Your Cleansed and Grateful LifeOct 27, 2021
In my younger days, I (Gem) was taught that Bible reading was for the purposes of studying, learning, growing, and memorizing. The scriptures are deeply implanted in me because of solid, Bible-teaching churches. And somewhere along the way, I was also taught (maybe more implicitly than explicitly) that “speaking the truth in love” was the greatest thing a Christian could do (see Ephesians 4:15).
Over the years, I’ve seen us use this idea of truth spoken in love to “help” others, by our way of thinking. And I’ve noticed that often our emphasis has been on the word truth, as though the main idea is truth at any cost. Speaking truth can, in fact, be a loving thing to do. I’ll grant that is the case at times. And you know me well enough by now to understand that I am not downplaying truth.
I just wonder sometimes if we don’t really lean into what the “in love” part means. And I think we too often proclaim the truth as we see it—which, we have to admit, may not always be correct.
As I was listening to scripture recently, I came upon this passage in Matthew 8:
Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and dropped to his knees before Jesus, praying, “Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.”
Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone. Jesus said, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” (Matthew 8:1-4 MSG)
I love every story in the Gospels where someone stops Jesus to ask Him for healing or even to simply ask Him a question. I love the pure grace of Jesus’s words “I want to.”
The truth is that this man was healed, and he could have gone around recounting the story within his community. Telling the truth. Instead, Jesus instructs the man to show the priest his healed body and give appropriate thanks, and then he tells him, “Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”
Instead of giving instructions to tell the truth, Jesus encourages the man to live the truth. The reality of his cleansed and grateful life would demonstrate the truth of what Jesus had done for him.
You know what I’m talking about, right? Haven’t you met people like this? People who embody love, wisdom, and health, who exude an unmistakable aroma of Christ. Their life speaks as loud as, if not louder than, their words. They display a quiet confidence in God as their Abba. Their ego doesn’t have control of the steering wheel, and they have lived their life in grace and truth.
I long to be that kind of person, don’t you? Of course, this brings up another well-known passage, John 15, in which Jesus proclaims that he is the vine and we are the branches.
We are the branches. Jesus, the Vine, gave very specific instructions for the branches: “Remain in me.” We simply stay attached through soul-filling spiritual practices (both receptive and active). As we do that more and more, I believe the natural fruit we produce will be a life of love, whether we speak truth or simply live it.
On our YouTube channel there is a short video titled “Remain.” I captured the vineyard images on a trip to Napa, and the words are my prayer-thoughts after seeing up close the place where the vine and the branch connect.
- Today, how might you live into the simplicity of the word remain?
- What might it look like for your cleansed and grateful life speak for itself?
Photo by jose alfonso sierra on Unsplash