Are You Ready To Receive the Greater Love?
The Bible defines “self-centeredness” as a sin.
Romans 8:6 - "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,"
Did you know that “self-centeredness” is the source of all grief, trouble, confusion, oppression, depression, anxiety, chaos, hopelessness, emotional pain, betrayal, deception, and the list goes on and on? So, ultimately, “self-centeredness” is the cause of ALL death!
Romans 5:12 - "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—"
Seriously, if you sit down and think about it for just one moment, “self-centeredness” is the enemy of our souls, and it's out to kill us all, but not until after we’ve been tortured and destroyed by it first.
Romans 5:18 - "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men."
So, for our purposes here, “self-centeredness” is the act of putting yourself first, positionally, meaning you’ve placed YOU right in the middle of everything, making YOU the most important sole focal point of just about everything YOU are involved in. So, don’t laugh, it's true!
James 3:16 - "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing."
Picture in your mind any “self-centered act,” and I mean any “self-centered act.” All self-centeredness, in the end, is a sin. For our experiment, any self-centered act will do. Picture it in your head.
Romans 6:23 - "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Now follow that picture like a video and play it out to its logical conclusion. If you are honest, I guarantee, you’ll discover a “sin” (or sins) at the core of your picture.
Colossians 3:9 - "Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,"
Meaning, if you are honest, you’ll admit that self-centeredness is the originator of ANY and ALL of your grief, trouble, confusion, oppression, depression, and all the rest of the negative garbage that tries to hurt you and will eventually destroy you, even taking your life, if you let it.
â??â??Ephesians 4:22-23 - "that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth."
What do you say we ask God to take out the garbage? If you are ready for a radical change in your life, then let’s get radical and allow God to “take out your garbage!” But, then, get ready to love your enemies!
Ephesians 4:31-32 - "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Here’s the experiment. For the rest of this week, go out of your way to LOVE people who you know won’t love you back (an enemy). Purposely serve those you know won’t appreciate your act of kindness and love. Record what happens. Write down your experience.
Romans 12:20 - “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
Be genuine and put your whole heart into this experiment. Be authentic and intentional with your love and acts of kindness. Just love and let live, and let’s see what transpires.
John 4:10-11, 13 - "Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She *said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
Can you see yourself loving the unlovable people in your life? Can you see yourself giving yourself in service to those who hate you and even despise you? Jesus did.
Philippians 2:8 - "Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
The woman described in John chapter 4 above was considered by the Jews of that day to be a despised lowly traitor. As a Samaritan, she was a sworn enemy of the Jews. However, that did not stop Jesus from loving her.
1 John 3:14 - "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death."
Jesus loved her regardless. He served her living water, and she and many others received eternal life from that one act of love.
John 7:38 - "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
Jesus is our example, and He set the tone for us to follow. He offered rivers of living water to a “despised outcast,” a sin-filled condemned Samaritan woman, asking us to do the same. Can you?
To continue with the experiment….
Before you start “loving your enemy,” you need a plan. It would help if you had a guideline to go by. And, when your results are in, and they are looking good, you’ll have a ready-made successful story to share with others.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 - "And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
If the outcome is good, let’s share it with others so it can be duplicated repeatedly.
Romans 12:9 - "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”
This week as you go out to love those who hate you, find authentic ways to lift them up, to honor them in authentic ways, ways they would appreciate. And do it more than once.
Romans 12:10 - "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;”
Keep in mind the entire time that you are serving God. Jesus suffered and died and was resurrected to benefit EVERYONE, even His enemies.
Romans 12:11 - “not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; “
His gift of grace is extended to everyone because it was meant for everyone—even those who hated Him. Because of the joy set before Him, Jesus never ceased praying for us, and He’s still interceding for us today.
Romans 12:12 - “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,”
God absolutely loves EVERYONE, and He does not wish that a single person would perish. He came to serve people and destroy the works of the devil through love. Jesus blessed those who hated Him, and in doing so, He destroyed the devourer through love.
Romans 12:13 - “contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”
Jesus saved the world through love WHILE THE WORLD WAS AT ITS WORSE. So, don’t judge those who hate you; love them as Jesus did. For goodness sakes, give them water if they are thirsty!
Romans 12:14 - “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”
If anyone wishes to participate in this experiment, they must be willing to temporarily put away all self-centeredness, and become totally “other’s-centered.” There is no other way to do this experiment. Self-centeredness does not allow love for one another.
Romans 12:15 - “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.“
One of the reasons so many people are lost, lonely, and depressed is that their entire life is about themselves. They are constantly self-centered. Unfortunately, that prevents them from receiving love.
Romans 12:16 - “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”
If your happiness and fulfillment are based on receiving for yourself, how can you serve others?
Romans 12:17 - “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Instead, respect what is right in the sight of all men.”
You’ll always be fearful you’ll lose your happiness and won't be fulfilled because you’re caught up serving others.
Romans 12:18 - “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Try it; LOVE THOSE WHO HATE YOU AND FIND OUT!
Romans 12:19 - “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “
Jesus, as God humbled Himself and came down from Heaven and became a man. He was despised and rejected and hated and then tortured and killed for our sakes. Yet, he endured all that to SAVE US ALL, including His enemies! Now that is love!
Romans 12:20 - “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
In reality, this is no experiment; this is eternal life. For the believer, Jesus is our life - He’s our only source for everything. My confidence in Christ is unshakable. Having said that, sometimes it is good to stretch and to be challenged and to test our faith and to grow stronger in His grace and His faith.
Romans 12:21 - “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
This week's teaching reflects the Clearview Girls Academy Guiding Principle #1, "I will love..."
This week's teaching reflects the Clearview Girls Academy Guiding Principle #1, "I will love..."
MONDAY: When “Nothing” is Our Truth
TUESDAY: Bless Those Who Curse Me?
THURSDAY: What is Truth? Good Question!
FRIDAY: I AM BLESSED IF….