Thursday, June 20, 2013

Am I Supposed to Love Myself?

(The following is an excerpt from Slaying Your Giants.)

To love self or not to love self. That is the question. Jesus said, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39). He also said, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26).

These two apparently contradicting verses, both spoken by Jesus, make me wonder, "Should I love me, or love me not? If God loves me, shouldn't I love me?" And here's a bonus question. If Jesus commanded me to love everyone, why does He now tell me to hate?

No, Jesus wasn’t commanding us to despise mom and dad. The biblical word “hate” doesn't always mean to “cease loving.” When Jesus says you must hate your relatives and yourself, He means that you must favor Him above everyone else. Christ wants to lead you, rather than letting anyone else control your life. However, some people wrongly believe they must hate themselves—the very souls Jesus created and died for. If that were true, you should want to go to hell, which would be the ultimate hatred of self. Obviously, that can’t be right. You would be fulfilling Satan’s will, not God’s.

A prison chaplain once told me, “Do you know why those prisoners committed their crimes? It’s because they hate themselves. And if they hate themselves, how can they love others? If they don’t have respect for themselves, why would they respect anyone else and their property? So it doesn’t bother them to steal or kill. They don’t love their neighbors because they don’t love themselves.”

Attaining a healthy self-image requires that you see yourself as God sees you—as a valuable person He created and loves. It’s important to understand that “self” can mean a couple of things. It can mean “the person God created you to be” which is good, or it can mean “having a selfish attitude” which is bad. When Jesus said to hate your own life, He meant to hate selfishness, not the person God created you to be. The Lord wants you to love yourself as His creation and child, but to hate your selfish attitudes.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Don't Stop Praying (The Unjust Judge)

After we’ve been praying for something for a long time and the answer hasn’t come, we might conclude that God isn’t listening. Sometimes He will not answer because we are asking for something that will not be good for us. But at other times we quit praying too soon, which forfeits what we are praying for. Jesus told a parable explaining why we must continue to pray.

Luke 18:1Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” 

Jesus is the one who answers our prayers—and He is teaching us about how to pray and about how prayer works.  First He says to pray at all times.  Do you realize that some things will not happen unless you pray? Otherwise, prayer would serve no purpose.  The problem is we only pray when we need something and not “at all times.”

Second, it’s easy to get discouraged and lose heart. He knows that when we don’t see the answer to our prayers that we can be tempted to quit praying.  Notice that Jesus is the one who told us to keep praying, even when it looks like nothing is happening. 

Luke 18:2-3 "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, 'Give me legal protection from my opponent.'” 

There are three reasons why you help people. One is because you fear God, and another reason is you respect others.  Jesus sets up this parable by eliminating the two primary reasons to help her.  That only leaves one reason left.

Luke 18:4-5 "For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'"  

The reason the ungodly judge gave in to her was because she wouldn’t stop bringing her request to him!  Do you understand what He’s trying to tell us?  That’s the kind of persistence we should have when we bring our requests before God.  Persistence is a necessary ingredient in faith and gives us the determination to keep praying until the answer comes. 

Don’t give up praying for your loved ones or for something else that’s on your heart. Jesus said that your prayers are making a difference in bringing it to pass.

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