Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tough Love - Part 2

Relationships...the test of patience, the test of endurance and yes, the test of love.

As I get older I struggle sometimes with the energy that it takes to have relationships with those I love. Sometimes I'm tired and I don't want to exert the energy it takes to put into a relationship...even though I know in the long run that it will help it grow.

Sometimes I get frustrated with the dynamics of relationships...let's face it....some relationships we didn't choose. The people we are related to, work with, go to church with, stand in line at the grocery store with....not all of these would have been our ideal pick if we were setting ourselves up on a blind date!

And on the contrary....some people are easy to love. They work hard in the relationship to invest, counsel, love and care. We all love these people....we want more of them. We selfishly wish everyone was more like them.

But one of Christ's most challenging command was to "love your enemies...pray for those who despitefully use you". Well, isn't that....special. I'm sure Jesus couldn't have meant this....the haters, the gossipers, the users, the slanderers, the enemy....those people???....Pshhhhh...I don't think so!...Oh, but it is.

And it's hard.

Nearly impossible.

And sometimes, I don't want to do it.

I just don't want to put the effort forth.

Sometimes I'm hurt and disappointed and frustrated and it's easier to become like them....the enemy.

That's when it gets tough. And I am faced with the decision to love instead of hurt.

But it's more than that...I'm faced with the decision to obey Christ or disobey Christ. That's the more pressing issue on my heart. Do I love HIM enough to obey His commands? Do I love HIM enough to love my enemy? And what does that even mean? God's Word gives us a few ideas for loving our enemies.

1. Pray for them. Luke 6:28
2. Do not talk about their faults. I Peter 2:1
3. Set healthy God-honoring boundaries. Proverbs 22:24
4. Live peaceably with them. Don't stir up strife. Romans 12:18
5. Forgive them...whether they ask or not. Matthew 6:12

Notice this doesn't say...invite them on family vacation or for your kid's birthday party. Even God knows our limits. And while some hurts are shallow...others pierce the soul and body and in this life will never be completely forgotten. God gives us opportunities to love our enemies without them even knowing we are loving them. It's almost like loving our enemies changes us....more than it does them. Oh...wait...maybe that's His purpose anyway....Changing us through loving like He loves.

This is the tough love. This is the hard stuff. This is real love. Sort of like the love God has for me...except my love is still flawed. It's not perfect..I will fail...I will mess this up. But it's the kind of love we should all strive for...and with God's power...we can love our enemies.

Monday, February 3, 2014

True Love - Part 1

During the month of February I'll be blogging off and on about what true love looks like. This first part is about God's Love...first because without it, there is no other kind of love.

The first love I remember experiencing was of course the love of my parents and because I was raised in a home with parents that knew about God and had a relationship with Him, from an early age I learned about Jesus (God's son) love for me. From singing Jesus Loves Me, Every Day with Jesus is Sweeter than the Day Before and The attending church and Sunday School weekly, I heard the message loud and clear. God loved me.

At the young age of five I began understanding a little about this kind of unconditional love and by the age of twelve I knew beyond a doubt that this perfect, sacrificial, never-ending love that God had for me was nothing that even my good parents could compare with. And since that time it seems I keep discovering more and more of what God's love for me looks like.

- His love is's not based on what I've done or what I'm going to do. He loves me. Period. That's it. And that's my favorite. What I choose to do in return for His love is purely an offering and doesn't gain me any more love than the next gal. God doesn't play favorites...he plays intimates...what I gain from growing more in love with Him has nothing to do with Him loving me more and everything to do with me getting to know Him more intimately. He cannot love me more than He does today or did yesterday because that would mean somehow His love was deficient then or in the future...and that would contradict His character...that He is fully everything always.

- His love changes me....knowing more about who He is and how He loves makes me want to love better. He loved me first....He loved me unconditionally...He loved me in spite of the ugliness of my sin nature. He loved me knowing that I would betray Him, disappoint Him, doubt Him and fail Him. What a love to aspire to give! As I grow to know Him, I realize just how enormous this love is. I see my inadequacies and realize that no matter how I fail to measure up, He still loves me. This is such a valuable lesson for me to transfer into my own relationships. Patience is essential. As a wife and mom, my love for Bruce and my kids will be much more perfected if I can learn to love like God loves me. His love changes me from quick-tempered and mouthy to patient and kind when I stop long enough to remember His example towards me.

-His love is worth sharing....with everyone. The homeless, the church member, the single mom, the disgruntled employee, the grocery checker, the president of the USA, the orphan, the drunkard, the student and everyone in-between. There is not one single person that doesn't deserve to hear of His great love...not the homosexual, the man with AIDS, the druggie, the pot smoking hippie, the naked tribal man in the jungles of the Philippines or the American college student at the finest left winged institution. The way the world finds out that we know about this God of love is BY our love.

John 13:35 says, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

That's the way we are associated with Jesus....that's how other's know that we belong to our love...our Godly love towards them. It's not a weak love, it's not a pushover love, it's not a do whatever you want and never pay a consequence for your actions kind of It is a love that offers grace for each mistake, hope for every rotten self inflicted bad choice and peace for the soul that longs for more than sleepless nights of tossing and turning over the problems of this world.

He loves you just like that. NOW. Right this minute. This is the kind of love that can be yours for the asking. Too good to be true?'s a one in an eternity kind of perfect love. That's my God's love....true love.