Sermon: Biblical Love and Wedding Cakes

How is love is best understood? Through the cross. How is love best expressed? Through the church. We also consider where biblical love fits in a society that wants us to celebrate same-sex relationships. 

Preached at Thomasville Road Baptist Church, Tallahassee, FL on April 15th, 2015.

Transcript

This whole staff retreat thing, I wasn’t invited. I think they’re all staying home to do their taxes but I could be wrong. Tonight, we’re going to talk about love and not love of taxes at that.

We’ve all heard sermons about love. I hope to bring something a little fresh, a little new to the topic.

We’ve heard that we used the word love in a variety of different ways. For instance, “I love Chocolate Moose Tracks ice cream”. That is a very different type of love hopefully than the love I have for my wife. They’re both strong desires but they are different. Then, there’s “God loves the world in this way”. Maybe that’s a different type of love. What about “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength”?

I think we’re all very comfortable with this idea that there are different types and usages of love both in our modern language and in the Bible. We’ve also heard that love is an action. It’s something we do. It’s not a feeling although society might give you a different idea.

As an example of this, when a couple gets married, the officiate of the ceremony says, “Will you love this person?” not, “Do you love this person?” Now, hopefully if you love this person, the answer to that question is yes but you can’t say, “I will have a feeling for this person like I do today in 20 years.” What you can do is say, “I commit to put this person before myself, to live sacrificially. I can commit to that and do that in 20 years.”

This gets to the heart of love being an action versus a feeling. Most of us would affirm the action type of love. Tonight, we’re going to look at three different areas. We’re going to look at the theological, what love actually is and what it means for God to be loved and then the practical, how should we love, what does that look like especially in our current society and then the apologetic.
If you were here this summer, I spoke on apologetics and it’s just simply the defense of the faith. You could think of it as how to be relevant as a Christian and have answers to questions, something like that. We’re going to look at the apologetic concern tonight. How can we articulate a biblical concept of love in a society which is increasingly hostile to Christianity and has a warped understanding of love at that?

We’ll also answer the question, is it unloving to tell people that their behavior is wrong? For example, same sex marriage or abortion, these are two hot button issues today especially as we move into a political season. You could easily speak on one of these topics in your workplace and quickly be labeled unloving at best and a bigot maybe at worst. We need to be able to talk about these issues in a biblically consistent way but in a persuasive way, in a way that gets to the heart of the matter.
Our first stop, what does it mean for God to be loved? We’re going to read a few passages here that speak to this. I want to see if you can determine the pattern and the common thread that runs throughout them.

John 3:16, “for this is the way God loved the world, he gave his one and only son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life”. Galatians 2, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I can live but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me.”
Starting to see the pattern? Ephesians 5, “walk in love just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Further on in Ephesians, “husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Lastly, “we know love by this that he laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

If you didn’t see the pattern, the first sentence there gives it away. How should we understand the purest form of love that there is? There’s a consensus in these verses and there’s a greater consensus across the whole witness of the New Testament. Love is best understood through the cross.
Theologian Richard Hayes in his book on ethics has distilled the New Testament down to three focal images. Now, it is much more than these three things but these three things are common throughout all of the documents in the New Testament. One of them is the cross.

The cross is talked about in every book, in every epistle. Love is not always talked about but the cross is. How do we know love? By knowing the cross. Now, descriptions of love like “doing things for people” or “spending time with people” or” showing affection”, these are all good things but they’re all a shadow of the true love, the highest form of love which is the love of the cross.

The love of the cross is sacrificial. It’s costly. It’s undeserved. It isn’t begrudging. When you think of love, the first thing that I want to pop into your mind is the cross. We always think of love as a happy thing. It’s kittens and roses and ponies and that but that’s a love that doesn’t really cost anything unless you bought a pony and then that’s probably expensive.

The love of the cross is a costly love. It’s sacrificial. Confusion comes from not understanding this. This confusion exists in the church and in the world. All too often, we as Christians distill the Bible down to moral principles that are not attached to their foundation who is a person, Jesus.

The cross is a lens we can use to refocus ourselves in that regard. To reattach these things we should do — and we’ll talk about some of those in a minute — but these good actions, these following of commands to their source of authority and their power in Christ. Sometimes in the Christian world, we get this a little wrong but the world gets it wrong too. They can love. They can do good but they can’t know true love unless the understand the cross.

As a result, true Christian love will always be somewhat confusing to the world. They can’t explain it. They don’t understand it because they haven’t experienced the love of Christ. That’s what it means for God to be loved. It looks like the cross. That’s the easiest thing to say when someone says, “What is love?” “The cross.”

Our next question, what does it mean for us to love? Now, if you’ve grown up in church long enough, you have heard about the three types of love mentioned in the Bible. Those are the eros, agape and phileo. Those are three Greek words. If this is new to you, then okay. 

What’s often said … I’ll give you the rundown on how this usually goes. Eros is an erotic love. It’s a lustful, passionate love. It’s romantic love. Agape on the other hand is the purest form of love. It’s righteous and selfless and unconditional. It’s God’s love. Then, there’s phileo which is a friendly love. It’s where we get the word Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love.

The problem with this and the reason I point this out is to help you when you study your Bible and maybe read a footnote or a commentary. These three categories are not nearly as clear as we have been led to believe. I’ll give you some examples.

“For the Father loves the Son”, God the Father’s love for Jesus the Son is described as phileo. They’re just friends I guess. No. My point in this: is in English, we never just say, “Oh, the person used this word. Let me go to a dictionary look it up. Oh, I know what they’re talking about.” We understand from context what a word means. It’s the same way in the Bible. It’s the same way in the original languages that the Bible’s written in and that’s how we should come to understand it because it’s not always clear cut by the individual word that was used.

“The kindness and love of God, our savior”, is called phileo. This is the love that was exhibited at the cross. That’s an agape type love if you want to remember those definitions we might have been taught in church but the word phileo is used. Then, in the context of someone loving the world, not something you would call righteous, the word agape is used.

Actually, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament which is what the majority of our New Testament writers quoted from, agape is used in the context of an incestuous rape. Now, that’s not very righteous either. I just bring this up as a tangent to let you know that biblical categories of love aren’t as clear as we would like them to be. A word doesn’t always mean exactly what the dictionary definition says just like we do when we speak today, when we write. The biblical authors used words in a variety of ways. The context is how we can come to know what they were talking about.

We’re commanded to love. Now, if you want to choose from one of those three words, that would be an agape love, a sacrificial love, a love of the cross. Jesus gives us this command in Matthew 22. Now, to set this up a little for you, the Sadducees had just tried to ensnare Jesus with a question about the religious law. They tried to trap him. He told them they didn’t understand the Scriptures or the power of God. To someone in their circumstance, I don't think there could be a more insulting thing to say.

After he spoke a little more, the crowds were amazed with his teaching. That’s when we come to Matthew 22:34. “Now, when the Pharisees heard that he’d silenced the Sadducees and made them go away with their tail between their legs, they assembled together and one of them, an expert in the religious law asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’”

“Jesus said to him, ‘Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’”

Now, hopefully that first one seems familiar to you. That’s the shema. It’s from Deuteronomy 6. We were supposed to memorize it as a church last year. Everyone do that? Okay. Jesus isn’t really bringing something new. He’s saying this is the focal image of everything that it means to love God.
This Pharisee is trying to test him because the Pharisees had divided the 613 Old Testament laws into positive commands, things you were supposed to do and there were 248 of those. Then, there were things you weren’t supposed to do, 365 of those. 

They further divided it from there into heavy commands —  important things — and light commands — things that if you get there, okay — because what they understood is no one could keep the whole law which was by design, the law was intended to teach us of our sinfulness and point to Christ but they rightly understood that no one could keep those 613 items.

This Pharisee wants Jesus to tell him, “What’s the most important of these, how would you rank them?” Jesus says, “I’m not going to rank them. I’m going to tell you what the whole law is. It’s love God with everything you are and love people.”

All 613 of those distilled down to love God and love people. When you look at the 10 commandments, you’ve got two categories, love God and love people. We have to ask this question. What does loving God look like? If we’re told to love God, what is that?

John 14:15 says “if you love me, you will keep my commands.” Loving God looks like keeping his commands. The person who has my commands and obeys them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my father and I will love him and reveal myself to him.

Jesus makes it clear that love for God is marked by obedience. As a result, I think we should strongly question our love for God if we’re not interested in the things that he’s interested in, if we don’t follow the commands that he’s commanded us to follow. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that salvation comes about from our works. It doesn’t and it can’t and it doesn’t mean we continue to somehow keep our salvation by the good works we do. The good works we do should flow from our love for the one who showed us love on the cross. There’s a connection there.

I think many of us want to take the approach of the Pharisees and say, “What are the important things?” “I’m not going to murder someone but I’m okay being hateful and bitter towards them. I’m not going to commit adultery but pornography’s okay.” We’ve divided God’s moral revelation to us into, “These things I’m not going to do and these things, I’m okay with doing.”

Scripture does not give us that option at all. God’s love for us looked like a cross and our love for him should look no differently. His love for us was costly and what he requires of us is costly too. If you recall from James, he said, “Faith without works is dead.”

Now, we don’t get salvation once again because of our works. We are saved by grace through faith alone but as Martin Luther said, “The faith that saves is not alone.” It’s marked. A tree that bears good fruit is a good tree.

I quickly want to give you three areas of how to think about loving God. The first would be our actions and our thoughts. I’d just characterize this as right living. This is probably what most likely comes to mind when you hear someone say keep God’s command. You think, “Okay, these things I do, these things I don’t do.” That’s certainly correct. We need to not look at them like important and unimportant. We need to look at them like breaking one of them would have sent Christ to the cross.

The second area would be the study of his word. It’s hard to say you love someone if you don’t listen to what they say. You’re sitting on the couch watching TV and your wife’s talking to you and you’re like, “Ah.” Then, she talks to you. “What did I say?” “Oh, I don't know.” Is that loving towards your wife? No. If you love your spouse, you’re going to communicate with them.

Now, some people do this better than others but nonetheless, you’re going to care about what they have to say to you. In the same way, if we love God, we should care about what he has to say to us. The Bible is his revelation to us. If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to hear God speak out loud, read your Bible out loud. He spoke in Scripture and it’s sufficient for everything we need in life.

The third area of how we can show our love to God would be by how we treat his people. It doesn’t just get to the second of the greatest commandments. Love God with everything you are and love people. In John 13:34, he says, “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another even as I have loved you that you also love one another.” 

We’re supposed to love as God loved. That’s what we’re called to do. Remember, how did God love us? With the cross. It’s sacrificial. It’s undeserved. It’s costly. It isn’t begrudging. We get a little more context to this in First Peter. Above all, keep your life for one another fervent because love covers a multitude of sins.

Now, this might remind you of Peter asking Jesus, “How many times am I supposed to forgive people? Seven times?” Jesus says, “70 times seven,” or maybe 77 depending on how that gets translated but he’s not implying, “Okay, get your tally sheet out and make sure this person doesn’t hit their quota of forgiveness.” 

That’s not it. It’s every time, you forgive that person, every time. Why? Because we’re commanded to love as God loves and how does he forgive us? Every time. That’s what love looks like. That’s what our love for Christ and for others should look like. Love will cost us to forgive, to cover a multitude of sins and hurts against us just in the same way that we were loved. 

Then, Jesus says in John 13, “Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” It’s hard to say we’re loving God if we’re not loving his people. Our treatment of each other in the church should be like a beacon that draws the attention of the unsaved world.

Now, how can Jesus say that our love for one another will announce to the world that we’re his disciples? Because Christian love should be different. It’s the love of the cross. No one can fully understand this love without understanding the cross. Now, I’m not saying that the unsaved world can’t love. I’m not saying that they can’t do good things but they will never understand true good without Christ. They will never understand true love without the cross. The love of the cross is distinctive.

Love is best understood through the cross. That would be one of our main points for tonight and secondly, love is best communicated to the world through the community of the church. Understood through the cross, expressed through the community of the church. It greatly confuses culture when we get hurt deeply and yet forgive and work towards restoration. 

We don’t just say we’re done with the relationship because we got burned. The love of the cross covers a multitude of hurts. Additionally, culture doesn’t understand it when we give our time and our money to people and organizations that can’t bring us anything in return, that don’t move us up the economic ladder of social standing or position in our neighborhood or committee or anything like that. When we act selflessly, the world doesn’t understand because they don’t understand the cross.

Most people will give lip service to the idea that we should act selflessly but they can’t explain why that’s good. The world view cannot explain why that’s good. If you remember, world view is a set of beliefs about reality. It’s the glasses through which we view everything. 

If you’re an atheist and you’re honest and consistent, there’s no such thing as right and wrong because there’s no such thing as God. There’s no such thing as the soul. There’s no such thing as anything that you can’t touch, taste, see or smell. There’s no such thing as anything that’s not material and yet atheists will say, “We should be good. We should be loving. We should treat our fellow men well.” Why? They know this but they can’t explain it in their world view.

Speaking of world views, that brings us to the apologetic and the practical. Main points so far, love is best understood through the cross. It’s best expressed through the community of the church. Now, I want to equip you with how you can take this way of understanding love into a culture which is becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity. If you want to understand love, understand cake. Former fat boy here. We can talk about love and cake and they’d go together very well.
Culturally, wedding cakes are in the news. The wedding industry is in the news. It’s in the news and it’s in the courts because of same sex marriage because wherever same sex marriage is legal, now there’s this unique situation that people have not been in before in the history of our nation. Someone will come to you and say, “Hey, will you bake a cake for my wedding, my same sex wedding?”

You have people of faith who are cake bakers and shop owners and florist and wedding planners who are saying, “No. I love you as a person. I will bake you a birthday cake but I will not participate in celebration of something that God thinks is sinful.” Then, culture replies, “Well, how is that loving? That’s hateful. That’s discrimination. You’re a bigot. How is that loving?” 

In fact, someone just last week, a Christian wrote a blog post and they referenced this passage from Matthew. “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” Here’s the context. In Jesus’s day, a Roman soldier could come to you and say, “Drop what you’re doing. Pick up my stuff and carry it.” You had to go with them a mile, only a mile. I’m not sure how they knew when a mile was in an age that was lacking electronics but anyways, go with him a mile.

What does Jesus say on the sermon on the Mount in the context of upping the ante on every single moral understanding that the Jews had? He says, “Go with them two miles. Go above and beyond.” The soldier is going to be like, “What are you doing? You can be done. It’s been a mile.” “No. I love Christ. I’m exhibiting my love so I’m going to go with you two miles.”

Here’s what this woman said, “If anyone forces you to bake a gay wedding cake, bake for them two.” This has been extremely persuasive to the Christian community, seminary grads, people all across the board because this sounds like the loving thing to do not to say, “Oh, I’m not going to only go with you one mile or I’m not going to refuse but I’m going to bake you two cakes. They’re going to be the best cakes you’ve ever had,” because that’s the loving thing to do supposedly.

The woman who wrote this, she usually gets about 100 readers for each blog post. The first week, she had 300,000 and this was a week ago. Let me ask a clarifying question, maybe propose an alternate example. 

If someone forces you to make one pornographic movie, should you make for them two? The answer is no. If someone forces you to steal one coat, should you steal for them two? No. Doing something wrong twice as much does not somehow make it better. The issue is not one of, “Oh, I just don’t want to make the cake.” The issue is, “I don’t want to participate in the celebration of something that God considers sinful.” That’s the issue.

Because of the redefinition of love in our culture, people don’t understand that this isn’t hateful. Pastor Rick Warren said it well. “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you have to agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise your convictions to be compassionate.”

How is it loving to not bake the cake? If we’re going to say we’re loving, we need to be able to explain that. More so, how is it loving to point out sinful behavior in others not on some type of judgmental way like, “You’re failing there,” but in a, “We need to understand our sin so we can get to the gospel,” sort of way?

Thomas Aquinas, a long since deceased theologian said that to love is “to will the good for another”. The good! Not what feels good, not what I like but the good, something that is actually objectively good. This is what parenting is because when you discipline your child, do they say, “I feel the love”? No. It doesn’t feel good but is it for their good? Yes.

Atheistic parents, Christian parents, everyone understands this to some degree, some less than others but we discipline our children because it’s for their good. You’re not affirming all actions as the same in that case but somehow, when people grow up, you have to affirm all actions as the same in order to be loving. That’s not consistent.

How should we love and should we only talk about love in culture? Actually, sin is talked about more in the New Testament than love. I did a search this week to verify that. The reason for this is without an understanding of our sin and our fallenness, we don’t see a need for Christ in his cross. 
Without Christ in his cross, we cannot know how to treat each other. If love is best understood at the cross and you don’t see a need for the cross, you’re not going to understand that love. An understanding of sin is crucial to an understanding of the gospel. It’s pretty much half the picture.
Our culture has basically redefined love to mean agreement and support. If you don’t agree with me, you’re not being loving or, “Why are you not supporting me? Don’t you love me?” Love is more than support.

What’s interesting is the world pretty much universally condemns Christian families who say that their children’s homosexuality is wrong. These families are not being loving or supportive. In fact, they’re being hateful. What’s interesting is you can be a parent who would take a bullet for your child, who would donate a kidney today for your child but if you say, “I disagree with your actions,” somehow you’re just a bigot through and through. It doesn’t make sense.

We love people for who they are, not what they do. We are not the sum total of our actions or our desires. We are much more than that. Along with this redefinition of love has come a move towards basing our identities on the things we do. More than that, people want to have a positive self-image today. If you say anything that might jeopardize their positive view of themselves, that’s taken to be unloving because you’re not being supportive. You’re not agreeing with everything they do.

I think this is part of the reason why drug use, excessive alcohol consumption, sex, social media and more are so common today with young people, part of the reason because they feel good and they provided distraction. “I don’t have to focus on the hard parts of life or on the parts of myself I don’t like. I will just absorb myself into activities that distract me so I’m not actually self-aware because I want a positive self-image and I don't want to think about the fact that there are negative, non-positive attributes of me and of my life.”

Christians aren’t immune from this either I would say, this positive self-image temptation. What we should want is an accurate self-image. If you have any perception of reality that doesn’t actually match reality, that’s a delusion. If you have a positive self-image that’s not an accurate self-image, you’re not living in the real world. We should want to be living in the real world. 

The real world is the one where because of our sin, Christ went to the cross, because of not our good self-image but because of our fallen state. If we don’t see ourselves as fallen in need of grace, then we diminish what Christ did on the cross. Tim Keller said, “Love without truth is sentimentality. It supports and affirms but it keeps us in the dark about our flaws.” 
A love that does that is not a love of the cross. The love of the cross is one of truth shared in kindness out of conviction. 

Quickly, I want to give you two tests that you can use when you make a decision. These aren’t revolutionary. They’re straight out of Matthew. Whatever choice you’re going to make, does it pass the test of the two greatest commandments, both of them?

For example, same sex marriage, many people have said that it isn’t loving to deny homosexuals the right to marry. Let’s say they’re right. Let’s say it’s not loving to them. In that case, we’re violating the second commandment but how does such a decision fare against the first commandment, the love your God commandment? Does promoting something God is against show him love? No. While this maybe fares well in the second commandment, it does not fare well on the first. It’s a bad test. It fails the love your God commandment. 

Another example would be abortion. Many people have said it’s not loving to oppose the rights of women that they can exercise over their own bodies. It’s their body. They get to choose. Now, this summer, we talked about that and looked at pretty much any case you could come up with for why abortion should be acceptable and showed how they all have numerous problems and not from just a Bible verse somehow but from logical inconsistencies. That’s available on the church website if you’re interested.

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that these people are right, that it is unloving to the woman. It violates the second commandment but how does it fare against the first, the love your God commandment? Does killing something that God has designed that bears his image, is that loving to God? No. 

We’re encroaching on his territory. We’re saying, “I’m God. I will be the decider of who lives and who dies and for what reason whether it’s race or gender or genetic problem. I will decide. I will play God. I will say your sovereign will or working out and planning this area, that’s not good enough for me.” Is that loving to God? No, it’s not.

Now, what you might have noticed is I accepted the argument in both cases that one, it’s unloving to the gay couple and two, it’s unloving to the woman but it isn’t actually. We should defend the fact that every child has the right to both a mother and a father, not just two parents. There is not some role of parent. We talk about it that way but that’s not true. You just don’t need two parents. You need a mother and a father.

In the same way when Jesus spoke about what marriage looks like, he didn’t say two people leave their parents and come together. He said a man and a woman. They’re complimentary. Mothers, you bring something to the parenting situation that your children desperately need that your husbands and their fathers cannot give them. Fathers, you do the same thing. The standard isn’t two mothers or two fathers. It’s not two parents. It’s in mother and a father.

There’s some good reasons for this besides it’s God’s design. Many studies have shown that children raised in same sex household exhibit more negative markers across psychological health, educational achievement and more than those raised in a household with a mother and a father. This is about children. 

The interesting thing — I didn’t plan on talking about this so much — but the interesting thing about this whole marriage equality situation is that it’s all about adults and what they want. It’s not about children and what they need, something to think about. 

However, I’d go a step further and I would say that it also isn’t loving to the gay couple to say that that’s okay because sexual ethics are inextricably tied to the gospel. If they weren’t, John, the Baptist would still have his head. He understood that speaking out against sin is the first step to getting to the gospel. If we don’t understand sin, we don’t understand Christ and our need for his forgiveness.

What about the abortion example? Is it loving to the woman who’s really a mother — we just call her the woman but she’s a mother — to let her kill her unborn child? No. It’s not. One of the many ugly and often hidden side effects of abortion is the emotional turmoil of the post abortive woman. More than that, it isn’t loving to let someone become guilty of committing murder. This says nothing of what love looks like to the unborn, defenseless innocent child. It’s not loving in that case either.

If we’re supposed to love as God loves, understanding how he loves is important. As Christopher Yuan said, “Unconditional love from God does not mean unconditional acceptance of sinful behavior.” We need to be able to articulate that.

In a culture where love is the overarching moral principle and not loving is one of the greatest secular sins, we must be able to think clearly on these issues. We must be able to clearly articulate our moral reasoning and our priorities. Now, I’m not saying if you explain it well enough, they’re going to be like, “Oh, okay. That’s fine,” but at least we can show that we deserve a seat at the table to talk about it. 

It’s not just the Bible says, the Bible says, the Bible says, I have faith. We can sit at the table and show you how this makes sense. This is what it means when we say we love. We have priorities here, God then people and we should not flip those. More than this, when we articulate our convictions, we must do it in a way that is kind. Our tone and our words can make or break our message. We need to use both to convey the love of God that looks like the cross to a dying world that is so in need of it.

In summary, love is best understood through the cross and love is best expressed through the community of the church. We are the people that are best equipped to show the world what love actually looks like. When it comes to making decisions, see how it fares against the love your God and love your neighbor test. If it doesn’t pass the first one, it’s a bad choice whether it’s politically correct, socially acceptable or not.

We also need to be careful not to fall into the trap that love’s acceptance or agreement with sinful behaviors. When we accept that from others, it is a loving act to point out someone’s flaw and it is an act of humility to receive that. We also need to realize there are going to be times we’re in a situation of someone saying you did something wrong and humility looks like accepting that and understanding what that person is saying.

When we communicate this to others, our desire for the other person’s good should be overarching and overtly obvious. That good that we want for the other people, that should be the gospel of Christ, that there’s forgiveness for every sin at the cross of Christ from the God who loves us for all who put their trust in him and confess him as Lord.

Love is best understood through the cross. That should influence how we live, how we make decisions, how we view everyone in this room, everyone in the world that we pass on a daily basis. 

Would you pray with me?

God, I thank you that you did see fit to love us with the cross, a love that was underserved, that was extremely costly. God, in the same way, I ask that you would give us strength to live that love out as you have commanded us to, that the world around us that there’s something different because we’re more selfless. We’re willing to give more than other people. It is not for our own glory. It is for your glory. God, it’s not just something that we would want to feel good about ourselves for, that we could share the gospel with other people. 

Give us strength to stand for our Christian convictions Lord in a time when it is becoming increasingly more difficult. I thank you for the example you set in Scripture that we can follow. Give us strength to follow it well. Amen. Have a good week.