Monday, July 12, 2010

Loving Others MORE Than Yourself

"LUKEWARM PEOPLE love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward and uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached." p. 73

So... are you getting really sick and tired of the lukewarm characteristics yet? I'm going to be completely honest here. This characteristic is one that I truly struggle with... but at the same time, I have no desire to change it (at least, nothing beyond a superficial desire). In fact, just a few weeks ago, my husband brought this exact issue to my attention, saying that my behavior towards someone wasn't very "Christian-like." My response, I'm ashamed to admit, was this: "I don't care. No Christian is perfect and I'm claiming this as one of my imperfections." I kid you not, I really said this! But why?

Well, I think the most obvious reason is pride. In this particular case, the person in question did something that was completely unacceptable (from a Biblical perspective)...has done many things that are completely unacceptable. None of her actions have been directed towards me, or my family, personally; however, the repercussions of her actions have adversely affected all of us. Quite honestly, I didn't think it was fair. And when you get down to it, something not being "fair" is all about pride...because it means we feel as if we don't "deserve" our current predicament... at least, in our opinion we don't deserve it! So, the next logical question is to ask WHY we feel as if if don't deserve it...or better yet, why do we feel like we deserve something better.

As I get deeper and deeper into this study, it is becoming painfully aware that I have mixed Biblical principles with modern social mores....meaning that my frame of reference for "Right and Wrong" are not solely based on Biblical principles. They are also based on what society has conditioned me to believe... what I have ALLOWED. In my example, the latter obviously trumped the former. In our society, we overwhelming promote the belief of "an eye for an eye," or "what comes around goes around." In our society it's about looking out for number one. And, I guess, with our faith, the same principle holds true... except, in that case, the number one is God... not us!

I grew up with my dad always telling me that I have to look out for #1 because no one else is going to. And I will admit that holding on to that mantra has gotten me through a lot of heart aches in life. But, on the flip side of that, it has held me back from endless possibilities. I always expect the worst from people... so that way I wasn't disappointed in the end. But maybe if I tried to find the best in people, things would be different. Maybe if I caught myself being negative... and forced myself to be positive... then things would start to change. Sometimes, despite our efforts, it's just too difficult to love a negative person. But, I need to do a better job of understanding that there's a reason people are negative. Something horrible could be going on in their lives. There's a reason people are snobby or obnoxious...maybe they were raised that way, or maybe they are masking their own insecurities. We need to stop writing people off so easily just because they rub us the wrong way, or offend our sensibilities. We need to stop holding ourselves on a pedestal, because we are not worthy. The only one we need to hold up is God.


Spend some time thinking about someone you find hard to love... maybe you can think of more than one. Pray that God opens your eyes and your heart to those people. Ask for Him to help you love them more... and maybe love yourself less.

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