Father and the Son are made visible through our sacrifice for others. Genuine Love results in Genuine Action for the Father, for the Son, and for Christians.

Paul Harvey tells this story—“A man was finally enjoying his greatest pleasure. He had gotten the sports car he had wanted all his life but now his wife wanted to drive it. Being a Christian and knowing that he shouldn’t be selfish he agreed and she drove away.

A few blocks from home she got into an accident and totaled the car. Can you imagine how she felt? She was physically okay but had to fill out the paperwork before leaving the accident scene. When she reached into the glove compartment to get the registration and insurance cards, she noticed an envelope clipped to them. She opened the envelope, and read this note, written in her husband’s handwriting: “Honey, remember it’s you I love, not the car.”

Remember, it’s you Christ loves, not all your possessions, not all your money, not all your good deeds. It’s you, that’s the gospel! It’s you he loves!


Let us pray:

Lord Jesus may our lives always exemplify your life of love. Send your Holy Spirit to guide and direct our words and actions that we may love as Christ has loved us. Motivate us by your gospel to love others in response to your great love for us. Amen

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