Everyone has their own way of assessing things. We judge all manner of things by first impression, speech, attitudes, dress, facial expression and so on. So how does God want us to be evaluated?
God’s Litmus Test
Jesus Christ explained that there is a litmus test by which we would be evaluated. That process was one that was important to God and so it was pointed out to us, along with a command that we perform in a way that gives us a good litmus test rating.
“A new commandment I give you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” John 13:34-35
Did you notice the words “By This”? People will know you are Jesus’ disciple by a particular litmus test. It’s not the smile on your dial, your Bible knowledge or the frequency with which you go to church. The litmus test is whether you love others or not.
A Commanded Lifestyle
There are many optional things in the Christian life. Your diet, exercise regime, domestic comforts, career and much more are completely at your discretion. But there is one thing that is commanded of you. You are commanded to love other Christians.
Now that should not be a surprise, even if it is not something you see many Christians do. Remember that the second greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31). And this command which was identified by Christ was first given under Moses.
“You are not to avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you will love your neighbour as yourself: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18
What Does Love Look Like?
Have you ever wondered what “love” looks like? It is supposed to be visible. That’s how it can function as our litmus test. If love was invisible then no-one would know whether we had love for one another or not. Yet it is the very visibility of our love for one another that allows people to know that we are Christ’s disciples. Got it? So love must look like something. It is not invisible.
The best working definition for love that I have ever heard is where we “want what is best for the other person, despite the personal cost to ourselves”.
By that definition we can see that love is completely self-less. So our love can be seen by the selfless things we do. When we put other people ahead of ourselves and help others out even though it messes things up for us, we are demonstrating something that others know is not in their life.
So if love has to look like anything at all it should look like selflessness. When we devour other people, indulge our anger and self-will, are intolerant, prejudiced, reactive or closed, we demonstrate something other than love.
It is not always easy to properly observe ourselves, because we apply many filters to what we do and excuse things in ourselves we don’t excuse in others. However, despite the difficulties, we are wise to try to get a grip on ourselves and to make some kind of assessment about who and what we are.
So try testing yourself. Use the litmus paper on the acidic state of your own heart.
Take a few moments to write down ten examples of your selflessness, patience, kindness, generosity, tolerance, self-restraint and other practical expressions of love that you have shown in the past week. If you come up with more than ten items of substance then that’s a positive sign. If you can’t think of any then you need to pay particular attention to that.
God is Watching
Oh, and by the way, whether you test yourself or not, God is weighing everything you do and say. He is watching and ready to bless you if you fulfil His will. So, don’t take the subject too lightly. A good litmus test every now and then is worth the effort.