1 John 3:13 (NCV) Brothers and sisters, do not be surprised when the people of the world hate you.
God loves us so much we are called his children. We belong to Him and once we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we are made new. In God’s eyes we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). As we grow in our Christian faith, we change to become more like Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us in 1 John 3 that the world will not know us – in fact we are hated – because the world doesn’t know God.
We know that sin causes us to break God’s law. If we are in Christ and continue to sin, do we really understand and know him in the first place? (v 6) The Bible says we don’t. John encourages us to stop sinning and be like Christ. Christ loved so therefore, we must do the same. We must love each other. John tells us in verse 14 that “whoever does not love is still dead.” In fact John continues with “Everyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer.” Whoa! Stop here for just a second. Have you ever uttered the words “I hate that guy!” or “I hate her!”? I know I sure have. I remember on several occasions when I said “I hate ______________!”
When I was younger my dad asked me all the time “hate is such a strong word babe, do you really hate or do you just dislike?” It took a while before I understood that hating someone was just like murdering them. I know I don’t want to be considered a murderer in God’s eyes… do you? We must love… because Christ loved us. But (of course there’s a but…) according to John, words are not enough. We must back up our words with action and true caring (v 18).
I am still learning to love the way Christ loves. Whenever I feel myself wanting to utter the words “I really hate ____________.” I have to remind myself of what I am actually saying. I would much rather work towards loving the way Christ loved instead of being consumed by hate.
Philippians 2: 1 – 4 (NCV) Does your life in Christ give you strength? Does his love comfort you? Do we share together in the spirit? Do you have mercy and kindness? If so, make me (Paul) very happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and having one mind and purpose. When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.
Paul encourages the men and women of the church at Philippi to look beyond themselves and do nothing from selfish ambition but rather to the needs of others. In these verses, he is encouraging them to empty themselves just like Christ emptied himself. Christ chose to leave all the comforts of His perfect heaven and step into this world of chaos because he loved us and desired to be in a close personal relationship with us. He could have chosen to come to earth in any way he wanted, but chose to come in the most humble form – a baby.
Throughout his public ministry, Jesus humbly serves all people, even those who had been outcast by their community. He served without complaining or pushing the responsibility off on someone else. He didn’t complain that it was too early to get up or that he had too much to take care of at home. He was selfless in his giving. He loved, as His Father in heaven loved.
I was reminded of this passage in Philippians when I thought about a little inconvenience I had a few years back. At the time I was working outside of the home. The best time for me to spend a few minutes with God was early mornings. It was in the quietness of those moments that were totally mine. No one was expecting me to be a wife, a mother, and an employee – early mornings were for me and God only. That particular morning, I started to make my way downstairs to grab a cup of automatically-brewed piping hot coffee and clean up after my paralyzed dog…but God had a little lesson for me to learn.
I typically don’t mind taking care of my dog because she was paralyzed from mid-back down to her hind legs. She was such a little fighter, full of life and spunk – most of the time you couldn’t even tell there was something wrong. But it was on this morning… she couldn’t help but make a huge mess. “Oh man!” I blew out in frustration. It was going to take me longer than usual to clean up after her. My “schedule” was getting “upset” by the inconvenience.
It’s rather odd don’t you think? Let’s get real for just a moment, how “inconvenient” can it really be at 4:30 in the morning? That morning, I had two hours to fit in my quiet time and post to my blog. There was still had plenty of time, yet I felt impatient. For some reason I felt like I didn’t “have time” to spend the extra time cleaning up after the dog. I wanted to be doing something else. Wasn’t what I wanted to do better than cleaning up the mess? It was in this very thought God spoke to me “it’s in the little things I’m working out the bigger things.”
I have to admit I put down the cleaning supplies and picked up my dog. It wasn’t her fault she made a mess… she’s paralyzed. God used the little hindrance that morning to work out the bigger things like impatience and selfishness and show me how to be more compassionate and loving.
What is God using in your life to teach you things?