Love Hurts

Job 19:19

All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me.

Psalm 109:5

So, they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

1 John 3:17

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

When you open your heart and invest yourself into the life of another, you may find yourself hurt from the experience. Real, genuine love when put into practice is sacrificing the self for the sake of another.

We love another expecting to be loved in return. But what happens when our expectations are not met?

Job was a wealthy man who gave generously to his family, friends, and those in need. But when he lost his home, business, family, and even his health, his friends and even his wife considered him an outcast. When he needed help at the lowest point of his life, his wife recommended he curse God and die. His small circle of friends visited him preaching religious sound bytes. Instead of extending the truthful love he actually needed at the time, they beat him down further.

The Psalmist complained about those around him who returned his love with hate and the good he did came back with evil replies.

Jesus himself paid the ultimate price. HIS love for others disappeared into betrayal when his disciples fled away as he was taken prisoner in the night.

Yes, when you love others, you risk becoming hurt from the experience. But the risk is the price we pay to experience the greatest high this life has to offer – God’s love flowing in you and through you.

More books and movies have are made under the theme of love than any other. Based on my observations, love is the natural human epitome of experiencing the God-life. When we connect with another person in a way to contribute more toward their well being, we taste the character of God. When we sacrifice our time, money, and resources for their betterment, the feeling and pleasure we receive is another taste of God’s character. And since we are made in HIS image, we get to partake in how HE lives and shares life with others by loving others.

The Bible reminds us that God is love (1 John 4:8). The closer we lean on HIM, the more HIS character rubs unto us. Yet, like HIM, the pleasure of love also has another side – the pain of love.

We see this throughout the Old Testament where God’s people constantly and repeatedly would backslide into rebellion. From Adam & Eve to the startup nation of Israel, and all the people since is a history of blessings and curses in the name of love. God continues to exercise HIS steadfast love toward HIS earthly children. They either passively rebel, or openly rebel against HIM. The history of God’s people is a roller-coaster ride of super highs followed by drastic lows. Yet, every time God is hurt from our responsiveness, he refuses to except the situation. Instead HE moves on to extend HIS steadfast love through other means.

Every time you love someone, the risk is you will be hurt or disappointed. Yet, we are most grateful to surrender any potential pain unto Him who knows such pain – Jesus Christ. Our responsibility is to sacrificially love everyone. Yet be wise. Whether we live or die from such action, we trust God will be with us throughout the process. And that is always a good place to be.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler

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Moral Perfection

Matthew 5:48

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

What is your standard of morality? How do you determine what is good? Who establishes the moral compass in your life? Where do you discover the best moral practices for your life? Why is morality even important?

We live in a time of vast knowledge and accomplishments. Today’s enterprises make past historical periods obsolete. Whether science, technology, agriculture, construction, medicine, education, or commerce, every field of study has made an immense contribution to the human experience. Yet people still cannot get along with each other. Nations still go to war with other countries. Couples who yesterday could not live without each other, now hate and despise one another. And even family members and next-door neighbors rarely speak with those closes to them.

Generally speaking, as a people, we are highly knowledgeable of the material world around us. But at the same time, we are spiritually blind and depressed. We are the outcome of our own doing but blame others around us for our problems. We willingly accept the lies thrown our way because they make us feel in control and important. Instead of accepting a universal standard which works for all sides, we rather fight for our “rights” as we determine what those “rights” are. Justice is subjective to our ideal. There is no objective criteria everyone can agree too.

Enter Jesus.

When HE arrived on the scene the Roman empire was in power. Beside the Jewish community, the religious establishments included Caesar as lord, houses of sexual worship, and many other gods for your choosing. Entertainment included large crowds gathered to watch lions slaughter humans, and athletes fighting each other to the death. A world where the strong devoured the weak.

Under such a domain Jesus came along and began to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. His teaching was revolutionary for the people and culture of the time. The same is still true today.

When HE set the goal of moral perfection based on HIS heavenly Father as the objective standard of measurement, HE blew apart the minds of his listeners. They were satisfied with their self-righteous attitude keeping the Law given to Moses. Jesus not only emphasized the behavior aspects but also raised the bar to include one’s attitude and mental thought. Who could live up to such a standard?  

Jesus’ set the bar very high for his disciples: Perfection as measured by God Himself.

Impossible, you say?

Do you think Jesus would expect something from his students that they couldn’t achieve?

The bar is high because God’s purpose for you and I is higher than we can imagine.

God’s macro-objective is to raise a family who will join HIM in his work of governing a universe. He expects HIS children to imitate HIM throughout the world. And HE always provides the means and resources for HIS people to abide and fulfill HIS desires.

For those who accept HIS vision and purpose, HE provides HIS Spirit and strength to live within you. As we submit to HIS authority, yielding our carnal desires to HIS divine nature, HE leads us toward a fuller life patterned after Jesus Christ.

Our goal is to become perfect in relationships with HIM and all those around us. HE becomes our universal standard of perfection. We model our life around (Eph 5:1) HIM. When others join HIM in the same quest, the world becomes more reflective of HIS attributes and less prone to chaos, confusion, and evil.

We cannot become perfect unless HIS perfection lives in us. HE is the goodness we seek and yearn after. When HE is allowed to live HIS life in us and through us, we will then see the road to perfection become real. Until then, we are fooling ourselves and destructively playing god in his place.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler

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Mark 10:29-30

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 

Yes, there are great blessings one receives for following Jesus in today’s world, but along with the blessings are persecutions.

This Scripture reminds us that whatever you gave up to follow Jesus, you will recover. The relationships you loss, and the wealth you could have had, HE promises will be regain hundredfold in your lifetime. Plus, in the new age, you will also secure eternal life.

However, with all this you will also find yourself being persecuted.

Jesus also during HIS “sermon on the mount” dialogue encouraged HIS followers to rejoice as they are blessed for being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and great will be there reward in heaven (Matt 5:10, 12).

And again, Jesus’ also forewarned and reminded His disciples even as HE was persecuted, so will they, but people will also respond to their words as people responded to HIS words (John 15:20).

The apostle Paul reiterated this point when he wrote to his protégé Timothy that all those who desire to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12).

Persecution though comes in various forms. In the western democracies, persecution is mild compared with other countries where being a Christ follower is legally prohibited. The penalty is either severe prison time or even death.

In America, you may find yourself losing friends, business acquaintances, and possibly even family members because of your firm belief to follow Jesus. You may suffer cancel culture and be removed from social media. You may have lies, verbal insults, and character assassination thrown your way. If so, don’t be shocked. Remind yourself that Jesus instructed us to rejoice and set you sights to your eternal reward.

Most of us in America have not yet lost our lives because of our beliefs. We may have lost jobs, lost opportunities, and even lost meaningful relationships. Yet, those are replaceable. As these trials come upon us, we learn to lean on HIM and watch as HE maneuvers circumstances to build our trust in HIM as HE restores in time what was taken from us.

We forgo being bitter, angry, or frustrated. Instead, we forgive others as HE has forgiven us, and move on.

We pray for those who persecute us. We learn to love them as Christ loves us.

We step back and in sacrificial service to them expose them to the King’s way of living. This becomes our opportunity to preach the gospel without words.

Humanly speaking, you may think this is impossible. Which is probably true. But with HIM, all things are possible.

Yes, persecution hurts. But the opportunity to showcase God’s love in an ugly environment is too good to pass up. Lean on HIM when the time comes and let HIM lead you via the Holy Spirit to respond HIS way. He is always with you through the good times and bad. Let HIM lead and you follow. He will be glorified, and you will be pleased to serve your King in a meaningful way.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler

Available for Your Devotional Study: 

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