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Bible verses about Love's Greatest Challenges
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Proverbs 24:30-34

A person who is lazy lacks understanding. He is ignorant of what is happening. This person is not keeping his property in good condition, and so entropy is pulling it into a state of disorganization. That is the way of all material things. He is not doing enough to overcome inertia.

Proverbs has much to say about laziness. It does not matter whether the laziness is in physical or spiritual endeavors. The point here is that little or nothing will be produced by the slothful person.

Many people conquer laziness concerning physical things, such as business matters. I once heard a radio interview of a millionaire many times over who had become that way through a scheme that he took advantage of. It was perfectly legal; there was nothing wrong with it that way. This man said in response to a question, "You don't become rich being lazy. It takes hard work." That is what this passage in Proverbs 24 is saying.

We want to be spiritually rich. We want our relationships to be rich and to produce the right things, so to achieve this will require a good deal of effort on our parts. Secular people learn these principles and put them to work in business, and they prosper as a result of it. However, they avoid making the same effort in spiritual matters.

In the church, this lack of effort produces Laodiceanism. The Laodicean is rich and increased with goods, which means that he is doing all right in the business world, but he is not paying much attention to the spiritual. He is not using the same principles in regard to spiritual things that he does to physical things. Thus, he becomes reasonably well-off materially, but God says that, spiritually, he is wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17).

We need this instruction from Proverbs because what we see in these verses will produce Laodiceanism in us unless we fight against it and overcome it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Greatest Challenges


 

Matthew 7:13-14

Never let anybody convince you that Christianity is not a religion of works. Christianity is hard work! That is what our Savior says. It is difficult! It is hard work because its direction and purpose run counter to human nature.

Confusion about "works" enters the picture when people wrongly try to associate "works" with "salvation." We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8)—there is no argument with this biblical fact. Works enter the picture as a necessary part of the process of growth within God's purpose—not salvation. Salvation is, in a major sense, an already finished work of Jesus Christ, which is why so many biblical statements about salvation are written in the past tense.

However, laziness plays a large part in why we do not grow. God expects us to work, though we will not earn salvation by it. We grow because of work, by overcoming problems. If we are too lazy to work at overcoming things, though we may be in God's Kingdom, we are not going to reap the rewards God's promises to overcomers.

God is looking for His children to grow. Every parent wants his child to become a mature adult who is able to take his place in society, to live independent of the family yet still be connected to it in a loving way, to stand on his own feet. God sets the pattern, and He wants His children to grow as free and independent moral agents. However, we are not that way when He finds, calls, reveals Himself and His way to us, and leads us to repentance. He wants us to grow into what He is:

And God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (Genesis 1:26)

God gives everybody who reads His Book an early indication that work will play a major role in what He has created. Dominion! That is "rulership" or maybe a better word would be "management." And dominion over or management of our own personal environment requires work.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Greatest Challenges


 

John 12:42-43

These men feared that, if they committed themselves to loving God, they would lose the approbation of their religious peers. If they stepped out, they would lose what they already had. So it kept them from loving God, and of course, it kept them from loving man too because God would have given them growth if they had continued yielding to Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Greatest Challenges


 

1 Corinthians 3:8

Reward and labor—Paul is speaking about a process of growth, not about salvation. He is referring to producing things within one's life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Greatest Challenges


 

Ephesians 4:25

These men feared that, if they committed themselves to loving God, they would lose the approbation of their religious peers. If they stepped out, they would lose what they already had. So it kept them from loving God, and of course, it kept them from loving man too because God would have given them growth if they had continued yielding to Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Greatest Challenges


 

Ephesians 5:21

What do we fear when we will not submit to one another? Is it the loss of control? Loss of power? Do we fail to make peace with an offended brother because we are afraid of losing face? We see that pride keeps rearing its ugly head, causing us to feel that we are about to lose something.

This is why the Bible shows humility to be a choice. The fear of loss to our ego has to be challenged and overcome. Overcomers are conquerors, and it is because of this attribute that they will be in the Kingdom of God. The overcomers challenge inertia. They challenge entropy. They challenge this fear of loss.

Ephesians 5:2, in the phrase "Christ . . . has . . . given Himself," also contains a seed of the reason why love is so difficult. Love requires sacrifice, and sacrifice is painful. Facing fear is painful. Making oneself diligent in doing work is painful, so the sluggard pays in sacrifice when overcoming laziness and fear. Sometimes the discipline required to love an enemy is awesome.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Greatest Challenges


 

2 Timothy 1:7

Love, power, soundmindedness—these qualities of God's Spirit. Love's greatest challenges are to overcome laziness and fear. There is no way around them; they must be met and conquered. God has given us the Spirit to enable us, but we have to be willing to put ourselves on the line, to stir ourselves up, and risk losing some part of this human nature. We must quit protecting it.

Hebrews 13:5 tells us that God will never leave us, never forsake us, that He is always our Helper. We are admonished, then, to be content. Contentment has its foundation in knowing God. We can never reach that point unless we put ourselves out to love Him and challenge this fear, to overcome the inertia and entropy that is working in everybody's life. That is where the hard work comes in, challenging the fear and the laziness.

If we are willing to do this on a day-to-day basis and put aside our fears and make the effort, our confidence in Him will grow. The fear will dissolve, diligence will cause discipline to appear, and we will meet our responsibilities in loving God and loving men.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Greatest Challenges


 

 




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