Tag Archives: Christ

Loving People Despite Their Behavior

Loving people is hard, and it’s a struggle to do it well. If you haven’t found it difficult to love, at one point in time or another, you’re probably doing it wrong. Because loving people, especially when they’re behaving sinfully, is hard.

People by virtue are sinful, and sinful people make for difficult objects of love. Even regenerate sinners, God bless them, are difficult. (Maybe a little easier than non-believers? But hard to love nonetheless!)

The challenge of love is compounded when the people you’re trying to love are apathetic or even hateful towards you. The typical response given by society, and an extremely appealing solution, is to only love those who love you in return and to cut everyone else away. It is easy to be drawn by this idea, yet it is sinful to the core—for it stands against God’s second greatest command: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I like the way Paul Tripp put it when he said, “If we only love our neighbor when he or she loves us in return, we’re not loving our neighbors, just ourselves.”

Most of us find it difficult to love unconditionally because love is treated like a bank account. People have to deposit into our banks, love, kindness, and charity, if they hope to receive the same kind of treatment in turn. The people with whom we’re frustrated and have a hard time loving are those people who haven’t deposited anything into our account. Their funds have run dry. Yet God would say to you and me, “love them anyway and put it on my account.”

Unconditional love is possible as we recognize what God has done for us. It is that realization that empowers us to love others unconditionally. God’s bank account from which we draw is infinite. He never withholds His grace or forgiveness, and “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Paying the ultimate price. God’s love was not contingent upon our behavior, if it were then we would never receive it.

When we love the undeserving, it’s a picture of Christ’s love. It’s a love that doesn’t make sense to the world. It’s a love that is unmerited. Because for Christians, their love should come from God, freely given as it is freely received.

Feel Like Giving Up?

There are certain days in our lives when all we feel like doing is quitting everything: our job, school, maybe even our relationships with friends and family. A cause for these feelings is a dependence on our own strength and a failure to grasp and orient the power given by God.

When I feel like quitting, it is because I am worn-out. Friendships, family, classes; they all take more energy than I have to give, and at times it is exhausting. However, the good news is that if you are in Christ, there is a stream of living water flowing deep within that can invigorate and strengthen the weariest of people.

The Power Within is a Person

In the book, The Lord of the Rings, the main character Frodo Baggins is charged with destroying the ring of power. Before Frodo goes on his quest, he meets with Bilbo Baggins who gives him a sword, some other objects, and a coat of armor made of mithril. In the Lord of the Ring’s world, mithril is one of the most valuable substances known to man. It is a 1000 times more valuable than gold, and 100 times lighter. While he goes on his journey, Frodo hears his companions say, “Bilbo had many possessions, but his most valuable possession was his mithril coat; if we sold all the property in our land it wouldn’t come close to the value of that coat.” When Frodo hears this, his heart quickens, and he says, “Underneath my coat I have Bilbo’s mithril coat which is more valuable than this entire land.” Along the same lines, Christians have something that is more valuable than anything else in this world.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

If you are a born again Christian, the moment you believed in Christ you received the Spirit of the Living God. It is the Spirit of God that was responsible for creating this universe! It is the Spirit of God that distinguishes Christians from non-Christians (Romans 8:9). It is because of Him that we can find the energy and power to keep going when all we want to do is quit.

The big question then is how do we rely on His strength instead of our own? To answer this question, we must first answer a more important one: “Why have we been given the Spirit in the first place?” It says in John 16 verse 4, that the Spirit has been given to glorify Christ. We have the Spirit so that Christ can be glorified. When we recognize why the Spirit has been given, then we are able to submit to Him and rely on His strength.

In our daily tasks, when we aim to glorify Christ, the Spirit will then empower us to do so. As we seek to do this, the Spirit will provide the means and the strength that we need. That being said, glorifying Christ in what we do is not something that happens naturally. We have to consciously align our tasks with that purpose, and then faithfully do it as unto the Lord. The outworking of this process looks differently for different people. Nevertheless, as you aim to glorify Christ in the task, the Spirit will empower you to do it.

What is beautiful about our Lord is that He sees all tasks as an avenue for Him to be glorified. In our churches, there is sometimes a “secular vs. spiritual” dichotomy. We can falsely assume certain tasks as God glorifying, and view everything else as pagan. But the reality is this: whether we eat or we drink, we can do it as unto the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31), an implication being, all the tasks that we do can be done under the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

If the Spirit indwells you, then you are connected to the source of power. All that you need in order to bring God glory is available to you. The only thing you need to do is aim to glorify God in what you are doing. This is not a natural predisposition, so it must be cultivated, and when it is, the Spirit will enable you. What the Lord demands from His children, He Himself provides. Though this life is difficult, and often we feel like quitting, our Lord has given us His Spirit through whom we are empowered to glorify Christ.

Wrong Medication Kills

We live in a world that tells us that we can do everything on our own. The solution offered by our society is to try harder, and if we fall pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, but there’s a problem. We are weak sinful human beings. We try hard to change our lives but things aren’t really changing. The new years resolutions for overcoming sin keep repeating… Why does this happen? We are taking the wrong medication. Let me explain, this world does not believe that we are sinful. In fact the world believes that we were born perfect. If the problem is misdiagnosed, how is the solution given valid? People die when they take the wrong medication. The truth is that we’re sinners and we need a Savior. We needed this Savior the moment we began the race, and we need Him just as much when we’re running.

You Always Need Jesus

When I was a child I was really lazy, and so I would never really chew my food… I would always just swallow it (Looking back I don’t know why, really how long does chewing take?). As you can imagine, a day came when I choked on some food. In that moment I really needed some oxygen. What’s funny is that I always need air, but it’s just that I don’t realize it until something dramatic happens. In the same way, we always need our Savior. There is no moment when we have outgrown our need for Christ. He saved us on the Cross and He is saving us daily.

Recognize the Problem

What is our responsibility when we find ourselves struggling with sin? Do we just need to try harder and bite our lip? If you think by trying harder and believing in yourself you can overcome sin, I guarantee you that you will fail. For an individual to truly change there must be a realization of our depravity and the power sin has in our lives. The lie propagated by Satan is that we are self-sufficient: we do not need anyone except ourselves.

Key to Victory

I love the story told by Lewis Sperry Chaffer. Chaffer spoke of his mentor CI Scofield and the bullying he experienced as a child. Scofield went to a country school, and he had to walk almost a mile to get there. On his way to school, he would constantly get beat up by a bully. One day he got sick of the shoving, teasing, and punching and decided to fight his bully. The problem was the bully was significantly bigger than him, and so he was quickly put to the ground and the pounding began… With all his power Scofield tried to fight, but he was no match. Then with all his might he called out to his brother, who was bigger than the bully, and he came and took the fight. Scofield just stepped aside and watched. That day Scofield learned to turn the fight over to someone else. What’s the use of being all mangled up and never having victory said Scofield. The battle is always won by faith in Christ and depending on Him who conquered death. No matter what we are going through it is vital that we cry out like Scofield to our ‘true elder brother’ Jesus Christ. When we depend on Him, and trust in Him alone we are able to have victory in the struggles of life.

When you struggle with sin don’t take the wrong medication. We are born sinners and we need a Savior. If we could save ourselves, then Christ died for nothing. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Are you trusting in Christ or yourself?

Contentment in a Fallen World

We live in a world that is always telling us that we need the next best thing. People are always trading up and saving up for something better. But what’s interesting to me is that we are never satisfied. No matter what we have it doesn’t fill that void in our heart. It’s true that we may enjoy it for a little bit, but if we’re honest we’ll admit that after a while it gets dull and we want the next best thing. It is an endless cycle that we often fall into… I know that I am definitely guilty of it.

I honestly thought that after I bought the Iphone 2g I would never buy another phone… Needless to say I have an Iphone 5.

Lack of contentment also plagues our relationships. In our society, how long do relationships between men and women last? People get bored so quickly. Men especially jump from one relationship to the next seeking a woman that exists only in their imagination.

How do we break this cycle? How do we do find contentment in a world that tells us what we need is the next best thing?

True contentment is found in our identity with Christ. When we have a relationship with Christ and know Him we can be content. When we enter into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ we become adopted into His family. We are loved infinitely and are invited into God’s plan of redemption for mankind.

When we have a relationship with the God of the universe what more do we need? We have an inheritance with God and we will spend eternity in His presence. In the busyness of life, we forget that this world is temporal. It’s a way station at best. No one ever makes a way station their home. Let us never forget that we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom and sojourners on earth.

When we are discontent it’s because we have what Luma Simms calls “Gospel Amnesia”. We have forgotten what God has done in reconciling us to Himself. We forget the price that He paid on the cross. It says in Colossians 1:13-14 that “He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” We have been rescued from darkness and placed into His kingdom!

When you feel discontent or discouraged remember that if you have trusted in our Lord and his saving work, then you are a child of the living God. You have been given all that you need for bringing Him glory. It says in Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”. In Christ we have all we need! Why do we need the next best thing?