The Bare Soul - July 17, 2011
Love Without Limits

James 2:8 - If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF, you are doing well.

All of us fall short of the mark when it comes to "loving our neighbor". For most of us, we find our love sometimes lacking when it comes to speaking rightly toward someone or possibly giving them a helping hand. Often, it is easier to criticize than it is to "Christ-ize" those with whom we are in daily contact. We might have certain individuals in our lives who are easy to love, because they love us. They give us what we need regarding overall acceptance. However, there may be others in our lives that are less than loving, often simply because they have a hard time loving themselves. People that are generally unloving toward themselves are more than likely unloving toward others. I state the obvious in order to understand both our current circumstances in the world in which we live, and the promise of a pure existence yet to come. To respond differently to those who may not like us, is to act in a way that is not consistent with this world's standards. There may be some who despise us because of a wrong they feel we've done to them once upon a time. (This may be true or understated.) However, their perception has led them to take up arms against not only us, but anyone else they feel has victimized them. Jesus tells us that our responsibility is to always respond in love, no matter our rightness or our "whiteness" in the matter. (Matthew 5:39) We may be totally innocent, but so was our Savior when they lifted Him up for our salvation. The Father's love which manifested itself within Christ's human body allowed Him to love those perfectly who brought about His death.

James, the half-brother of our Savior, quotes both Jesus and the Law of Moses in our lead verse. He tells us that we are to indeed love our neighbor with the same fervor that we love ourselves. Understanding exactly what James was saying is paramount to discerning his intent in this verse. Jesus spoke to those questioning Him about the greatest commandment, referring to the importance of loving one's neighbor as himself. (Mark 12:28-31) In this instance in the Gospel of Mark, the Lord is quoting from the Levitical law, using the Torah to affirm God's heart to those who questioned Him regarding the importance of the law. (Leviticus 19:18) Through this encounter, Jesus taught that the Greatest Commandment was inseparable from the second greatest charge. Without accomplishing a deep, passionate love for the Lord -- to love Him with all of one's heart, soul, and mind -- it would be impossible to love one's neighbor. Without God's love abiding within, love for one's self would be moot therefore aborting any true godly love for another. When I speak of love for one's self, I am not speaking of selfish, narcissistic adoration. I do refer to a love regarding who God has fashioned by the finished work at Calvary. To love one's self in a right way is to understand that the Holy Spirit dwells within and that we should be in love with God within our human bodies. He has come to dwell within the temple of our mortal frame, consecrating it for His purpose and ultimately for His glory. With that perspective, what is there not to love about God tabernacling with men? With a true understanding of His love for us, and "right-sized" thinking about the God who lives within us, it is little wonder that we don't love ourselves more. And, that is the key to love others more completely, beloved. Once we accept who we are in the Beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ, then we will experience the fulfillment of the "royal law" when we begin to lay down our lives for others, even as He did for us.

Surprisingly, few truly understand this. Otherwise, the church would be experiencing much more growth in the area of love. The barometer of wellness of a local body (and the Body of Christ at large) is how well we love. When we aren't loving, it tells the world that we're not loving what God has done and is doing in us, both past and present. To understand God's great love is to understand a deep, abiding sense of His presence which will ultimately be shed abroad in our hearts to others. (Romans 5:5) To comprehend His great love is a gift from above. We simply need to continue to ask for revelation of His love within until he fills us to such overflowing that our witness becomes one of continual charity toward both ourselves and others. (Philippians 1:9) For in reality, beloved, we are simply rehearsing for that day that when we will be enveloped forever in His love. That day when we step into eternity and experience the fullness of His love and of His presence will be the day that we love perfectly. No more will we feel disdain toward a mortal soul we once felt no empathy toward. In that Celestial City, we will feel nothing but unrequited love that will flow freely from the Source within us. No more will we experience anger or unforgiveness from those who once walked this earth. If we are truly Christ's, He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, knowing that we are indeed created from the dust, yet now to rule and reign with Him forever. Never again will there be an unresolved act of charity, for all will be resolved through Jesus. We will walk with Him, loving ourselves for what He has done in us and perfectly loving those that share that heavenly scene because He loved them likewise.

Self-love without God's love as the source is from this earth and demonic in nature. However, love that is given through revelation of what the Father has completed within us through the blood of Jesus is a wonderfully holy thing. We can rejoice in the knowledge of His love within us, for it will set us free to love others. If we don't accept ourselves, our love for others will fall woefully short. May we embrace God's view, as redeemed children of the King, with the understanding that His Holy Spirit dwells within all who know the Savior. Let us continue to draw close to Him, allowing Him to love us completely, giving us total permission to love ourselves and others. May His love abound within our hearts and may it find a place to dwell in all those whom we touch in our daily lives.

Heavenly Father, may we love You fully, may we love ourselves respectfully and humbly according to Your great revelation, and may we love others completely through Your divine understanding or who we are in Christ. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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