How to Love Others as We Love Our Self – Part 2 – Setting Godly Priorities

 

Once God freed me from bondage to codependency and Satan’s lies that others would only love me if I gave myself sacrificially for them, He started me on a liberating journey that taught me how to love others as Jesus loved me.

 

He taught me that I have value in and of myself regardless of what anyone else thought of me or did for me. Self-care became part of my routine instead of an afterthought that never materialized.

 

I learned that I am not responsible for the happiness of others, and to think that I am was an idol in my life. I had to lay my preconceived ideas at the altar of God’s truth and learn a whole new way of living.

 

It is only sinful to care for our self, if we are self-absorbed and self-centered. We are unbalanced, narcissistic and selfish if we think only of our self or of our self first and foremost all of the time.

 

A husband is to love his wife as he loves his own body; and yet, if he hates himself or does not value himself; then he will never learn to love his wife or anyone else either (Ephesians 5:28-29).

 

For most people, however, it is natural to care for their needs as well as the needs of others. Some give to get, but many nurturing, caring people give to bless others; and they end up receiving a blessing in the giving.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You taught us to enter Your rest, so that we are not driven by stress, perfectionism and enabling other people. We have Your abundant life, which starts at the moment of our Salvation (John 10:10). Thank You for teaching us to grow, develop and succeed in this life by living by Your principles.

 

Thank You for teaching me that the more I value myself as You value me, the more I teach other people to cherish me too. As I come to You to meet my emotional, mental, relational and spiritual needs, You help me to set my priorities in the correct order, You remove from my thinking the satanic drives of perfectionism and guilt, and You lead me by Your Spirit to help others only when it is Your will for me to do so.

 

Thought for the Day:

We cannot nurture our self or anyone else if we are burdened by guilt and deprivation, or stressed and overworked all the time; we can learn to nurture our self and others by watching how Jesus lived a balance of self-care and ministry to others.

 

 

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A Fruitful Life

One work of the Holy Spirit in our life is to sanctify us by continually, although often slowly, replacing in us the negative attributes of our personality with His spiritual fruit.

 

Galatians 5:22-23 describes for us the fruit of the Spirit…”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

 

Sometimes, it is confusing to put the meaning of these words in simple terms. The definitions I like are:

Love – affection for others

Joy – exuberance about life

Peace – serenity

Patience – willingness to stick with it

Gentleness – compassion from the heart

Goodness – kindness that pervades our entire being

Meekness – humility and service

Self-Control – guided by the Spirit

Faith – trust that God knows what He’s doing

 

When I compare these to their opposites, the negative characteristics cause me to shudder. I certainly want no part of them in my character:

Envy, strife, hatred, bitterness, self-centeredness, pride, criticism, worry, depression, quitters and complainers, backbiters, and people who put work and fun ahead of God. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

 

The Good News is that the Spirit of Jesus Christ within us sanctifies us moment-by-moment! He replaces:

hatred with love,

depression with true joy,

discontentment with peace,

irritation with patience,

criticism with gentleness,

backbiting with goodness,

pride with meekness,

excess with self-control,

and worry with the faith of God as we are controlled and guided by His Spirit.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we thank You for putting Your fruit in us in place of the negative traits we learned from others, those that are ingrained in our personality with which we are born, and those that we develop through the disappointments of life.

 

We give our life to You to mold and make into the divine nature of Christ as He abides within us. We want to be lights of Your character to the world around us, and to have the mind of Christ rather than the whims of our flesh, the world or the devil. Thank You for Your sanctifying work in our life.

 

Thought for the Day:

God replaces our negative character traits with the fruit of His Spirit as we willingly submit to His surgeon’s scalpel, the Word of God, which divides our flesh from our spirit.

– Hebrews 4:12

 

God Truly Cares for Us

Deep thinkers, mystics, scientists, authors and poets all try to pinpoint the origin and meaning of life, but they reject the truth of God’s Word. Then they come up with theories they cannot prove, even by their own laws.

 

Many people find fulfillment in their career, children, mate, church ministries, world travel, a new home, a sporty car, completing a “bucket list”, serving in a charity, getting involved in local politics, triumphing in a career, delving into alternative spiritual activities – which deviate from the traditional Christian world view.

 

This fulfillment may last for years, but as we age, we lose interest in these pursuits, because they do not really provide us with lasting fulfillment. Our human plans often operate on impulses, and are otherwise the results of us reasoning things out.

 

We are never quite able, however, apart from Christ, to come to understand the complete truth about life (2 Timothy 3:6-7). The wisdom and power of a nurtured life come only from the unconditional love of our crucified Christ (1 Corinthians 23-24).

 

Boasting in our own knowledge and human abilities is useless and quite humorous (1 Corinthians 4:7, 5:6). Looking above our human wisdom to Jesus, who is our only true source of wisdom and joy, is the way to bear lasting fruit in our life (John 15:11).

 

Making Jesus the center of our focus and submitting to God’s Spirit within us allows the Trinity to sanctify our carnality and nurture Christ’s divinity within us (Galatians 2:20).

 

We die to our self more each day, relinquishing our earthly pursuits in favor of spiritual maturity. Our soul – our thoughts, decisions and feelings – prospers, which allows our body and spirit to prosper as well (John 3:1:2; 1 Corinthians 15:31).

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for the opportunity to share in the peace and glory of Christ in us. We face the trials of each day with hope and optimism, because we know that there is a seed for a miracle within each one (Hebrews 12:2-3). Remind us to stop relying on our human talents and to depend solely on You, finding out what You are doing in our life and joining You (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

Clearly reveal to us that trusting in our self is useless and we end up humiliated and feeling hopeless. It is only as we walk away from evil and wholeheartedly embrace Christ in us, that health returns to our body and nourishes our bones (Proverbs 3:7-8). Reveal the truth to us that as we choose Your will over our own will we grow deeper in our union with Christ abiding within us. Jesus is all we really need to succeed in this life (1 John 3:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

Thought for the Day:

In our times of trouble, we cast our cares on God, because He truly cares for us (1 Peter 5:7); He gives us His peace in exchange for our worries (Philippians 4:6, 7; 1 Peter 5:7; John 14:27); and when Satan plagues us with guilt over our past, Jesus removes condemnation for those who trust in Him (Romans 8:1);.

 

Fearless in the Face of Adversity

Fear is one human malady that plagues everyone. Even the most macho man fears something or someone. The most independent woman has fears – even if she buried them in her subconscious mind.

 

Fortunately, Jesus died and overcame our fears for us. He gave us His Spirit to abide in us and bring to us His power love and a stable mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

 

Our Savior generously gives us wisdom when we need it, which dispels our fears (1 Corinthians 1:30; James 1:5). We slip right out of the depression, caused by Satan’s lies to our mind, when we focus on God’s love, kindness, faithfulness and compassion (Lamentations 3:21-23).

 

God gives each of us a measure of faith to fulfill His will for our life (Romans 12:3). Christ is the strength of our life (Psalm 27:1; Daniel 11:32), and we can accomplish His will because He dwells within us (Galatians 2:20).

 

We no longer feel that we are “not enough”, because we know that we can live up to God’s expectations of us through Christ in us (2 Corinthians 5:21). God is always in our corner, so we do not need to concern our self with people who may not approve of us or accept us as we are (Romans 8:31).

 

We shed the shroud of bondage, which Satan and the world wrap around us and we enter the liberty of the Saints of God (2 Corinthians 3:17). Refusing to accept the devil’s condemnation, we walk in the victory of Christ in us (Romans 8:1).

 

This gives us hope to face tomorrow, which we know from experience is filled with unknown catastrophes and issues. We no longer fear the future or allow anxiety to consume our soul when we cast all of our worries on Jesus, who eternally cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

 

Prayer:

Father God, You calm the confusion in our life by placing in our spirit the Author of peace and the knowledge provided by His indwelling Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12, 14:33). Jesus already overcame the trials and tribulation of this life, and His presence in our life gives us Your victory in every trial (Romans 8:37; John 16:33).

 

Thank You that Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law of sin and death by giving us Your Spirit of life (Galatians 3:13-14). Remind us that we can find true contentment only through our service to You, regardless of our circumstances (Philippians 4:11). We spend our days singing praises to Your name.

 

Thought for the Day:

Life’s set-backs and roadblocks try our faith and make our dependence on God stronger than our reliance on our human strengths and wisdom, because His infinite ways are higher than our finite plans and goals.

 

Fullness of Joy

In the presence of God is the only spot on this earth where the fullness of joy resides. He offers us pleasures that last throughout eternity (Psalm 16:11; 139: 23-24).

 

We often look for natural, human experiences with God, but His ways are so much higher than ours. God enjoys sitting with us in silence; no revelations, no rushing wind, no mighty supernatural gifts deposited in our life. Just golden silence in the presence of our King Jesus.

 

At other times, we need a notebook to keep track of all the ideas He imparts to us during these intimate times of devotion.

 

We may make a to-do list for our day, or a prayer list of people He wants us to lift up in our prayers that day, or people we need to forgive or those from whom we need to ask forgiveness.

 

Only as we deliberately enter the recesses within our own soul, and only as we conquer the clutter in our life and thoughts, and empty our self of selfish ambition and attitudes, can we hope to discover His presence in our life.

 

However, the amount of clutter in our soul leaves no room for Him to make His presence known to us. God will give us a plan to straighten up the inner and the outer clutter in our life.

 

Listening to God with our undivided attention in these times of aloneness is the key to growing spiritually. We find that we look forward to our times alone with God.

 

Prayer:

Father God, when we abide in You, negative emotions such as fear, confusion, distress, distrust, and dread no longer fill every recess of our soul. We learn to trust in You regardless of the natural events taking place around us. We sit with awe-filled wonder at the magnificence of Your will and way in our life.

 

Give us this day only that which we need to serve You; and teach us to wait patiently on You for each new day, hour and moment that You give us to attend to You with our whole heart. We release our negative emotions to You and receive from You the cry of Your heart instead.

 

Thought for the Day:

Ephesians 3:16-19 (Amplified Bible)…“ May God grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality]. 17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, 18 That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; 19 [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being]]unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

 

Broken Walls of Fear and Mistrust

Even when we come to faith in Christ, we still often hesitate to relinquish to Him the power over our existence. We have a lifetime of experience with people letting us down, disappointing us and breaking their promises and commitments to us.

 

Therefore, we mistrust God as well. We have an overwhelming need to understand God, before we agree to believe in Him.

 

We use human wisdom for all of our decisions, and we collect friends around us that agree with our life view. We have such a strong compulsion to control our own life and everything that happens in it, that we dare not rely on anyone but our own self.

 

People feel safe somehow in trusting only in that which they can prove, and believing only in that which makes sense to their human mind.

 

Added to our human reasoning is Satan’s perfected art of deception. He often draws us away from following after God by his fraudulent schemes.

 

Add to this our own lusts and the powerful temptations from living life in the world, and it is amazing that anyone ever actually chooses to surrender their life completely to God.

 

Our sin nature doomed us to failure since birth; but Jesus Christ set us free from sin and death by His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension (Romans 8:2).

 

Only the Spirit of God can break down our walls of fear and mistrust and allow us to fully embrace a relationship that starts with our total submission to God through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

 

Prayer:

Father God, eventually Your Spirit leads us to the point in our life where we step over this boundary of fear into the freedom of faith and we completely trust in You. Your Spirit enables us to shun evil and honor You with all of our thoughts and actions.

 

You are always faithful to reward us with health and abundance in every area of our life. We learn to trust in You with all of our heart, rather than relying on our own strength and understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). We want to honor You with our life now and until the day of our death.

 

Thought for the Day:
As we seek God’s will for every minute of every day, He removes the ruts and bumps in our road (Proverbs 3:7-8), until we eventually learn to give Him every fear and insecurity that plague our life, because we come to understand that He really does care about us (1 Peter 5:7).

 

Spiritual Battles

According to the Bible, those who trust in their own efforts are foolish (Galatians 3:1-3). They boast in their wisdom, strength or riches, but their house is built upon the sand (Matthew 7:26).

 

However, those who walk in God’s wisdom are kept safe. Since, they understand and know the Lord intimately, He exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on their behalf (Proverbs 28:26; Jeremiah 9:23-24).

 

We often spend years of our life cautiously watching God’s dealings in the life of His children. His discipline frightens us, but His blessings amaze us. We finally come to the place where we are willing to make a commitment to Him.

 

At this point, we often swing to the opposite side of the pendulum. We are totally committed to Christ and we do not want to displease Him.

 

Therefore, we diligently search the Bible in order to completely understand the rules and regulation of the law and what He wants from us. We attempt to religiously adhere to even the most vague letter of the law (Matthew 5:18).

 

Our heart is in the right place, because we do not want to disappoint God. However, no amount of striving will produce any amount of righteousness in us at all (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:9). Every bit of our righteousness amounts to nothing more than a pile of old, dirty rags (Isaiah 64:6).

 

God knows that we will drive our self crazy, if we continue to attempt to maintain control over our life. He continually attempts to set us free from human effort and invites us to enter into His rest.

 

Prayer:

Father God, Your ways are perfect. Your Son is the God of truth and there is no iniquity in Him (Deuteronomy 32:4). Yet, He suffered the persecution and death of a common criminal to set us free from bondage to sin and death (Romans 6:23) and to raise us up to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

 

Thank You that our old way of life is gone forever and now everything is completely new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Thank You for ordering our days and blessing us in every area of our life as we trust in You (Psalm 139:16; 2 Corinthians 9:8).

 

Thought for the Day:

Spiritual battles are meant to be won; not in our own strength, but by the power of God’s Spirit working in us to perfect us until the day we meet the Lord face-to-face; He delights in us and we are His people; He is our Good Shepherd, and we are the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 95:7; 100:3).

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