Tag Archives: love


Our kids loved to wrestle with each other when they were little.  If things got out of hand, the one who felt overpowered could cry out, “Mercy!” This was their signal of surrender. All tickling and roughhousing (at least in theory) was supposed to cease.

Mercy calls out to the stronger to acknowledge the weaker one and show compassion. Mercy is woven throughout the Bible.  It’s is at the heart of God’s motivation for our salvation.

Yet mercy is sometimes treated as a lesser virtue. Mistaken for mere sentimentality or emotionalism, mercy is seen by some as weak.  James wants us to put mercy in its rightful place.  Mercy is worthy of our deepest respect, he argues.  It’s the social code by which believers are called to live.

James exhorts followers of Jesus to a life of words and deeds governed by mercy:

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.James 2:12,13.

The  Key Word Study Bible contains a thorough description of mercy:

Mercy,or eleos in the Greek, describes the compassion in which one undertakes to alleviate another’s misery and relieve their suffering.  Mercy is any act which attempts to address the plight and wretchedness of others. Jesus used the story of the Good Samaritan to demonstrate eleos:  (Luke 10:37).  Love and Loyalty for Yahweh were measured in the manner of one’s dealing with others.  To be hard-hearted, letter-of-the-law insistent, and unmoved by any extenuating circumstances violated the spirit of the law

God treats me with mercy. So naturally, it should characterize the way I treat others.  Pure and simple.  It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

Lord, slow me down today. Show me what causes my heart to be hard at times. Resistant to giving or receiving mercy.  Could it be that I am simply moving too fast to notice the one in need of Your mercy?  I pray for a new vision of mercy as the true heart of Jesus.   Make me especially alert to watch for opportunities today to show eleos to one of Your children.


 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?(James 2:3,4 NIV).

Discrimination.  That one word is a hot-button for me.  I grew up in the South during the birth-pangs of the Civil Rights movement. The first African American student in our high school’s history was on my cheerleading squad.

It was the 1970’s in Georgia.  Racial tensions were high. As cheerleading captain, I fought hard to help our team overcome racism and learn to care for one another. To function as a team.  I wasn’t a follower of Jesus at the time. That would come later.  But in my heart, I knew discrimination was wrong, sinful, unjust.

James hammers home the dangers of discrimination. Racial tension wasn’t so much a problem for the early church as were religious and class distinction. Some things never change. There was still a wrestling match among believers about whether to allow all those “unclean Gentiles” into their fellowship.  It was not an easy marriage.  As leader of the Jerusalem church, James probably had to oversee his share of disputes.  No wonder they called him “camel knees.” I’m sure he spent lots of time in prayer for love and unity among the believers.

Nearly sixty years ago J.B. Phillips,a minister in the Church of England, authored a New Testament translation which was one of the earliest attempts to capture God’s Word in a modern language. Notice Phillips’ word choice as you prayerfully meditate on James’ warnings about the dangers of discrimination:

Don’t ever attempt, my brothers, to combine snobbery with faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ! Suppose one man comes into your meeting well-dressed and with a gold ring on his finger, and another man, obviously poor, arrives in shabby clothes. If you pay special attention to the well-dressed man by saying, “Please sit here—it’s an excellent seat”, and say to the poor man, “You stand over there, please, or if you must sit, sit on the floor”, doesn’t that prove that you are making class-distinctions in your mind, and setting yourselves up to assess a man’s quality?—a very bad thing. For do notice, my brothers, that God chose poor men, whose only wealth was their faith, and made them heirs to the kingdom promised to those who love him (James 2:3,4 PHILLIPS).

I’m reading those words with fresh eyes this morning, asking God if I unknowingly discriminate, or judge those around me, by their outsides rather than their insides.

Holy Spirit, I ask for your conviction.Reveal any hidden remnants of discrimination in my heart, however subtle.  Don’t let me show special favor because of someone’s wealth, social standing, gifts, abilities, or attractiveness.  Give me Your eyes to see into their heart and love others as you love them.  Thank You Lord, that You never discriminate

21 Day Experiment-Day 13

New! Don’t you just love the sound of that word? New songs, new homes, new seasons, new beginnings. Each kind of new carries its own special magic.

New erases the past. It comes without baggage or wear and tear.  New seems so…well…easy.  That is, at first.  Then, reality sets in.  New must be maintained. And eventually, it becomes worn.  Because new cannot last.

“A new commandment, I give you;” Jesus tells His disciples (John 13:34). Can you imagine how they perked up their ears? They had seen Him do amazing things. And now, He had something new for them.  Wonder what it was?  Would it promise power, or glory, or greatness?

The translated new in this passage is kainos, which means “novel, fresh, unused.”  It points to something previously unknown, unprecedented, never before known to exist.”

So just what was this new command?  Jesus simply says:  “Love one another.”  Whaaat?  That’s it?  Any good Jew knew that love was commanded.  Loving God.  Loving your neighbor.  What was new or novel about that?

But let’s look at the context. Jesus had just given the disciples a hands-on lesson on servanthood by washing their feet. A rather shocking object lesson since foot-washing was a task reserved for the lowliest servant—something akin to scrubbing toilets. The King of Kings stooped that low. Why?

The Key Word Study Bible  –a wonderful study aid I lovingly call “My Big Fat Greek Bible”— explains it this way:  “While the commandment to love was not new (See Lev.19: 18-34), to love as demonstrated by the self-sacrifice of Jesus was unprecedented.”

Self-sacrifice. Laying down one’s life for another.  Serving in a way that costs us something. Becoming less than so someone else can be greater. This kind of love never goes out of style. Never wears out.  Never fails.

I’ve been pondering the weight of this commandment. It’s my watchword for today:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:34-35 NIV).

I’m not sure I fully grasp all that it means, but I know this love is costly. What does it look like to be a “doer” of this Word?  Maybe it means serving in secret so someone else can shine.  Or sacrificing my “want to” for the sake of another.

This much I do know: This brand of love can’t be posted on social media. It starts at home, with my family. Then, moves outward to the Body of Christ—God’s family. If I can’t live out this new command where no one is watching, then nothing else I do matters.

Maybe this quiet, costly kind of love will be your witness today—your testimony. Let’s begin with those close up. Then lift up our eyes to see the hurting and broken around us. They are noticing the price tag on the kind love we show one another. I believe, deep down, they are thirsty for that same kind of love.

Love Makes Her Brave

I agree with Indiana Jones: “I hate snakes!’ Or maybe I don’t actually hate them…I’m just terrified.   A few days ago, our son ran in the house to tell me he found a young copperhead while cleaning out our garage. My first thought was “Yikes!” My next was, “Go get him!”

Like any good soldier, I ran toward the danger. I went after that snake with a vengeance and sent him into the next life. Why? Because he was in my garage…near my kitchen door…a threat to my home and family! Even though I’m scared of snakes, my love for my family made me brave.

Maybe you can relate. Is there a time when you did something that scared you to protect someone you loved? You were showing valor.

I’m captivated by the Hebrew word chayil, translated “valor,” used to describe the Proverbs 31 woman. Who can find a woman of valor? (Proverbs 31:10 OJB). God created woman to be a nurturer. But He also made her brave.

Simply put, valor is personal bravery in the face of danger, especially in battle. In its nearly 100 uses in the Old Testament, the word for “valor,” chayil depicts warriors, like King David’s “mighty men.” Other times, chayil describes God as a warrior for His people. It’s the same word for heaven’s angel armies.

I find woman of valor both compelling and poetic. My 30-something daughter, a young wife and mother, likes this expression because it makes her think of courage and strength. Valor is courage. But the woman of valor also embodies honor, strength of character, virtue, and so much more.

I believe we need to become women of valor as we face our own battles today. Unlike the woman of Proverbs 31, we enjoy breakthroughs in medicine, science, and travel. But consider some of the enemies we face in our world: Addiction, divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, poverty, unemployment, pornography, human trafficking, joblessness, homelessness, racism. Plus, it seems almost daily, we’re bombarded by news of random terror attacks somewhere in the world. If this isn’t war, my friend, I don’t know what is.

The woman of valor is essentially a warrior, a “fighter” at heart. She fights not only for her personal world, but also for the world around her. As I listen to conversations with women of all ages, stages, and walks of life, I’m hearing a recurring theme—their heart’s desire to be strong for their families and communities. In short, they long to be courageous women God can use to change the world. Is God calling you to become a woman of valor? Remember, it’s love that makes you brave.

Adapted from: 

Marilynn Chadwick, Woman of Valor: Discovering the Courage and Strength God Gave You (Eugene: Harvest House, 2017).

Guard Against this Enemy-Day 16

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work (James 3:16). 

In order to grow strong in the Lord, we need to stick together.  It’s true. We are better and stronger when we’re part of a team—a body of believers. Who would dream of fighting a war alone?  Or playing against an entire basketball team by ourselves?

I heard a statistic recently that sobered me. Guess why most missionaries leave the field? Not because of living conditions or less creature comforts; not fear of threats like ebola or isis; not rejection or even attacks from the locals; not family issues. The reason most missionaries leave the mission field is because of conflict with other missionaries.

Internal strife is destructive—perhaps the most painful type of conflict. Those who know us best have the power to wound us most deeply. Just ask anyone who has experienced divorce. Continue reading