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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

Love: that is not what Jesus said

Have you ever had someone tell you a vicious lie? Occasionally people tell me vicious lies. Most of the time when they tell me the lie it is not out of anger and hate. It is because they are making a desperate attempt to save me from pain. They do not know the advice they are giving me is a vicious lie because they believe it themselves.

I have had a couple vicious lies come across my path in the last few weeks. Both of them were told to me by well-meaning people, who are genuine followers of Jesus. Both of them have a fragment of truth in them. But if I believe either of them, it will destroy me. There is nothing worse than a vicious lie disguised as truth.

The first one is the idea that I need to prioritize meeting my own needs before I look to meeting the needs of others. This advice came out of a situation where I was hurt by someone and was choosing to continue a relationship with them. It was fine to continue the relationship, I was told, but I must learn to protect myself and make sure my needs were met before validating the other person. In it I heard the overarching lie I have heard for years: we must love ourselves before we can love another.

I have heard this lie come out of what I believe is a terrible misinterpretation of Jesus’ statement, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” “So,” Christian pop psychology says, “clearly if you are going to love another, you must love yourself first: make sure your own needs are met, buy nice things for yourself, have good ‘self-esteem’, and think you are very special and at least as good as everyone else around you. Right?” Wrong. That’s not what Jesus said. Can you show me another place in Scripture where God says focusing on yourself is a good thing?

But if I do not ensure my own needs are met before I am used to meet other people’s needs, won’t I burnout? No. If you read Jesus’ statements the way they were said and follow them, you have no danger of burning out ever. Indeed you may spiritually prosper in every way!

The statement of Jesus’ I previously quoted is known as the Second Greatest Commandment. It is preceded by the Greatest Commandment. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” If we follow the Greatest Commandment, we will already have all our needs met. God does that when we focus unwaveringly on Him. He guarantees it.

The second lie brought to my attention is that I should believe I deserve good things. If I do not, it is a clear indication I have low self-esteem, loath myself or am codependent. Simply put: something is wrong. This advice came out of a situation where I realized I currently do not know how to allow myself to have a good time without justifying why it is okay for me to have fun. As long as I can tie having fun to my ministry, building into others, leading others towards God, making money, basically being productive, I can enjoy myself. If I have no excuse to have fun, I experience anxiety and guilt. I do not feel like I earned the right to have fun. In light of this advice, I am told to shift my worldview to believe I deserve good things.

Right? Wrong. That is not what Jesus said. Romans is very clear no one except God and Jesus who is God deserves anything good. Every human being on this earth falls short of being able to earn anything good. But where is the hope in that? Am I to die of depression? No. Even God, rather especially God, wants me to rejoice and be glad. I do not have to deserve anything. I can accept God’s free gift. It is entirely free. There is nothing I have done to earn it. There is nothing I can do to earn it. By simply accepting the free gift of God provided by Jesus Christ on the cross, I can have life in abundance. I have freedom to sing, dance and celebrate. God wants me to enjoy my life. Not because I deserve to do so, but because He died so I could. All I have to do is accept the gift.

This morning I thought of another saying of Jesus. One I think speaks truth into both of these lies. “Freely have you received, freely give.” If I do not freely receive the free gift from God, I will never be able to give freely to others while expecting nothing in return.

Have you accepted God’s free gift? What are you trying to earn that God has already freely given you?


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