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Posted: August 23, 2012 6:32 p.m.

Love speaks confidently

Reading my cousin's emails was sometimes kind of like cracking a code. It was pretty straightforward when she spoke of side trips she was taking and different sites she was seeing. But you had to pay attention to when she spoke of "friends" that she got to talk about "her Best Friend" with.

She was teaching English in a place where English is not the first language, in a place where there were serious punishments for the public spreading of Christianity, in a place where she'd been told her emails would likely be being read by those other than their intended audience.

But she wasn't really there just to teach English. Jesus' Great Commission rang loudly in her ears.

She was there to tell people who so desperately needed to hear about Jesus - about him - her "Best Friend" and yours and mine.

And even though there were so many things culturally, socially and even legally stacked up against her, she spoke confidently about salvation. Her love could do nothing but.

Today, God's word demands for us too, that love speaks confidently. In Hebrews 13:6, the writer to the Hebrews reminds us that we too say "with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

Hebrews 13 first focuses on the love that must be there first. And once love is there, it will naturally speak confidently because that is what love does:
Love loves our brothers and sisters like they really are brothers and sisters, not treating them like we so often do our brothers and sisters. We treat strangers in the same way as well - loving. Love has compassion for those in prison, not judgment. We don't know what we would have done in their situation - and either way - our judgment isn't going to help them any. Love respects our spouses or spouses-to-be by putting God's will ahead of our desires when it comes to sex, and love treats our money and possessions in the same way - putting our wants last.

You can't read through those first five verses without realizing how disgusting our pride is, without seeing failure after failure in yourself.

How humiliating it would be to find out that that guy who didn't go when it was his turn at the four-way stop, the one I got so frustrated with and even might have yelled at a little in my car - how humiliating to find out that that was actually an angel.

How often haven't we looked with disdain on the inmates cleaning up the side of the road instead of putting ourselves in their shoes. And the sins of lust and greed? Man, God's law knows how to pierce my pride. I can't even do the "love" thing, how am I ever going to have my love speak?

How? Because it's not my love that speaks. It couldn't be. By nature my love is only for myself. It's not love at all. It's arrogance.

So, anytime we do any of those good things listed in this text, it's actually God's love living in us and showing itself. Because it's not in an imaginary way that God puts himself into the shoes of those suffering and hurting and going without. He did it physically.

God took flesh. Jesus took the shackles of the prisoner; he felt the hunger pangs of the starving; he took the mistreatment of the outcast, the pain of betrayal.

God didn't just imagine what it would be like to suffer. He did it. He showed us love to the utmost, laying down his life, and not just for his friends - for total strangers. That's what sin had made us.

He died so that he could remove our sin and selfishness, and he rose to live and actually fill us with his love.

And think of all the people he filled with that love who then shared it. They shared it by what they did and what they said.

Christ is risen...and his love still can't help but speak.

So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6). So let your love speak.

In Christ,
Amen.


Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Worship every Sunday is at 10:30 a.m. Full sermons and more information can be found at abidinggrace.com.

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