“Pastor, I’m not sure how to tell you this, but I’m just fed up; I can’t take it any longer. I need to get a divorce.”
These are the startling words blurted out by a beloved Christian sister who bursted into my office on a recent Christmas morning.
Sister Melody, who seemed extremely happy on her wedding day just over two years ago, gave me a major Christmas jolt, when she came in and made this unsettling announcement.
I found it even more shocking because she and her spouse Mike, were regulars in church services and events; always walking hand in hand, smiling and exuding an enviable impression of the perfect couple.
I could hardly postulate what had galvanized her into such an extreme decision. What has Mike done to her?
Judging from the streaks of black mascara on her face, I could tell that she had been crying. She sat on the green leather sofa at the corner of my office looking dismal and exasperated.
“What happened Sister Melody” I inquired. She looked up, eyes swelling up with tears and replied,
“I cannot go on with the pretensions any more Pastor. I have been very unhappy since I got married to this devil”
Devil?! Now I figured that if she could call her husband a devil, then he must have either been trying to kill her, or maybe… he has been cheating on her. “Has Mike been cheating on you?” I asked, “Oh no, far from it. It is worse than that” She responded.
At this point, I was at a loss. A thousand different scenarios rushed through my mind within a few seconds, but I was unable to emerge with an adequate hypothesis to determine what had pushed this precious sister into such a radical phase.
Worse than cheating… he must have done something really horrible… maybe molesting her or something on that regard. But that didn’t sound like him.
Mike is a bald, hefty, and jovial fellow in his early forties with a contagious smile. Everyone liked and seemed to get along with him pretty well, especially his wife.
She broke the silence.
“Don’t get me wrong, Mike is a decent guy, but we have quickly evolved into a state of incompatibility.
He tells me that he loves me very much all the time, but keeps doing the things I don’t like over and over again. I have told him the things that I want him to do for me… the kind of things I enjoy, but he doesn’t bother to do them.”
She paused for a second to dab the tears off her eyes and continued; “how can he say that he loves me when he doesn’t care about what truly makes me happy. Is that right Pastor, is this how it is supposed to be?”
“Well… based on your story so far, it looks like something is fundamentally wrong.” I replied.
She continued, “Mike has his own concept of what makes me happy, which is very annoying and frustrating. He insists on doing things his own way without considering my opinion or my feelings. He thinks I actually enjoy what he does and am just acting up as if I don’t.
He has this habit of saying some things that I find really offensive and insulting, but he is adamant, because he thinks they are funny.”
She continued; “I have made several efforts to explain my feelings to him, but he does not to care. I have come to the bitter conclusion that he does not love me like he always claims. I can’t go on with this emotional turmoil and trauma any more, I’m just done.”
Melody heaved a sigh of relief after saying what was in her mind.
Mike was absolutely shocked and sorry to learn that his disparate attitude affected his spouse so profoundly. As far as he is concerned, it wasn’t a big deal. He was just being Mike.
For the purpose of brevity, after counseling and praying with the couple a couple of times, the issues have been resolved. Mike has become very sensitive to the needs of his dear wife, and they are making progress in leaps and bounds.
This story depicts an all too familiar scenario among those involved in marriage/relationship counseling.
It is disconcerting to see how many wonderful marriages have ended up in shambles for apparently “trivial” issues.
But what most people fail to understand is that what one may consider a triviality, could very well be the most important and most fundamental issue to another.
What you may deem as insignificant and inconsequential, may be the very things that make a difference between life and death for someone else.
How is your relationship with your spouse or loved ones and how do you treat them? Do you really love them?
Are you like Mike, doing the right things by your own standards in defiance to their real preferences and needs?
Most importantly, how is your relationship with God? Do you really love Him? That is the core of this article.
Do you express your love for God by engaging in activities you deem important to Him, or do you strive to love Him by His own standards?
Jesus never said “if you love me pay your tithes.”
He did not say “if you love me attend church services everyday.”
He didn’t say “if you love me, fast and pray for the lost and the hurting everyday.”
He did not say “if you love me, start a church and make it a point to praise and worship me on a daily basis.”
As important and critical as these aspects of Christian living are, they do not represent the ONE THING that must be done to express genuine love for God.
According to God’s standards, you do not love Him if you neglect this One Important thing.
Some of us have been derailed into adapting a deceptive mindset; that of fervently involving oneself in religious activities in order to show our love and dedication to God.
It is time to reprioritize and focus on that which is truly important. We may successfully “wow” each other in church with our dedication, gifts, talents and prowess, and garner praises from everyone, but how beneficial would these “achievements” be if God rejects us at the end?
We serve God, not man. We are here to impress and please Him and not one another. While others may excoriate, despise and call you a nonentity, God may be heralding you as a true champion, and vice versa.
While others may be praising and exalting you as a star, you may be cruising into divine judgement at a thousand miles an hour.
As such, seeking conformity with God’s own standards should be a primordial quest for every Christian.
IF YOU LOVE ME, KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS.
This is it. This is the most important part of Christianity; the epitome of the manifestation of one’s love for God.
The dancing, singing, church attendance and sacrificial services are all good, but the most foundational aspect of divine connection and worship; that which catalyzes and places everything else into perspective, is to keep His commandments.
We cannot insist on doing things our own way, in defiance of His commandments, and presume that we love Him.
Making an innocent mistake every once in a while as a Christian, is totally different from willfully sinning against God and adamantly living a lifestyle contrary to His word.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
His commandments are not grievous or burdensome because God has provided all the resources we need to walk in harmony and obedience with Him.
Apart from giving us the Holy Spirit who is our Helper, Teacher, Comforter and Guide, He has also given us Himself.
Not walking in obedience and in conformity with God’s word as a true Born-Again Christian, is a matter of choice and not necessity.
We can either choose to obey or disobey the voice and leadings of the Holy Spirit.
Please note that the preceding verses are not making exclusive reference to keeping the Ten Commandments, as that may tantamount to legalism, which is not an adequate connotation of Christian values.
We are saved by the grace of God when we believe in, and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
We are considered righteous and justified before God through the imputed righteousness of Christ purchased for us at Calvary.
Keeping the laws, or Commandments of God per se, does not justify us before him.
“But we are like an unclean thing; and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”
If one could earn salvation by keeping the law, then the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross of Calvary becomes inconsequential.
But thanks to God that the situation is different. If humanity could save itself solely by observing and keeping the commandments that of God, then no one would ever be saved.
One of the greatest Apostles of all time, Paul, reveals this truth in Romans while expressing the frustrations and perplexity experienced by an unsaved person (one who does not have Jesus in his life as Lord and Savior) trying to please God by his own strength.
14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin
15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
18For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.c For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
19For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law
23but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
It is not by might; it’s not by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord. Zachariah 4:6
Only by the Spirit of God can we successfully align with God’s will, plans and commandments.
In the verses above, Paul adeptly describes the notable and excruciating inner conflict experienced by those with noble and earnest intentions to please God, but lack the power to do His will.
As learned, zealous and motivated as he was to serve God, he could never attain to the lofty standards of the divine.
Without the soul, divinely quickened and inspired, the observances of the grandest ritualism are as worthless as the motions of a galvanized corpse.| — Anon.
That notwithstanding, keeping the commandments of God becomes the natural by-product emanating from the life of someone who has Jesus Christ the Righteous living inside.
It gets as natural as an orange tree producing oranges.
The fruits of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-23 only become apparent after the indwelling of of the Holy Spirit, facilitated by the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Any effort at perfect compliance with God’s commandments and at attaining His ultimate standards of righteousness without Christ, is as easy as plucking oranges off an apple tree. It can never happen.
However, the Bible says in the Gospel of John that;
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” John 1:12
The point is that God would not require us to do anything He has not empowered us to do.
We should avoid the temptation to take the wide and easy road; providing insubstantial pretexts to justify our unwillingness to walk in obedience to the Spirit of God.
“ Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
We may choose to embellish the appellation of particular sins and make them sound more appealing;
we may choose to euphemize, glamorize and glorify sins to make them legal and socially acceptable;
we may provide experiential perspectives supporting the redefinition of darkness as light;
we may introduce altered versions of the Bible and repackage biblical truths to corroborate our philosophies and lend credence to our malfeasance, but one thing remains true:
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and for ever. Hebrews 13:8
God’s standards are the same across the generations and today is the day to get things into their true perspective.
Ardent involvement, and apparent “successes” in “peripheral” Christian activities should not necessarily be interpreted as endorsement, or a stamp of approval from the Lord, if we neglect compliance with His own definition and standard of love.
I can imagine the terror, confusion, dismay, acrimony, disappointment and despair that will strike at the innermost being of those presumptuous “Christians”—who delude themselves into thinking that they are qualified to redefine biblical and godly standards—when on that day, the Lord says depart from me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.
This is ultimately the worst thing that can ever happen to any human being; being rejected by the very God you thought you were faithfully serving throughout your life on earth, at the very gates of heaven.
Rejected in front of everyone and commanded to depart into everlasting darkness and torment in utter shame and embarrassment.
God does not want this to happen to you. That is why you are reading this article at this juncture of your life.
“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.
He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad
As far as God is concerned, if we do not love Him, then we hate Him. And if we hate Him, then we are His enemies.
And if you are His enemy, what makes you think that you are going to heaven? Is it the fact that you preach the Gospel; belong to a certain denomination, or provide financial contributions to support a good cause?
I do not trivialize our calls and duties as Christians, but seek to be as unambiguous and unequivocal as possible regarding hallmark principles that have been watered down by some mainstream churches, tv evangelists and the media.
My sole purpose is to provide you with the truth that will save your soul and establish you in a solid relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ, so that on that day, when you see Him face to face, He will welcome you with open arms into eternal bliss.
Please do not be deceived into embracing the fallacy that we can continue in sin for grace to abound because God is love and “once saved, for ever saved.”
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Do you love or hate God? Your actions in the secret as well as the public domain speak louder than anything you can say.
So ask yourself if you really love God. Do you keep His commandments all the time, all day and everyday or only when it is convenient?
Do you keep His commandments partially or implicitly?
Do you keep His commandments happily or grudgingly as if you were being deprived or punished?
God has given all the power and resources we need to keep His commandments so there is no excuse. It’s just a matter of obedience and our willingness to follow the leadings of His Spirit.
They that are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God.
So if you are not led by the Spirit of God, or if you intentionally refuse to be led by the Spirit of God; what spirit leads you and whose son are you?
Here is the conclusion of the matter as the Lord Himself puts it:
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
If you really want God to love and manifest Himself to you, then we need to truly turn away from our sins and follow Him.
If we are to experience true revival, then we must put away complacency and compromise.
If we really want to experience the presence, power and glory of God in our lives, then we must go back and repair the broken foundations.
God cannot manifest Himself in mighty signs, miracles and wonders unless the church—you— return to holiness.
The commandments the Lord Jesus talks about have to do more with the daily leadings of His Spirit in our lives. God speaks to us through His Spirit in our spirits. Our spirits translate His messages through our mind and consciences.
As such, when you involve yourself in activities condemned by your conscience, by your heart, then you know that you are in defiance of God’s commandments; His words; His sayings.
Irrespective of the fact that the activity may be endorsed as normal, legal and acceptable in contemporary society. Personal reasons advanced in support of the abrogation of God’s standards do not count.
God has given us everything needed to keep His commandments in Christ, and like earlier mentioned, keeping the commandments of God, and obediently submitting wholeheartedly to the leadings of His Holy Spirit is the one and only way to truly say “Lord I love you.”
He loves us so much to the point of sacrificing His life for us; as undeserving as we are. Is He asking too much of us?
Oh, what peace, Joy and fulfillment we could experience if we would just walk with Him in truth.
Do you love God, or the praises and acknowledgements of men? Do you love Him, fame, money or yourself?
It may be time to reconsider, and reexamine ourselves to see if we are still in the faith.
It is time for revival. God is ready to move in ways we have never heard or experienced before, but He needs our cooperation.
Will you be a hindrance or a catalyst to what God is doing? Do you really love Him?
Let us pray:
Lord, please forgive us for not loving you according to your standards. Forgive us for our complacency, pride and rebellion.
Lord please give us a meek, humble and obedient spirit; the willingness to totally and wholeheartedly submit ourselves to your will and purpose in our lives.
Take away every false concept, fallacy and deception that cloud our minds from seeing the great and mighty things we could experience if we could only walk with you in total obedience.
Lord we want to please and obey you in every aspect of our lives because we appreciate your love for us.
Please fill us with your Holy Spirit and give us the grace to seek and depend on you every moment of our lives, to walk in accordance with your commandments and your Spirit so that your plans for our lives would be accomplished.
Thank you for answering this prayer in Jesus’ mighty name we pray. Amen.
Need prayers or have any questions? Click here.
God bless you