LOVE ONE ANOTHER

This week I have been examining what it means to love one another.  Jesus gave a new command to his disciples: “Love one another” (John 13:34).  This is repeated in John 15:17, “This is my command: Love each other.”  So I have always thought that this means be nice to each other, forgive each other, encourage one another.  I have seldom explored the aspect of love that involves surrendering to one another.

In 1 Corinthians 9:19 Paul says, “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.”  Paul is willing to surrender himself to others that they might find Jesus.  This is love that puts aside self-concern for the sake of others.

The whole experience of life is how I exercise my free will.  I have free will.  This was given to all humans at the time of creation.  I can please myself, or I can please others.    

My closest relationship affords the opportunity to practice loving another.  This can be demonstrated simply. When I find that Bonnie, my wife and ministry partner, is annoyed with some habit of mine, do I surrender my will to her or insist on my way?   I love her by surrendering my right to continue the annoying habit.

Paul says in Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”  Putting someone else first is contrary to my self-centered nature.

Jesus’ command to love one another proves to be quite a challenge, but it is essential for his disciples.  In John 13:35 Jesus concludes, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Advertisements

A LIFE OF PURPOSE

John 12:25

Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  

My wife, Bonnie, in sharing this scripture with me the other morning, explained that at the time of her surrender to the Lord she actually had come to hate her life.  I realized that could also be said of me.  I had come to the end of trying to make a life on my own terms.  In my distress, I surrendered to the Lord.  These moments of surrender happened for both of us in August of 1980.  Jesus took over and renewed our lives.

Our two lives came together later that year, and we married five months later.  But meeting someone and getting married was just part of the new life in Jesus.  The life we hated was gone, and in its place Jesus built a life of purpose.  I view of my former life as useless.  I was just dissipating life.  In this new life, Jesus has made both Bonnie and me useful, and we get to keep this new life for eternity.

If you’ve come to the place of hating your life, there’s a great remedy.  Surrender your life to Jesus.  He’ll give you a life of purpose that will be eternal.

HOW TO HAVE A HAPPY MARRIAGE

My wife and I have a perfect marriage.  Okay, I’m lying.  We do have a great marriage though.  For 35 years, we have managed to love and like each other.  We’ve worked side by side for many of those years always with a single goal.  That goal was to seek the Lord and his will for us.  We have always sought his guidance and trusted him for the outcome.  Well, maybe always is a little exaggerated, but we’ve done our best to trust him.

I really believe that our success in marriage stems from our commitment.  The commitment I’m talking about came from before we met.  In August of 1980, we both surrendered our lives to the Lord and committed to serve him.  Bonnie sat down on a piano bench, and I sat on a rock.  We both asked the Lord to take over our lives.  Speaking for myself, I’d made such a mess of things I realized that I couldn’t do life without Him.  On the last day of November in 1980, we met.  From that day, it was a whirlwind of events that led to our marriage in April of 1981.

I had asked God for a wife, and I knew that Bonnie was his answer to that prayer.  And she was sure that I was the man God had sent to her.  This assurance, combined with our faith, has carried us through the years.  One of our early discoveries was that we both believed God had called us to love and care for children.  He has guided us to do just that.  What an amazing life he has given us.  There is no greater existence on the earth than a life with purpose fulfilled.  We have shared that life.

This is what I’ve learned.  Marriage is a partnership of strength.  It is a central point from which to radiate outward for the good of others.  In the process the relationship is strengthened and both partners become more of who they were created to be.  We are happy people in a happy marriage because we allowed God to lead us.

THE TROUBLE WITH MARRIAGE

The most important thing to remember about marriage is that two human beings are involved.  Now humans are created in the image of God, but they picked up an additional element at the fall of man.  This additional element is known as a sinful nature.  When thrown into a marital situation the sinful nature can wreak havoc.  Since we all have this destructive element, those of us who are married have an inherent obstacle to success.  How do we combat this obstacle?

I don’t claim to have the ultimate answer, but here are some thoughts that might help.  First, don’t be surprised when your partner sins; remember it’s inherent.  So, be ready with love and mercy.  In Colossians 3:12 &13 there is some great advice,

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Having trouble incorporating this into you relationship?  Help is just a prayer away.  God has always answered my prayers of “help me!”  When I fail to see the wonder and blessing in my wife, I ask God to fix my eyes. I recognize that the fault is in me.  My failing to see is found in the clouding of self-centeredness.  I’m thinking of me and not her.  God always helps me to alter my perspective and see clearly the wonderful gift of her presence in my life.

I’m writing here from the husband’s point of view, but I’m pretty sure this also works for wives.  If both partners look for the fault in themselves then God has an easier task.  He doesn’t have to wait till we own our part of the problem.  I realized early in our marriage that it was unfruitful for me to try and fix what I thought was wrong with my wife.  (Do I hear chuckling in the background?)  Yes, only God can fix me, and only God can fix my wife.  We both have that sinful nature to deal with.  Thankfully, we have a savior who is always ready to help.  All we have to do is humble ourselves and ask.

TRUST IN THE LORD AND DO GOOD

The title above comes from Psalm 37:3.  Trust in the Lord and do good.  This is wisdom for God’s people from King David who later, in verses 8&9, exhorts us to: Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil.  For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.   These verses challenge us, but they also comfort us.  Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage, I believe June 26, 2015 is a day to be marked as another “in your face God” moment for our country.  That is why I was looking for comfort and direction from Psalm 37.  God’s people need to be aware that God is not surprised by the decisions of man.  He gave them over to a depraved mind because of their rejection of him.  He is in charge, and we belong to him.  We are redeemed!  And we are bearers of his message of love and forgiveness.  Nothing good will come if Christians join the ranks of haters and revilers.

In Romans 1:18-32 Paul gives a clear dissertation on what’s happening.  He starts out: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”  Reading on we see that the depravity over taking our nation is because we have turned our backs to God.  Even the futility of our thinking, the illogical thinking of our leaders is a result of denying God.  So, what should be our response to this evil?

I think that we should trust in the Lord and do good.  God has his hand on all that is taking place on the earth with a promise to work it out for his glory and our good.  Trust him!  As King David pointed out, hating, fretting and being filled with wrath only leads to evil.  Our charge is to do good, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Do good to those who spitefully use you.  Jesus made it clear how we are to proceed.  Don’t turn your back to him.

The Companion

Adam spent his days exploring the wonders of the garden where God had placed him.  As he walked, the birds and animals that God had created came to him, and he named each one.  In the evenings, he would share with his Father (the name God preferred) all the adventures of his day.

“Today I named those creatures that climb in the trees, monkey.  I climbed with them all through the trees.  What a wonderful experience.  I then visited the Lions.  I always enjoy the lions.  We wrestled and romped together for hours.  The cheetah and I ran together for a short time.”

God could see that Adam was enjoying the garden and the animals, but he wanted to provide Adam with a being that could walk beside him and share the joys of the garden.

God said to Adam, “I am going to put you into a deep sleep, and while you sleep, I am going to take a rib from your side.  I will use your rib to create a companion that will walk with you and share your days.”

God put Adam into a deep sleep then took the rib from his side.  From the rib, God formed another being.  He breathed the breath of life into her, and she became a living being.  God welcomed her to his creation then took her to Adam.

As Adam awoke he beheld the being God had created.  She smiled at him, and Adam experienced a feeling he’d never felt before.  “She is truly the most delightful being of all you have created Father.  We will call her woman, for she was taken from man.”

The first man and woman walked together without the disharmony of sin and with the continual presence of their creator.

The Trouble with Marriage

The most important thing to remember about marriage is that two human beings are involved.  Now humans are created in the image of God, but they picked up an additional element at the fall of man.  This additional element is known as a sinful nature.  When thrown into a marital situation the sinful nature can wreak havoc.  Since we all have this destructive element, those of us who are married have an inherent obstacle to success.  How do we combat this obstacle?

I don’t claim to have the ultimate answer, but here are some thoughts that might help.  First, don’t be surprised when your partner sins; remember it’s inherent.  So, be ready with love and mercy.  In Colossians 3:12 &13 there is some great advice,

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Having trouble incorporating this into you relationship?  Help is just a prayer away.  God has always answered my prayers of “help me!”  When I fail to see the wonder and blessing in my wife, I ask God to fix my eyes. I recognize that the fault is in me.  My failing to see is found in the clouding of self-centeredness.  I’m thinking of me and not her.  God always helps me to alter my perspective and see clearly the wonderful gift of her presence in my life.

I’m writing here from the husband’s point of view, but I’m pretty sure this also works for wives.  If both partners look for the fault in themselves then God has an easier task.  He doesn’t have to wait till we own our part of the problem.  I realized early in our marriage that it was unfruitful for me to try and fix what I thought was wrong with my wife.  (Do I hear chuckling in the background?)  Yes, only God can fix me, and only God can fix my wife.  We both have that sinful nature to deal with.  Thankfully, we have a savior who is always ready to help.  All we have to do is humble ourselves and ask.