Dear Lord, thank you for all that you’ve done for me. Thank you for always providing for ALL of my needs, according to Your riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Thank you that your Word is true, and that your character does not change depending on our circumstances, but that no matter what the circumstances, you are always our Healer, our Protector, our Teacher, our Father and our Creator. Help me to gain a thorough knowledge of Your Word, Your Character and Your Will, as outlined clearly in the Bible. In Jesus’ precious Name I pray, Amen.
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21)
I’ve had this post on my heart for several days now, so I thought I’d better get going and write it up.
Do you ever come across those situations where you’re having a conversation with somebody who’s totally wrong about something (at least in your option ), and you’re both trying fervently to prove your point? It seems that this happens even more often when it comes to extended family and holiday gatherings, don’t you think?
In fact, I was just having a “discussion” like this with my mom yesterday. We were having our annual cookie baking day, and talking about clean-up procedures. She had her way, and I had mine, which of course, made much more sense and was more efficient. . After a few minutes of friendly bantering, the Lord’s words to me repeated in my mind again:
“Do you want to be right, or do you want to be pleasing in My sight?”
Then I remembered that it really doesn’t matter which of us is right. How and when to clean up the kitchen after our baking session isn’t really a life-threatening issue that must be resolved, is it? But making sure my mom is enveloped in the love of Christ that is (or at least, should be) radiating from me, now that’s important!!! That’s big time, serious stuff, and for those of us with unsaved family members, showering them with that love of Christ on a consistent basis could indeed pave the way to salvation for them.
So, the next time you feel a “debate” brewing, if it’s not a topic that imposes inherent danger to someone, choose, instead of having to be right, to be pleasing in His sight. Refuse to argue. Change the subject, respond with polite niceties, or simply walk away, and choose to focus your emotions on something or someone else. Choose to please God over and above pleasing those fleshly desires we all struggle with. You’ll be glad you did.
Welcome back for another installment of our “How to Walk in Love” series, which can be found here, on our Spirituality page. Today we’ll talk about 1 Corinthians 13:6, where Paul tells us that love does not rejoice in iniquity. As we start, we’ll talk first about two definitions: the definitions of “rejoice” and “iniquity”.
Rejoice: To rejoice means to feel joy, to exalt or to make merry. It also says that to “rejoice in” something means to possess or to have an experience of joy.
Iniquity: Webster’s Dictionary describes iniquity as “wickedness, gross injustice.”
So what does the Bible mean when it says “Love does not rejoice in iniquity?”
Let me present a scenario. Have you ever felt that sense of satisfaction when someone you know, who’s “done you wrong” or has a history of making selfish or hateful decisions has got their “comeuppance?” Have you ever felt joy when a mean or spiteful person in your life received their dose of “what goes around, comes around”? Have you ever been glad when someone you dislike fell deeper into a life of sin and despair, because you know they’ve spent years making everyone else’s life hell?
I know I have.
But you know what? God says that it’s our job to “love our neighbors”. As much as we would all like it to some days, that does not mean “love the neighbors that don’t drive you crazy/tick you off/make your blood boil/aren’t a_____holes.”
So how do you walk in love with someone you can’t stand to be near? Someone who drives you so nuts that you wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if you never saw them again? How do you change your heart so that it no longer rejoices in the iniquity of others?
The best way to start, at least from my experience, is to start with one simple prayer:
“Lord, please help me to see _______________ the way that you see them.”
You can do that, right? Even if you don’t mean it in your heart when you pray, your submission to the Lord in this way will indeed reap benefits and help you to walk in love with the people in your life that grate on your nerves the most.
After you can pray that prayer with a sincere and honest heart, add another prayer for the person:
“Lord, bless ____________”.
I know: this can be really hard, but I know that you can do it. How do I know? Because the Word says that
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says “I know Him” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. (1 John 2:3-5)
If you have truly committed your life to the Lord, you have the love of God perfected in you, in your spirit man at least. No, that may not always be the case as far as your flesh acts, but regardless of what part of you you’re letting run the show at the moment, the Love of God truly is in there, perfected in your spirit.
This is how I know that you can indeed pray those prayers of love for those you might not feel love for in your heart at the moment.
So choose today to stop rejoicing in the iniquity of others, and instead to pray for them and bless them. You may or may not change their hearts, but if you give it a serious effort, you will truly heal your own heart and allow an abundance of peace to enter it.
Greetings, friends! Welcome back for another segment in the How to Walk in Love, series, based on 1 Corinthians 13. You can find the other segments in this series by clicking here, but today we’re going to talk about how love is not provoked.
Some versions of the Bible also say “Love is not easily provoked”. Either way, the Word is clear that if we are truly walking in love, we will not allow ourselves to become provoked. What does “provoked” mean?
Provoke: to call forth, give rise to, to excite with anger, to annoy, exasperate.
Those of you with spouses and children may think that this command certainly can’t apply to you.
But it does. What does this mean for you?
It means that when your kids or your husband thoroughly tick you off, you need to keep your cool and not take offense.
It means that when your kid spills his milk for the umpteenth time that you need to remain calm.
It means that when your husband does things that are completely without regard for you or the children that you need to let it go. (Unless of course there are safety issues involved)
The best way I know of going about this is to remember that your loved one’s action is likely not rooted in gaining revenge toward you (and if it is, you may want to evaluate your behavior, past and present, toward them) but instead is rooted in some type of fear or hurt.
Then, remind yourself of your past offenses, both toward others and toward God. When you revisit them, you’ll find that God doesn’t react with wrath (we’re under a NEW covenant now), but instead, with grace and mercy. And He instructs us to do the same.
Allowing yourself to be provoked and react with anger instead of love may offer a short-term change or act of obedience, but long-term, you’re only teaching your loved one that the stronger, more rage-filled person wins the battle.
If you choose, instead of letting yourself be provoked, to respond with grace, mercy and love (this all done in truth, of course), you’re teaching your loved ones two valuable lessons:
1. You’re teaching them that, like the love of Christ, your love for them is unconditional and not performance-based.
2. You’re teaching them that they can trust you to love them, thereby spurring them on to behavior that wants to please.
I got a first-hand lesson in this several years ago. My husband’s childhood was littered with the anger and abuse of an alcoholic father, and therefore he’d never really learned or understood how to be a good husband. For years, he would act selfishly and angrily around me and the kids. However, once I learned this lesson of reacting with love toward his acts, instead of allowing myself to be provoked, his behavior changed. He became more calm, patient and loving. Today, he has a terrific relationship with me and with each of our children.
As we were discussing one day the transformations in our marriage, I asked him “What made you change?”
He said “It was when you started loving me with the love of Christ, instead of reacting to my bad behaviors in anger.”
You see, his behavior changed when I stopped allowing myself to become provoked.
Is it my responsibility to change his actions? Absolutely not.
But by doing my part (walking in love), I benefited our entire family. Now, isn’t that worth it?
Welcome back, friends, for another lesson in walking in love. You can find the rest of the series by clicking here.
Today we’re going to talk about Selfishness. What is selfishness? Webster’s says it is:
Mainly or wholly regarding oneself, heedless of others.
My NKJV says “Love does not seek its own”. This can be a tough pill to swallow, I think, especially for moms. The life of a mom, is all about give, give, give, and it can be difficult to hear that if we are truly walking in love that we should not be seeking our own.
So I want to clarify here that this does not, in any way, shape or form, mean that you as a mother should not be nurturing or caring for yourself. In fact, part of walking in love toward your family is taking good care of yourself, so that your mental and physical state will allow you to care for them for many more years to come. That being said, how do we walk in selflessness without losing ourselves?
1. Make God your first priority. In this riveting word from the Lord that I received back in the spring, the Lord made it abundantly clear that it is crucial that we spend time receiving and basking in His love and His Word, and that this time with Him will give us what we need in order that we may love others selflessly. I’ve been testing it out now for several months, and let me tell you; it really does work! Try it for yourself and see. Spend time in the Word and in prayer not because you should, but for the simple reason of getting filled up with the love of God.
2. Take care of yourself, in a selfless way. Eat right. Exercise. Take some time to sit and read or do other things alone on occasion. Gather with friends, just make sure your friend gatherings aren’t taking priority over your responsibilities at home.
3. Focus on what you’re giving, not what you’re losing. Being selfless as opposed to selfish means that you do what is best for your family as a whole, not just for yourself, and that you choose to take the attitude that doing what’s best for your family really does benefit you too.
4. Understand what being there for your family means. Being a selfless mother and wife doesn’t mean that your kids and your husband have the right to treat you as a slave, maid, and taxi driver at their every whim. Being a selfless mother and wife means that you are there to set an example of what a Godly (read the book of Proverbs) woman is, caring for them, loving them, and modeling the love of Christ for them as you work to support your husband in his role of family leader, drawing your family together emotionally and spiritually. This is your role as mother and/or wife. It’s great if you can immerse your kids in 8 million activities and cart them around to every one, provided it’s what’s best for your family, spirit, soul, body and checkbook. Just be careful not to drain yourself of all sense of being and then damage your family and yourself further as you turn, uselessly, to material things and other activities that will bring you short-term peace, but long term sadness.
Walking in God’s kind of love means that you are a reflection of the love that God has for us. This love is not only unconditional, but it speaks the truth as well. God’s kind of love isn’t about letting people have or do whatever they want, but instead, it’s about doing your best to reflect the loving, disciplining God we serve, a God who does indeed love us as we are, but also has a way of life in mind for us that He deeply desires for us to know and follow.
Here we are for another post in our series about How to Walk in Love. You can find the other parts in the series here:
Today we’ll talk about the next segment in the Bible, which tells us that love is not rude.
As usual, we’ll define the term, which today is “rude” by using Webster’s Dictionary, which defines “rude” as:
discourteous, unmannerly; ungentle; harsh; crude; coarse. Antonyms for rude include decent, gentle, nice and polite.
Rude says “Me first”. It acts without thought or regard for others. Rude interrupts others, cuts others off in traffic, buts ahead in lines and says, in general “My to-do list and life is more important than yours”. Often times I’ve been guilty of this myself when becoming so focused on what I have to get done that I don’t see a person meekly standing a little further back in line, or don’t think before cutting someone off in traffic, or worse, I simply don’t care because I’ve got a lot to do and not much time to do it.
The opposite of rude?
Taking care to notice the people around you and see where you might have an opportunity to show them the love of Christ by:
- letting them go first in line
- letting them have the right of way in traffic (without disregarding traffic rules and endangering others, of course)
- taking the time to give a gentle smile to a fellow shopper or to a co-worker
- putting aside your to-do list to listen to your child’s story or question, or to help them with a task
- making sure your husband has what he needs to make his work week easier, even when you’ve got your own work week to worry about.
The thing about God’s kind of love, friends, is that it tends to come back to us ten-fold The smile you give that fellow shopper will often lead to 5 smiles back, and even a compliment or two.
That extra time you spend with your kid on his “menial” stuff will grow his love for you. He’ll remember it when you’re old and gray and in need of company.
More so than that, your kind-heartedness will shower the love of Christ onto others, softening their hearts for the salvation message they so desperately need to hear.
Love is not just “nice”, it’s powerful. Take advantage today of the power that resides in walking in love.
Welcome back for part 4 in the series “How to Walk in Love”, based on 1 Corinthians Chapter 13. You can find the other parts:
by clicking on the links. You’ll also find the Intro to the series there. Now, onto part four.
We’ll start as usual by defining the mentioned offense: Pride.
Webster’s Dictionary describes pride as:
too great self-esteem; haughtiness (arrogance); thinking more highly of themselves that one ought to.
The antonym of pride, of course, is selflessness or humility.
The trouble with pride where love is concerned is that the whole purpose of love is to show the unconditional love of Christ to others. That’s rather hard to do when you’re busy thinking about yourself. Often marriages and family relationships end up in trouble because of simple pride:
-A wife is so busy focusing on what she doesn’t get in a marriage that she spends no time considering her husbands needs
-A husband is so busy doing his “guy stuff” that his wife is neglected or treated like a common maid.
-A parent is so focused on the fact that his/her child hurt her that they fail to consider the reasons behind the hurtful behavior, thus exacerbating the problem.
Pride says “What about me?” Humility, and love, say “What about them?”
There’s an old 80′s song out there in which the course sings:
What about me? It isn’t fair. I haven’t had enough now I want my share.
Although the premise of the song is to get people to think about others, those words make my spirit cringe. They tell the listener “Poor me. I don’t have enough and so-and-so has more than me and people who have less should be pitied.” I’m telling you right now, if you want to live a depressed life, you just keep telling yourself the above words. There’s no greater way to unhappiness than through pride and self-centeredness. Andrew Wommack points out, in fact, that self-centeredness is the root of all grief. You see, people will always fail you and disappoint you. There will always be people who have more than you, people that appear to have it better than you. And people will always, always fail to live up to your expectations at one point or another. Your spouse, your kids, your employer, your government; they are imperfect beings who fail day and night. All people do, whether you choose to see it or not. This is why it’s so very important to keep your focus on God and on others. Paul Milligan, who teaches finance at Charis Bible College, gave a terrific piece of advice in this area as I listened to a sermon of his. He said:
Where God is concerned, I expect everything and am thankful for everything.
Where people are concerned, I expect nothing and am thankful for everything.
Pride raises your expectations from people and from things. Love – true love – gets your focus off of getting and onto giving. The Lord showed me one day that this is the key to bringing people to salvation. He told me that if we can get people to see the true love of God, that they will want to stop sinning, so that they may please and honor and serve the God who loves them so very, very much. Walking in love – true, Godly love as we be the hands and feet of Jesus, will turn people’s hearts to Christ much easier and quicker than bashing them over the head with the Bible.
A friend of mine just shared a story that is living proof of this:
For months, she had been bringing an old, hard-hearted man meals through a ministry she helped with. The gruff man, who had lived a hard life, would grump “Just set the food over there” in his angriest voice, and wait for her to leave. After several months of this, my friend felt led to ask him “How are you? Really.” The ensuing conversations, totally God-led (because my friend had subjected herself, in humility (the opposite of pride), to God’s voice), eventually softened the man’s heart, he started asking questions, she led him to Christ and he is now living in relationship with Jesus, a saved, changed man. A man at peace, knowing he is loved unconditionally by his Creator.
You can try all your life to lead a person to Christ, but it is your actions, not your words, that will get the job done. People need to see in Christians that they practice what they preach and that they live their lives according to the Biblical truths of obedience and love. Non-Christians are watching, truly they are, to see if you walk a life of holiness as God calls you to. You can go to church every week for 50 years, but if you are walking in pride or selfishness, you will be immediately dismissed by a non-Christian as a hypocrite. On the other hand, if you focus on loving others (note: this does not mean excusing sin. Real love speaks the truth in love, when led or asked) with the same love that Christ showed us in His life, unbelievers will indeed be drawn to you. They will see the real joy emulating from your spirit, and they will start to wonder about it or want it, opening a door for you to share His Glory and His Goodness with them.
Remember that this type of living applies not only to others, but to your family as well. Walking in love and humility is not something you do outside of the home and then “let your hair down” behind closed doors. To the contrary, I would argue that your family; your spouse and children, are your first line of ministry, given to you directly by God, to love with the love of Christ, and show them the way to salvation by mimicking the love and selflessness of Christ.
Your job, your “to-do” list, the laundry, and even your homeschooling; none of this is nearly as important as your family knowing without a doubt that they are loved unconditionally by God through your example. And although this may seem like a tall order, it’s really not. It’s as simple as forgetting about yourself (and letting God be the one to provide your needs, emotional and otherwise), and focusing on others.
Welcome back for this next edition of our study on 1 Corinthians Chapter 13. If you missed parts one and two, or the intro, click on the links and you’ll be able to catch up with the program. Today, we continue with verse 4, where the Lord instructs us through Paul that love does not envy. What is envy, exactly?
Here is Webster’s definition:
Envy: ill will or discontent at another’s well-being or success.
I think though, more importantly, if you are envious of another person’s success or well-being, you are also discontented with your own. You might feel as if that other person has more stuff than you do, or a better life than you do. You may even feel that, because of how you live your life, you should be the one who has more. Maybe you’re frustrated at things that other person/family gets because of the fact that they are living ungodly lives, yet they seem to have more blessings than you.
It’s important to remember a few things where envy is concerned, however:
1. All of the “stuff”, money, vacations, spending in the world won’t bring people true happiness. Living a rich, fulfilled life is certainly not about possessions. Often times people think “If only my debt were paid off”, “If only I had a new….”, “If only my husband/wife would be more like….”, “then I would be happy”. But if that were true, millionaires and billionaires wouldn’t blow through their fortunes looking for more and more “happiness”. Yet they do. The giant mansion isn’t enough, so they build a super-giant mansion. Ten pairs of Prada shoes aren’t enough, so they buy 10 more. Or 20. Or 100. Looking for happiness through stuff is like chasing the wind: you’ll never catch it. Possessions in and of themselves aren’t wrong, as long as they don’t take God’s place of “First” in your life. Having money isn’t wrong. But having it be your God is. We as Christians are here, first and foremost, to help people understand the great love and power and redemption of God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything else is an aside.
2. The grass really isn’t greener on the other side. People think it is, but it’s not. I remember one time there was a couple in our group of friends. The husband seemed like the next best thing since Brad Pitt. He was attractive, fun, sweet, and made a boatload of cash. Many of us in the group would secretly talk about how good his wife must have it. Then, one day over lunch, the group of us got into a “why do guys do that?” kind of a conversation. Nothing seriously derogative or man-bashing, but just the usual leaving the toilet seat up kind of stuff. Turns out the “awesome catch” had habits that would drive the most patient woman quickly up the wall. He left his stuff everywhere at home. He spent way too much time in front of the TV. It never occurred to him that his working wife might like some help with household duties, or taking the garbage out, or making dinner. He clearly expected her to do all of this. As sweet as he was, the man was quite inconsiderate in many ways. All of us envious wives suddenly had no desire whatsoever to switch places with this gal. The way to a man’s heart may be through his stomach, but the way to a wife’s heart is through the vacuum cleaner. Men, if you want to romance your wife big time, get up and give the house a real good cleaning. She’ll be all over you like bears on honey.
But we’re getting off track. The point I’m trying to make is that we don’t always see inside the hearts and homes of others. We don’t see them when they “let their hair down” and stop putting up that social front that so many people put up, and therefore we don’t know what truly goes on in their life, marriage or family, but I can promise you this: like any life, it’s far from perfect. So just remember that when the green-eyed monster starts to try and convince you that your husband/children/house/car/life isn’t up to snuff.
3. Salvation and a true relationship with Christ is the only real way to happiness. I learned this valuable and life-changing lesson a few months ago, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Read about it here. Are you, like I was, a Christian, but still not happy? You’re missing the point, then. It may be in your head, but it’s not in your heart. It’s time to get it there.
Let’s not get confused though, and mix up envy with wanting a better life. Envy is about being resentful that others have more than you, in whatever area. But it’s a totally different thing if you know you are not having God’s best life for you. If you are walking in a life of sickness, unhappiness, debt, strife, or other strongholds of the Enemy, you can and should have a heartfelt desire deep down in your spirit; a knowing that God has a better plan for you. Not in a self-serving way, but in a blessing way. Does that make sense? God wants you blessed simply because He loves you, and so you can bless others and show others what a wonderful, loving God we serve, but those blessings have to come from God, not from the world. If you are walking in perpetual sickness of some kind or another, it’s time to seek the Lord and see how the Enemy is gaining entrance to your life, or if you might not be taking care of your body the way God designed for optimal health. If you are walking in heavy debt, it’s time to consult God and the Bible about the proper way to manage your finances. If your household is always full of strife, it’s time to check your love life and see if you’re walking in line with the instructions given to us in 1 Corin. 13, or if you’re walking on the Enemy’s path and behaving spitefully or rudely.
Do you see the difference? Envy says “Life’s not fair. So-and-so has it easy, and my life sucks, and I deserve to have what she/he/they has/have.” But the Holy Spirit talking, or righteous anger as some people call it, says “No. This (strife/debt/sickness) is not from God and not in line with what the Bible says, and Lord, I want Your plan and Your best for me and my family. Show me how to get there.”
One attitude is filled with anger and resentment, the other with hope, faith and perseverance. Therein lies the difference, plain and simple.
Don’t let envy rob you of joy and happiness. Choose today to focus on the Lord and His goodness instead.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “kind” as:
sympathetic; friendly; gentle, benevolent; gracious; agreeable; pleasant.
But what stood out to me more as I looked up the official definition of the word was the antonyms listed for the word “kind”:
The opposite of kind is: cruel, inconsiderate, unhelpful.
That struck a chord with me. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been inconsiderate and unhelpful more times than I can count, simply because “I’m too busy” to do A, B or C for my family.
However, it’s plain to see that this is not God’s intention for me as a Christian. When I think about the definition of “kind”, some behavior modifications and thought definitions that come to mind as I evaluate my own life are:
Friendly: Don’t be so defensive, especially when encountering strangers. Don’t assume the worst about them, instead, give them a friendly smile, let them go first in the line at the grocery store, etc.
Gentle: When disciplining the children, speak gently to them, explaining why your family has set a specific rule for the house and why it’s important (long-term and short-term) to their well-being if they follow that rule and learn that behavior. If the rule is not beneficial to them, you may want to re-evaluate why you have that rule.
Benevolent: Keep an eye out for good deeds to do, for your own family, and for others. Can you give outgrown clothes to a family member or friend who has younger children? Is there someone in your life who is alone and would enjoy sharing a meal with your family? Benevolence says “How can I help?” It takes the focus off of our own self and puts it on others.
Gracious: To be gracious is to show kindness, courtesy and compassion to others. Work to be empathetic to others’ situations instead of being quick to condemn or criticize them for their actions. Without enabling them, consider what the root reasons might be that the person is behaving the way they are. Work to heap mercy and grace on them, even when they don’t deserve it, just as our God did for us when He gave His Son Jesus’ life for our salvation.
Agreeable: This doesn’t mean you need to be a doormat, but really: does it matter if you go out for Chinese like your husband wants instead of Italian like you prefer? Does it matter if you watch the movie the kids want instead of the movie you wanted to see? At the same time, it’s important to teach your kids to be agreeable as well, so maybe you alternate whose turn it is to pick the movie on family movie night, encouraging the children to be agreeable to the chooser, in the name of walking in love.
Pleasant: When I think of the word pleasant, I think of a smiling person who’s enjoyable to be around. Someone who isn’t constantly complaining, but instead talking too about fun and enjoyable things. Webster’s defines pleasant as: pleasing; agreeable; cheerful; happy.
Considerate: Webster’s defines “considerate” as “being mindful of the feelings of others”. If we are to truly walk in love as Christ walks in love, we need to be aware and mindful of the feelings of those around us, both in word and in action. How will what you are planning to do or say affect the people around you? Is there a more considerate or thoughtful way you could go about it?
Helpful: I love this word. I’m not sure why, but I just feel like I know I can always count on a helpful person. My dad has always been the type of guy who’s extremely helpful. You ask him, he’s there to help if his schedule permits, and he worked hard to pass down that trait to my two brothers and I. Thus, I know that if we need something done around here that’s more than a 1 or 2 person job, I can always call my brothers. And you know what? I don’t even worry about inconveniencing them, because I know that they enjoy helping others. It gives them joy to know that they’ve shared love with others in this way, and so they’re happy to help when they can.
The Big Picture
My dear friends, walking in love through kindness gives us the opportunity to be a reflection of Jesus Christ to those around us. The Lord spoke to me one time that if we can get the unsaved (and the saved) to see and understand the love of God, they will be eager and excited to stop sinning, simply because they want so much to please God. Why? Because they understand His immense love for them, and they want to love Him back. That alone is reason enough to walk in love, isn’t it?