In self-help, self-love world, what's real love?
We’re living in a self-help, self-love world, am I right? Scroll your Instagram feed, and you’ll see self-love motivational memos plastered everywhere.
What I love about this is, as a follower of Jesus, he gives us the ability to love ourselves rightly, the way he does.
But sometimes we miss that up, and it has really nasty implications...Did you know you can’t love anyone if you don’t love yourself? In the same way, you can’t love anyone if you love yourself most.
When we live in the way Jesus calls blessed, the Spirit produces fruit in our lives—the kind of qualities that make for beauty and happiness, the crazy happy way! What we find in the Beatitudes is Jesus’ definition of a blessed life. In Galatians 5:22-23, we find Paul’s description of the fruitful life. When we hold these two passages side by side, we see that they are intimately related. We see that the blessed place of poverty of spirit leads us right into the fruit of the Spirit that is love.
Think about it. What’s the ultimate example of love? Jesus. He humbled himself, lived in submission to his Father, and laid his life down for his own creation because of his great love.
When we live our lives cognizant of the reality that we are sinners in need of our Savior, we maintain hearts of humility. That posture ultimately allows us to love others with the same humble love that Christ showed. It’s undeniable evidence that his Spirit is in us.
This crazy idea of happiness coming from poverty of spirit leads us to think differently. The question becomes, “Why would I ever not love another person?”
Let that question land for a second.
When we forget where we’ve come from, we lose the ability to meet people where they are.
Think about people you don’t love right now. Why don’t you love them? Maybe they have hurt you and you think they don’t care about others the way you do. Maybe they don’t live lives that honor God. Maybe you can’t fathom how they could vote the way they did. Or you can’t believe they would watch that movie. Or that they would go to church only once per month. Or they would be attracted to that person. And the list goes on.
However, if we’re living in poverty of spirit, we’ll realize the problem isn’t them; the problem is us. My problem is me. Your problem is you.
Humility teaches us we’re all the same, just with different life details. And if it weren’t for God’s grace, we’d be sitting in the exact same seat as that person whose life is in shambles. Humility frees us to walk in the crazy happy way of love.
The modern Western church is an unfortunate example of this. Although we are supposed to be the body of Christ, we are often a place of extremes when it comes to embracing people who don’t follow Jesus. Both extremes are rooted in pride. On the one hand, there are those of us whose pride manifests in a pharisaical spirit. On the other hand, there are those of us who are so fed up with hypocrisy in the church that we’ve started to say, “We’ll just love everybody and not worry about sin. God can take care of it,” and we affirm everything. We blame the world for not feeling loved by us. We say things like, “Well, that’s their fault ’cause they think that if we don’t affirm their lifestyle, we don’t love them.”
Actually, it’s our fault. Neither judgment nor total affirmation is love. If you really were humble and loved people, you could say, “I don’t agree with you, but I still love you.”
If you look at the life of Jesus, he doesn’t walk around correcting people who aren’t following him until they make the choice to follow him. He does correct those who claim to follow God (for instance, the disciples and the Pharisees). You’ll remember how Jesus invites us to lovingly correct our brothers and sisters: “If you see a speck in your brother’s eye, first you have to pull the plank out of your own eye. Then go deal with your brother’s speck.” Jesus is stating the obvious: a speck is a piece of sawdust, and a plank is a two-by-four. Rather than being like,
“Bro, you got sawdust in your eye,” take the plank out of your eye first. ’Cause if you don’t pull the plank out, you’ll knock your brother out with your issues.
But here’s the cool thing. When you know you have garbage, too, and you’re willing to deal with it, then you can go and say, “Listen, I’m nobody. I got me a whole lumberyard going on in my eye. You don’t even know. I got particleboard. I got two-by-fours. I got woodblock. I got some composite material. I’m pulling all kinds of junk out of my eye. But I did notice that this speck’s messing you up a little bit. I care about you and don’t want you to get hurt.”
If we humble ourselves before God, the goodness of the Lord through our lives can lead others to repentance. I love the phrase “Transformed people transform people.”
That’s what I love about the beautiful life Jesus invites us to: it spreads from our hearts to the hearts of others.
None of us love to be humbled. However, the Bible teaches us we’ll be humbled whether we like it or not. We either humble ourselves before the hand of God, or our sin humbles us. Either way, you will be humbled. We can welcome it like Jesus did, or fight it kicking and screaming.
If we can’t let go of our pride, all we’re doing is pushing away the very people Jesus died and rose again to redeem.
We’re supposed to dwell forever in humble gratitude for our salvation, at the foot of the cross, and share that with everyone around us.
That’s how Jesus works. When we come to him in poverty of spirit, he is faithful to bear good fruit in our lives.
Poverty of spirit is the doorway to the kingdom of heaven, where we begin to walk in love for God and humanity. When love takes root in our hearts, we’re only standing on the threshold of all the beautiful fruit God wants to unfold in our lives.
Daniel Fusco is the author of Crazy Happy, and lead pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, Washington. His messages air weekly on the Hillsong Channel.
This is an excerpt from Crazy Happy: Nine Surprising Ways to Live the Truly Beautiful Life by Daniel Fusco (Waterbrook, 2021). Used with permission.