December 20, 2017
We’ve all heard the commandment to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 19:19). This is easier said than done if we have no love in our hearts for ourselves. But do you realize that Jesus took it even further when He said that we’re to love our enemies the way that Christ does? That means that the guy who cut you off on the road today and then flipped you the bird, the lady who cut in front of you in line while you were checking out, your in-laws who drive you nuts whenever you see them, the friend who hurt you so bad you can’t even look at them without getting angry… yup, all of them. You’re called to not only forgive and let it go, but also to go further than that and love them beyond reason! I’m not even talking about a passive love that just ignores behavior. I’m talking about love like Jesus’ love: the core-shaking, history-rewriting, makes-no-sense, almost-too-much kind of love.
“Yeah, okay Kris. We all know we’re supposed to love. What’s the point?” you may be thinking…
My point is that it’s easy to love when the offense against you hasn’t affected your heart. But what about the person who deeply affected you? The one who you can’t even talk about without getting angry? That one. Let’s go after THAT one today.
Love Yourself First
We are commanded in the Bible to love ourselves. In Matthew 19:19 it says to “…love your neighbor as yourself.” That word “AS” is a big deal. It means to the measure or degree to which you love yourself is how you can love others.
Remember that outrageous, core-shaking love that we’re to give away? Well we can’t do that if we don’t first receive it for ourselves first. Many people have reasons for why they don’t love themselves. They carry around shame, guilt and regret thinking they’re telling God, “I feel really bad for this and I don’t want you to think I did this on purpose.” The underlying belief is, “If I stay guilty, God will know I’m really sorry.” If you don’t allow Jesus to forgive you, and therefore forgive yourself, you’re saying to Jesus: “What you did on the cross isn’t good enough.” Ouch!
But! Jesus forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness, which is to cleanse us from the very very core reason we did it in the first place. So, for the love of the world, if you’re carrying around crap from your past, and you’ve asked Jesus to forgive you, it’s time to let it go.
Revenge Doesn’t Taste as Sweet As Love
Years ago I was working in a car service station with my great friend named Steve. In the first month someone stole tires from us, and later the guy was caught and arrested. About a year later he came in to the shop to have some work done on his truck, but what he didn’t know was that we knew he was the one who stole from us. I decided I was going to tear his motor in pieces and just hand it to him in a box, to get back at him for what he did. Steve, my close friend, walked by me while I was enjoying getting my revenge and asked what I was doing. I told him I wanted to make sure this guy never stole anything from me again. Steve said, “what would Jesus do?” That’s all it took. I had to put the whole thing back together again and fixed up the truck.
When the owner came back in to pick it up, I gave him the bill and on it I had written “Jesus paid this in full.” The guy looked at me confused. I told him, “You know you stole my tires months ago and Jesus told me that I should forgive you to show you how He thinks of your entire life. He’s already forgiven you.” He just stood there for a few minutes. Then he got in the truck and stared out the window almost in a trance for like five minutes. At that moment I realized it was so much more fun to love someone who didn’t deserve it than someone who did.
Love The People Who Intentionally Hurt You
Luke 6:27 says, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
There’s something thrilling about loving people who wrong you! But I have to admit some people who hate me are not fun to love. Just because you love someone who doesn’t love you, it doesn’t mean they’re going to like you. But it does mean that your favor is extended with the Lord.
My point is that just as God forgives us even when we do something on purpose even though we know it’s wrong, we should forgive others who hurt us, even when they know it’s wrong. Just as God loved us before we ever loved Him, we should love others before they ever love us.
My Prayer for You
Today I release God’s power and love over you as you read these words. I break guilt, shame, regret, self hatred, self punishment off of you. I release the HOLY Spirit into the space you’re in right now. I remind you that the power of the HOLY Spirit is much more powerful than any other spirit. I declare that you are clean, free, forgiven, loved and that you owe nothing. I release grace over you to give the Lord permission to love you the way He always wanted to love you.
My prayer is that as you go into this next week, and all the crazy energy that can surround the Christmas time, that you would be filled to overflow with love. I pray that you would be renewed in your excitement to love others right now, whether it’s the people in the store who grabbed the last toy you’ve spent hours looking for, or that crazy uncle who drives you nuts at the Christmas gathering, or your sibling who knows just the right buttons to push. LOVE THEM BIGGER than what they deserve, and wait to see the glory of God shine on you!
But Seriously…What Would Jesus Do?
As cheesy and old-school as it sounds, the old adage, “What would Jesus do?” carries so much power when you realize what He’s already done for you. So the next time you encounter someone who seems unlovable, take a moment and ask yourself that question. It may even be a good idea to prep yourself before going to your family gatherings this year with this in mind—picture the person who bothers you and ask God how He would treat them this year. Then follow through! How do you plan to love beyond reason next week? I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and process in the comments!
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