Ever met a narcissist, a person in love with himself, who is so self-important he does not understand the needs, emotions, or desires of those who surround him? The narcissist makes himself the center of his world, though he quite unaware of that fact because he thinks of himself with such exaggerated self-esteem such selfishness seems completely acceptable.
The disorder of excessive self-importance is named for Narcissus, a figure in Greek mythology, who was unbelievably handsome. He saw a reflection of himself in a pool and became fixated on the image to such an extent that he was unwilling to do anything else and died. People who are narcissistic lack empathy, lie to protect their image, fail at genuine conversations, and feel completely entitled. As in the myth, it is a tragic way of life!
We are made by God to love and be loved which demands selflessness. Scripture says this of about real love:
“Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Love does not demand its own way.
Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NLT)
That sets the bar quite high, doesn’t it?
If you have been loved in that way, you are blessed. If you love like that, you are an amazing person!
So, how does such love become our way of life?
Is it just a characteristic of a few well-adjusted, secure individuals who won the emotional lottery of life?
We cannot conclude that for Jesus says that love is the basis ‘rule’ for a godly life: loving God and loving others. All of God’s commands for us will fall into place if we love Him.
John teaches us this truth, for which I am grateful. It is a long text, the wisdom of God. Read it prayerfully and carefully.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:7-16, NIV)
Note the interplay of the Spirit’s work in us and our willingness to be changed. God loves us; deeply, sacrificially, persistently, redemptively! His love changes us from the inside out, making it possible for us to learn to love others which becomes the irrefutable evidence of our relationship with Him. If we are self-absorbed, hate-filled people we simply cannot say that we know and love God. But, where Self dies and love flourishes, God’s life is evident.
Our culture is one that encourages some level of narcissism, in my opinion. We are trained to seek our own way, to make our own plans, to discard difficult relationships. We are told that we are deserving. Healthy self-esteem is a good thing. If we are full of self-loathing, loving others becomes near to impossible. Christians are loved to life by a God who gives us life, who reminds us that we belong to Him, His ‘beloved children.’
Today, in this world of cut-throat competition where ‘my rights’ is a phrase heard too often, may God make us people of love who care deeply for the least, the lost, the loveless, the unlovely.
Our word from the Word are from Jesus, who sets a standard that is impossible unless we have experienced the profoundly wonderful love of God, our Father. Begin there. Let God love YOU.
Then, you will be given the grace to live these words. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:27-37, NIV)
When darkness tries to roll over my bones
When sorrow comes to steal the joy I own
When brokenness and pain is all I know
I won’t be shaken I won’t be shaken
My fear doesn’t stand a chance
When I stand in Your love
Shame no longer has a place to hide
I am not a captive to the lies
I’m not afraid to leave my past behind
I won’t be shaken I won’t be shaken
There’s power that can break off every chain
There’s power that can empty out a grave
There’s resurrection power that can save
There’s power in Your name power in Your name
Standing in Your love
Ethan Hulse | Josh Baldwin | Mark Harris | Rita Springer
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