Letting the Lord Jesus Christ control us, overflow us and meet our needs and satisfy our souls frees us to be more selflessly loving toward those who are unwilling to recipricate. Often, it is from unmet desires and emotional needs do we find ourselves frustrated over those who treat us with unkindness, ungratefulness, or witholding of love.
However, Jesus teaches us that the way of the cross- the Christ centered life comes through self denial.
And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?
Luke 9:22-25 –
Jesus’s self sacrificing love embraced the pain of unjust suffering so you and I and all who would believe his message could be saved from sin and forgiven. Jesus had every right to demand loyalty and love from us as being God’s Son, yet he rather did not demand or use force to win our hearts back to God. Infact Jesus knew human beings well, he knew that loyalty and love of people is shallow and unpredictable.
We see this in John 2, verse 24 and 25. [But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person. John 2:24-25]
Jesus knew human beings and what they were truly capable of, as well as what human nature is on it’s own, incapable of, selfless love and true loyalty. Left to ourselves, even seemingly selfless devotion can be easily poisoned by self centeredness. This can be true of Christians too! Because if we do not daily let Christ fill us, empower and inspire us, we can be as selfish and warped as someone who does not know the Lord. I have seen it in myself even after 9 years of being a born again Christian and can attest that apart from His continual upholding and inspiring I can easily become spoiled and rotten!
One element in self centeredness is “My needs” and it is important for us as believers to acknowlege that sure we have human needs and legitamate human desires, longings and wants. For example, we want love, acceptance, fulfillment in life, we desire to be in community and have others that can be friends and give us a place to belong. These examples of human desires are not by any means sinful, there are many human needs and even desires that are not inherently wrong or sin but can be temptation to sin when we look to solely others to meet these– we take our focus then off our Provider and the One who is our source for all we need in life.
So often, relationships become fractured and strained because one person is witholding something we may long for or desire. People will fail our expectations and no human being is going to be perfect. People let us down. However, as Christ followers, we can seek the Lord to meet our soul needs as well as provide what we need for survival in life, and not just this, we can thrive as believers if we learn to seek and tap into His riches that he paid to grant us, through Christ our sins are forgiven and God promises by faith become accessible.
We cannot just manipulate God to grant us wishes like a genie but can trust him to do us good, provide true needs, and so often he gives us many good enjoyable desires we have as well. Yet if we rely to much on others, or a solution to a unmet need or desire more so then the Lord, we for one may have to wait long time for God to provide- and miss out on peace while we wait or the joy of delighting in Him in seasons of lack. God I have seen first hand can give great joy and peace even when life seems to fall apart. I have had moments where everything went wrong yet overflowed with his hope and felt his great love! God sustains us even when others fail us or circumstances rob us. So, we can experience green souls even when life turns brown and whithered around us.
We must see God as a source and not merely a resource. He is a person and not just a piggy bank. His blessings are often delayed but his peace, joy and fulfilling presence can be immediate when we seek him and turn to him!
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(Psalm 103:2-5 -)
The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. (Psalm 34:10-14)
The big mistake even Christians can make is to think they are seeking God when seeking only his solution for an external problem. Though He is honored by our reliance on Him, and trust in Him as the source of help and support, He doubtfully wants to be just that. He wants to be a special someone to us, because we are special to Him. He wants a relationship, not just to be some go to for emergency! So in our seeking God, we must carefully make sure that we are not just running to him for only the thing we want while forgetting that He too as a person is desirable to be with and to enjoy!
Jesus teaches radical love. Love of even our worst enemies! How can this be possible? We stumble in this when we forget to let God be the source of fulfillment of our spiritual strength, emotional needs, soul hungers, financial provisions and all we need to make it in life and live for Christ. We put a stumbling block of self in the way if we trust others to meet our needs- emotionally, spiritually or physically. We find then if self gets in the way and distrust of God gets in the way- we become clingy, or users, or excessively attached to those we hope will come through for us. They too are weak, but He is strong. So to become a blessing to others means we let God be our Blessing and treasure. When we do this, we can do as Jesus commands and live radical lives of selfless love,
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.