Love and Humanity
We Are Confused About Love And Lust
“And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Galatians 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Hollywood declares that lust equals love and we are deceived into thinking that it is unrealistic to expect love to work unless there is sex. Sex outside the commitment of marriage carries with it a huge burden—guilt, deceit, worries about pregnancy or disease, the potential for considering abortion or adoption, the possibility of raising a child without a father or having to pay child support without the benefit of a close relationship with your child. This is a selfish love that only fulfils the lust of the flesh. It is dependant on whether we are in the other person’s good graces at the time. When the period of infatuation ends or a disagreement occurs, the feeling diminishes.
God’s love is unconditional. There is nothing we can ever do or say that will take His love away from us or make Him love us more. The freedom we have in Christ includes a freedom to make the right choices. God knows that lust is a poor counterfeit for Biblical love. Sin is a break down of our relationship with Him and, in desiring our highest good, He will discipline us if we are disobedient (Hebrews 12:5–6). But our sinfulness will never diminish God’s love for us.
Consider the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:19–21. What does it mean to crucify the flesh (Galatians 5:24–25) and what practical results would be observed in the life of such a person as a result?
Getting rid of the thing that is causing us to lust will restore our relationship with God and others.
Is there anything that is causing you to sin with your mind or your body? Cut it off!
• Put a block on websites that tempt.
• Don’t go to or hire the movie.
• Change the channel.
• Revisit the boundaries in your relationship and set them much further away.
• Avert your eyes.
• Break off the relationship. Pray and trust God to work in both your lives if you are meant to be together.
• Take your thoughts captive for Christ and don’t daydream.
What action are you going to take?
Love and Humanity
We Are Confused About What Love Means
“Greater love has no-one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
1 Corinthians 13:4–8a, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
What is love?
“If you want me to love you, you have to be worthy of my love.”
“The other person has to accept you as you are.”
“There is no one way to love. It’s interpreted differently by different people.”
“Love comes down to life expectancies and different experiences.”
“Love is accepting someone for who they are and what they are.”
“Love is accepting just because people do things differently doesn’t mean they are wrong.”
One teenager said, “Being nice to others”
A child said, “I dunno, liking someone a lot”.
Here’s how Jesus loved: He sought to bless the lives of others; He was patient for God’s timing and purposes; He was kind whether or not others were kind to Him; He was not jealous of someone else’s abilities or recognition but understood who He was; He was humble with no need to prove anything to anyone; He was polite and gentle; He surrendered His rights; He was composed; He forgave without keeping a record of wrongs; He saw the hurt and hated the evil; He laid down His life for us; His love is unconditional and unchanging.
Think about the last days of Jesus’ life on earth beginning with His washing of the disciples’ feet and ending with His death on the cross (John 13:1–30 and Matthew 26:47–27:50). Reading through the list of words or phrases below, identify how Jesus’ actions demonstrated love.
Love is much more than an emotion or something you give depending on how you are treated.
Today, begin to develop the habit of thinking positively about those around you. Make a decision to think well of others whether they deserve it or not. Search for the good rather than dwelling on past behaviour or immediately jumping to a negative conclusion.
Not easily angered:
Keeps no record of wrongs:
Rejoices with the truth and does
not delight in evil:
Love and Humanity
We Are Confused About Our Rights
“As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”
1 Peter 2:18–24, “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
Theologian Dr. John Stott said, “If only the spirit of self-assertion could be replaced by the spirit of self-sacrifice, our conflicts would cease”.
In the life of Joseph we discover a man who entrusted himself completely into the care of his Heavenly Father. Joseph could have complained that his rights were being infringed by being imprisoned unfairly or that the chief butler should be fired for breaking his promise or that his brothers should be hunted down and killed for what they had done to him. Instead he contentedly accepted his position and waited patiently for God’s perfect timing. Joseph knew that God had the power to control his life and he trusted that He would do so in the most perfect way. To read the story of Joseph see Genesis 37–50.
How is the insistence of our democratic or human rights in conflict with Jesus’ example to us?
An omnipotent, sovereign God is more than capable of working out our problems.
Have you been insisting on your right to do something or to be treated in a certain way? If nothing immediately comes to mind, pray and ask God to reveal any area where you might not be trusting Him to judge righteously. Commit it to Him to deal with. Ask Him to protect you from taking it back again or worrying about it in the future. What is the right that you have been insisting on?
Love and Humanity
We Are Confused About Our Comfort Zones
“Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.”
2 Corinthians 5:14–15, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
Worldly love says, “whatever makes you happy” where happiness is the pursuit of self-pleasure. Godly love says, “whatever makes God happy” indicating that happiness is the pursuit of self-sacrifice. The reason that most people will not climb out of their comfort zones to love as Jesus loves is pride.
“I can handle things by myself.”
“I’m okay, God and I are sweet.”
“God’s not going to give me what I want so what’s the point anyway?”
“God’s ways are going to make me miserable.”
“God is using me as His instrument to sort out the problem so I have to insist on my rights.”
“I’ve tried and God never answers my prayers so what’s the point?”
“I’m sure God told me to do things a different way so I’m sticking to that.”
“If I start repaying evil with good, how are they going to know that what they’ve done is evil?”
“Who’s going to look after my interests?”
God always has our best interests in mind. When we surrender to His ways He will freely give us all things we need (Romans 8:32).
How is self-sacrifice living for Jesus?
Self-sacrifice will take you out of your comfort zone.
Yesterday we identified an area where we had been insisting on our right to do something or be treated in a certain way. Think of one way that the person concerned deserves encouragement or congratulations. Write a note to the person concerned (that you might later decide to send), apologising for your behaviour and encouraging or congratulating them as you identified.
Love and Humanity
We Are Confused About Our Past Hurts
“But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favouritism to no man—for those who seemed to be
something added nothing to me.”
Luke 10:16, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
Our Lord Jesus knows all about rejection. He told us to expect to be persecuted for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:10–12). He also taught that a student is not greater than his teacher—if they rejected Him, we too will be rejected (Matthew 10:24–25). If we are truly imitating Jesus, we should expect to be treated in this way. It is how we deal with that rejection that is important. Rejection could cause us to react in the flesh—revenge, bitterness, put downs, anger, withholding forgiveness.
Rejection can be a catalyst for change if we use the opportunity to examine our own conduct in the situation. Rejection should also cause us to turn to the care of our loving Heavenly Father. God promises to help us (Hebrews 13:6), to be with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9) and to work everything together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). There is absolutely nothing that can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38–39) so if we set aside past hurt and allow His love to flow through us, we too will be able to show selfless love.
How have you have reacted to hurts in the past and how these have helped or hindered you in your walk with God?
If we are rejected when we exercise Biblical love, it is Jesus who is also being rejected. Cast your anxiety on Him and He will care for you.
In humility ask God to reveal to you any areas where you have reacted in the flesh when you were hurt. Take the time to listen for His voice. Name your anxiety and give it to Him to deal with. Repent of your reaction and begin loving.
Lord, I have been reacting in the flesh in this area:
I repent of it and ask you to take my anxiety regarding it. Heal me from my hurt. Do not let me have bitter envy or self-seeking in my heart because those things are earthly, sensual and/or demonic. Heal me from the confusion that has resulted from the way I have been
handling this. Give me a pure heart that is peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy (James 3:13–18).
Love and Humanity
We Are Confused About Self
“Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
1 John 3:17, “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?”
On a recent visit to a supermarket, a man with a heavily tattooed face was sitting outside begging money for food. He was polite and blessed me when I said that I didn’t carry cash with me. At that stage, even if I had had some cash on me I wouldn’t have given it to him because I thought, “he’ll just spend it on drugs or alcohol”. What I failed to factor in was that I am required by God to consider his highest good and I am not responsible for the way he spends his money. If I were even considering the man’s interests just a little rather than my own, I might have asked him what food he wanted and bought him some.
God always sees the potential in our lives. Despite our sinfulness, He was not ashamed to offer us the greatest gift—salvation through Jesus. At salvation we don’t immediately become exactly like Jesus. We are slowly being transformed into His likeness. He continuously gives us grace for the sinful things He’s still working on in us. What right do we have to withhold that same love from others? God calls us to surrender to self and submit to His Word and His will. The consequence or the blessing for that decision rests with us.
How much of a person’s story can we see by just looking at them? How much does God know about the person (1 Samuel 16:7)? How does this fact influence your decision to leave the consequences of another’s behaviour up to God to deal with in the future?
We see the outward appearance but God sees the heart.
Be discerning and led by the Holy Spirit’s prompting when confronted with needs. Pray and ask God to reveal to you anyone who needs your help now and act on it.