Law of Love: Redemption through Relationship. November 11

26020-burden-mancarryingrock-manwithburden-man-stress-1200w-tn_I have known a large number of pastors. I have known powerful ones, humble ones, and angry ones. I have known pastors that would make the most celebrated preacher look like a 7th grade speaker as well as ones where they were probably not hired for their speaking ability. The best ones I have known are few in number and have one thing in common. They cared too much for their own good. They went to the hospital at 3am and sat with a family during the worst times, then grabbed breakfast at Burger World and headed to the office to do the “normal” work. Their sacrifices affected so many but was draining on their spirit. I have been that pastor as well as recognized when my pastor carried the burdens of so many.

Leviticus 16:1-34 is a passage that details how Aaron is to atone for his own sins as well as Israel’s sins, rebellion, and overall bad attitude. At that time, the spiritual health and attitude of the Israelites was foul and in need of repentance. Can you imagine being responsible for the task of offering sacrifices for yourself but then having to offer them for people who may have no intention of changing? What about being responsible for the spiritual health and salvation of your next door neighbors, but they enjoy their live and don’t even know you are praying for them or sacrificing on their behalf? That was the Nation of Israel. Aaron would prepare himself with great care and attention given to what was required, offer sacrifices for himself but then do it again with more detail for what they had done… all the while they sat waiting for this to be completed out of their sight, and with no appreciation given for what Aaron faced. It was just another formality for living and they may have never even guilty for how their actions affected Aaron or God who was forgiving them repeatedly.

Sadly, it still resembles that for many of us. The priest was charged with taking on the spiritual leadership and burden of the people as well as himself. He was to set an example, teach them, and call them to obedience to the LORD. But while he was charged to carry the burden as a leader, he was also charged to leave it at the altar. Aaron did not walk out responsible for the past. The sacrifices were offered in acceptable fashion and, having been accepted, their sins were forgiven. His faithfulness was required, not the assurance that the people would do everything right from there on. It has always been the same for God. He desires our faithfulness, not our results.

Our sins, are no longer our pastor’s responsibility. Christ willingly bore the burden of our sin and died for our eternal salvation. Sadly, in spite of the availability of a personal relationship with our Savior, we can display the same lack of appreciation and disconnect as the Israelites when someone else bears our burdens and dies for our sins in order to atone for the debt we created. I noticed a marked difference in my college, seminary, and doctoral grades between when the government or loans were paying my bills, and when I was making the checks out of my own account and budgeting to provide for my doctorate. I went from being a C student to having solid A’s. The difference was recognizing the amount paid was mine to be paid or forgiven as a debt.

God’s people had to be reminded that salvation would only be realized if they first recognized their debt. The sinful woman who desired forgiveness and the life it would bring offered everything to Jesus in order to demonstrate her repentance. Her spirit yearned for freedom knowing she did not deserve it. Jesus rebuked those who chastised both Him and her for being sinful, but her genuine faith and repentance in action is what brought about her forgiveness and why she received it. Ultimately, it is not our works but our love that demonstrates repentance and drives our desire for forgiveness.

Our relationship with Christ is the best indicator of our spiritual health. When we bring our burdens, if we are wise, we will leave them and walk away. We do not pick them back up or acquire more. Walk away to experience the reality that Christ has loved us enough to bear the weight of our sin so that we do not. Even as a pastor, when we bear another’s burden, we must leave it at the altar whether it is a spiritual burden or death and suffering or sin. It is out of a love that exceeds what we could fathom that God does not remember our sin yet still holds us close. It is that relationship forged in love that shows in a pastor that willingly shares our burdens even when we don’t ask. And it is the love Christ has for us all that can encourages us to give our burdens to Him because He cares.That is a real relationship.

Do I use my salvation as an excuse to sin knowing I will be forgiven later?

Do I appreciate those who share my load (spiritual, emotional, and physical)?

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe
The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity, (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Oh, I believe
Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You’ll have every victory, (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe
Oh I believe (I), yes I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Oh I believe (oh)
Songwriters: Paul Mabury / Lauren Ashley Daigle / Jason Ingram
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