Posted by: mikenicholsblog | August 16, 2015

truth in love

If you would take an honest look at yourself, I am sure you would admit to definite areas of weakness.  And without much prodding, you could likely list recent times and places where your less than perfect self was on display. For me, weaknesses often overshadow the areas of life which bring me great joy. It is my firm opinion that most individuals have a sense that these persistent weaknesses are just a part of our lives. The result of this thinking is bondage, and a resolve to believe, “that’s just the way I am.”  So the question that we must ask ourselves is, “can I really change?” — or more importantly, “am I willing to change?” I believe John did!

You know him as the man who wrote the Gospel of John, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John and the book of Revelation. Jesus called him and his brother James, the Sons of Thunder. He was part of Christ’s inner circle (along with Peter and James) and there are those who describe him as “the apostle of love.”  That title may lead someone to believe John was meek and mild, but I am here to confirm this great servant of God was anything but meek and mild.

Being one of the Sons of Thunder should give us a small sampling of John’s demeanor.  In studying his life, words like aggressive, ambitious, judgmental, sectarian, and narrow-minded were used to define him. My Chronological Study Bible stated that John, like his brother James, “shared a tendency for outbursts of selfishness and anger.” It is fascinating to me that Christ’s inner circle was positioned with three strong-willed, forceful personalities. And that, like Peter and his brother James, John was used so dramatically for the cause of the gospel.  James was the first apostle martyred, and John was the last to die.

This ambitious, and sometimes selfish, man changed. In studying his life, I am convinced the work God did in John’s life can absolutely be repeated in yours today. Several years ago, I read the following words in a book titled Twelve Ordinary Men (by John MacArthur) which I have never forgotten …

But John aged well. Under the control of the Holy Spirit, all his liabilities were exchanged for assets. Compare the young disciple with the aged patriarch, and you’ll see that as he matured, his areas of greatest weakness all developed into his greatest strengths. He’s an amazing example of what should happen to us as we grow in Christ—allowing the Lord’s strength to be made perfect in our weakness.

The love of Christ truly changed John and he became known as a man of love.  John was a man who stood for the truth and his gospel and epistles displayed such. He used the word truth often, but interestingly enough, he used the word love far more often.  What a wonderful message for all of us to convey — standing firm for the truth, balanced by a heart of love.

God chose a long life for John. He outlived the other 11 disciples and like them, died as a martyr. It must have been very hard to see his companions go one by one, but God had a different plan for John. He was ultimately banished to a prison on the isle of Patmos. It was there he received and recorded the content of Revelation.  Just think of his legacy …..The Gospel of John, the three epistles and Revelation.

Don’t think for a minute that God changed John’s personality. He was changed by the power of God, and for that we can all be thankful. Look at his legacy of love and truth to us. But John’s story begs the question for all of us … will his story become our story?

Will you let weaknesses be changed to strengths by the power of God?


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