One Another Challenge – Day #24

one another challenge

This weekend I had the joy of spending the weekend with fifty-some sisters in Christ at a lodge in Saratoga, WY.  There are so many beautiful souls in this world (I just love getting to meet more of them).  But, oh, how I am struck, again and again, by the immense pain that so many carry.

We talked about the valleys in Scripture and the valleys in our lives and then I had the privilege of watching these sisters share their valley stories with each other.  Young and old.  Baby Christians and mature women of faith.  Unified in their love of Jesus and in the common experience of being battered by walking through life in this broken world.

There isn’t one among us who hasn’t felt pain, not a one of us who hasn’t suffered injustice or unkindness or loss.

When will we realize we live life on a battlefield…but we’re battling the wrong opponent?   For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

We are not the enemy.  A person is not your foe.

You have heard the saying, “Hurt people hurt people.”

Why do we continue to wound each other?  When do we say, “Enough! ”  Hurt people need to stop hurting each other.

Brothers and sisters, we are called to love despite our brokenness.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Continue to show deep love, because others have been deeply hurt.  Your love for another may be the bandage their wound requires.


Challenge #24 – Do you know someone who is hurting?  Go out of your way to reach out with a deep love – a love that goes above and beyond what is required or expected.

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One Another Challenge – Days #20-23!!

one another challenge

I am headed out of town for the weekend, because I have the awesome opportunity to teach at another church’s women’s retreat weekend.  (prayers appreciated)  The downside (or maybe upside), is that I will not have wifi or cell coverage where I am going.  Which means no ability to post blogs for a few days.  I thought I would write one big composite post today and you can read it a bit each day (or all at once, whatever you choose…I have no control over you and won’t know either way).


Day 20:(Fri)

11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 1 John 3:11

There are so many forms or expressions that our love can take.  Some of us are words of affirmation people.  We like to use our words to love others, sharing compliments and encouragement and verbally saying, “I love you.”  We love to let our friends know our appreciation by sending notes and uplifting texts.  These are often the people who find encouraging sayings and post them to Facebook.  They are also the ones who post photos of get togethers with friends and comment how blessed they are to have such amazing friends.  We are “words” people.

The potential for using social media to encourage and share love is tremendous.  But with every benefit, there is a strong caution.  Just as with so many other good things (like food) there is always a chance of harm (ex. overeating).  The danger in using social media to share our words of affirmation and love, is that we unintentionally hurt others.

I think many of us have felt that sting.  We open Facebook, only to see a photo of some friends out to dinner and a caption that says, “I am so blessed to have such great friends.”

There was no mal-intent.  The one who posted it probably does feel blessed.  But when you are the friend who wasn’t invited, the potential hurt is tremendous.  I have been there and I am guessing you have as well.  It is one of the reasons I don’t have Facebook and rarely look at it.  Being on the “outside” is painful and lonely.

Challenge 20:  Really think about how you use Facebook and other forms of social media.  Consider…will this post encourage and share love with every one? Or, is there the potential that in showering one friend (or a few) with love, I may unintentionally NOT be showing love to another.  Let’s use our words to share love with all.  Post something to social media today with the sole purpose of sharing God’s love with ALL who see it.


Day 21:(Sat)

23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. 1 John 3:23

We must love one another. (Are you sensing a theme?)

Of all the “one another” verses, the largest segment are the “love one another” verses.  Which should come as no surprise seeing as God is love and we are called as His people to be like Him.

Some of us share our love by our actions.  We go out of our way to do kind and loving gestures.  We serve others with our time and actions.  This can look like helping a co-worker with a task, doing a chore for someone (anyone want to come put my laundry away?), helping your spouse tackle his to-do list, watching your neighbors kids or going grocery shopping for a sick friend.

A danger I see for those who love this way, is the unending list of things that could be done.  We can use the excuse of “wanting to show love” as a cover for workaholism.  Those who love by doing acts of service need to hone in a small list of people to love or they will work themselves to exhaustion by doing and doing and doing.

Remember, we are to love others as we love ourselves.  If we are not caring for self, we will not be in a good place from which to pour out love.  Care for yourself.  Set boundaries.  Love others well, but remember you can’t love everyone equally.

Challenge 21:  Show your love by your actions today.  Do an act of service for another.  But, if you are someone who never stops (my hand is raised) and is constantly doing…your challenge is to sit.  Be still today.  Soak in God.  Rest, so you are better able to give and serve and love tomorrow.


Day 22:(Sun)

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

Some of us share love with our bodies.  Huggers unite!!!  We are the ones who hug and give back rubs and pats on the back.  We hold hands.  We cuddle.  We kiss our kids.  We sit on laps.

I have two kids who love physical touch.  Valerie is a cuggler. (cuddler/snuggler)  She loves to sit on the couch with us and just lean up against us.  She rubs her face on me like a kitten.  She loves to be close.  Daniel (who is 5 and unimaginably rambunctious) still loves to be carried.  He will crawl up in our laps.  He gives hugs incessantly.  And, he LOVES to have his back scratched.

I have another child who, at the age of 8, decided that he did not like hugs.  Eight years later, he still bristles at physical touch.  He would rather we show him love in any form that is not hug related. As his mom, I hold the distinct honor of being the only one allowed to hug him without first asking permission, primarily because his dad has brainwashed him that I am the queen and he is never to cross the queen.  So he tolerates (barely) the hugs I give him.

We huggers need to be careful.  Andrew is not the only non-hugger out there.  There is potential for our expressions of love to communicate quite the opposite to those who do not share our penchant for physical touch.  Huggers, beware:  unless you are certain, it is best to ask before you go in for a squeeze.

Day 22 Challenge:

Do you know someone who likes physical touch?  Go out of your way to give them a hug, pat on the back or a cuddle today. And don’t push the envelope with those non-huggers.  Give them their space.


Day 23: (Mon)

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 1 John 4:11-12

Some of us are gift givers (and receivers).  We find every opportunity we can to shower those we love with gifts.  We go to the grocery store, perfect opportunity to grab a candy bar for my spouse.  Running errands, that’s a perfect time to swing through the coffee shop drive thru and grab a coffee for a friend.  A friend having a rough day, take her some flowers.  A friend celebrating, take her a gift to recognize her joy.  Want to bless your child, pick up a toy at the store.

I love brightening the day of a friend with a little gift.  It makes me so happy to see their face light up when what I have gifted speaks to their heart.

The downside to gift giving?  I see none.  Just kidding.  The down side is that there are some who have trouble receiving.  Some friends feel guilty if they are not able to return the gracious kindness.  And, when done in front of others, giving a gift can cause tremendous pain for those who did not receive a similar expression of generosity.  Again, this is where social media can be a trap.  It is easy to post a “thank you” to a friend on social media (ie.  Thanks to my Life group for bringing me flowers while I was sick!).  But those who have not been the recipients of a similar effort may quickly feel hurt or left out.  In addition, those who don’t have the time or monetary ability to give a similar gift might feel like they are not a good friend because they cannot afford to give gifts.

By no means does this mean that we don’t share gifts and grace with each other.  But, when we do we should be quiet about it (remember that “don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing passage?).  And when we receive those gifts, be grateful in a manner that is also quiet and not going to cause pain for others.

Challenge 23:

Share love by giving a well thought out gift today.  Really consider what might show a friend or family member love and then bless them with a gift (a coffee, a gift card, a candy bar, a movie, a small toy, a piece of jewelry, etc.).

 

One Another Challenge – Day #19

one another challenge

One the evening of the Last Supper Jesus rose from the table, gathered a basin and towel and worked his way around the room washing the feet of each of his disciples.

Foot washing was a normal occurrence in a society where roads were made of dirt, animals and not vehicles ruled the road, and most transportation was done on foot, in sandals.  The odd part of this story is not the foot washing, but the foot washer.  Slaves or servants were the normal foot washers.  When you consider that feet were covered in filth, this was not a covetable position.  It was certainly not the job of a rabbi.  Jesus was the least likely person in the room to be washing cruddy feet.

So, when Jesus got to Peter and Peter said, “You will never wash my feet,” the protest was not a refusal of Jesus’ kindness but rather an expression of, “there is something wrong with this picture.”  Peter was telling Jesus, “No way, you are far too important a person to do such a menial task.”

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.  John 13:12-15

Jesus was teaching a lesson.  It’s like the limbo:  “How low can you go?”  He wanted his disciples to understand that there is no task too low for the Christ-follower.

Love stoops low.  If we are to love like Jesus we must be willing to stoop.  To serve.

We wash feet.  We clean toilets.  We rub the back of a puking friend as she goes through chemotherapy.  We clean the home of a friend.  We watch each other’s children and change their diapers.  We go to doctor appointments with another.  We clip toe nails.  We clean basements flooded with sewage.  We make meals for the suffering.  We go to funerals.

Challenge #19

Have you ever thought, “I am too good for that?”  or, “That’s a job for someone else?”  Ask God to give you the same attitude as Christ.  Watch for opportunities to stoop low.  Is there someone you can humbly help?

One Another Challenge – Day #18

one another challenge

Why is it that some people are just easier to tolerate than others?

Is it personality?  Certain personalities just click with certain other personalities, and some personalities just cannot tolerate each other.

Or similarity?  We just naturally get along with people who are similar, and therefore we are more tolerant with those who are like us.

Maybe it is prejudice?  We have learned to be tolerant of certain types of people and to show no mercy to others.

I watch this play out with siblings often.  A certain child is very tolerant of one sibling but simply has no patience for another.

I see it in the church.  Some people are capable of tolerating the difficult members who need extra grace and lots of attention, while others avoid those who are needy or rough around the edges.

It happens in schools.  Teachers frequently have certain children that they can work with joyfully and others that they can barely tolerate.  (I know this is true, it’s the reason I stopped eating lunch in the teachers’ lounge.)

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults…    Colossians 3:12-13a

I could be wrong, but I think it boils down to love.  The greater love we have for a person, the more likely we are to tolerate them (even when they are being annoying or unlovable).  We make allowance for the faults of those we love.  However, if you have little love for someone, you will likely have little time, or patience, or tolerance for them.

When you are in that puppy love and honeymoon phase, you are so enamored with your significant other that they can do no wrong.  You tolerate all sorts of little quirks and habits.  Oftentimes, as relationships proceed, that “love” wears a bit thin.  Spouses focus more on work and children and hobbies than one maintaining their relationship, and the love begins to wane.  Suddenly they notice all those quirks and habits and things that were once cute become frustrating, annoying and intolerable.  We’ve all seen it happen.

Less love equals less tolerance.

It might be hard to admit, but siblings who love each other more are more tolerant of each other’s idiosyncrasies.   The students that are loved more by a teacher, are tolerated more easily.  And those we love at church, we are most likely to tolerate.

As we grow in our faith and in our Christ-likeness, we grow in our capacity to love.  As we grow in our capacity to love like Christ, we gain the ability to make allowance for each other’s faults (also known as tolerating each other).

Who are you most critical of?  Whose short comings make you crazy?  Who annoys you?  Search your heart.  You will likely find very little love in your heart for that person.

Challenge #17- Ouch.  Those words are tough for my heart to ponder.  Who am I most critical of?  Who are you most critical of?  If someone doesn’t jump into your mind, spend some time pondering that today.  And then, commit to praying for that person daily.  Ask God to help you grow in love toward him/her.  Ask Him to increase your tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, that you might more readily make allowance for his/her faults.

One Another Challenge – Day #17

one another challengeI like coffee.  It took me a long time to develop a taste for it, but as the newlywed wife of a coffee drinker, I was dedicated to the task.  Paul started me out gently, with caramel latte International Foods Coffees in the cute little tins.  I think they were 2/3 sugar, 1/6 flavor, 1/6 powdered milk and about .00002% actual coffee. We slowly added “real coffee” in increasing increments, and eventually (I wont say how long it took, for fear of embarrassment and ridicule) I graduated to drinking coffee, not mixed with the stuff in a tin, but with A LOT of what Paul calls, “Froo froo creamer.”

Over the years I have tried to decrease the “froo froo” in my coffee, but it remains a part of my daily routine.  I currently drink whatever fair trade coffee we have on hand, mixed with a bit of vanilla almond milk, a spoonful of coconut oil and a splash of maple syrup.  It is fairly healthy.  And I like it.  A lot.

When we got the hitch put on our van, my mom ordered me one of those little hitch covers, that looked like this…

all_i_need_today_is_a_little_bit_of_coffee_a_who

(I say “looked” like this because I banged it up backing out of our driveway and it doesn’t look quite like that any more.)

“All I need today is a little bit of coffee and a whole lotta Jesus.”

Do you ever make statements like that?

I’ve seen other versions of that quote that swap out “coffee” and swap in “sweet tea,” “Dr. Pepper,” “chocolate,” and “the Dallas Cowboys.”

It is cute and funny and highlights our obsession with coffee (chocolate, sweet tea, etc.).

But…

Many of us live like this mantra is Bible- truth.  We make comments like, “I can’t live without coffee (or sugar, or bread, or sports, or beer, or   fill in the blank . )

The reality is, we could live without coffee.  Or chocolate.  Or the Dallas Cowboys.  We might go through withdrawal.  It might not be fun.  But we most certainly can live without many of the things we say we require.

However, we cannot live without Jesus.  Not well and not eternally.

And we need to remind each other of this truth.  When a brother or sister is struggling, or feels like their world is going to end if they can’t have that one thing they are longing for, we need to teach and counsel each other.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. Colossians 3:16

When my coffee pot is on the fritz, I need to be reminded that it is gonna be okay.  The world is not going to end if the power goes out and my son is unable to play video games for a day.  You will survive if you run out of Diet Coke today…or if your team loses the big game…or if your spouse finishes the ice cream.  But, Jesus.  We all need Jesus and we need to remind each other of that, regularly.  Preach it to me!

Challenge #17 – Remind a friend about the message of Christ.  Give a phone call, text, or drop a note in the mail today to remind him/her that days may be tough and things may be coming against them…but as long as they have Jesus, they will survive!  His grace IS enough!

 

One Another Challenge – Day #16

one another challenge

I am a wimp.

There, I said it.

I have injured myself on more than one occasion by trying to lift something that my puny body was not designed to lift.  I am rather feisty, so I always think that I will be able to lift the questionable object and somehow I will myself to do it in the moment.  But later, when my neck or back is in agony, I am reminded that God gave us all strengths, and mine is not strength.

Just this afternoon we were rearranging some furniture in our family room(rearranging furniture is a hobby of mine, much to Paul’s dismay).  When it came time to move some large pieces of furniture, Paul disappeared.

He reappeared with our 12 year old daughter, Valerie.

Yes, he picked our less-than-90-pounds-wet daughter over me to help move the furniture. It is no secret that she is strong (she is a dancer) and I am not.  Plus, I am considerably more accident prone. (Paul calls Valerie, “Nails,” by the way.  Because she is tough as nails.)

So, Paul and “Nails” rearranged furniture and I offered moral support and directions.

It is a pretty good example of our lives as Christians.

Some of us are fairly weak and struggle in certain areas.  Others are stronger and can offer support.  The Bile calls this “bearing one another’s burdens.”

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2

This passage is specifically speaking of sin.  If a friend is really struggling in an area, an area in which you have no difficulty, you are called to walk alongside and help and encourage that friend.  What exactly this looks like maybe be vastly different depending upon the sin.

If your friend is struggling with overspending, and you happen to be self-controlled in your spending, you might assist your friend in the creation and implementation of a budget.

If your friend is struggling with worry, maybe you help her find some verses that encourage her to trust in God or you send encouraging text messages to remind her of the truth.

If your friend is struggling with gluttony and food addiction, you might change the way you eat in front of her or even go on a diet with her, holding her accountable to better habits.

If your friend is struggling with pride, you might point out all his weaknesses. (just kidding)

The point is, you can make the burden lighter.  Even though it is not your burden, you help to carry the load.  This improves your friend’s chances of success and it shows how greatly you love and value your friend.

I could have moved the couch this afternoon, but “Nails” carried my burden for me.

(Man, I wish I was strong.)


Challenge #16 – Do you know a friend who is struggling?  How might you help carry his/her burden today.  If nothing else, pray with your friend.  But if there is another, more tangible way you can step in and lighten the load, come up with a plan to do so.

One Another Challenge – Day #15

one another challenge

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32

The second half of yesterday’s verse instructs us to forgive one another.

When we forgive, we give up our right to hold another accountable.  We turn them over to Jesus, entrusting justice to Him.

Why would we forgive someone who has wronged us?  And especially if they have not acknowledged or repented of the wrong?  It seems far more reasonable to hold onto the possibility of getting even.

Are we so quick to forget the forgiveness that has been shown to us?

Why would God forgive all of us who have wronged Him and especially before we acknowledged or repented of the wrong?

Before we sinned, before we were even born, Christ was enacting His forgiveness for us.  If our actions show what we believe, then God’s actions show His incredible love  and mercy for us.  He believes we are worth saving and that we should be forgiven.  Therefore, He sent Jesus to die on our behalf – the ultimate blood offering – so that we could be forgiven and rendered pure in His sight.

We did not, and we do not deserve forgiveness.  We deserve hell.  We deserve punishment and accountability and justice for our wrongdoing.

And yet, thanks to a love that we cannot comprehend, God forgave us and He calls us to do the same.  We are to forgive each other.


Challenge #15 – Practice being unoffendable today.  Rather than getting hurt feelings or being offended when other’s aren’t kind or considerate, forgive them.  Forgive those who wrong you, even before they acknowledge the wrong.  Believe the best in others and show God’s love and forgiveness even when it isn’t deserved.

 

One Another Challenge – Day #14

one another challenge

A few days ago we said that our actions give evidence to our beliefs.  Our faith is lived out in action.  If we love Christ, we obey Him and share His love with others.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, …Ephesians 4:31-32a

These verses are found in a section that discusses how we are to live as children of the light.  We are instructed to get rid of bitterness, rage, anger,  – which are harmful negative emotions, as well as get rid of harsh words and slander – which are harmful forms of communication.  In addition, verse 31 tells us to get rid of all types of evil behavior.  Mind, mouth and body are all covered.  Don’t think it, say it or do it.

Instead, we are to be kind.

This isn’t simply the “be kind to your sister” version of kind that I beg of my children.  It doesn’t simply mean “talk nicer,” or “don’t use your words to hurt her.”  This kindness is an action that stems from an attitude.  When our attitude becomes like that of Christ, we develop the heart of a servant, one who is willing to stoop low and serve.  The kindness referred to here is an action of usefulness (helpfulness).

Kindness is being a servant.  Making yourself available to another.  In fact, the word translated “kindness” in this verse (xrestos) is very similar to a name commonly given to slaves in the Graeco-Roman world (Xrestus) which is believed to be a spelling variation of the name Xristos (Christ).  The name Xrestus means “useful or kind.”

When we live this verse, when we live kindness, we live like Christ.  We are willing to humble ourselves and be the servants of all.


Challenge #14 – Who do you know that would benefit from some kindness?  Your challenge today is to do a random act of kindness, without being caught.  Do something to help someone else, but do not let them know it was you who did it.

One Another Challenge – Day #13

one another challenge

All throughout the New Testament, believers are referred to as brothers and sisters.

Isn’t that just the coolest?

I love that believing in and following Christ grants us access, not only to the Kingdom of Heaven, but also into this amazing body of believers.  We become a part of a family!

For those who have been alone, or who have had difficult family backgrounds, this means they are no longer alone, they have acquired a whole host of spiritual brothers and sisters.  It feels so good to belong somewhere.

In churches like ours (that are big) the vast number of brothers and sisters can be overwhelming.  This is why small group ministry (we call them Life Groups) is vital.  A small group can quite literally become your family.

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10

We are called to love each other with a brotherly love and find joy in honoring (valuing) each other.  That sounds to me like the picture of a perfect Life Group – a family that loves each other and truly enjoys building each other up and honoring one another.

Life Groups aren’t to be places where we come to complain or constantly whine about our spouse’s bad habits.  It isn’t simply a place to have fun (though fun should be an important element).  Life Groups aren’t all about learning and debating tough topics (though I know some groups love to do those things).

An important piece of the Life Group equation is relationship forged in loving and honoring each other.  Really loving each other.  Not just saying it, doing it.  Living out our love for each other.  And celebrating each other.  Honoring others by showing them they have value to us.

Challenge #13 – Who is your Life Group (small group, Bible study group, group of Christian friends)?  Find a way to show them love or honor today!


I want to share my tremendous love for my Life Group!  On Sunday mornings, when I am trying to work and Daniel is being a handful, they regularly grab him and get him settled in at Kid Zone for me.  What a blessing!  They truly know how to show their brotherly and sisterly love to me!

Tonight I was absolutely giddy with excitement to find out that 4 of the kids in our Life Group want to get baptized.  (We have a family life group, so kids 11 and up join us.)  I asked our big kids if they wanted to get baptized with these friends and they agreed.  So, I shared the exciting news with our group.  And then something incredible happened…an entire family decided to get baptized!  On October 21st, TEN people from our Life Group will be baptized!  Hallelujah!  I am so pumped tonight!  I cannot wait to see what God has next for this group – my brothers and sisters in Christ!! I love my Life Group!

One Another Challenge – Day #12

one another challenge

I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. 2 John 5

What loving one another means and what loving one another does not mean.

  1. Loving one does not mean that you are unloving to another.  We are called to love even our enemies and even those with whom we disagree.  There is a way in which we can love without agreeing or even condoning another’s behavior.  Loving one another means that we love all.  We don’t discriminate.  Our words and actions show Christ’s love to anyone who crosses our path.  As we discussed a few days ago, we need to love those on “the other side.”

Questions to ask yourself:  Am I being loving to all involved?  Would my opponent (enemy) feel loved by my words/actions?

2. Loving others does not mean that you have to help everyone.  Jesus did not end suffering, illness and poverty while he was on earth.  If Jesus did not meet every need, then surely no one of us is called to do more than Jesus.  Loving others means that we help those we are called to help. This is dependent upon good listening.  We need to slow down and sit with the Father and listen to His voice often so we are able to discern when His voice calls us to action and when He is saying, “wait” or “no.”

Some of us have a very high helping impulse.  We see needs and feel compelled to act. However, there are times in which not acting is the more loving action.  At times, our “love” or what we perceive as a loving action is truly not what the individual needs.  There have been times when I have intervened in a situation because I felt it was the loving thing to do.  But, in so doing, I have allowed others to become dependent upon me rather than be dependent on the Lord.  At other times, my assessment of a “need” was not very accurate.  In actuality my “love” was truly an act of pride – feeling that the recipient “needed me.”

Questions to ask yourself:  Has God called me to act, or am I doing so for prideful reasons?  Is it possible that not acting is the more loving thing to do?  Might not helping allow someone else the chance to share love?

3. Loving one another does not mean that we neglect ourselves.  This one is hard for me.  I will sacrifice many things in order to share love with another.   After all, aren’t we called to deny ourselves?  It is true, Christ called us to sacrifice and deny ourselves but that denial comes in the form of giving up of our preferences and indulgences and luxuries.  We aren’t called to deny ourselves the things we need, like physical, emotional and social rest.  It is not healthy to love and care for others while neglecting your own health (mental, physical or spiritual).  Loving one another means we love ourselves because we have been called to love others AS we love ourselves (Deut. 19:18).  Implicit in this command is self-love.  We need to care for ourselves.  Part of loving self is settting up healthy boundaries.

As I said, this one is hard for me.  I have come a long way since our early days of ministry when I would drop anything to run to a friend’s aid.  One year I even sacrificed spending my birthday with my family to go help another family who was struggling.  I gave up many evenings with my own children to be with other families.  I have learned that we need to look to the example of Christ who took time to rest, who took time to recharge and be with the Father, who took time to have fun and eat meals with his friends.

Loving others may mean sacrifice, but, it should not mean habitual neglect of self and family.

Questions to ask yourself:  Have I been loving and caring for myself well?  Is there plenty of margin and do I have clear boundaries in my life? How might loving myself better allow me to better love others?


This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, but merely a stepping stone on the path toward loving as Christ loved.

Day #12 Challenge:  Love yourself well.  Set some boundaries that allow for margin in your life.  Schedule some time to rest daily.  Find time to read your Bible and listen to the Holy Spirit. Set yourself free from the bondage to having to be available to everyone all the time – shut off your phone and don’t feel guilty about it.