February 28

Leviticus 19:18 (NIV) 18"'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Love...keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV) Jesus said that this was one of the Laws that summed up all the others (Matthew 22:39,40). I'll bet when you read that verse, the 'bear a grudge' part pricked your heart, or at least provoked a memory. We seem so ready to be offended in this day and age. Jesus warned us that this would be true (Matthew 24:12).

We have lauded self-esteem but forgotten to warn of pride. Pride sets itself above others and demands that others give us respect and honor. If we hear a word spoken against us, we readily forget all the words we have spoken against others and excommunicate that person from our love and grace. In the worst cases, we play the offense over and over in our minds until it festers and becomes an infection in our memories. Just to touch on it brings pain.

Believe it or not, the cause of all that is self, not the one who offended you. If we esteem others better than ourselves, we will examine their words to see if there is truth in them. If there is, we will apologize and adjust our life. If there is not, we will give those words to God and go on loving that person. How many times have we offended God? Does He harbor each offense and bring them up to you every time you want to pray?

Jesus said (paraphrase) that God will treat you as you treat others. It sounds like we better be very generous in our forgiveness, don't you think?

Meditation: Who do I need to forgive and resume loving?

February 28

Matthew 13:28-30 (NIV) 28"'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 29"'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

Jesus shared a parable about a wheat field in which weeds were discovered. The owner of the field knew that an enemy had sown the weed seeds. Those who worked the field asked if they should pull the weeds up. The owner was concerned that the wheat would be too damaged in the process, so he told them to wait until the harvest. Then they would be able to separate the good from the bad.

This is one of the parables that Jesus later explained. We know exactly what He meant. The field is the world. The wheat are the children of God. The weeds are the children of the evil one. To pull out the wicked now would damage the wheat. We are to grow together until the harvest. The angels will separate the good from the bad. Jesus said that the angels will not only root out those who do evil, but everything that causes evil. That is a wonderful promise! The good will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father.

Sometimes we wonder why God does not strike the evil down now. He has given us the reason in this parable. Ancient farming was not done in rows. Walking into that field would cause some wheat to be damaged. Pulling up the roots of the weeds would damage roots of the wheat. God knows we need the testing and trials that the wicked bring our way. Those trials teach us patience, compassion, and most of all, cause us to trust in the sovereignty of God. Our natural mind thinks that we would do so much better if they were removed. Trust God to use those that trouble your life to draw you to Him. Know that they are not removed for a reason.

Remember: Your Father knows best.