May 16, 2021: 6th Sunday after Easter

Let us pray: Lord, we all need to improve our practice of loving our neighbor.  Today remind and equip us to do so by guarding our tongues and speaking the truth in love.  They will benefit, we will benefit, and You will be honored.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR LIVING LORD!

Text: I John 4: 13-21, Eph. 4:15: “Speak the truth in love.”

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          The human brain is very complex.  Every part of it is interrelated.  And if one aspect of the brain is “off” the others will be, too.  O, the brain is very adaptable.  If one part is not firing at its optimum,  other portions will assume its role and take over so you can function.  It will “learn” its new role and develop “grooves” or patterns where the synapses fire and are received. But it’s not truly how God intended us to be.

          Such grooves can be learned by the brain and become ingrained.  That’s why when you develop bad habits, persistence is needed to break them.  One such groove involves what we would call: “sins of the tongue.”

I

          In our lesson, John states the profoundly obvious: “God is love.”  We Christians have God and His love placed into us by the Spirit the moment we come to faith, and/or are baptized.  He establishes that groove in our brains, or maybe I should say: “He reestablishes it” after it was short circuited by the fall into sin.  So, as believers we should “speak the truth in love” since our speech is controlled by our brain. 

          This isn’t easy.  Have you ever uttered words which you didn’t even know you knew during times of stress and anger?  Have you ever said things that came out all wrong?  Where was love at such moments?  You might have said hurtful things that hurt or even ruptured a relationship.  They might even have been true.  But they weren’t loving.  Ah, God’s newly  implanted groove of love was overridden by the old pattern of sin.  And it hurt everyone and dishonors God.  “Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him.”  That’s how it should be, unless and until a brain groove reverts to our old ways.  John addresses this when he writes: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar.”  

II

          One of the awful things that Covid has caused is the nasty, harsh speech it has awakened in people.  None of it has really been loving.  Speech meant to tear down instead of build up.  Speech that elevates our self-love and denigrates others.  Speech that fails to exhibit kindness.  Speech that as Dr. Luther states in his explanation of the 8th commandment fails to  “put the best construction on everything” that others say to us. 

          Why do we do that?  One answer is: old brain grooves, born of sin, seem to win out.   The new man brain grooves implanted by the Spirit are overridden.  I find it interesting that such speech and behavior always occurs when we’re under stress, or fear, or anxiety.  Note well that all those emotional states have sin and misbelief attached to them.  They all stem from a lack of personal control.  They all occur when we forget that God alone is in control.  It is He Who loves us.  “We love Him because He first loved us.”  And such love “will make us complete so that we will have confidence on the  day of judgement.” 

          The answer to good honest speech is faith in our loving Lord.  It is the conscious knowledge and trust in Christ Who showed that He first loved us by suffering and dying on a cross and then rising anew in our place.  By coming out of the grave He gave to us a new outlook on life.  A life of love.  And that love etched within us new grooves that truly honor others and that glorify God. 

          You and I cannot overcome or create new brain grooves on our own.  But, “with God all things are possible.”  He made it possible by “speaking to us the truth in love.”  So, consciously focus on His love and you’ll not only be at peace with Him, yourself, and others; you’ll also be and feel a lot healthier!  Amen

THE peace of God….

Pastor Thomas H. Fox 

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