The mulberry tree can be considered a weed. It’s hardy, tolerant of drought, pollution and poor soil. Mulberries ripen over an extended period of time, unlike many other fruit which seem to come all at once. They can produce fruit from seventy to hundreds of years. They need full sun and adequate space. They are wind resistant, need minimal fertilization and no special pruning, in fact, it is not advisable to prune the trees since they are inclined to bleed at the cuts. Cuts of more than two inches generally do not heal and should be avoided at all cost.
Last week Pastor John spoke on the Ten Commandments, and rightly did he recall, the two greatest commandments, love your God and love your neighbor. In Luke 17 Jesus says, “Be on guard! If your brother sins rebuke him (hard to do), if he repents forgive him (hard to do), if he sins 7 times and repents 7 times, forgive him 7 times (almost impossible), without the Holy Spirit – our powerful helper, and our master – Jesus. Jesus doesn’t encourage us to forgive, he commands it. Notice he doesn’t tell us to rebuke seven times. We are to forgive, not expecting to be thanked or praised or even rewarded. How do we know this? He says, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed you could instruct this mulberry tree to move and it would and which of you has a slave that he serves and thanks for his service, none of you serves your slave!” The slave serves you and you don’t thank him you when he does what is expected.”
We are that mulberry tree, we are that servant. Jesus is the master. We are commanded to forgive our brothers seven times. It’s our job as followers of Christ and children of God to forgive. How do I get to the point where I can forgive seven times? Just a little faith, and the question is not how do I forgive, but how do I love. How do I love my neighbor, my brother, my mother n law, my sister, or my parents? This is how- by walking in God’s word. When I walk in God’s word, I can love, when I love, I can forgive. The word of God changes us, and the Holy Spirit teaches us and empowers us. The Lord renews our strength and equips us for every good work!
I cannot effect change in anyone but myself. I can’t make someone else see or hear or understand. I have, however, tremendous power over myself, my thoughts, feelings, my outlooks and choices, my course of actions, behavior, words, beliefs, who I decide to forgive and how often. God has given us each the potential to have self-control. I control what I do with God’s words and instructions, I can’t control what others do with it. When we choose to read the bible and DO it, we are changed by it.
God’s word was given to us, not as a weapon of condemnation, but as a tool to build, a light to see and a road to set our own feet upon. When we read the scripture, we ourselves are transformed by it –we are letting Christ, the word, abide in us. We allow his light to shine through us and lead others to the Father. That’s loving our neighbor. When we allow ourselves to be changed into the likeness of Christ, we are loving our neighbor.
How can we love our neighbor? By knowing God’s word, and doing it. How can we love our God? By loving our neighbor, who was created in his image. Jesus said, “To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine even the least of them, you did it unto me.” Matthew 25:40
When you are having trouble with relationships in your life, turn to the word of God. We don’t always have to ask for God’s “will”, some things he’s already revealed, we just need a little faith, to do what he’s commanded…like love your neighbor, forgive your brother, move this tree.
God, transform us into the image of your son, through your holy word; fill us with the Holy Spirit, so that we can love you and love each other the way you love us. Amen!