Tag Archives: loving others

Love Your Neighbor

Grace 101

Until I know myself, I cannot know others.  Until I value myself, I cannot value others.

It is interesting that Jesus told us to love others as we love ourselves.  In fact, it was the second greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  He told us to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It seems important for us to notice that Jesus valued us.  He didn’t just demand that we take care of others.  He expected that our love and kindness to others would flow out of our identity.

Let me repeat that:  Our love and kindness to others should flow out of our identity.

What if it doesn’t?  What if it comes out of a sense of duty or some misguided attempt to gain points with God through service?  A great deal of “love and kindness” is not natural.  Much of it comes because it is demanded or expected.  This is what we hear in so many sermons and pep talks.  “Get out there and bless others.  You’ll get yours in the life to come.”  “Jesus commands you to do good, particularly to those in poor nations where the gospel is not widely preached.”

So dutiful and obedient moms and dads pack up their families and move to the mission field.  They connect with others who “serve” by giving money and they leave their homes and jobs and extended families.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am not against missions and evangelism.  I believe some are called by God to go and do these things.  But when Christian service, even the most sacrificial, comes out of a sense of responsibility instead of identity, things can become pretty difficult.

I have heard so many stories of people who are in great pain on the mission field, or in the church, or in some program the church promoted—because they felt coerced or shamed into service.  Some were outright manipulated.  Many were deceived about the amount of support they would get.  So they struggle apart from their support structures and without adequate means to do well.  And they become angry, afraid, and bitter.

I am reading about a blogger who lied about her needs in order to get people to give her money.  People are upset.  Some gave very generous amounts.  But it is interesting to see how people deal with the fraud.  It seems to me that those who gave out of their identity, because they are giving people who love to help others, are just shrugging their shoulders and moving on.  They are not crushed and will give again.  Others, who gave because they were tricked and manipulated, are not so easily soothed.  Some want their money back.  Some are talking about legal action.  Now, I am not suggesting that one group is somehow better.  I am simply observing a general pattern.  When kindness flows from identity, that identity does not suffer when abused.

You see, knowing who we are helps us know what to do in so many situations.  Be true to yourself.  Let your action flow out of who you are.  When you understand who you are in Christ, your actions will reflect who He is in you.


Filed under Grace 101

Loving So-and-so

Here’s a conversation similar to one I had a few years ago.

X – I know that I am supposed to love everyone, but I can never love so-and-so.  I don’t feel any kind of compassion or kindness toward him after what he did.  But I know that the Bible tells me I have to love him.  I try but I can’t.  What am I supposed to do?

Dave – So is this a burden or a care in your life, this inability to love so-and-so?

X – Yes.

Dave – What are we supposed to do with the burdens or cares of our lives as believers?

X – Give them to Jesus.

Dave – Let’s see if you can do that with this.  Do you think Jesus loves so-and-so? 

X – Yes.

Dave – And what is Jesus to you?

X – He is my life.

Dave – So Jesus lives in you and is the source of your life, right?

X – Right.

Dave – Then, as Jesus is in you and is your life, He is loving so-and-so in you and as your life, right?

X – Right.

Dave – So the life in you loves so-and-so.  Is there any other life in you?

X – No, the old life died.

Dave – But you still feel the feelings of the old life, right?

X – Right.

Dave – And you still think much of the time like you used to, right?

X – Right.

Dave – But is that old life still you?

X – No.

Dave – So what does the real you, not the old you, think about so-and-so?

X – I guess I love him. 

Dave – Even though you don’t feel like it?

X – Yes. 

Dave – Now we have talked about this before and you know that loving someone is different from trusting him or even liking him.  You are only asked to love him.  Do you see that the command to love is not about your feelings or actions, but about your trust of the One whose life is in you?  By acknowledging that you love so-and-so because Jesus in you loves him, you are looking at the truth about your life in Christ.  It is because of who you are that this love is in you.  You are not what you used to be and the feelings of the old way are not you.

X – So I don’t have to trust him or like him or agree with him or get together with him to love him?

Dave – That’s right.  Loving someone is agreeing with the new life in you, the life of Jesus.  It isn’t about making yourself vulnerable to a cruel person again.

X – So, if Jesus is the One who loves all people, even so-and-so, and Jesus is the life in me, then I love all people, even so-and-so? 

Dave – Right!



Basic theology requires us to maintain a difference between Jesus and us, simply to understand what it means to be a person.  Jesus is a person and I am a person.  We are not the same person.  So, just because Jesus feels love for someone does not mean I feel love for someone.  I am not Jesus.

But Jesus is in me and I am in Him.  The very life that flows in me is His life, given to me as I died and rose with Him on the cross.  He is my strength and my wisdom and my peace and my love.  Anything in me that is contrary to Him is the old memory of a past life, the habits and attitudes formed when I was apart from Him.  I do still live there much of the time, thinking with the mind that used to be.  But the truth is that I am a new creation and Jesus is my life.

So love for all people is in you.  You may not feel it and you may even find it hard to believe, but the life in you already loves so-and-so.


Filed under Freedom, grace, heart, Relationship