Disregarding the 20. Focusing in on the 80.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8)

I never understood this verse. I thought it to be really flowery and I usually skipped over it. But recently, I began to understand its meaning! And oh how it has been transforming my thought patterns! In relationships (I see it springing up a lot with my fiancée), I hold expectations on people. When they fail to live up to some of those expectations, I am let down. The thoughts that run though my mind are usually not loving and affectionate, but rather critical and harsh- narrowing in on the other’s faults and weaknesses. Entertaining this pattern, will only lead to a cold, distant, and sometimes bitter, heart toward that person.

Elizabeth Elliot teaches that we let people live up to about 80 percent of our expectations. The other 20 percent we desperately want to change. We can either persistently and bitterly chip away at that 20 percent for the rest of our relationship with that person (without reducing it very much) OR we can simply enjoy the 80 percent and both will live happily.

Paul enlightens the truth that we are all sinners in desperate need of change, and instructs us to rather think about these things– whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise.  In doing so, we are choosing to delight in the radical nature of the other’s gospel change and evidences of grace annnd give glory to the Father! Not only will we feel affection toward that person when we might otherwise feel disappointment or frustration, but we will grow in our own sanctification, and feel the satisfaction of God being most glorified. Amen.

Father we humbly ask- change our thinking.

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Conditional Love?

I am thankful for her voice in my life

Last night I had triad. Except it’s really a “di-ad” because Christie and I never found a third person.  To be honest, I’m pretty happy about that.  Christie is one of my best friends, and now that we don’t lead together, the time that we get to spend together and talk about our lives and the Lord is so precious to me.  Last night Christie challenged me to think about the way I give and receive love from people.  I am realizing that my love for people is not gospel-centered, but it is conditional.  I love people when I receive love back, but when I gain nothing from loving someone, my heart says, “You’re not worth it.” I attribute worth to people by how they benefit me! In loving people, I see my idol of entitlement and pride- that by my works or attempts to love and encourage, I deserve to be blessed and loved and encouraged back.

BUT THIS IS NOT THE WAY GOD LOVES! God’s love is perfectly unconditional.  He does not benefit from loving us- we CRUCIFIED Him and DESPISED his name! Even now, as children of God, we are so often faithless.  We can never give back as much love to God as he pours out on us.  God loves because he is love in all of its fullness.  1 John 4:10-11 says…

10In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (like this). 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

Lord I long to have a heart that loves like this.  Bitterness sneaks its way into my heart as a fruit of me not loving people like this.  I hate that.  Change my heart Lord.  Give me eyes to see people in light of the cross- that they are worthy of love because you loved them.  I am me-centered, not you-centered, and I am a glory thief.  I repent lord and hate my sin, but your mercy is deep and I am thankful. As I abide in you, perfect your love in me. Amen.

Our Idol of Choice: People

Our idol of choice?

People.

“They love the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” -John 12:43

The fear of Man: the controlling concern about what others think of us; desire for human approval or fear of rejection; desire to be respected, esteemed, admired, loved, included, invited in, with the accompanying fear of being overlooked, mistreated, neglected, ignored, disrespected, excluded, or victimized.  These are legitimate desires and fears. They keep us from sinful and destructive behaviors.  When the desires go unmet or the fears are actualized, there is pain woundedness, and sorrow.  When desires are met and fears are escaped, there is happiness and a sense of pleasure and safety.  The problem is when these natural and legitimate desires become inordinate or excessive and controlling.  We become consumed about what people think about us, having an excessive fixation on people’s opinions.  We feel we need the approval of someone or anyone, and we fear their rejection. We begin to define ourselves by how others are responding to us or how we preceive their perception of us.

We use people to heal us, to validate us, to restore our glory, and to save us. But people are broken and if you look to broken people to sure up your sense of self or for the restoration of your glory you are asking glory deficient people to satisfy you with the very things that you lack. This is futility and will crush others and leave us empty.

How do we escape this fear and futility?

The Answer: There is a glory and an honor and approval and acceptance that is GREATER than that of people.  It is the glory that comes from God.

He bestows glory on you, a claim on you, accommodation upon you, and approval upon you.

There is a glory hunger inside of us and we will either go to glory deficient people cannot satisfy us OR we will have to look to the God of the universe.  He gives this to us in the Gospel.  The only commendable one (Jesus) becomes condemned so that the condemned ones (us) can become commendable.  All that we are is laid upon him so that all that he is can be imputed to us!  When this happens, the God of the universe hands a verdict to us that says, “WITH YOU I AM WELL PLEASED.”

The deepest awareness of yourself is that you are accepted by God & when this settles in, it will displace all other definitions you have been trying to achieve or escape.

And when we are liberated from the incessant need to be accepted by people because we have been accepted by the Ultimate person, we will be willingly governed by a ruling desire to love and honor the Father.  Now we are able to focus on loving people instead of using people as fig leaves to cover up our shame and give us worth.

“Freedom from the Fear of Man” by JR Vassar.

(http://fm.thevillagechurch.net/resource_files/audio/201002281115FMWC21ASAAA_JRVassar_FreedomFromTheFearOfMan.mp3)