What would you say is our biggest problem? I believe it's selfishness and self-centeredness –yes, even for Christians! The flesh, or human nature, is generally lazy and self-centered. We usually want to do what's easy and get what's free. I've witnessed this at our conferences. In the past, we offered free teaching tapes to the crowd, and it was amazing how people would stampede to the front to try and get them. It was also unsafe; we had to stop doing it because we were concerned someone would get hurt.
I also remember a time when two ladies actually fought over a chair on the front row at one of my conferences. Neither one would give it up; they were both so determined to have what they wanted. So the two of them sat in the same chair the entire time I was speaking. Really Christlike, huh?
Real Christianity can be summed up in two commands: Love God, and love people. Luke 10:27 says, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself" (The Amplified Bible). This scripture makes it clear that walking in love is not a suggestion; it's a commandment – and it's big one!
All throughout the Bible, believers are encouraged to abound in love and increase in love. And love is one of my favorite subjects to teach on. Learning the importance of walking in love changed my life because it finally got my mind off of me and onto what I can do for others.
In John 13:34, Jesus says, "I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another" (The Amplified Bible). How did He love us? Christ willingly gave Himself up for us when He gave His life on the cross. It was a totally unselfish act of unconditional love.
Loving others always costs us something and requires effort. And you have to decide to do it on purpose. You can't wait for a feeling to motivate you. I like to say that love is "a set of behaviors that you choose to operate in." Love is a choice! So if you're going to have a love walk and give love a place of importance in your walk with God, then you're going to have to make lots of decisions every day, all day long, to think of others before yourself and treat them well.
There's a cycle to love, and we need to understand it so we can really love the way God loves us. How does God love? He willingly and unconditionally loves us – before we ever love Him. So the first step is recognizing that God loves you. Next, you accept His love by faith. Then you begin to love Him back. And finally, you can begin to let that love flow through you to other people.
We have to go through these steps because we can't give love away if we don't have it. I remember a time when I had to say out loud many times a day, "God loves me," so that I could really receive His love for me. As His love became more real to me and I started to see myself the way God sees me, it was easier to love others and stop thinking so much about myself.
In Mark 8:34, Jesus says, "If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross, and…follow with Me [continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me]" (The Amplified Bible). This verse makes is clear that we're supposed to put other people first, and that God expects us to treat everybody well. When we do, we glorify Him, like Jesus did when He gave His life for us.
I like the way The Message Bible explains what love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
"Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always 'me first,'
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end."
These verses give us a clear picture of what love looks like. And we will see God when we see love. God is love, and we were created to be loved by Him and to love others. Make the choice today to walk with God, loving people and living a more excellent life!