Love as You’ve Been Loved[i]
You may think that the situation is hopeless, but God gives us more grace when we turn away from our own interests.
James 4:6 The Voice
od wants us to know that our empathy for the needs of others is directly related to whether He prospers us in our daily lives. If our outward displays of Christian charity are praiseworthy while our words and actions toward those we love are harsh, God considers us no better than a cup that is clean on the outside but dirty on the inside.[ii] One sure way to close the floodgates of Heaven’s blessings is to be rude, stingy, judgmental, and unkind to the people closest to us. God expects His rule of loving as we’ve been loved to apply behind the closed doors of our homes as well as in public.
Lack of forgiveness toward a fellow human being can prevent us from receiving the fullness of the blessings God would like to provide. This just seems monstrously unfair, because we have been hurt, treated unfairly, and wronged. But the Almighty God sent His Son to die for us when we were in the midst of sins just as terrible as the ones that have been committed against us, and He asks us to love others with this same kind of sacrificial love. We feel as though a chosen blindness to the needs of those we depend upon is a safety measure; if I can't feel your need I'm not at risk of sublimating my needs to yours. But Jesus asks us to entrust our needs into His hands and to serve others with willing hearts.
We must give up the idea that we have some need that is going to go unmet if someone close to us doesn’t step up to the plate and do what he or she ought to do. We must release other human beings from the responsibility for our welfare and depend wholly upon God for every need. From this place of freedom, we can begin to love as Christ has loved us.
In prayer, the Lord will bring to our minds faces of those who have done us wrong. And He wants us to pray for those people, and forgive, love and perhaps even serve them so they can see Christ in us. He wants us to feel their hurts as though they were our own, and not hesitate to put their needs ahead of ours. Our ability to do this depends upon whether we truly believe God is sufficient for our every need.
Pray: Father I release those You bring to my mind right now from the responsibility to meet my needs. I lift to You those who have hurt and failed me. Forgive me the cruelties I’ve committed as I’ve become insensitive to their suffering. Help me exhibit Your nurturing love to those I have resented, so I may be prospered in my work and nothing will block my prayers. I trust You to meet my needs. Teach me to appropriate Your strength at my point of need. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’