Love is Not Irritable or Resentful- Abide in My Love Series

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What causes us to get irritated at another person? Is it a lack of patience? Are some people just able to push all the wrong buttons? Maybe, but the root of our irritability goes deeper yet.  It stems from our own desires and wants.  It grows from a selfish attitude.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. (James 4:1-2)

When I get irritated it is almost 100% of the time because I am putting my own wants and desires above the needs of others.  I get irritated because my heart is focused on what I want.  I want my children to be quieter in the grocery store so I can avoid the aggravated looks from strangers as my boys fight like ninjas in the isles and my 3 year old daughter screams for cookies.  I speak to them, irritated, because I selfishly want others to see me as a good parent.

I get irritated in my marriage because I get too caught up in the little things that do not matter.  I stress over the dishes and laundry and forget to just love my husband and put his needs first.  More joy comes from snuggling on the couch talking with him about his day than running around doing silly chores while complaining about having to do them.  And he would rather me be in his arms and have my attention than have a spotless kitchen and clean clothes in his drawer.

Lately my own worst enemy that causes me to be irritable is my iPhone. I am horribly and shamefully addicted. Like Pavlov’s dogs I pick it up immediately when it rings, no matter what I am doing.  I get sucked into that email or article or weather report or,  Facebook {BUM, BUM, BUUMMMM}  My children interrupt to ask for something and I lash out in frustration because I am trying to read an email or write a text. Here is a link to a great blog post about Distracted Parenting for those of you who struggle in this area.

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Biblically, how do we stop this sinful behavior of irritability?

Proverbs 17:14 says,

“The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.”

It starts out small, so looking for triggers and being aware of them keeps us from letting the flood gates open.  Walking in love will help us to humble ourselves in thanksgiving and serve with love and patience.  Taking a moment of pray can plug that little leak in the dam.  Are you getting irritated because you are putting your wants and desires above the needs of others? Remember, love is putting others needs before our own and doing so expecting nothing in return. We have our Lord Jesus as our perfect example of this sacrificial love.  

This leads us into the last part of verse 5, “Love is not resentful”.  In Greek,  this verse reads, “Love is not irritable and does not count up wrongdoing”.   In Christ, we have been blessed by God, and are counted righteous apart from works. (Romans 4:6)

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2)

God does not count up wrongdoing to those who are his in Christ.  When he looks upon us, he sees his righteous Son.  He loves us and we are called to abide in His love.  We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) Loving others takes sacrifice.  And Jesus showed us this to the greatest degree, giving his own life for us to have life eternally with him.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

When we love others, we keep no record of wrongs.  We forgive and forget. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches his disciples and us that praying for forgiveness of our sins requires that we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us. “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (Luke 11:4).  Withholding forgiveness and having resentment towards others is not love.  It is not the love God has shown to us and and the love he commands us to have toward one another.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

Some questions to ask ourselves:

1. What is it that really causes you to get irritated? Consider what might trigger it and aim to stop it in its tracks with God’s word hidden in your heart.

2. Are you letting your own desires and wants cloud your thoughts and not putting others first? Remember “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. (1 Corinthians 10:24)

3. Is there someone in your life that you are counting up wrongdoing? Are you keeping a mental record of wrongs in your heart causing you to resent someone and not love them? Seek to forgive them and ask for forgiveness for your own sin.

As we enter this Season of Thanksgiving, let us remember all we have to be thankful for in our Lord and Savior.  For thankfulness will produce praise and rejoicing in our hearts and when we have the Joy of the Lord as our strength, loving others will not be a burden, but a delight.  Have a blessed day!

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Love is Not Rude or Self-Seeking- Abide in My Love Series

loveisnotrudeWhat does it mean to say “Love is not rude”? For us, in today’s culture to be rude is to be offensive, impolite or ill-mannered.  In the KJV of the Bible it is defined as behaving “unseemly” or “unbecomingly”.  The definition for “unbecomingly” is – inappropriate behavior, especially not behaving according to the standards appropriate to one’s position or condition of life.

What is our position? As believer’s we are children of God.  What is our condition of life? We are ransomed and have the promise of eternal life.  So in the context of this verse, I will be bold enough to say, “love does not act unchristlike” (not becoming to or like a Christian).  So then we may say, “Love is acting like a follower of Christ”.

As we have seen in the previous verses and I have discussed in previous posts, Christ’s love is patient, kind, content and humble. The next part of verse 5 gives us even more insight to the love of Christ.  It is sacrificial.

“Love is not rude, it does not insist on its own way.” (1 Corinthians 13:5, ESV)

If we are not insisting that things are done our way then we are making a sacrifice of self and intentionally putting others needs before our own.  I don’t know about you, but I can tell you that this is one of the hardest things I am called to do as a Christian.  We are hard wired to be selfish.  Some of it is instinct, most of it is our sinful hearts.  I continually get tangled in the web of my own thoughts and desires. And there lies the danger of sin.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15, ESV)

So how do we fight these desires to please ourselves? By receiving grace from Christ and paying that grace forward to others in love.  And here is an amazing thing about practicing grace, from it comes an abundance of joy and thankfulness, that puts our hearts in a state of self-forgetfulness and springs us into service.

When we understand that we didn’t deserve to be saved by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection we can look upon those who we may think don’t deserve our love and be able to pour it forth abundantly without holding back or expecting anything in return.

A beautiful example of this was seen in the early church just after Christ’s resurrection.  They were believing and being baptized by thousands in a single day.

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:41-47, ESV)

And again in 2 Corinthians 8, Paul is describing the generosity of those among the churches of Macedonia.  Even though they were severely afflicted and poor, they understood the grace of God and had an “abundance of joy” that “overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Corinthians 8:2). And this generosity stemmed from grateful hearts for the grace they had received in Christ.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

As you go through the day, turn your eyes upon Jesus and remember the free gift of salvation you have.  It will produce great joy in your heart and give you strength to love others as Christ loves you. Not behaving unbecomingly, but as a servant of God. Not insisting in your own way, but generously sacrificing your own self-worth and becoming rich in the righteousness and love of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Questions to ask ourselves:

1. Have you behaved in an unchristlike manner recently? How can you repent and right that wrong? Do you need to ask for forgiveness? Remember to be honest about your sin and not try to justify your behavior in selfishness.

2.  What is an area of your life where you constantly insist on your own way? Is it as simple of a thing as having the dishwasher loaded a certain way or something as damaging as overriding your husband in things like discipline of the children or finances? Can you let go of some unrealistic expectations and trust fully in God?

Serving with Love in the Home

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My kids’ feet stink. I am not exaggerating; S.T.I.N.K.  In the hot and humid Louisiana summer their little feet sweat.  Even in those half sneaker, half sandal shoes they wear everyday they just get gross.  We have a shoe shelf (pile) at the front door and sometimes when my husband walks in from work he gets a not-so-very-pleasant welcome to his nose. Occasionally each shoe gets a sprinkling of baby powder and a spray of air freshener, but the problem returns the next time they wear them.  Sometimes it is even unbearable to sit next to them on the couch, or heaven forbid, the dinner table.

So inevitably most days I end up cleaning at least one little person’s feet.  Sometimes we use soap and water, sometimes-just baby wipes.   Just the other day, in a moment of frustration and annoyance of the stinky feet problem, I was roughly wiping my child’s feet.  They winced a little and I realized how rough my hands and my heart were being on them in that moment.   I was convicted and ashamed. Mostly because of my ignorance to the very close comparison it all had to Jesus’ beautiful example of loving service from John 13.

Before the Passover Jesus, knowing his fate, humbled himself before his disciples.

He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 13:4-5;12-15)

As parents, especially mothers we have ample opportunity to live out this lesson Jesus gave.

We clean up snot and spit-up, sometimes even with our own clothing. (Note how Jesus wiped them with the towel he was wearing.) We change diapers and wash clothes only to wake up the next day to do it all over again.  We cook elaborate meals only to have to get up from the table and clean the huge mess in the kitchen.  Whether you work or stay home, raising kids and caring for your family is a demanding job.

If you are like me though, from time to time, or even quite often you may find it hard to do these things without getting frustrated.

“Really? I just did your laundry yesterday! How could your hamper be full already, boys?”

“We were late for church again (or didn’t even go) because the baby had his third diaper blowout of the morning just as we were putting him in the car seat to leave.”

“How did you get peanut butter in your hair? We haven’t eaten peanut butter in 4 days!”

“You were just sitting on the potty for an hour. Why did you immediately come and pee on my bed?”

For me, personally it is always a pride issue in my heart.  Somewhere deep down some little voice is telling me I am somehow higher than all this mess.  But I am not.  That is a lie.

This is my joy.  This is all I ever wanted and more.  When I start to hear those little voices get louder (because they NEVER seem to go away), I have to remind myself of Jesus’ example.

He humbled himself to clean the filthy feet of grown men, even the one who was about to betray him and hand him over to those who would crucify him.   How easy it would have been to skip right past Judas’ feet or even wait until Judas was gone to do this act of service and love.  But he did it with love.

Here are 4 ways that we can look to Jesus’ teachings and learn from his example of love.

1. Jesus didn’t just command us how to live, he SHOWED us.

For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:15-17)

As the Father has loved me, so have I 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 be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9-11)

2.He showed us that following Him would not be easy or comfortable.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:34-35)

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

3. He showed us that we would never be expected to do it on our own, for we cannot.

When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the word, he loved them to the end.  During supper, when the devil had already put it in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. (John 13:1-4)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15: 5-7)

4. He showed us that service is full of love, self- denying and sacrificial love.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)

It is a blessing to have these three beautiful children to care for and this home and this family to be my work day in and day out.  Even when it is dirty, frustrating, stinky, monotonous and tiring it is the work the Lord has called me to do and I am commanded to do it in love, forgetting myself and putting the needs of others above my own.

Do I always succeed in this? NO. I fall short. I fight the battle against pride in my heart from moment to moment.  But this I know:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)

May we be encouraged by these truths and grow in love as we serve our families; abiding in Him.

This post was shared on 27 Aug 2013 to: