Hello Everyone, welcome back to the well. I pray this blog post resonates with you as much if not more than it has me. Wow our God is so good!
This week I have listened to a sermon a friend sent me and the results of this word have been so profound, I needed to share them. The sermon was about the relationships, but the center or heart of the message was these verses from Mark.
Mark 12:29-31 New Living Translation (NLT)
29Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.30And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
As I listened to the pastor talk about these verses, and our lives in this present day, I really began to look at and examine my own life. My own relationships, with God, with my family, and others. It made me look at my priorities. The pastor went on to ask what things we have put in the place of God? I didn’t like how uncomfortable I was beginning to feel. I mean, I’m a Christian, I go to church, I read my bible! I pray for others daily… but…what am I doing the rest of the day, and the rest of the next day..you get the picture. This pastor called us to look at our relationships, what kind of time do we put in them. Which takes priority. Do we love the gifts the creator has given us more than the creator himself. I was astonished at the idolatry in my own life. In the moments that followed I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me and call to my mind, the “things” some material, some emotional, some physical that I have placed before God. I have not intentionally worshiped these “things” … but I let them have my time, my talent and my treasure. I have allowed things like a piece of jewelry, a new TV, a new diet, and new weight loss routine…you name it, I have let those things invade my heart and mind and let them take priority in my life. Does this mean they are bad, no not at all, what makes them bad is the position I have allowed them to have. I have given treating my Lupus, RA and Fibromyalgia pain first place at times, allowing worry to have place before trusting or even talking with God. I have given “things” like a new this or that to make myself feel better a place in front of God. It wasn’t a big something, but I made the pursuit of the “thing” bigger and gave it more priority than my relationship with God.
In doing this, I have felt the emptiness and sadness that these “things” leave one with. They cannot take the place of a Holy God, a loving father who can fill you and give you a peace that surpasses human understanding. As well as not allowing God his rightful place and priority in my life, I have not allowed God to comfort me, to heal me, and to love me. Yes to love me, as he has intended from the start.
If we jump to Matthew Chapter 11: 29 Jesus tells us the reason we need to put God first!
Matthew 11:29-30 NIV
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
God never intended for us to take on every burden by ourselves! In fact He knew from the beginning what our stubborn prideful hearts would do, if he didn’t command us to put him first, we would overwhelm ourselves with the burdens of this life. The exact ones that I wrestle with to this day, the ones that are coming to mind for you right now. The things that are outside of our control, that are beyond our capacity to understand.
So in giving God his rightful place, we can be in harmony with God, He can comfort us and guide us. These are things I have known for years, and even at times have done. What I had not realized is how quickly those priorities, those worries, those “things” , those people in my life, that job, that new TV show, That big game, and anything else I give too much of my time and heart to instead of giving God the first fruits of me, can rob me of my peace, my joy and of my relationship with God!
The second part of this verse really struck me hard as well. I am a enneagram 2, so I am a giver that can run with the best of the givers however, because I have not been giving God his place, the number one spot in my life, I in turn have not been able to love others or myself very well.
Why is that? Well I get worn out physically, if I don’t take time to rest when I need to I can get pretty sick. I can also become mentally just overwhelmed with my caring for others. I am a typical 2, I give until I literally cannot. So what does the commandment say, it says “ love your neighbor as yourself” … well, I love my neighbors pretty good I think. My friends and family hopefully could tell you that is true. But what is this part about loving them like I love myself. There it is, the light that came on in my mind and heart could have been seen at the space station. God has called me to love myself. At first I really didn’t understand this, I mean, I think I’m okay..right. It’s loving yourself prideful, arrogant? At this point I leaned into the pastor talking and he said that if we couldn’t love ourselves we cannot be truly loving anyone else. As I sat back and pushed pause on the sermon, I thought, I have not fully accepted myself as God sees me. I often can be heard complaining about my appearance, my weaknesses. The things I want to change or wish were different about me… The pastor went on about how this is NOT at all how God see’s us. We are precious, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, we are a temple for the very spirit of God! WOW.. Like I said, this is not the first time I have heard these words but man alive..did they hit me in the brow today!
The pastor went on to share that because we have such a bad view of ourselves that we cannot be loving others well. The Lord then called me to a familiar passage in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 specifically to verse 4-7 , He gently asked me, Beth are you these things? To yourself, and to others?
Take a moment to read this passage:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
So am I Patient…um no. Am I kind, not always. Am I jealous or boastful, yes. Do I demand my own way.. yep! Like a petulant child at times. Ugh … you can see how this is going. Do I keep record of right and wrong, only when it serves my purpose! I will not go on, because I am guilty! I have not loved as God loves, not myself or others.
It doesn’t matter if I have only done this a few times or a few hundred times. I needed this jolting to wake up from the funk I have been in for a few months. We have to be honest with ourselves, with God.. what have we done with these commands he has given us? He didn’t ask us, he has commanded us. We can, rather I can give you a list of reasons why, none of which are good enough. I have had to repent and reset! We have a loving and merciful father who gives grace so freely! He is more than happy to welcome us back to our rightful place in His grace! All because HE FIRST LOVED US!!! John 3:16
Until next time at the well,