For Our Own Good- Ruth 1:16; John 13:15, 14:15

And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.

For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.

COMMENTARY

And Ruth said, whither thou goest, I will go; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God
Ruth was not a Jew by birth, but she so loved her mother-in-law that she wished to remain with her always, and to even transform herself to be like her. Though the law of Moses had not applied to her previously in life, now she was electing to live under it.
And this is natural. Whenever we find a mentor or model that we want to be like, it is an obvious step to start mirroring their behaviors. If they became the way that they are by following certain practices, then it stands to reason that adopting those practices might cultivate some of their personality traits in us as well.

For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you
If ye love me, keep my commandments

Jesus, in fact, encouraged this sort of emulation, indeed his whole gospel is hinged around it. When he set his example, he did it deliberately. He behaved the way that he did for the express purpose that others could learn from it and follow suit. This is an incredible thing. Most of us set our example thoughtlessly, and may or may not actually advocate for each practice that we demonstrate. “Do as I say, not as I do.”
For that reason, we should take great caution in whose light we choose to follow. But when we do find a worthy source, when we do have a clear outline of what practices have made them what they are, when we are certain that these principles will also make us into the sort of person we want to be…then we have truly found a pearl of great price, and it is worth giving up all our old practices to receive it.

Worthy Vessels- John 5:19, 1 John 4:19

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

We love him, because he first loved us.

COMMENTARY

The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do
Each one of us has seen others doing good, and even been the recipients of that good. And having experienced this, naturally we desire to do good things to others, and we try to follow the pattern of those that showed us the example.
But those that did the good things to us were themselves only following the example of others who previously did good to them, and so on and so on. Each of these paths of goodness ultimately leads to the same singular source. As Jesus taught, even he only followed the example of his father. His proclamation is total: the son can do nothing of himself. He does not say that the Father taught one virtue and that then he, Jesus, riffed his own new ones off of it, he claims that any good act done on earth first had its template written in heaven.

We love him, because he first loved us
I have seen the truth of that in my own life. For many years I was fully capable of fearing God, but I couldn’t sincerely love Him until I felt His own love bursting into my soul. I had wanted to love Him, but I had to have Him teach me how. As Graham Cooke so eloquently put it: God loves us first, and then He allows us to love Him back with that love.

Graham Cooke’s message starts at 1:15, quote comes from 4:35

Active Discipleship- 2 Timothy 1:7, John 14:12

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

COMMENTARY

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind
He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these
When I read the scriptures as a boy, I liked to picture myself in the shoes of Daniel, Gideon, and Joseph. These were stories of heroes, stories of people doing remarkable things in difficult situations, stories of valiant hearts that rose to the occasion, that knew their calling, and then lived it boldly. I loved these stories, and I always felt that they represented exactly the life that God wanted for me as well!
There is an important theme to each one of these stories, the very thing that made them so exciting to read. In all the scriptures, all of the heroes are examples of people that lived active lifestyles. These stories only exist because the men and women in them were not sitting around, living passive lives. We will never be like the fearless warrior David so long as we shy away from our struggles. We will never be like the great pioneer Moses so long as we turn down the ventures God offers us. We will never be like the great re-builder Zechariah so long as we refuse to make restitution for the things we have broken.
God always intended that we would feel the scripture heroes alive within us. He wanted for us to read their stories, be inspired by them, and become heroes just like them. But it will never happen so long as we remain sedentary on the sofa.

Service to Others- Matthew 5:42-46

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?

COMMENTARY

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?
Yesterday we observed how giving charitably is to give unfairly, or in an unbalanced way. It is giving where it is not deserved. And yet God is a fair God, and so if we give excessively, then justice must demand that we receive excessively in return. Thus by giving charitably you have simultaneously blessed the life of another and also tipped the balances in your favor. Everyone is lifted together.

That ye may be the children of your Father
God is the freest being we can conceive of, a personage entirely able to do as He pleases. His intention is for us to be as free as He is. The way of the world, is not this freedom. As mentioned yesterday, the way of the world is a pattern of choosing selfishly, followed by a predictable retaliation from another, followed by a predictable counter-retaliation, and so on forever. Thus begins a dance whose steps have been chosen for you. There is no freedom in this.
The only way to be an actor, and not one that is acted upon, is to do something entirely unnatural and unpredictable…like loving an enemy. One must receive a wound, be entirely justified in retaliating, and instead say “no, I’ll just take it.” It is the only way to liberation.

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you
One is not only made free in this manner, they are also made the most empowered. If you can only love those that love you, then they have the power to make you love them or not. They can steer your behavior by their influence. Even if they were to steer you into a rage that destroyed them, they still steered you. But if you do one of these unnatural acts of freely giving and freely forgiving, then who is in charge of your actions but yourself? To act by no other compulsion than your own, even if it is to act in subservience of another, is to be a true master.