Reflections: Thursday of the Fourth Week after the Epiphany

Today’s Reading: Small Catechism: Table of Duties, To Everyone

Daily Lectionary: Zechariah 14:1-21; Titus 2:7-3:15

The commandments. . . are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13:9)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You have probably heard it said that you can’t love others until you first love yourself. That might sound cute and clever, but it’s not all helpful and it certainly contradicts the conclusion of Calvary. The problem is not that we don’t love ourselves. That’s not why Jesus died on the Cross for us. The problem is just the opposite. We do love ourselves. More than anything. In fact, that’s the very definition of sin.

The Good News is that God has all the love for you that you will ever need. Jesus died on the Cross for you. He died for every last one of your sins, for all the self-love you have now and will ever be guilty of indulging. And yes, that’s a lot to die for, but Jesus did it anyway. For you.

And it gets better. For Jesus is there for you every day with the promise of His Cross in Baptism, now, washing you righteous in God’s sight. He is there with the promise of His Cross in every Absolution and sermon you hear from your pastor. And He is at His Supper making sure the very definition of sin remains as far from you as the east is from the west. “For you, for the forgiveness of sins.”

Do you know what this means? It means there is never a time when God is not delighting in you, calling you His own, even declaring all your works holy in His sight. Even your hitting that snooze button for the hundredth time. Or brushing your teeth. Or doing homework. Or eating lunch. Or laughing. Or crying. Or whatever. Doesn’t matter. God is amazed by it all now, by you now, because of Jesus.

But, what about your sins? They are gone, died for, paid for, spoken away, washed away, fed away by Jesus as soon as they appear, and even sooner. Like I said, with Jesus God has all the love for you that you will ever need. That, then, is where you will find the courage, the strength, and the grace to turn to your neighbor with love. In fact, so overflowing is God’s love for you, it can’t help but spill over to others. That’s what it’s designed to do. And, yes, because of Jesus God is already smiling over it all. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Lord, help us walk Your servant way Wherever love may lead And, bending low, forgetting self, Each serve the other’s need. (“Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant Way” LSB 857, st.1) 

-Rev. Bradley Drew is pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, LA.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Pastor-psychiatrist duo Rev. A. Trevor Sutton and Dr. Brian Smith have teamed up to help you evaluate your technology use through a Christian perspective. Learn how to form healthy, faithful technology habits with Jesus at the center. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.