Learning to Fall in Love … With Myself

I have written a number of posts about how we, as Christians, are called to love others – both believers and unbelievers. In fact, we are not only encouraged to love others, we are commanded to love others.

Joh 15:17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

Next to loving God, loving others is the second most important commandment.

Mar 12:29-31 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment.  And the second is like this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

Notice that the second commandment has a ‘qualifier’ added to it: love your neighbour as yourself.

We are told that we are to love, respect and treat other people just as we would do so for ourselves. BUT – what if we don’t love ourselves?  And just what does it mean to ‘love ourselves’?

Loving ourselves – hmmm – sounds sort of narcissistic and selfish to me. You know – kind of “mirror-mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all” attitude. There are certainly more than enough selfish, self-absorbed people to go around in this world. But is that the type of love that God means when He says that we are to love ourselves?

I’ll give you a clue – the answer is NO!

The instruction to love your neighbour as you love yourself is mentioned seven times in the New Testament. The word ‘love’ that is used in each one of those scriptures is the Greek word ‘agapao’. We commonly know it as ‘agape’ love and it means to love in a moral or social sense. It is a love based on conscious choice, not feeling or emotion. It means to love because it is the right thing to do rather than waiting to ‘feel’ like loving. It is not a selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed kind of love. It is the kind of love that God has towards mankind – whether we deserve it or not.

God tells us that we are to love ourselves in this way. We must choose to love ourselves even if we don’t feel like we deserve it. Do you love yourself? I know that loving myself has been a HUGE problem for me over the years. Being left by first my father and then my husband gives the old self esteem a real kick in the teeth! My being a sensitive, self-conscious, perfectionist people-pleaser does not help the situation either. I am my own worst critic and thus perhaps my own worst enemy.

Thankfully, I have a gracious, merciful and patient Heavenly Father who is willing and able to help me change my distorted view of myself. He does this by telling me that He loves me.

Joh 16:27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came out from God.

Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us

1Jn 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation concerning our sins.

God even loved me when I was an unsaved sinner!

Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us (even when we were dead in sins)…

And since the time that I accepted Jesus as my Saviour, God adopted me into His family and loves me as His daughter.

Eph 1:5 having predestined us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,…

If God loved me even when I was in my sinful state, and now loves me as His daughter, shouldn’t I learn to love myself??

Thankfully, I am finally learning to do just that. Through the truths that God has given me in His Word, and through the love of a wonderful husband that God has blessed me with, I am learning to be kinder to myself, learning to see myself through their eyes, learning to fall in love …. with myself.

I pray that you also are able to love yourselves as God loves you.

Blessings

(See my post “In His Eyes”)

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In The Suffering

In a number of previous posts, I have shared my struggles with various health issues. I share them for a number of reasons. Firstly, I want people to understand that being a Christian does not mean that everything is going to be sweetness and light. Secondly, I want readers to know that I am a real person with real struggles and that I constantly need to turn to God for help, comfort and strength. And thirdly, I want others who may be suffering and/or struggling to know that there is a God of love, comfort, peace and joy who is ready, willing and able to help us through any and all the things that we may go through in this life.

Joh 16:24 Before now you have asked nothing in My name; ask (in the name of Jesus) and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.

1Jn 3:21,22 Beloved, if our heart does not accuse us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask, we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Eph 3:20 Now to Him (God) who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,…

The month of February has been a challenging one for me physically. It has been bitterly cold with high winds and blowing snow. My pain and fatigue levels have increased as have depression and anxiety. All of this on top of having to pack and clean for a move. To say that I am a bit grumpy at times may be an understatement. To be honest, I am fed up!!

Yet, even as I sit here feeling like crap (yes, I am a Christian and I said ‘crap’) I realize that I have many blessings for which I should be thankful.

I am thankful for medicinal ‘helps’ which God provides to alleviate my symptoms. I am thankful that He does not judge me for my lack of faith in my moments of weakness. Rather, I know that He is compassionate and understanding.

Psa 86:15 But You, O God, are God full of pity, and gracious, long-suffering, and rich in mercy and truth.

Likewise, I know that my Saviour, Jesus, also suffered pain, fatigue and sorrow.

Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted just as we are, yet without sin.

In this miserable weather, I am thankful for warm clothes and shelter. I think of, and pray for, those who must endure this weather without benefit of warm clothes or shelter and I help in whatever way I can.

1Ti 6:8 But having food and clothing, we will be content.

In my pain, fatigue and grumpiness, I am very thankful for a loving, compassionate, understanding and patient husband. I thank God for my hubby every day because he loves me as God commands a husband to love his wife.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,

In my rough mornings, I am thankful for a comfortable chair, a hot cup of tea, a purring cat upon my lap and a good book to read. I am even more blessed if the sun is shining upon my face.

In my suffering, I am thankful for dear sisters-in-Christ who pray for me and offer words and gestures of help and comfort.

1Th 5:11 Therefore comfort one another, and edify one another, even as you also do.

Jas 5:16 Confess faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.

And in my suffering, I am so grateful for the sure knowledge of my salvation and for the hope that when Jesus comes again, I will be made whole and I will no longer endure suffering, pain or sorrow.

1Ti 2:3,4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Rev 21:4 And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away.

PRAISE GOD!

I pray that you will reach out to God in your suffering and find help in your time of need.

Heb 4:16 Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Blessings

 

 

 

Fifty Shades of …. Wrongness

Hollywood decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day, a day that is supposed to be about love, by releasing the movie ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. This movie is about anything BUT love.

God clearly tells us in His Word what is love:

1Co 13:4 Love is never tired of waiting; love is kind; love has no envy; love has no high opinion of itself, love has no pride;
1Co 13:5 Love’s ways are ever fair, it takes no thought for itself; it is not quickly made angry, it takes no account of evil;
1Co 13:6 It takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, but has joy in what is true;
1Co 13:7 Love has the power of undergoing all things, having faith in all things, hoping all things.
1Co 13:8 Though the prophet’s word may come to an end, tongues come to nothing, and knowledge have no more value, love has no end. (BBE)

‘Love is kind’ – sadistic/masochistic sexual practices are NOT love.

‘Love has no envy’ – selfish, jealous possessiveness is NOT love.

‘Love’s ways are ever fair’ – taking sexual pleasure at someone else’s expense is NOT love.

‘Love takes no thought of itself” – selfish sexual practices which do not take into account a partners comfort and enjoyment are NOT love.

‘Love takes no pleasure in wrongdoing’ – sexual satisfaction gained  through un-natural, hurtful, and shameful practices is NOT love.

God meant sex to be part of a loving relationship between a husband and wife. A relationship that is based on mutual respect and the selfless desire to please one another.

1Co 7:3, 4 Let the husband give to the wife what is right; and let the wife do the same to the husband. The wife has not power over her body, but the husband; and in the same way the husband has not power over his body, but the wife.

God is very clear about how a man should treat a woman.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, …

Eph 5:28, 29 So men ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord loves the church.

Sadomasochistic sex is NOT loving “as the Lord loves the church”!

And ladies – we were created to be a ‘help-mate’ to our husbands, NOT a sex toy or slave to his selfish desires!

Gen 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

As Christians, we need to take a stand for what is right, good and pure.

Php 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 

We need to be “salt and light” in this sinful world.

Mat 5:13-16 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

This is my prayer for us:

Php 1:9, 10 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

I am including links to two other blog posts that I thought were well written on this subject. I thank those authors.

http://fightthenewdrug.org/five-things-fifty-shades-of-grey-teaches/#sthash.zViX7bpa.dpbs

http://www.bonbonbreak.com/letter-children-fifty-shades-grey/

Love, Love, Love

Since today is Valentine’s Day, I thought it only appropriate to discuss ‘that crazy little thing called love”. God and Love are inseparable. 1Joh. 4:8 states that “God is love”. To know and understand the one is to know and understand the other. But how little, it seems, do we truly understand either – perhaps, especially, the ‘love’ part.

I think if we were to conduct a survey on what people think ‘love’ means, we would get a wide variety of answers (especially comparing the answers of gals to guys). Unfortunately, there are many people in this world who could not tell you what love means because they have never experienced it for themselves. And then there are those who mistake desire, attraction, and even lust as love.

So what is this thing we call ‘love’? Did you know that there is not just one definition of love? The Bible mentions at least 4 types of love. (and we thought that one was confusing enough!)

Physical Love

One type of love in the Bible can be defined by the Greek word ‘eros’, which describes the physical, sensual love , Biblically speaking, between a husband and his wife. Although the word ‘eros’ does not appear in the Bible, we can see this type of love described in the Song of Solomon.

Son 1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.

Son 4:10 How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!

While it is possible to have this type of love for someone, God meant it to be between a man and a woman who are husband and wife. And He meant it to be just one part of the whole package of love. A relationship based on sexual attraction alone is not what God wants for a healthy marriage. When the sags, and the bags and the wrinkles and the grey hair comes along (and it will) there must be something more lasting than physical attraction.

Family Love (natural bonding)

Another type of love in the Bible comes from the Greek word ‘storge’ and refers to the natural bonding that occurs between a parent and their child and between family members.

Paul uses the negative form of the word in Romans and 2 Timothy when he describes what happens to mankind when man turns away from God.

Rom 1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

2Ti 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

In contrast, Paul uses a positive form of the word in Romans to describe how we should behave towards one another.

Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Affectionate Love (feeling)

“Brotherly love’ is another form of love. Many of us know that the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is also called ‘the city of brotherly love’. Philadelphia is a city mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

Rev 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write;…

The name of Philadelphia comes from the Greek root word ‘philia’ which describes warm-hearted affection and friendship; a relationship based on brotherly love and kindness. While ‘storge’ love is a natural bonding, ‘philia’ love is based more on ‘feelings’. I don’t know about you but in my own life I have met people towards whom I have taken an instant liking. Then there have been those people who have made my skin crawl and my teeth ache from gritting them so hard. You know, the kind of people who make you feel like you would rather endure a toothache than spend another moment with them.

I do not believe that God expects us to have this kind of love towards everyone. This type of love is based on feelings and there are many people with whom we just don’t ‘click’. However, when I read the scriptures where this type of love is mentioned, it seems that we, as Christians, are supposed to show this type of love towards other Christians. After all, we are all of the ‘family of God’ and as such are all ‘brothers and sisters in Christ’ so it is only right that we treat one another with ‘brotherly love’.

Rom 12:9, 10 Let love be without hypocrisy, shrinking from evil, cleaving to good; in brotherly love to one another, loving fervently, having led one another in honor.

1Th 4:9 But regarding brotherly love, you do not need that I write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.

Let brotherly love continue.

2Pe 1:5-7 So, for this very cause, take every care; joining virtue to faith, and knowledge to virtue, And self-control to knowledge, and a quiet mind to self-control, and fear of God to a quiet mind, And love of the brothers to fear of God, and to love of the brothers, love itself. (BBE)

I have saved the most important, and possibly the most challenging, type of love for last.

Love of Choice (moral or spiritual sense)

This type of love in the New Testament is the Greek word ‘agape’.  ‘Agape’ love can be described as being benevolent and affectionate. It’s root comes from the Greek word ‘agapao’ which means to love in a moral sense. Putting the two ideas together, it is the type of love in which you choose to show benevolence and affection towards another person, whether you feel like it or not or whether that person deserves it or not. It is not a love that is based on attraction, connection or feeling. It is a love based on choice. Agape love is the highest form of love and it is the kind of love that God has towards us. It is the kind of love that God has for us, even when we are sinners and don’t deserve His love.

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1Jn 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

God chose, and continues to choose, to love mankind – sinful mankind – even though, as sinners, we do not deserve His love. And in God’s great love for sinful mankind, He was willing to send His only begotten son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sin. Agape love is the love Jesus showed towards all sinners by willingly taking the punishment of death that we, as sinners, deserved.

1Jn 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Agape love is the highest form of love and it is the form of love that we, as Christians, are commanded to show to the unsaved world and to each other.

Joh 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Let us work hard at choosing to love others.

Blessings

The Incomplete Message of John 3:16

My apartment is a veritable maze of boxes in various stages of packing. My cat, Emma, is enjoying all the new viewing stages and resting spots all these boxes are providing. But why a cat would prefer to sleep on top of a hard cardboard box rather than her cushioned chair is a mystery to me. For myself, I am sick of looking at boxes! And I can’t believe that this small apartment holds so much stuff! At the end of the day, I feel like a lab rat who has to negotiate a maze before I can get my treat – which in my case would be my bed!

Because of all that is going on in my brain as I prepare for our move, there hasn’t been a lot of brain power left over to write a new post. But I thought that I would take a few minutes today to write a short one.

This morning, as I was performing my morning ritual of ‘bathing in the glow’ of my SAD lamp (that’s a light for those of us who are on the ‘dim’ side of things during the winter) I watched a DVD of Chonda Pierce, who is a Christian comedienne. Although she is humourous, her humour often contains important lessons for those of us who call ourselves Christians.

One of her stories was about how she went into a Christian bookstore with a Jewish man, who had never before been in a Christian bookstore. He noted all the products that had ‘John 3:16’ printed on them. He asked Chonda if that was an important date for Christians. He was interested because his birthday was March, 16th.

Chonda explained that John 3:16 indicated the book, chapter and verse where a truth (I would say the main truth) of God’s word could be found. And this is that truth:

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you probably know that verse off by heart. It contains two unchangeable truths 1) God loves us and he loves us so much, that He sent His son to die for us 2) If we believe in Jesus, who he is and what he did for us, then we will live for eternity.

Now we Christians may say “Yes, I know that. Yup, I get it.” And if we truly do ‘get it’ then we should be sharing that good news with others – and maybe you do. But that isn’t all of the story and the truth that is contained in that small section of scripture. And this is what Chonda continued to point out in her story – how the scripture goes on to say:

Joh 3:17, 18 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes on Him is not condemned,…

And I think that it is right there that many of us Christians get God’s message wrong. We may be good about spouting off John 3:16 but we neglect to back it up with behaviour that supports those next two verses. Notice vs. 17 states that God DID NOT send Jesus into the world to condemn the world. Without salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, this world is condemned already. You don’t have to look too far to see the glaring evidence of sin, wickedness and evil that is present in this world. God did not send Jesus into the world to ‘rub salt into the wound’, as it were, of this hurting world. God sent Jesus to love us back into His kingdom.

And that is where we often get it so terribly wrong. As Christians, we are way too ready, willing and eager to look upon others with judgement and condemnation. God’s Word plainly tells us that He did not use Jesus to bring condemnation upon us, but – oh how often do we use Jesus to bring condemnation upon others – both unbelievers and believers?

Yes, the sad truth is that Christians can be very hurtful towards others. I was once told that the term ‘Bible thumpers’ could be used to describe those Christians who like to use the Word of God to ‘thump’ people with correction. We use God’s Word to condemn people for what they wear, for how they look, for what they eat, for what they say, for what they do and for what they have done. We use Jesus as a weapon to cut people down rather than a tool to build people up.

John 3:17 states that the world is saved through Jesus. How did Jesus bring people to salvation? Was it with judgement, criticism and condemnation? No, he brought people to salvation by speaking the truth with LOVE and in LOVE. “LOVE” is who God is.

1Jn 4:8 The one who does not love has not known God. For God is love.

When we condemn others, we are not operating in the love of God. And if we are not operating in God’s love, in His way of loving, then we are not ‘of God’. And if we are not ‘of God’ we can not call ourselves Christians.

1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God.
1Jn 4:8 The one who does not love has not known God.

So the next time you tell someone about John 3:16, don’t forget that the message is incomplete if you neglect the truth about ‘no condemnation’.

1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God

Blessings