Posts Tagged ‘love’

kindness of God

March 25, 2010

I was reading in Luke the other day and this passage I’ve read numerous times, just stopped me in my tracks. I think reading the Bible in different translations/versions is very helpful for this very reason. Reading something I’m familiar with in different words brings to light nuances or meanings I’ve totally overlooked before. Here it is:

“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are un-thankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. . . .”  Luke 6:35-37  New Living Translation

Jesus’s words are powerful. I have known since I was a small child that we are supposed to love our enemies, yet I never really saw that modeled very well in Christendom. I saw plenty of judgment. I saw Christians huddle together as if protecting themselves from sin getting on them by proximity. Sadly, I was often in that huddle in high school through my early adulthood, until I spent time around ‘radical’ Christians. Over the years, I have seen the smugness and religious superiority of many who say they are Christians, and it’s these self-righteous people who haven’t learned compassion, who are skilled judge-ers.

This hit home recently to me when my husband and I were watching a show on addictions. I, who don’t have an addictive personality and haven’t had to struggle with an addiction, can look at someone doing drugs or fighting an eating disorder or hoarding until they can’t get into their house, and I, in all my obvious lack of understanding can say, why don’t they just stop? Just stop doing the drugs. Stop starving yourself. Stop hoarding.  I mean, just stop already. Then it’s over. Done. Then they can get on with their life. (Gee, I’m so profoundly wise.)

If I had an understanding, it would lead me to compassion. Since I don’t understand, I must choose compassion. Once I make the choice, the feelings always follow.

I’m learning it really isn’t about the drugs, the food or the stuff. It’s about heart issues. It’s about longing for acceptance and love. It’s about wounds from the past clinging to a tender, confused or angry broken heart with talons that fiercely refuse to unclasp their grip without a terrible battle.

Compassion says, whether I understand or not, I’m so sorry you have to struggle with that. I’m just so sorry. Someone working with the addicted or the hoarder will need to use different methods and consequences, but for those of us not in the process, love is the only response they need from us. Compassion is a balm that promotes healing.

Most Christians don’t understand and unfortunately underestimate the powerful draw of addictions, and even homosexuality. In our ignorance we say, that’s wrong. Stop it. (Or worse, “You’re bad; you’re wicked; God hates you . . .” None of those statements are true, by the way. We’re all bad, sinful and wicked before we go to him in repentance and he forgives and cleans us. God doesn’t hate us. He is kind and merciful to us.) The problem can arise between Christians and those who don’t know Christ yet because too often we Christians don’t see the person, we just see a behavior. We judge. We neglect compassion. We don’t behave like children of the Most High.

I’ve heard a scripture verse misused far too often. “Judgment begins in the house of God.” People have misquoted and misinterpreted this and used it as permission to be harshly judgmental towards others. If they read in context, they’d see a completely different message.

The context is the suffering that Christians faced and will increasingly face for their faith in Christ. 1 Peter 4:17 says, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” The judgment here isn’t punitive, rather it’s purifying. Suffering purifies and refines us. No one is exempt from suffering. The point is that if suffering is so difficult for those of us who know and love God, how much more difficult it will be for those who don’t have his purposes and love to cling to in the midst of suffering! These people need compassion from us! Things are hard enough! Why pound on the judgment?! Judgment is God’s job. Even then, the Bible says that God’s kindness leads us to repentance. (Rom. 2:4)

If God is kind to the un-thankful and wicked, Christians, because we are his children, should act like him, being kind and compassionate! James 4:12 tells us, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?”

So, taking this to heart, as I look at people around me every day, in cars, in the grocery store, at the gas station, in a book store . . . I have no idea the struggles they face, the sorrows they carry, the anxiety or depression they live with. It seems we all are broken in some way. We all suffer in some way at some time. Rather than making things worse by judgment, I need to see people with eyes of compassion. I need to behave as the child of the Most High that I am. I need to leave the judgment to him and be a healing balm with compassion and kindness.

beautiful imperfections

January 12, 2010

This morning my husband and I watched a YouTube video a friend passed along to him. I wasn’t sure what to think at first. I watched with interest to the very end as tears welled up in my eyes. I looked into my husband’s eyes; he looked into mine and the silent communication between us was deep and rich, heavy laden with emotion. It’s amazing the memories that are mined when least expected.

This could have been our story with me being the one remembered, but for the grace of God. Please take 3 minutes to watch it. You’ll be glad you did!

beautifully imperfect

It is the little things that can enhance or diminish a relationship. Quirky little habits can become irritants if not viewed with proper perspective. Our irritation can turn into resentment which can be deadly. Or, when viewed through eyes of love, those quirky little irritants can become treasures.

As we were drying our eyes, my husband said to me, “I remember being so thankful to hear you snoring, knowing you were finally getting some rest.” How precious. How selfless. How full of love.

I want to express my love like that. I long to love so perfectly that my first thoughts are of him and not of myself. How imperfect I am. I’m so thankful for one who loves me through so many of mine!

more on being perfect

January 7, 2010

I’ve been thinking more about being perfect.  This morning I read in Matthew 5:48, “But you are to be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (NLT) Every time I read that verse I feel something like an inner cringe happen. I know I’m not perfect, and anyone that halfway knows me has figured that out as well!

Yet, God tells us to be perfect.

I’ve been pondering this for several days and looking up a few scriptures and thinking about them as well, and this is what I’ve come up with. The adversary, the enemy of our soul, trips us up. He gets us thinking about the wrong kind of perfection. Being good enough. Performing.  He tricks us into believing we have to earn acceptance and love. If we aren’t good enough, we aren’t loved. We’re not in the club. That is the lie of religion. The great lie of Satan. The Pharisees and Sadduccees were masters at propagating that lie.

I think that there is a vast difference between perfectionism and being perfect. Perfectionism is rooted in a wrong mindset, a lie; the mindset of the Sadduccees and Pharisees. If I don’t perform just right, I’ll be rejected, shunned, punished. Fear is probably the biggest cause of perfectionism. Fear of not measuring up. Fear of failing. Fear of being judged. Fear of being rejected. Fear is tormenting. It’s overwhelming. It can be paralyzing.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (ESV)

So often we read the “be perfect” scripture – but we don’t read it in context. In Matthew 5:43-47, Jesus is talking about loving our enemies. Verses 46-48 say, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (ESV)

We are to love without fear. That is perfect!

1 John 2:1-6 explains it so beautifully. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (ESV)

So, right there, if we sin (aren’t perfect) Jesus has taken care of that for us. As we grow in knowing Him, we will become more like him. We will live like him, talk like him, love like him.

It isn’t about being perfect so we will win people’s approval and avoid their rejection. It isn’t about being perfect so that we can win God’s favor and avoid punishment. It is about learning to love God and others without fear, and that is perfection. Loving well is what it’s about. When Jesus summed up the greatest commandment he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I long to be that kind of perfect!