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Owning and using a Love Cover requires that we see things differently from the norm.
In John’s gospel chapter 9 we have the story of a man born blind whom Jesus healed.
People who are blind from birth, or become blind later in life, usually have a highly developed sense of touch.
Their fingers become their eyes.
A blind person becoming your friend will want to stroke your face, which is off-putting for most of us.
That seems to cross the line of our safe boundaries.
However, with that sense of touch, the blind person is able to form a picture in their mind even though he or she may have never seen anything with their natural eye.
A blind person sees the world differently than a sighted-person, because they are not able to use their natural sight.
I don’t know about you, but I am very grateful for the gift of sight.
We have become so accustomed to using our natural gift of sight that we can hardly imagine any other way of seeing.
Our natural eyes give us clues about the world around us.
However, our eyes do not give us all the information we need to function in this life.
I’m not talking about our other physical senses of touch, taste, smell and hearing.
I’m talking about the ability to see things beyond the natural order of things.
Samuel had this handicap when he went to anoint the new king who was to take Saul’s place.
But the LORD said to Samuel,
“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature,
because I have rejected him.
For the LORD sees not as man sees:
man looks on the outward appearance,
but the LORD looks on the heart.”
We need to allow some grace for Samuel, because the last king he had anointed was better-looking and taller than any Israelite; but Saul was the one whom God had chosen.
Saul, a handsome young man.
There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he.
From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.
When Samuel saw Saul, the LORD told him,
“Here is the man of whom I spoke to you!
He it is who shall restrain my people.”
Samuel obviously thought that the tallest son of Jesse, Eliab, should be the next king.
But such was not the case.
Samuel had used his natural sense of judgment, based on his experience with God, to discern whom God had chosen.
We tend to do this with more regularity than we are probably aware of.
I know someone who says they choose a church based on whether the pastor preaches the Bible.
That sounds like a great concept, but this person has proven more than once to have very little knowledge of the Bible.
So, how will that person know if the Bible is being preached?
During the height of the Charismatic Movement, discernment was touted as a great gift, but it was in short supply.
All a preacher needed at that time was a $60 haircut, fancy suit, and the ability to bare his pearly whites with a honey-dripped “Praise Jesus” to be deemed as the man of faith and power for the hour.
There was no real discernment.
It was all based on outward appearances.
Jesus warned us about this very thing.
For many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am the Christ,’
and they will lead many astray.
These are the ones who come to us, point to Jesus and say that He is the Christ; yet they lead many astray from the true path of understanding.
When the prosperity gospel began to grow, great wealth was considered a sure sign of God’s blessing.
If that were true, then it meant that the Catholic Church and the Mormons were blessed by God more than any other.
Jesus warned us about this, too, though we have failed to recognize the significance of His caution.
For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
There is a gift of the spirit called discerning of spirits given in 1 Cor. 12 for this purpose.
…to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy,
to another the ability to distinguish between spirits,…
Another reason this gift was and is in short supply is that it was only used to locate and see demons.
The gift has a much higher purpose than that, though, as we read in 1 John.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit,
but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,
for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
At first glance it would appear that looking for demons or false prophets is what we should be doing, but that is not the case.
We all know from our own experience and from observing others that when you are looking for what is wrong, you will see it—whether it is there or not.
John tells us to use our judgment to look for God in those we listen to.
If we will do that—have that intention guiding us—then we will easily recognize that which is false.
Our five senses were given to us to help us navigate this plane and to enjoy what it has to offer.
We come to depend on them so much, to take them for granted, that we fail to recognize when a different sense is called for.
We need to also use our spiritual sense, which is often contrary to our natural processes.
Do not judge by appearances,
but judge with right judgment.”
Jesus said to avoid using outward appearances as a criteria, especially in the realm of religious practices.
He had healed a man on the Sabbath and the Jews were upset with Him.
Jesus pointed to their strict observance of circumcision, which must be done on the eighth day after a male birth regardless of which day of the week is the eighth day.
Circumcision identified the wholeness of a boy as a Jew.
Why should they be upset if He had made a man completely whole on the Sabbath?
This idea of religious rectitude has carried over into the religiosity of many Christians, even though Jesus and Paul both warned otherwise.
Knowing that we can only come to God by faith, they then use outward criteria to decide how valid a Christian you might be.
Paul warned the early church against falling into this trap.
As for the one who is weak in faith,
but not to quarrel over opinions.
The context of opinions is about religious practices of eating and Sabbath worship.
But Paul continues his discussion in chapter 15 to indicate that ANY opinion is not worth fighting over.
I apply this to our theological opinions also.
Our theology is based on what we know.
We don’t know what we don’t know.
To argue that someone is deceived because they believe something you don’t is the height of arrogance—assuming you have the ear of God while the other doesn’t.
However, let’s get back to what Paul said specifically in the realm of judging by outward appearances.
One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.
Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
Paul makes a statement in the middle of this which has guided my practice for decades now.
I have failed in this more than I have succeeded, but I am getting better now that I have come to understand the expansive love of God.
Paul writes in a magnificent way, saying
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?
It is before his own master that he stands or falls.
And he will be upheld,
for the Lord is able to make him stand.
This, friends, is the righteous judgment the Lord expects from us.
When this becomes your level of faith—that the Lord is able to make them stand—you will give up judging and criticizing.
There is no job or office in the body of Christ called “policeman.”
There is no outside person who has the responsibility of enforcing any perceived rule in the kingdom of God.
Love and acceptance is to be the guiding factor in all that we say, think or do.
Are we going to see things of which we don’t approve? Ubetcha.
Are we going to see people committing less-than-desirable or sinful acts? Of course.
Should we expose that weakness we see from another? No.
Should we call out the sinners among us? No.
We are to love them.
keep loving one another earnestly,
since love covers a multitude of sins. 1Pe 4:8
I encourage you today to buy a supply of love covers, and whenever you see someone doing something that doesn’t measure up to your standards, throw a love cover over them.