“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. John 15:9-14 NKJV
While praying about my one word, song, and verse for the year, I asked God to take me on a journey. I figured it would be something I didn’t expect, because that’s what He does. But I had no idea it would be this. I had no clue as to what I would learn about Him, myself, and others. It has been painful, but necessary… and I still don’t have a word, song, or scripture. Instead He gave me a phrase, a playlist, and sent me flipping through my Bible looking up all kinds of scriptures (not claiming to be an expert or anything like that. I’m definitely a student here.) I feel led to share part of this journey for some reason, even though it is very personal to me. So I’m following the Holy Spirit on this. Please know that I do not mean to offend anyone, act like a know-it-all, boast pridefully, or anything else negative. I’m simply stating what I have learned recently, because maybe just 1 person out there needs to read it… and when God says write, I write. You may not like me after reading this, and that’s okay. Feel free to stop following and reading, etc. because I don’t care about numbers, that is not why I blog. I don’t make money doing this so you’re not hurting me by quietly slipping away… though I hope you don’t and instead see the honesty of my heart in what I am going to share. This journey is far from over… but here is where I have traveled and where I am now… (It was originally going to be a simple post with a few graphics, music videos, and barely any words. Next thing you know, it’s a really long post. Bear with me on this, please and thank you.)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 NKJV
1 John 4:11 it says Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. - Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven" width="500" height="500" srcset="http://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/LOVE-the-lost-MORE-than-the-enemy-HATES-them-1-John-411-scripture-reference-Raising-Sticky-Hands-To-Heaven.jpg 500w, http://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/LOVE-the-lost-MORE-than-the-enemy-HATES-them-1-John-411-scripture-reference-Raising-Sticky-Hands-To-Heaven-150x150.jpg 150w, http://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/LOVE-the-lost-MORE-than-the-enemy-HATES-them-1-John-411-scripture-reference-Raising-Sticky-Hands-To-Heaven-300x300.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" />
Imagine for a moment that there is a woman who has only two options of places to live. Both potential roommates offer for her to live in their homes for free.
The first one says that he loves her and will take care of her every need, but actually hates her and is extremely jealous of everything about her. While he is very abusive, he has others in the home show her ways to dull the pain, lie to her, and cause her to feel an artificial love so that she is content and does not always feel the strain of the abuse. His intent is to strip her of everything with one hand while he pretends to care for her with the other. While the smiles are false, her roommate (slave driver would be more appropriate) steals everything he is jealous of and she is constantly watching her back. The words in her ears sound positive and her body momentarily feels good.
The second one offers to care for her with nothing asked in return but love… which comes easily the more she gets to know Him. He has many gifts for her, some of which she will attain over time, and while He is honest about the fact that there will be difficult times He makes sure that she knows that He will always be there for her. He asks the others in the home to help her get settled in, but instead some of them berate her, tell her that she is not good enough for Him, and become angry at her for not already knowing the rules of the house upon arrival. While the Homeowner is grieved and tries to let her know that He does not feel this way and that the others are wrong, she is so hurt and confused that she considers returning to the home of the one who had no love at all… If the others in the home feel that way and tell her that she is not good enough for Him, she assumes that He must feel that way as well.
Okay, I didn’t promise the best writing or illustrations here. HA! It may read out pretty lame, but you probably already get where I’m going with this… because you’re smart and saw the title and the story was obvious… but anyway, this is a big part of what has been going through my heart lately. It seems that we as Christians are so often misunderstood, and to be honest, sometimes we are just flat-out harsh when we should try a different approach. We are quick to judge, defend too fast, and try to dictate instead of love. To someone who didn’t grow up in a Christian home to know and understand what some of what we are conveying to them means, it comes out kind of hateful. How would you feel if you walked into a new friend’s house and their daughter started critiquing every bit of who you were? Not so good. But that’s how we come across sometimes to people who have been lied to their entire life by an enemy that hates them more than we love them.
Oh, he hates them alright. He hates all of us. 1 Peter 5:8 in the NKJV states “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Satan is jealous of us because we are made in God’s image, we serve God, and we are loved by God. When someone is living in sin, satan is happy because if he can deceive the person enough their hearts will become hard and cold towards God. It’s the only way that satan can hurt God, by stealing those that Christ loves and dragging them into eternal punishment with him instead of them spending eternity with our Father.
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:18-19 NKJV
Am I saying to not call sin what it is and help others see the way? Certainly not. What I am saying is that we need patience and compassion. We also need to realize that most people who are lost have never read a Bible and many that are lost are not likely reading one currently, so we are the only Bible that they are “reading.” Ouch, hurts, doesn’t it? We are so wrapped up in our doctrine and appearance of holiness that we have forgotten the great commission of going out into the world and preaching the gospel… and that none of it means anything without love. (See below.) We are not of the world, but we are in it. We should be going out and sharing the Word of God, not judging, condemning, and nitpicking. Although our intentions are well and we know where our hearts are, we don’t take the time to listen to ourselves and hear how we are coming across. While some are brought in with tough love, it does not work for all. Especially for those who have grown up in a world that has treated them brutally. We have to speak the truth, yes, but we have to consider how we are delivering it.
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:15-18 NKJV
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8
I’m also going to include 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (I suggest reading the entire chapter, it’s not long.) translated in the Amplified version, because of the depth that it explains these scriptures:
IF I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody). Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing. Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 Amplified Bible
(Both translations, and many others, can be found at Bible.com and BibleGateway.com.)
We have all heard the phrase “you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” Why do we forget this simple metaphor when it comes to winning the lost? We need to be honest and let the Holy Spirit lead us so that He may bring the conviction on their heart to turn from the sin they are living in. You see, it was in my own life, recently, where I realized that I was putting out more vinegar than honey when it came to witnessing to a particular soul that I care a great deal about. Funny (actually, not so much) thing is, that is not how I was won back to Christ when I recommitted my life to Him about 8 years ago. Many had tried that approach, because they knew that I knew the truth, but they had also made me feel shunned and unworthy. It was actually Karen and Emily’s Mom and Step Dad, Momma Ann and Poppa C, that told me that they loved me, even in my sin, and that Jesus still loved me too. They didn’t judge, condemn, or preach. But they did tell me often how much Jesus loved me. Oh how I hated hearing that at first, but eventually it got through my tough skin and caused my heart to yearn for Jesus again. It wasn’t protesters or loved ones rolling their eyes at me. Not being told that I was becoming nothing and going to hell. It was love, and hearing that Jesus still loved me after all that I had done against Him. That was what drew me back in. So why would I think that the negative approach that I hated so much should be practiced by me? Ugh. Hypocritical, much?
Ephesians 6:12 states “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Yet here I was, fighting my loved one instead of the evil and wicked that is trying to steal their life. I kept reminding them of everything wrong they were doing and how disgusting it was in the eyes of God instead of declaring the love that God has for them when they are so hated by an enemy that wants to see them dead… And THAT is how this new favorite phrase of mine was born.
Not only those that I know and love deeply on a personal level, but anyone who is living without Jesus. Just because they don’t realize that satan is there, or maybe they do not even acknowledge him, it does not mean that he is not lurking, tempting, perched and posed, ready to devour them. The fact that God loves them with more love than anyone can ever comprehend is not changed by their blindness or denial of it.
How can we make them want this love that we have? How can we fight the enemy? With fierce unbridled love!
Getting angry at a sinner for being a sinner is 1: hypocritical (Not one of us is without sin, only Jesus.) 2: like getting mad at an apple for being an apple (They need a transformation, which can only be done through Christ.) 3: getting nowhere (Stating the obvious doesn’t fix a problem.)
Love overcomes all. Love, with faith, can move mountains and transform the world. Who wants to become like the angry person? No one. It is the kind and compassionate that cause others to say, “what has that person so happy? I want to be like that…” When you show the love of Jesus fiercely, unconditionally, and abundantly… THAT is when you will see the lost running to the cross, the world transformed, and hearts softened. Not with flashy shows, angry finger-pointing, and weak theology. Too many are running lost. It is time that we sound the alarm and flood the darkness in this hate filled world with the LOVE of JESUS!
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12 NKJV
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:16 NKJV
(For those that may be curious, here are just a few of the songs on my long playlist for 2015… I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a LONG playlist!)