The Great Escape   Leave a comment

The Great Escape

Love and Kindness Show the Way

escapeIt does not take a Bible scholar to look at the world we live in to recognize that we are in the “Last Days.” It takes no more than a few seconds of glancing at the headlines of the newspaper, or listening to the lead stories on the latest news broadcast. Our world

is becoming ever increasingly more angry, bitter and self-interested. Unfortunately many of those that call themselves “Christians” have fallen into the same attitudes and behaviors. In the world that we live in it is easy to get stuck in the motions of just surviving from day to day.

Life becomes a daily challenge to simple outlast the harshness of those that we encounter

As a result we find ourselves becoming hard, cold and bitter as a means of self-protection. In the midst of the struggle our eyes lose focus on who we are and more importantly whose we are and one day we wake up to realize that we no longer feel the joy and anticipation of each new day and we are rather filled with depression and dread. It has come to the point that we bring these same attitudes and behaviors into our most personal relationships including our homes. As I share these thoughts, I honestly admit to you, that I can recognize some of this pattern even within myself, I hope and pray that as you read on you will reflect on your own attitudes and behaviors to find if you have fallen prey to this trap as well.

 Another troubling thing that I have observed in myself and other “Believers” is the tendency to be judgmental, harsh and at times downright cruel towards those whom do not conform to our conservative Christian perspective of how one should look, dress, talk and act. We attempt to justify our actions by calling it discipleship and correction. In actuality it is more of the same negativity. Unfortunately, I believe too many of us have become the very Pharmacies and Sadducees that Jesus encountered in His day and time.

 So what is the answer? What do we do to break this cycle not only in our personal lives, but in the lives of those same hurting people that are also stuck in this cycle?

I think it comes down to one of the “greatest” commandments. “Love your neighbor as yourself”.

The “Love Chapter”, I Corinthians 13 says it this way:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails.

 In most simple terms, “Without love, I am nothing.” Looking a little more deeply, what does this passage have to say about the attitude and behaviors associated with Love? It is almost exactly the opposite of all of the attitudes and behaviors that we have demonstrated in the “trap.” Love is patient, kind and honoring; it does not envy or boast. It is not self-seeking, and is not resentful. It protects, trusts hopes and perseveres. Love never fails.

 Kindness and patience are two of the key words that can be pulled from the passage. I don’t know about you, but especially in the hustle and bustle of life’s pressures and expectations patience is not easy to maintain. Then when we become impatient, there goes our kindness as well.

Scripture goes on to say, ”Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” I John 2:6

 So how did Jesus live? He embodied love and compassion. That being said, the very types of people that we despise and are judgmental towards , they are the same types of people with whom Jesus spent the majority of his time. A women known for sexual impurities was one of his closest friends; he ate among crooks. Among his closest followers were a man prone to anger, a corrupt tax collector and a thief. He showed them mercy and grace; He showed them that they were more than their mistakes and their lives were changed for the better. He demonstrated love and kindness in a way that seemed foreign and stranger to others in his faith.

 So if that is the answer, where do we start?

Let us start with the other of the “great” commandment:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30

When we take our eyes off of all the striving and winning in the here and now and realize that we were created for so much more. We are here for one primary purpose: To be in relationship with our Father in Heaven. When our sights are focused on that and we remember what John said, “We love Him, because He first loved us.” I John 4:19. Despite our struggles and failures He loves us anyway. How can we not love someone that demonstrates that kind of love towards us. When we give and receive that kind of love, then that same love will begin to permeate our very being.

As we are filled with His love that is abounding within us, we can no longer contain it, and love over flows out of us and into the lives of those around us. It touches those closest to us first and then others. This process does not happen overnight it takes time and effort on our part. So we must begin to practice attitudes and behaviors that will become more natural in time.

We can begin to practice by changing how we use a very small but powerful instrument, the tongue. For it is said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) Another verse in Proverbs, Proverbs15:4, says it like this,” A soothing tongue is a tree of life,

But perversion in it crushes the spirit.” The same passage in verse one also says,” A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” We need to take care in the words that we use in our interactions, but even more importantly than that is how we say them. Even when we find ourselves in difficult and at times confrontational situations we should speak with gentleness and kindness rather than becoming angry and aggressive.

As the old idiom goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” (Not that we really want a bunch of flies.) This simple reflects the same biblical principal of the power to build up or tear down that is in the tongue. When we speak with kindness, especially in difficult situations in which we have otherwise been harsh and cold, we break the cycle not only in our own lives, but in the lives of those around us.

Of course changing our words is just the beginning. As we grow and move forward in this journey we are transformed from the inside out, resulting not only more and more kindness and love in our words, but also in our deeds. As well known, often repeated quote goes, “Actions speak louder than words,” James said it this way, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26) Our lives begin to reflect the love, grace, mercy, and kindness that Jesus exhibited. When we learn to walk in love kindness we have to worry very little about whom we are offending, because words actions are focused not on improving our personal agenda, but on edifying, encouraging and helping others to grow as they proceed in their own journeys,

As mentioned earlier, these changes in our character, attitude, words and behavior are not going to happen y will take time, effort and at times cause us to suffer pain as we work through our own disappointments and resentments that contributed to our own personal bitterness. What I can guarantee to you is this, if you persevere the blessings and joy that you will attain will have been worth it all. You will be amazed at the freedom and peace that you will discover when you are focused outward rather than inward,

So my friends, are you ready to delve into one of the most exciting and rewarding r you can ever imagine? Are you ready to be free of the chains of resentments, judgments and defensiveness? If so I hope you’ll join me in the journey as we grow in love and kindness within and in our relationships and interactions with others.

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:36


Posted January 13, 2014 by Hope in Recovery in Uncategorized

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