“I love God; it’s just people I can’t stand!” fumed the frustrated man sitting across from me. “People are jerks, even Christian ones! When I get to Heaven, I’m going to lock myself in my mansion and not let anybody in!” “Hmmm. That sounds like a Christ-like attitude.” I thought. “I bet he probably has left behind a trail of hurt and disappointed people.” I remember a few years ago, being in a church service where a woman got up and “thanked” God she didn’t have to listen to other people and she just had to listen to God. At the time, I thought, “What happened to all the things God says in the Bible about loving other people, esteeming other people, caring for other people, having the safety that comes from a “multitude of counsellors?” Prov. 15:22. Firstly, you need other people and the verse in Proverbs I just mentioned says, “without counsel, purposes are disappointed; but in the multitude of counsellors they’re established.” In other words, if you won’t listen to what other people who are wise tell you, you’re going to face a lot of disappointment in your life, but of you’ll ask advice, counsel and wisdom and then act on it, your dreams will be established and you’ll fulfill your purpose in life. So, you need those relationships with other people who can give you input. We need the fellowship of other godly people to keep us balanced and to keep us from going off on extremes. The beginning of having a hardened heart towards God is when we refuse to listen to or honor other people, dismissing them as “not as spiritual” or “not as deep” as WE are.
Some of the people who consider themselves closest to God are the rudest and most critical. They continually disrespect those of us who aren’t enamored by their spiritual gianthood and great anointings of the Holy Spirit. These are the ones who go from church to church, hoping to find a place that’s discerning enough to recognize their spiritual giftings and superior wisdom. Sad thing is, they never find such places and end up wandering from place to place. That’s definitely not God’s will. Not for them, not for you and not for anybody. Looking down on other Christians isn’t a mark of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said this about how we treat people: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. For THIS is law and the prophets.” Matt. 7:12. He told us in that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
The second great commandment is to love other people as much as we love ourselves. Matt. 12:30-31. So, first off, fall in love with God! That’s the rock bottom secret of spirituality. It takes care of all the other rules, then, love other people just like God loves us. He said in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another. As I have loved you, that ye also have love one another.” The message is, if you don’t love other people, how can you love God? You can’t. If you love God, you spend time with Him, you learn and strive to please Him and grow closer. If you love people, you do the same kinds of things. In either case, you won’t have to be nagged and chided to get into the House of God at the appointed times or to spend time in fellowship with God’s people.
In Luke 2:52, that from a boy, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” People liked Jesus and He openly liked them. You never saw Him looking down on people or bad-mouthing them. As you and I let Jesus grow in as you and I let Jesus grow in us, He will manifest His love through us to other people. Another of Jesus’ principles is in Luke 6:38, “Give and it shall be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, and shaken together and running over shall men give unto you. For, with the measure that you measure with, it shall be measured back to you.” The old way of thinking tells us to wait for people to give to us and then we’ll give to them. Jesus tells us not to let other peoples’ smallness and greediness keep us from being generous and we don’t let them set our course. That’s the one of the blessings of being led by the Spirit of God. You’re not driven by the waves and tossed. Eph. 4:14. We are led by the dynamic principles of God’s Word and by the empowering of the Holy Spirit on the inside of us. We know that the giving comes before the receiving; that the sowing comes before the reaping.
Being loving comes before receiving love, working harder and smarter comes before getting the raise. That disciplining our children comes before having disciplined children. The carnal mindset wants to receive first. “Give me some money and I’ll give you some back.” “Treat me nice, and I’ll love you.” If my children were behaved, I’d be a better parent.” “If you give me a raise, I’ll work harder.” Other mistaken individuals think that the way to be spiritual is to dominate others and the natural man is self-absorbed, self-centered and self-pleasing. He doesn’t think of others except for how they can fit into his selfish plans and purposes. On the job, he wants more money and less work. At home, he wants more affection without bothering to discover what his wife and children really want. What do other people need and want? The same things YOU need and want. For example, you want to be cared about, you want people to be sensitive to your feelings and guess what, other people would like that from you in return.
Start appreciating, caring and being sensitive and it’ll come back to you. Look out for their needs and they’ll look out for yours. God has the same needs. He, too wants you to care about Him and His feelings. You want to be loved from the heart and that’s what you really want. That’s what they want and crave from you. Your kids, spouse, family and even your Pastor. Does God need the same thing? Yes. It’s your heart love that he craves, not lip service and talking religious. Third, you want to be believed in, supported and backed up. You want people to say to you, “I believe in you. You and I have a history together and I’m going to stick with you. You have a good track record with me.” Can’t you give God the same credit?
To take into consideration His history with you and His track record of faithfulness to you. Appreciation, Kudo’s, job-well-done. You and I need them and so do our family members, friends and fellow church members. The mark of a gracious individual is the ready giving of thanks and encouragement. Use them heavily in your relationship with your Heavenly father. He inhabits (or dwells in) the praises of His people. Psalm 22:3. People want to be noticed, made to feel special and unique. They are special and if we’re walking in the truth, we’ll treat them special. Jesus wants the same thing. Nothing hurts worse than to be ignored or rejected and we all come alive with praise. We shrivel under criticism and complaints. Understand that in your walk with other people and in your walk with God.
You also want people to respect you, to not leave you out and to be honest with you. God wants the same things and you want those you care about to talk over their problems with you and to open up. God has the same desire. He says, “Come now, and let us reason together…” Isaiah 1:18. He knows everything, but He wants to hear your cry of complaint. He wants a real relationship, not just talking, but giving Him your heart, mind, soul and strength. Love God. Give Him the same things YOU want from Him and treat other people as Jesus told you to. Love them, even as He loves you. Then, you, too will grow in grace and in favor with God and man.”
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