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Maxing Out Your Love Limit, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
August 21, 2023 12:00 am

Maxing Out Your Love Limit, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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August 21, 2023 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version or read the manuscript of this message here: https://bit.ly/3YdEw5D 

Jesus once said that the whole law can be summed up in two commands: Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. But how do we know when we’re really loving our neighbors? In this message Stephen gives us the answer from Romans chapter 13.

 

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The biggest problem with covetousness as it strikes really to the materialistic heart of our own culture is that covetousness not only gets us into trouble, but it makes us insensitive to the needs of others. We go through life insensitive to what somebody else will need because whatever we see, we want for ourselves, right?

It becomes insensitive to things that people might need. It makes us jealous of others so that we want what they have. Covetousness turns us into takers. Love turns us into givers. Love fulfills the law.

Max out your love limit. Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen Davey is your Bible teacher for this daily time in God's Word. We're working through a series called Livin' Like You're Leaving as we explore what it means to live with eternity in mind. One of the characteristics we're supposed to exhibit is love for one another. But as you heard Stephen say a moment ago, characteristics like covetousness keep us from loving as we should. Last time we brought you a message that we were unable to finish. Stay with us as we conclude this message and learn more about how love should define our relationships. I remember in the early years of this ministry, my wife and I didn't own a reliable vehicle to take trips on vacation time to Georgia.

We would risk taking a trip to see her family. And I'll never forget one couple in our young church coming to us and saying, listen, we want you to borrow our vehicle when you make out of town trips. We have a brand new van and we want you to use it. I said, are you serious?

You got to be kidding me. I've never heard of that before. Borrow your vehicle, put miles on it? Put wear and tear. Do you know how I drive? Wear and tear like you've never seen. Your brakes in good condition. If something happens to it, I won't be able to fix it.

I can't afford to fix it. I'll never forget his response. He said to me, listen, we wouldn't loan it to you if we weren't willing to never get it back.

And I thought, wow, bring on the seventh year, man. What generosity. That's the principle and the spirit. What about the New Testament?

What does that have to say? Jesus Christ said this. Give to him who asks of you and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. Don't give him a lecture that says, oh, you need to borrow. Don't you know the Bible is against that?

No, let him borrow from you. Again, how to manage a Matthew 5, verse 42. We all know that great passage where the Lord says, give and it will be given to you. Good measure pressed down, shaken together, right?

Running over. What's interesting is that earlier in that same passage in Luke, the Lord recorded by Luke has said, love your enemies. Chapter six, do good and lend. In other words, the quality and characteristic of being good is lending to those who are in need. Lend, expecting nothing in return and your reward will be great. In other words, don't just lend to your Jewish brother.

That's what the Old Testament law said. Don't just lend to your Jewish brother who's poor. Now lend to your Gentile neighbor. Be generous to the guy who lives next door who doesn't know your faith in Jesus Christ. And if you never get it back, the Lord implies, don't let that destroy your relationship with that unbeliever.

Just know I will repay you handsomely one day. So neither the law nor the Lord forbade borrowing and lending. In fact, as I thought about this, it occurred to me, have you ever thought about the fact that God has lent his world to us? That we've borrowed from him everything we have?

Do we believe in the principle of stewardship? That is we own nothing. He owns everything, but he's a loan to do us to manage our money, our possessions, our homes, our everything, even our bodies. Have we forgotten our bodies don't even belong to us.

They belong to God who inhabits us through his Holy Spirit. So if we're not supposed to lend anything to anybody, God would become the chief offender. So Romans 13 eight cannot be condemning the loaning or borrowing of finances, which would include debt or possessions. But before we go much further, let me make sure that I balance this freedom with responsibility, the ability to borrow and the fact that both Old and New Testament allow for lending and borrowing, even for the exacting of interest, though not exorbitant, especially from the poor brother.

We do have a challenge, do we not? The average Christian today in our culture is literally trapped by debt. The average household credit card debt in our country today, according to the latest statistics, is between nine and $10,000. I remember reading this in the newspaper a couple of years ago, the average car payment per household in this county is $800 a month.

It's a couple of cars. No wonder the financial goal of the average person today is earn what they are spending. But here's something that I read just a couple of months ago that to me is an indication of a change in attitude that is moving further and further away from the standard of God's Word, even among the believing community. Nearly 30% of Americans, in fact, it's pushing toward 40% of Americans surveyed, said that they either didn't have the ability or, note this, they did not have the desire to get out of debt before their death. They've maxed out their credit cards and they have no plan and no intention of ever paying them off. Ron Blue is a Christian financial planner and leader, his biblically based material is used in this church, as a matter of fact, in small groups called Crown Ministries, which helps people budget and learn how to handle finances.

And I highly recommend it to everyone. We've had hundreds of individuals and couples go through it. In one of his books, he talked about how the Sears company introduced its Discover card a few years ago. They used Atlanta as a test market. And the Atlanta papers reported that Sears officials actually expected credit card usage to go up to the tune of about $35 billion. And what was interesting that I read is that people were not going to so much switch their cards and begin using the Discover card. What they were anticipating is that people would use the card as an additional line of credit and they anticipated the increased borrowing of the American public to be somewhere around $35 billion.

And they were probably low. No wonder Ron Blue wrote, if willpower alone cannot stop your impulsive borrowing, try plastic surgery. According to the Apostle Paul, the Christian is to be characterized as someone who works toward the payment of his debts.

In fact, the present tense is used in this verse in Romans 13.8. It could be translated, be owing continually no man. In other words, there's the intention or the attitude of owing with never paying.

And that would be wrong. Let no debt remain outstanding. That's Paul's idea here. If you happen to be in debt, pay your debts promptly. Pay them on time.

Work toward paying them off. To put it even more simply, the Christian should be known as someone who pays his bills on time. It sullies our name. It sullies our reputation. Do you know that the greatest risk institutionally in borrowing money from the bank is the church? The greatest risk. How tragic. The church, the believer ought to be the most financially diligent.

We ought to honor our financial commitments. Our handshake ought to literally still matter. This is how we live in the company of unbelievers. They don't care if we're in church today. They don't care how often you pray. They couldn't care less if you have a Bible. They want to know, are you going to pay what you owe?

That matters. And Paul says, if you want to live practically in the light of heaven, pay your bills. Simply put. I found it really interesting as I read further, Ron Blue said that he had an interesting insight on the way banks view people who actually pay credit card bills off, avoiding high interest. The banker told him that in the banking industry, a person who pays his bills right away is known as a deadbeat. They call us deadbeats because the company is unable to make much money from those who pay their bills on time. Imagine that a decade or two ago, a deadbeat was someone who didn't pay his bills. Now a deadbeat is somebody who does. So I guess what that means is a great synonym for us as Christians is deadbeats. By the way, the struggle to master your money is not a new one. It is so critical and such a temptation to misuse debt. It's not a new challenge. My new members class, I read every session from an early church leader named Cyprian who wrote these words just 200 years after the ascension of Jesus Christ.

Imagine, I mean it's still fresh. We're just a couple or three generations removed from the actual presence and ministry of Jesus Christ teaching on earth physically. And yet 200 years after his ascension, Cyprian wrote this of the church and the believers. Their possessions hold them in chains, chains which shackle their courage and choke their faith and hamper their judgment and throttle their souls. They think of themselves as owners, whereas it is they who are owned. Enslaved as they are to their own things, they are not the master of their money but it's slaves.

Wow. There isn't any doubt that one of the greatest tests of spirituality you and I will ever be measured against is our own stewardship. Do I own things or do things own me? Do I possess money or does money possess me? One of the ways you answer that correctly and biblically is look at your bills.

Look at your plan. Don't be in the constant owing of debt with no thought or intention of paying it off. That's what Paul is saying in Romans 13 8, make sure you have a reputation as it were of being a deadbeat. Pay what you owe when you owe it, whenever you owe it.

And then he goes on in verse 8 to tell us that there is something though that we should never stop paying on, something we can never pay off. Look again, owe nothing to anyone except, here's a debt except to love one another. This is the debt you are not to repay and you never will and you never should.

This is an obligation you will never pay off. You will never arrive at a point in life where you can say I have loved people all that I'm supposed to love. I have filled my quota and from now on I don't have to love anymore. You will never arrive at a point where you can say I no longer have to show kindness to people. I have filled my kindness quota. I no longer have to forgive all attributes of love. I have forgiven enough.

I have filled the quota. That was Peter's idea. I love that scene where he asks the Lord in Matthew 18 Lord how often should I forgive somebody? Seven times.

Peter stood there patting himself on the back. The rabbis and Peters they were teaching that it was commendable and holy if you forgive someone three times. If somebody did the same thing against you if you'd forgive them three times you were in the way of God. And so Peter says Lord I'm willing to more than double it seven times.

How's that sound. Should I forgive that person seven times. And the Lord said Well let me rearrange your mathematical thinking. Try this 70 times seven four hundred and ninety times. In Luke he said seven times every day. The point is you don't keep count.

You don't count on a ledger. Well that's the third time. That's it.

Or that's the seventh time. I'm done. Aren't you glad you cannot pay off the debt of love.

You are as it were to max your love limit out. Think about it. Where would we be if God reached his limit with us. You come in to me without sin again.

Let's see how many times has it been three seven seven hundred. And yet if we confess our sin he's faithful and just to forgive us right. His grace and his mercy are inexhaustible. If I contrast Paul's opening phrase with contemporary language it would be something like this. As a believer don't develop a reputation for maxing out your debt limit and then refusing to pay on it instead max out your love limit and never stop paying on it. In other words we will always owe people love. Now mind you he's not talking about the church.

He's not talking about people we might even like. He's talking about the world. We are debtors Paul said in Romans 1. We are indebted as it were to this message of the gospel of love. There is a debt we owe the world. And Paul then will say this is how you fulfill the law.

What does he mean by that. In verse 10 he repeats it again. This is how you fulfill the law. Well Paul will illustrate with four of 10 commandments. Notice verse 9. You shall not commit adultery. Now what does keeping the seventh commandment have to do with love.

Everything everything. You don't really love a woman or a man and not desire for them what is right. What is holy.

What is the best for them. You would never want them to violate a covenant they made before God with their spouse and break it with you by committing adultery. Think of Joseph who loved and respected his master Potiphar. He had great respect for the household and for Potiphar's rights as a husband when Potiphar's wife who tried to seduce Joseph continually he responded to her look with me here my master does not concern himself with anything in the house and he has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I and he has withheld nothing from me except you because you are his wife. This was nothing less than an expression of love and respect and deference toward Potiphar and Potiphar's wife.

But it was also love toward God and respect toward God for Joseph went on to say How can I sin against God. You see ladies and gentlemen adultery is not an act of love it is an act of self love. You become more important than your partner's wife or husband. You become more important than God.

It is the height of selfishness. William Barkley put it this way when two people allow their physical passion to sweep them away the reason is not that they love each other too much but that they love each other too little. Adultery grows out of self centeredness sinful desire to only meet your desires and wants it never grows out of true love.

And so that man says or that woman says I love you let's commit adultery. She does not. He does not. He loves himself.

She loves herself. So true love fulfills the law related to adultery. Paul refers to the sixth commandment. You shall not murder.

Well that's a little easier to understand. If you love somebody you won't murder him right. Love doesn't seek to destroy someone's life it seeks to protect life. Further Paul writes You shall not steal.

Again this eighth commandment is fulfilled by simply loving. If you love your neighbor you're not going to steal from him right. If you love the guy living next to you you're not going to slip into his garage one night and steal his brand new John Deere lawnmower. I mean you're going to hope he'll loan it to you and then you're going to pray he never wants it back.

That might be what you do. Do you remember the incident where Zacchaeus that greedy self-centered thieving tax collector would become incredibly wealthy off charging more taxes than people owed the government. You remember that that incident Zacchaeus remember him that wee little man that wee little man was he.

Say with me. He climbed up in the sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see. And as the Lord went away he looked up in the tree and said Zacchaeus you come down for I'm going to your house today for I'm going to your house too deep in here right now that great. You know you never forgot that did you.

I didn't either. It's great theology. It's a great story and it's true. Jesus went to his home was there we don't know how long after a few hours the Lord emerged and stood on the threshold into the crowd that had gathered around that home not believing Jesus had gone in to be with this man. Jesus announced this day salvation has come to this house. And I think the Lord said Zacchaeus would you like to say anything. Zacchaeus stepped forward and he gave his testimony.

It was Romans 13 8 9 and 10. He said in effect I've lived for myself. Now I will give half of what I have to the poor. And if I've stolen and boy have I stolen I will return four fold.

You know what that meant. That meant that Zacchaeus went from being the wealthiest man in the village to modest living and people in the village became wealthy. Zacchaeus did not become a Christian because he stopped stealing.

He stopped stealing because he began to follow the Messiah. Do you love the Lord. Do you steal time from him. Do you love your spouse and children. Do you steal companionship from them. Do you love your church. Do you steal your gifts and talents that belong to her. Do you really love and respect those for whom you work.

Do you steal supplies time from it. See one of the characteristics of the believer is that he fulfills the law by not violating these commands and the way you don't violate these commands as you love people. Commandment number 10 is you shall not covet.

That sort of strikes at the heart of almost everything left over. The biggest problem with covetousness as it strikes really to the materialistic heart of our own culture is that covetousness not only gets us into trouble but it makes us insensitive to the needs of others. We go through life insensitive to what somebody else will need because whatever we see we want for ourselves right. And so we can't rejoice. We can't have joy for anybody who gets something we would rather have ourselves.

We want it parked in our garage right. It becomes insensitive to things that people might need. It makes us jealous of others so that we want what they have. Covetousness turns us into takers. Love turns us into givers. Love fulfills the law.

Max out your love limit Paul is saying and never stop paying on it. Live like that in front of your neighbors your co-workers your friends even those who are your enemies and your love for them will provide a wonderful foundation for the gospel of the love of Jesus Christ which you need to demonstrate and also declare before them. Maybe we would have a better declaration and more effective declaration before them if we had a more effective demonstration in our own lives. For God so loved the world that he did what gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. We happen to owe the world that message. Oh nothing to anyone except to love them. That kind of life that sort of lives with eyes to see ways to pay off a little bit more though as soon as you pay off it only grows greater.

I'm going to make some payments of love today. That kind of life fulfills the law. Our attention was riveted this past week with the news of 12 miners trapped in that West Virginia mine. I understand one is still clinging to life. Eleven have died.

Trapped underground amid toxic gases their final hours were evidently not spent in physical torture but eventually they succumb to the lack of oxygen. In one of the newspapers that I picked up yesterday in a telephone interview I read this Tom Toler the older brother of the mine foreman Martin Toler read what he said was a note from his brother to his family written just before he passed away. The note was scribbled on the back of an insurance application card from his brother's pocket. It was hard to read.

It was more scribbling which indicated it had been written in the final stages of his life. This is what the note said. Tell all I'll see them on the other side.

It wasn't bad. I just went to sleep. I love you. Can you imagine what this message means now to his family?

His friends? The last words. I love you. I don't know about you but frankly I never end a phone conversation with my wife or kids without saying those words.

I love you. Why? It might be the last message that we ever hear from one another. What about the world? What will they hear from us? Do we care? Their time is almost up and we have a message of love based upon the gospel of our loving Savior and we owe the world a debt evidently in the mind of Paul that we should never stop paying on a debt of love. We are actually in the process of leaving.

We just don't know when. So let's live, shall we, so that our love for people and our gospel of the love of God through Jesus Christ becomes the message we leave behind. In effect it's our last words.

That was Stephen Davey and he called this message maxing out your love limit. This is wisdom for the heart. Each day we bring you a message from God's Word to help you know what the Bible says, understand what it means and apply it to your life. In addition to producing these daily Bible lessons we also publish a magazine. Each issue features a specific topic related to the Christian life. In the past we've explored topics such as a literal six-day creation, the importance of thankfulness, how to study the scriptures. Each issue also includes a devotional guide for that month.

Stephen's son Seth writes devotionals that are theologically rich and filled with practical insight for your life. We send Heart to Heart magazine to all of our wisdom partners but we'd be happy to send you the next three issues if you'd like to see it for yourself. You can sign up for it on our website or you can call us today. Our number is 866-48-BIBLE. That's 866-482-4253.

We'd love to talk with you, get to know you and introduce you to this resource Heart to Heart magazine. Has God ever said no to one of your prayers? As King David neared the end of his life he didn't lie in bed at night dreaming of the next giant he would kill.

He wasn't thinking about the next military battle he would win. David's dream was to build a temple for God. God had other plans. David's dream for his own life didn't align with God's plan for David's life. God's answer to David was no. How do you respond when God says no to your plans and dreams?

That's a difficult situation to navigate. Stephen Davey has a resource to help you. He's written a booklet entitled When the Answer is No. In it he shares with you five practical ways you can respond when God says no to your plans and dreams. This is a free digital resource that you can access from our website right now. Go to wisdomonline.org forward slash no for information. Please do that today then come back next time for more wisdom for the hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-27 17:08:45 / 2023-08-27 17:18:31 / 10

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