God’s Litmus Test – Got LOVE?

by Angela Hall Dobbins © 2010

A “litmus test”, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, is “a test in
which a single factor (as an attitude, event, or fact) is decisive.”

Several years ago, at the suggestion of a pastor friend of mine, I read the testimony of young Christian music artist, Matthew West. I was both impressed and inspired, not only because Matthew’s story says so much about trusting God even when we can’t see what He’s doing, but because I can personally relate to much of the emotional message it conveys. Matthew’s music career was just taking off when he was suddenly faced with the possibility of never being able to sing again due to a vascular polyp and hemorrhaged blood vessels on one of his vocal chords. Through this painful “season of silence,” as he calls it, Matthew learned that God was still using his voice, even when he was unable to hear it.

Sometimes God begins preparing us for something great to happen in our lives- perhaps it’s to fulfill a vision He has placed in our hearts. But, to our shock and dismay, just as things seem to be getting off the ground and we begin to see Him working in and around us, something happens that suddenly seems to bring everything to a screeching halt. We find ourselves struggling to make sense of what has happened and we wonder, “What went wrong?” We may even ask God, “Where did I fail you, Lord?”, thinking God is chastening us as a result of some sin in our lives.

And while God does chasten those He loves, those dark, silent days don’t always come as the result of wrongdoing on our part. Sometimes painful events just happen. But God may allow them to happen because He has a way of using those dark, silent, even painful days to draw us closer to Him and to teach us more about His deep, endearing love for us. During those times, He is administering valuable lessons and further preparing us for the next segment of our journey through life. Through our pain, He tenderly ministers His love to us, that we might, in turn, minister it to others.

This has been the case in my own life. Perhaps it has been so in yours, as well. It was during my own “season of silence”, after being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and while recovering from a painful divorce, that God opened my heart and mind to understand so much more about His unconditional love for you and me. If we are “judgment day honest”, as my pastor friend often challenges his parisheners to be, then we must pass one test before we can truly know where we will spend eternity. We might call it “God’s litmus test”. In order to pass the test, we must ask ourselves, “Do I have the love of God in my heart?” The true test of whether or not we are ready to meet our Creator lies in our answer to this single question.

Jesus summed it up like this in Matthew 22:36-40:

When asked this question by one of the Pharisees, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ‘This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” NIV

And in John 13:34-35, Jesus said:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” NIV

Do we really “walk the walk” of a Jesus follower? Do our words and actions speak kindness to others? Or do they echo criticism and condemnation? Do we give of our time and resources to help those in need? Or do we live for selfish gain? Do our actions toward others demonstrate genuine concern and empathy? Or do they reflect prejudice and indifference? Do we genuinely love our neighbor? Or do we love only those who fit our narrow concept of what a neighbor should be?

Friends, if we truly want to be ready to stand before our Lord on judgment day, then we need to be on our knees asking God to fill us to overflowing with His love. Putting behind us old traditions and going through the motions, we must, every day, immerse ourselves in His Word and seek to be like Jesus in our own words and deeds. I firmly believe this earthly life is preparation for the life we will lead hereafter. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible contains God’s message of His everlasting love for humankind. And Jesus Christ is the epitome of God’s love- the fulfillment of Biblical Law. God’s “litmus test” for determining our eternal destiny is spelled out in just four letters…

L… O… V… E

Do you have it?

Scripture References:

John 13:34-35
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” NIV

Romans 13:8-9
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” NIV

1 John 3:14-17
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” NIV

1 John 4:7-8
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” NIV

Love in Christ Jesus,
Angela Dobbins

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