Posts Tagged defend

The Character of Love

Romans 12: 9 – 10

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.  

The Apostle Paul cuts us no slack. He was called by God to receive and deliver the revelation of Christ to the world and with a calling that big he just didn’t have time to mince words. We can skate over the first two sentences fairly easily but that last one creates immediate friction. There is a foot note on the last sentence which reads, “outdo one another in showing honor.” To do otherwise is to paint our love with hypocrisy. That is a hard message Paul.

So what are we to do? I have to begin with the most powerful prayer I know, “Help me Lord.” I know I cannot do this in my own strength. My soul wants to defend and promote itself. There is only one way. Of course, he, Jesus is that way. But how do I avail myself of the way? Ivey must die and be buried. In her place must be the life of Christ which is my right and my inheritance and in whom I can do all things. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2: 20). 

I remember when God began teaching me this lesson in a loud way. I was still practicing law. There was a person who had made a mistake but instead of owning up to it he lied and made up a story about my practice. Well, I was incensed when I heard this lie and not one to take things lying down. I had my guns loaded and was headed to town when God stopped me. He told me that I was not allowed to defend myself. What? A lawyer is primed for these moments. I was not only confused but also astounded. My reputation was at stake and I valued my reputation but God was teaching me a new thing and it did not involve my might, and my power but rather His spirit (Zechariah 4: 6). Although I lived by the strength of my arguments and persuasive personality I loved God more, but believe me, this was hard. God used my training against me too. He showed me that when I represented a client, I was the one who spoke for him. He did not speak and defend himself. Jesus is my counselor and advocate. It is His job to defend me and to speak for me. Now, I do not say this is easy but for those who love Christ, it is the command.

We have a clear directive from our Lord, “Give preference to others over your own preferences. Honor them.” We can determine in our hearts to do just that and it works fine when you are associated with other Christians who have decided to make Christ first in their lives. I have a friend that makes this so easy. She is a blessing, and blessing others is what she does. I recently tried to bless her and she out blessed me. You can’t promote her enough because she turns around and honors the one trying to honor her. She is a living example of this verse so we end up just blessing one another. It is great! 

What happens, though, when you encounter that person who is self-absorbed, who makes everything about them and their preferences? Okay, now it gets hard. Your personality and your human character kick in and begin to push back. You may not want “everything” to be about you but you begin to feel like you’ve been run over by a truck.” This is when Christ has to be big in your life because you will need all of his strength. If you have truly died to self and are living to Christ then the things of the world don’t impact you and this is easy for you. If, instead, you are like many of us and have not completely buried that old man or are very good at resurrecting him when you feel a threat then this is going to push a few buttons. My advice is to stop and take a deep breath. Don’t say anything until you can get out of the flesh and back into Jesus. Then bring Jesus up before your eyes. Put your mind on his word. Remind yourself that nothing is more important that your love for him and his commands. It is not much consolation that you are the one acting mature and the other person is just selfishly denying Christ’s commands but it is God’s job to promote and honor you and you will receive from him what the devil steals from you through these selfish people. Give Jesus glory by honoring the command in today’s verse and he will turn around and shine that glory on you. It’s hard, I know, but your love for Jesus is bigger than any challenge. Be blessed.