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Proverbs 3:3 NLT
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.

Loyalty. It speaks to a right relationship with God, because we are to be loyal to God,  not to other men. Loyalty divided is not loyalty at all,  but is treason. Our loyalty is to God and God alone,  not to a person,  not to a nation,  not to a cause – but to God. The first five of the ten commandments speak of loyalty to God.

Kindness. It speaks to a right relationship with others, because we are to be kind to others. And kindness is not doing good for others so they will repay you with good in return. No,  that is manipulation. Kindness is doing good to others regardless of the outcome. The last five of the ten commandments speak of kindness to others.

And the ten commandments and the law are a list of DON’Ts for a people who are so lost and in darkness so far from God that they need a clear sign to show them the basics of right from wrong. Because this journey involves steps,  and someone far from God may not be able to grasp things like loyalty and kindness and love in their full nature if they are wrapped up in a worldly perspective.

So we need the law to show us easily where we are wrong in our lives. This is called conviction. And conviction is not the same thing as condemnation when it comes to Jesus Christ and salvation and redemption. You see, when we look at the law of man – a conviction results in punishment,  we are condemned to pay a certain price as restitution for our crimes.

And this is the reason that Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law – because men understood the DON’Ts, but they missed what was more important – the DOs that are behind the commandments – the lesson that is being taught. If we just see the DON’Ts, we are blinded to the important message. Jesus Christ came to shine light on the DOs, and to teach us that it isn’t even the DOings that matter,  but our very BEing that matters.

You see, it’s the inside. It’s our hearts that either betray us or testify to who we really are inside. And Jesus cleared it up for us by showing us how high the bar has really been set if we believe that we can meet the requirements of the law on our own.

He taught things like:

Matthew 5:22 NLT
But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

Matthew 5:28 NLT
But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5:39-42 NLT
But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.  If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.  If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.  Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.

Matthew 5:44 NLT
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

Matthew 6:15 NLT
But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6:31-33 NLT
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Matthew 7:1 NLT
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.

Matthew 7:12 NLT
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

So it really is about loyalty to God and kindness to others. Can you see that the long list of DON’Ts will be fulfilled if we walk a life loyal to God and kind to others?

Luke 10:27-28 NLT
The man answered, “‘You must love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

So we have been given the Holy Bible,  the collection of divine instructions of the Word of God to guide us. When we are told to tie it around our necks, this doesn’t mean that we are to display a cross our some other idol around our necks for others to see – it means that we are to yoke ourselves to the Word of God. It means that we are to study and meditate upon this precious divine instruction and remember it and apply it in our lives each day. We are to do this in remembrance of Him, of Jesus Christ,  our Lord and Savior. We are to seek wisdom and guidance and understanding by tying ourselves, holding ourselves accountable to the Word of God.

If we are His, if we love Him and are seeking His will, these instructions are not a heavy burden and obligation that we must meet, they are no longer qualifications that condemn us. Instead of condemning us to death,  they now convict us to a life sentence of loving and serving God with loyalty and obedience, and to a life of loving and serving others with kindness and love.

Because when we accept Christ as our Savior, His Word is written upon our hearts – our hearts are changed. Yes,  our BEings are changed. The very thing that will be weighed is changed,  our heart.

So we don’t ask am I DOing enough. We ask am I? Because there is no doing required to be. But if we ARE, then we will DO.

Many might say that I’m playing mental tricks and mincing words,  but it does matter.

A sweet watermelon that is healthy at the time of harvest produces juicy,  delicious water that drips and pours out, and that is delicious to taste.

But a watermelon that doesn’t have the nutrients that it needs,  one that is attacked in the garden by disease, and that is ripped into by pests and insects, it lays in the field and is not harvested,  because it is rotten, it is being destroyed,  it is of no good use. It may even produce liquid,  but that liquid is poisonous and causes sickness.

Our lives are either producing the sweet flavor of loyalty to God and kindness to others,  or they are dead,  worthless,  and poisonous to others.

If someone doesn’t want life,  if they are satisfied in their death and disease – maybe they are being exactly what they are meant to be. Maybe they aren’t a child of God at all. Maybe they are meant for destruction and separation from God. It’s sad, but I have to accept this as true.

But I’m holding our hope for us friends.

I’m holding out hope that the bitter, poisonous venom that I hear flowing forth at times in our words of anger,  judgement,  condemnation,  unforgiveness,  gossip, slander, jealousy,  envy, and wicked speech of all kinds isn’t betraying the truth of which watermelon we are on the inside – betraying the truth about the death and disease that we’ve let take our hearts captive.

Because we do not have to be captives any longer. We have a gift available to us in Jesus Christ that will break those chains and free us from the disease and death of our old lives. We can be redeemed and renewed,  but it does take surrender.

It isn’t a ticket you buy with tithes or with a prayer or with religious practice or with good works. This ticket comes from surrender of our lives wholly, not just once,  but daily.

And many might say,  “But surrender,  that is hard.” To which I reply, “It shouldn’t be that hard.  We have plenty of experience with surrender,  it’s just that we’ve been surrendering to the enemy, surrendering to sin and disease which leads to death, instead of surrendering or lives to Christ, surrendering to a humble and repentant life of Love, of loyalty to God and kindness to others, which leads us to life.”

We are surrendering to one or the other each day – even moment to moment. With our thoughts, with our decisions,  with our actions,  and with our words – we demonstrate who we are truly surrendered to. So we ought to be aware of which master we are choosing to serve.

We cannot serve two masters. We will hate the one and love the other when it comes to sin or obedience. We shouldn’t fool ourselves thinking that partial surrender is anything other than utter defeat. If we still love our sinful ways,  if we still chase after the disease and death, do we really think that our words or actions or good deeds are going to hide the hardness of our hearts from Almighty God? Or are we content hiding it from our fellow mankind?

We don’t have to live that way anymore,  friends.

There is Hope.

There is healing in the Blood of the Lamb.

There is redemption to be found in falling at the feet of Christ.

There is forgiveness available when we confess and come humbly to Him for forgiveness.

There is conviction and guidance and instruction to lead us through our walk when we seek His will and purpose for our lives in the Truth of the Word of God.

Don’t TRY to do it on your own – surrender your life to Him, seek first the Kingdom of God in your life,  and watch as the DOings start happening in your life because your BEing is changed.

Don’t fake it till you make it – because continuing to fool yourself that you aren’t in chains is no way to really cast off your chains,  it’s just a way to get yourself comfortable and complacent about being a slave to sin and death. Kneel down,  surrender your life, and watch Him lift you up.

Don’t give up,  thinking that you can’t do this.  You’re right,  YOU can’t.  But HE CAN!