Chapter 15. Bold Love Series

15.1. Forgiving Love

Perspective

( Matt. 5:23-24 ) Forgiving love is this inconceivable, unexplainable pursuit of the offender by the offended for the sake of restored relationship with God, self and others. What we call love might be little more than a slightly veiled, self-interested demand for appreciation and respect or avoidance of the offense in order to achieve an end other than biblical reconciliation. Love offers life, forgiveness enables love.

Hope

( Gal. 5:14 ; Rom. 13:8-10 ; John 13:34-35 ) Love is the summary of the Old Testament law and is the central measuring rod by which one’s life will be judged. Therefore, the exercise of biblical love brings meaning and fulfillment in and of life. The meaning of love is found in the person of Jesus Christ and gives fleshly definition by His death and resurrection. His presence within enables love to flow, not a life bent toward success in finances and cares but a sacrifice of soul for the sake of giving others a taste of God.

( Matt. 6:13-14 ; 1 John 1:9 ; 2 Tim. :6-7 ; Luke 7:43 ) Love cannot last long or live out its eternal purpose in human relationships without a foundation of forgiveness: forgiveness from God when we fail to love with a pure, and other centered heart, and forgiving when the recipient of our love spurns our gift or uses our soul in an unloving fashion. When this is done, love will suffer the corruption of denial, hardness, cynicism and eventually hatred. But, obedience to God’s word, God continually, second by second, covers our sin under His Son’s Blood. He forgives us our sins for not loving, which enables us by our choice to love in His power. Gratitude for forgiveness is the foundation for other-centered love. A stunned and grateful heart is free to love because knowing he is so unlovely, yet is loved and freed to love others without condemnation.

Change

( Rom. 8:7 ; Rom. 5:10 ; Titus 3:3 ; Rom. 7:22-23 ; Rom. 8:5-7 ) All of us tried to deal with life apart from depending on God which blocks our desire and commitment to love others. The battle to subdue sin in our members still rages and it is intense. At this point you are hostile to God. However, in the deepest part of your being, the new identity in Christ, you love God and His law. We are a mixture of life and death, good and evil, love and hatred ( 2 Cor. 5:17 ).

( John 15:5 ; Matt. 6:24 ) We are grafted into a new vine but it takes time for branches to grow and bear fruit. At times we feel close to God, at other times when irritated we feel separated from God. We are one or the other, there is no gray area.

( Rom. 1:18 ; Heb. 3:13 ; Rev. 3:15-16 ) We have the capacity to suppress truth and become deceived. A cold or hot heart is more pleasing to God than a lukewarm one. Sin or hatred of God is a defiant movement, sometimes unwittingly, other times quite conscious, refusing to depend on God for His direction and strength.

( 1 John 3:2 ) The battle to replace hatred with love will be over only when we see Jesus in the flesh and become one as He is. Crossroads of choice in the face of injustice is where hatred may bloom.

( James 4:1-4 ) Self-protection is the self-centered commitment to act without courage, compassion, boldness and tenderness for the sake of the other. Self-protection can be dressed either in co-dependent maneuvering that lacks self-identity, freedom of choice and strength; or in counter-dependent distancing that alienates through self-assertion, demanding control and intimidation.

In our flesh, we want to be free of choice and its consequences, to be passive or seeking the perfect choice. We try to avoid the consequences of choice. We act impulsively or procrastinate so that excuses can be made. But we are commanded to love and to love perfectly. God expects us to choose life and love over self-protection and self-centeredness.

( Rom. 12:9 ; Ps. 45:7 ; Phil. 4:8 ) Our regenerate hearts are built to cling to what is good and to hate evil, to hate all that is wicked, and to enjoy what is lovely.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

2 Cor. 10:3-5

Devotion:

BSAF on selected verses from above.

Put-Off/Put-On:

Study Section A.3, “Love Is An Action” and Section 9.2, “Sin, Self, Suffering” . Prepare Section A.4, “Victory Over Sin Worksheet” .

Reference: See [4][Allender2] for further reading.

 

15.2. Vicious Thoughts

Perspective

( Eph. 6:10-18 ; Rom. 7:21-24 ) Scriptures confirms that our everyday experiences in living are but a battle. Our Christian growth is a battle against Satan in our own hearts, a battle against our own vicious and destructive thoughts, memories, emotions, and actions. However, in the ultimate it is God against Whom we struggle. It is God Who fights for us. The battle is the struggle between God and Satan: it is waged in our hearts. It is through recalling the past that activates the destructive emotions. Thus, our memories are to be dispossessed of the past by renewing of the mind to act according to the will of God. This process now allows God to direct our life and not the god of our emotions.

Hope

( Eph. 4:22-24 ; 1 Cor. 10:13 ; Rom. 8:18 ) The Bible calls us to the life of a warrior in a world of conflict. We don’t fight on our own. Jesus won the battle on the cross: the way of victory is through love and sacrifice, not hate and greed. Our growth is always developmental, we grow slowly over time. God Himself will lead and direct us to comprehend the personality of God.

( Phil. 1:21-25 ; Heb. 11:13-16 ) We are to realize that the Christian life on this planet is one where we are confronted with evil in all its forms: that the reality of life here is awful, that this world is not our home, but we should look beyond. This place is but one of a pilgrimage, a temporary stopping place.

Our permanent home is in heaven; thus, we are to take advantage and not be concerned about ourselves, but use our lives to advance others progress and joy in Christ: to prepare them for a city without foundations. Courage comes when we challenge the evil in our lives and not accept it as part of living on this earth, but face it and begin to be free in the Spirit of Christ – to replace evil in the memory, in the intellect, in the will, with goodness.

( 2 Cor. 2:14-15 ; Rom. 6:15-23 ; Prov. 6:16,19 ) We are called to be servants-warriors unto righteousness. We are called to hate sin and the hatred of evil in others will deepen our hatred of what is evil within us. This , in turn, deepens our wonder of a God Who forgives much. Our increased hatred and wonder will, over time, increase our wisdom in dealing with evil.

Change

( Matt. 10:16 ; Luke 16:8-9 ) We are to be as clever and cunning as the devil and as good-hearted and intentioned as God. Instead of reacting sinfully to an abuse or offense, see it as sin on your part and of others: then establish redemptive sorrow and deal with the situation without contempt for yourself or the other. The fallen human heart is continually attempting to predict and control. When we respond in a biblical fashion, choosing to do good to those who have done us harm, we outwit the enemy: making him powerless, as we make an offer of restoration to those who offended. A brutal father may want love and recognition, but he wants revenge even more.

( Matt. 6:9-15 ; Matt. 18:21-35 ; Luke 17:3-4 ) To forgive another means to cancel the debt of what is owed in order to provide a door of opportunity for repentance and restoration of the broken relationship. Reconciliation is not withheld when there is deep repentance, a radical redirection of life takes place, but an offer of restoration and peace is not extended to someone who has not repented. Forgiveness involves a heart that cancels the debt but does not lend new money until repentance occurs. A forgiving heart opens the door to anyone who knocks but entry into the heart does not occur until the muddy shoes and dirty coat have been taken off. Forgiveness is more than a business transaction; it is the sacrifice of a heartbroken Father who weeps over the loss of His child, and longs to see the child restored to life and love and goodness.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

Matt. 6:14-15

Devotion:

BSAF on selected verses from above.

Put-Off/Put-On:

Review Section A.3, “Love Is An Action” and Section 5.2, “Transforming the Natural Self” . Examine self in areas of forgiveness, fear, contempt and self-protection. List failures and begin Section A.4, “Victory Over Sin Worksheet” .

15.3. Reconciliation

Perspective

( 2 Cor. 7:11 ) A hatred of evil deepens our passion for repentance that increases earnestness and produces eagerness to clear ourselves, and to see that justice is done. But a hatred of the hope of restoration is a hatred of beauty because it saps one through contempt, bitterness and cynicism. This produces hardness resulting in denial of emotions and distorts our ability to experience moments of joy and exaltation. Once beauty of restoration is denied then nothing exist but my own selfish pleasures in the present.

Hope

( Matt. 10:39 ; Luke 9:24 ) Refusing to forgive or to be reconciled is to lose one’s life. To see that all the trials, the pains and the sufferings of this life are but means for me to die to my own self-centeredness and self-importance, and to better understand what God has for me to learn about loving others and Him: this is the meaning of the struggles we have in life. To do otherwise is to fill the empty parts of our soul with food, sex, people-pleasing or people hating activities.

( Rom. 8:28-29 ) Good hope is that greater good will prevail no matter how awful the awful remains. Good hope, regarding any tragedy, is in the present power of the moment to press us beyond the struggle of the day to the day of beauty and justice. A rich vision of hope intensifies our desire to live courageously today. Thus, take pressure off self, it is God only Who causes changes in people and or circumstances. Changes occur through repentance and a touch of God’s grace, no one can produce repentance in another’s heart but God.

( Prov. 20:30 ) Love may pardon an offense but does not ignore the ugliness and arrogance. To pretend is to distance truth but love may demand change. Love may bring consequences for a failure to change. Love may withhold involvement until beauty is restored. Love may limit the other for the sake of a greater good.

Change

( Rom. 12:19 ) Illicit revenge is making someone pay now without any desire for reconciliation. But revenge can be legitimate when it involves a desire for justice, to see ugliness destroyed, wrongs righted and beauty restored. It is not ‘getting even’ but ‘getting restored’.

( Matt. 7:21-23 ; Rom. 12:17 ) Desire for revenge is legitimate, people must pay for their sins either on earth or in hell. Many who call themselves Christian may not be. In any case, our position should always be one toward brokenness and restoration since the unrepentant will be destroyed in God’s final sweep of wrath. We who have been forgiven much should be compelled to prod evildoers – Christian or not – toward brokenness and restoration.

( Rom. 12:20-21 ; Ps. 69:22-28 ) Don’t pretend that you do not desire revenge because it is a reflection of longing for justice. It is a battle cry that asks God to intervene to destroy that which mars beauty and loving the offender to repentance.

( Matt. 7:1-5 ) Don’t seek to destroy evil in others until you seek first to destroy evil in yourself.

( Gal. 6:1 ; John 22:23 ) Don’t withhold good from those who do you harm. Do good in order to unnerve evil.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

Matt. 5:23-24

Devotion:

BSAF on verses dealing with forgiveness listed in the concordance. Select at least 6 verses.

Put-Off/Put-On:

Process Section A.4, “Victory Over Sin Worksheet” dealing with someone you need to forgive and to be reconciled with. Review Section 8.2, “Sins of the Flesh/Self of the Flesh” and Chapter 11, Supernatural Life Series

15.4. Conquering Evil

Perspective

( Rom. 12:9-10 ) When a victim is full of frenzied and vulgar desire for vengeance, an evil person can easily control the victim who is reacting in sin thereby influenced by the sinful spirit. But a hatred that despises evil and clings to truth and beauty infuriates evil and draws forth its most compelling assaults of shame. If evil at this point cannot control or shame, then it loses its effectiveness.

Hope

( Phil. 3:18-19 ; Rom. 8:1 ) Evil will not be conquered as long as our hearts live to obtain immediate relief or to escape profound loss. Only when we have little or nothing to lose will we be willing to love. It is then possible to be face to face with the most shaming accusation of the Evil one and find the Lord’s mercy sufficient to withstand the brutal assault of contempt. His mercy will enable us to survive any attack and offer freedom from condemnation to those who choose to trust in the blood of Christ.

( Heb. 12:1-12 ; 1 Pet. 4:1-2 ) We must practice daily being trained in righteousness to respond biblically regardless in order to align our hearts with truth and to be strengthened by discipline. In due season we will yield a harvest of righteous fruit. If we follow God’s purposes in the midst of pain and suffering, we will grow in the knowledge of God in a deeper fashion. Accordingly, God will then control us regardless of the externals of life or the circumstances that surround us. Thus, evil is enraged when it is faced with strength and mercy.

Change

( Luke 17:3-6 ) Forgiveness can be defined as a continuous process of hungering for restoration, revoking revenge, and offering good gifts. We are to forgive until there is reconciliation. But restoration should not occur until there is repentance. Repentance on the part of the evil person will include a renunciation of rage and mockery. He needs to be willing and humbled and broken by guilt for his use of shame and contempt.

( 1 Cor. 5:5 ; 2 Thess. 3:14-15 ) Gift of excommunication is withholding of relationship for it removes immediate opportunity for sin and opens door to loneliness and shame. It destroys sinful inclinations and intensifies shame. The task of loving an evil person requires supernatural intervention. The battle is not ours, it is the Lord’s.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

Luke 17:3

Devotion:

BSAF 1 Pet. 3:9-12 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

Review Section 7.9, “Holding Self Accountable” . Make a list of failures, and begin to process them one at a time by completing Section A.4, “Victory Over Sin Worksheet” . Practice the new pattern for 6 weeks or so. Keep on, keeping on, and begin anew until a sense of the Presence of God becomes apparent. Obedience is our part. As we obey, God will do the rest.

15.5. Doing Good to Your Enemies

Perspective

( Matt. 5:40-42 ; Eph. 4:29 ) Loving your enemy means feeding your enemy what he desperately needs. In many cases, bold love will unnerve, offend, hurt, disturb, and compel the one who is loved to deal with the issue that is robbing him and others of joy. Our job is to continually learn and relearn what it means to offer what the other person needs. All humans need love and honor. Thus, the emphasis is to increase a desire for love and honor, and to decrease the penchant to pursue false paths to satisfaction.

Hope

( 2 Cor. 7:8-16 ; Rom. 12:27 ) Kindness is the gift of thoughtfulness, looking for ways to serve others in compassion. Tenderness is a response of mercy that can see through the sin to the parts of the human heart, a heart that was designed for more . Strength involves a willingness to bleed in the midst of unpleasant, undesired conflicts. Strength is needed to expose violations of relationship, and does not fear the loss of relationship. We are to feed our enemy because we love beauty and hate arrogance.

 

( Matt. 26:17-35 ; John 21:15-19 ; Matt. 27:3-5 ) Goodness exposes the nakedness and hunger of the enemy, shames the enemy, and then offers the opportunity for restoration. Evil cannot bear the intrusion of goodness. What unnerves evil more than any one thing is someone who is not controlled by shame and yet is not shameless.

( Luke 6:27-31 ) Need to pray for wisdom to learn how to apply truth to different situations and people we encounter. How should I use my tongue? What should my attitude be toward the person? How am I to deal with fools?

Walk with God and discuss with Him how to respond in varied situations. Rehearse some scenes, ponder out loud with God what might be going on in the heart of the person, review your behavior and responses. Accordingly, wisdom is defined as skillful kindness and strength, tempered with shrewdness, armed with courage, clear about the calling and hungry to see arrogance destroyed and beauty enhanced. To bless one, words are to be used to arouse legitimate longing, expose emptiness, and deflects the enemy’s attempts to shame or intimidate. Blessing should be designed to open the heart of the enemy to astonishment and curiosity.

Change

( Matt. 5:40-46 ) Walk a mile, turn other cheek, involves shrewd sacrifice for it is giving that which is designed for an enemy, not a friend. The enemy expects that his intimidation and shaming will get him what he wants because it gives him a sense of control and fantasy of being like God. To respond to kindness and generosity causes the enemy to stumble because the act bears a redemptive bite. Shrewd sacrifice is a gift of grace that exposes hatred and rage, and invites the enemy to wrestle with his sin. Good words and deeds are the elixir of life, the antidote against death ( Prov. 1:22 ). There are 3 kinds of enemies in our lives: evil people, fools, and simpletons (normal sinners).

( Heb. 10:24 ) Goodness involves a desire to see someone or something grow in strength, freedom and beauty. An arrogant heart is hardened by its own sin and blinds the hearts of those it controls. Mockery is the language of accusation and it is the weapon that evil uses powerfully to strip the victim of a sense of self and life. Evil steals faith, hope, and love for it disseminates dis-information: pinning the blame on the victim, robbing the person of the adventure found in faith. It creates bondages, a form of slavery, it dulls the senses, and steals from the soul a vision of what could be.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

1 Pet. 3:9

Devotion:

BSAF on Rom. 12:9-23 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

Review Matt. 5:3-12 . On the basis of these truths, process Section A.2, “Think And Do List” , visualize what you can be as you allow God to will and work in you for His good pleasure, conforming you to His Son.

( 1 Pet. 2:21-23 ) Turn over all your hurt, pain, all potential offensive reactions to God, allow Him to deal with the offense and the offender. Prepare yourself to be free from all bitterness when tempted by following the steps in the Contingency Plan and:

1. Call on God for ‘help’.

2. ‘Give up’ trying to handle the situation your way. Ask God to intervene totally.

3. Ask God to make good come out of the situation.

4. Ask God to make good come out of whatever harm you may have caused.

5. Pray for the health, the wholeness of your enemies. Pray for the salvaging of all that is good, beautiful and true within them.

6. Finally, whatever happens, confess: “Thy will be done”, and stand firm.

 

15.6. Loving a Fool

Perspective

( Prov. 12:15 ; Prov. 18:2 ; Prov. 28:26 ; Prov. 30:32 ) Proverbs describes a fool as one who is angry, arrogant and self-centered. Some of us blame ourselves primarily or we blame others for our problems. In either case, the focus is on the self, on one’s own needs and purposes. A fool’s anger is to intimidate and frighten in order to establish his pre-eminence and independence, and to gain compliance and control.

Hope

( Ps. 14:1 ; Ps. 53:1 ; Luke 12:19-20 ; Ps. 73 ) The fool normally uses arrogant pride as a shield against the shame provoked by exposure. It is an intense self-centeredness. His heart is empty, but feels full because it finds satisfaction in the material world. He does not say God doesn’t exist but that God does not matter. What does matter is what he can lay his hands on to fill his soul. A fool is self-sufficient, and is easily satisfied but morally stupid. A fool is insatiable but easily pleased. But the only true fullness comes from humble dependence on the mercy of God.

( Phil. 2:12 ; Heb. 2:10 ; Heb. 5:8-9 ; 1 Pet. 4:1-3 ) Fools seek easy resources in order to fulfill their own selfish desires regardless of the cost or damage done to themselves or others in the process. Fools hate the pain of discipline and the inherent fear involved in growing in wisdom and knowledge. Growth always involves fear and trembling and suffering and death. The fool hates anything that exposes the ugliness of his own heart, and he avoids the pain that produces lasting beauty.

( Prov. 15:5 ) Discipline involves loss and emptiness, whereas the fool is committed to pleasure and fullness. Discipline is personal engagement with thorns and thistles that moves to subdue the unruly chaos of the Fall and is a battle against the effects of the Fall. The fool refuses to struggle with the issues of character, he lives for pleasure. The fool disputes wisdom because he must abandon his anger and bravado, and experience the shame of helplessness.

Change

( Prov. 26:5 ) A fool’s folly must be exposed, consequences experienced, and the failures of love discussed and worked through toward repentance. We are called to use the highest degree of wisdom in knowing whether to rebuke or to remain silent. The essence of love is not foolhardy sacrifice, but judicious, well-planned disruption.

( Luke 18:18-25 ; John 4:1-30 ) Jesus did not allow Himself to get pulled into the quicksand of arrogant presumption or shame or based defensiveness. Instead, Jesus challenged his understanding of the word ‘good’ in order to expose what he really desired: affirmation or radical change. At the well, Jesus did not get involved in the woman’s defensive maneuver but continued to deepen her curiosity and hunger for what she knew she had not possessed: life-satisfying refreshment. He used data of the moment and used it to expose the heart of the woman rather than merely condemn her behavior and exhort change.

( Rom. 12:9-21 ) When we ‘set up’ the fool for further exposure, as above, we set ourselves up for attack. Be prepared to step aside lightly, but not in fear, but be prepared to respond in tenderness and in strength, not succumb to shame or intimidation. This will surprise the fool who no longer will be in control of you or himself. Respond to him gently, be full of wit, passion, sorrow, strength and tenderness. A fool cannot repent unless he feels pain.

Work Out Your Salvation (Phil. 2:12-13)

Memory Verse(s):

Rom. 12:9

Devotion:

BSAF on 2 Pet. 1:3-8 .

Put-Off/Put-On:

Process Section A.8, “Freedom From Anxiety” . Judge and establish yourself in the graces of the Lord, then proceed to face the fool and win him over to the Lord. Remember only God can change the heart of another. Your job is to assess the behavior (not motives) and not to react impulsively but practice applying Section A.9, “Contingency Plan” until a biblically structured pattern becomes spontaneous. Do not give up, this takes time. Even if the fool never changes, by practicing godly responses you will change and grow in the image of Our Lord.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s