Friday, September 13, 2013
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Our dog, Missy, had just ridden with us on a 1,600-mile round trip to Chicago and back. That was the first for her. It was a first for me to do it, too, with a dog and we both survived! Miracles still happen. Missy had been through a lot of upheavals in her routine as a result of that trip, and she'd had an exhausting two days. I can't believe now I was empathizing with our dog!
Well, anyway, all of this might explain her uncharacteristic behavior when we returned home. She just hunkered down all day long underneath this white cabinet in the kitchen. There was barely enough room for her under there, but no one could coax her out. She was a grump! She didn't come out to eat. Now the two people she responded to the most got down there and tried to speak "doggy" to her. Nothing. Finally, her primary caregiver reached her hand under there and promptly got it nipped by a dog who never did that. This was an animal with an attitude!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Nip Factor."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Corinthians chapter 13. You may recognize this as being maybe the greatest description of what love really is like in all the Bible. And in a world that's pretty confused about love, 1 Corinthians 13 is more relevant than ever. As you listen, would you think about the people you love and measure how you're treating them by these words from God?
Here's verse 4, "Love (and you could say my love for whoever) is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." See, love is not a feeling. It's not words. It's not the official status of certain people. It's an act or way of treating people; certain ways that I'd like to underscore from these verses. If you love someone it means you treat them with patience, you treat them kindly, and you look for what you can do for them, not what they can do for you. And your love doesn't get easily angered; it doesn't nip at people. Are you listening, Missy?
I think that too often we're all like the dog. We're exhausted, we're feeling low, we're thinking of ourselves a lot. Inwardly we've crawled under the cabinet, and instead of responding, we bite, we snarl, we punish people for needing us when we're low. But love is better than that. Just look at the One whose life we're trying to copy.
Look at Jesus, experiencing the greatest agony any human has ever experienced as He hangs on a cross, bearing in His soul all the hell of all of us. Is He lashing out? Is He demanding to be left alone in His pain? No, He's reaching out. Jesus - He's patient, He's kind, He's not rude, He's not self-seeking, and He's not easily angered on the cross. He's caring about the need of the man on the next cross, the needs of His mother. He's forgiving those who nailed Him there. I want to be like that, don't you?
I know that my tired times, my stressed out times, my hurting times, a lot of times they don't bring out the best in me. I've nipped at too many people I'm supposed to love in times like that. But those are the times when love shows its true colors, when it's sacrificial, when you give it at a time when you feel like giving out, when you love with that much feeling behind it.
So maybe you'd like to join me in making Jesus Lord of your ugly times. You say, "Lord, when I'm like this I'm often not like You. Please re-train me Lord. Help me to draw deeply on Your grace and Your love right now. Give me a victory in this time when I feel just like I want to focus on me. Empower me to love people in the times that I would normally be plain old ugly."
Remember, you will experience Christ's love and Christ's power on a new level as He overrules your tendency to snarl or to bite. The people around you don't need a wound from you, they need supernatural love.