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Just about everywhere we turn, someone is talking about love. In fact, it may very well be the most popular thing in our culture — we just love to talk about love, yet never before has love been more exploited, nor has it ever been more distorted. Love has become a meaningless word. And instead of standing firm in love, many Christians have been duped by the world’s definition of love, which proclaims self rather than sacrifice.

According to the world, we love in order to be loved. According to the Word, we love because God first loved us. Whereas the world falls in love, God’s people are established in love. The love that we possess, however, is not a fleeting whim that comes and goes with every mood and circumstance; rather, it is a love that is beyond ourselves. Our love, true love, has meaning, meaning that cannot be stripped away by any thing, any one, or any feeling. Our love cannot be shaken because it is grounded not in self but in sacrifice.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). In His once-for-all sacrifice, Jesus Christ demonstrated true love, the true love of God. By this great demonstration of love, love has been defined, and no worldly deception can seduce it. 

~Burk Parsons in “Love is in the Air

Green-Eyed Girls

“For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh
and behaving only in a human way?”

1 Corinthians 3:3

Christian women should be the sweetest people on the planet. But you know as well as I do that the sad truth is…

We’re not!

In fact, oftentimes, we’re downright nasty toward each other. Catty is the term my mom used to describe the behavior I have in mind—cold, unkind, gossiping, subtly insulting, competitive, cliquish. 

Identifying The Reason for the Claws

Although I wish I could say I’ve only observed such undesirable behavior in others, I’m ashamed to admit that I’m capable of batting my claws with the best of them (figuratively speaking, of course). When I examine my motives to understand why I’m prone to view my sisters in Christ as competitors instead of as companions in my walk with the Lord, what I often find is that my green eyes are to blame. 

In other words, I’m jealous—I want what they have, and I want it so badly that I’ll allow myself to sin against them in response.

Are you prone to act like a Green-Eyed Girl as well? Here’s a quiz to help you discover the answer…

She’s getting married and you’re not. Do you:

A. Go to the wedding

B. Sit home watching romantic chick-flicks

She’s having a baby, but you can’t get pregnant. Will you:

A. Offer to help decorate for her baby shower

B. Trash the invitation and make sure you’re busy that day

She gets asked to lead the Ladies Bible Study instead of you. Do you:

A. Offer to lend some of your Bible study resources to help her prepare

B. Let others know how surprised you are that she would be chosen

Her home always appears immaculate. When you visit, do you:

A. Ask her to share her housekeeping tips

B. Search diligently for any flaws you can find

Her seemingly perfect children finally melt down in public. Do you:

A. Feel compassion for her

B. Secretly rejoice inside that you were there to see it

She looks beautiful, as always. Do you:

A. Compliment her on her taste in clothing

B. Zip your lip; you’re sure she already has a big head

Everything she cooks tastes delicious. Do you:

A. Ask if she’d mind sharing recipes to help you improve your cooking

B. Vow that she’ll never set foot in your house for a meal

Her husband often brings her flowers, just because. You see them and:

A. Feel happy to think that she is so well loved

B. Imagine that he were your husband instead

So how’d you do? Do you have more in common with the Gracious Woman reflected in choice A or the Green-Eyed Girl of option B?

Getting Rid of the Green-Eyed Monster

Although issues like jealousy, envy, and covetousness can produce complex consequences in our lives (James 3:16; 4:1-3), the solution to overcoming these sins is really quite simple. We need gratitude and we need love.

First, if you’re truly grateful for the undeserved blessings God daily pours out in your life, there will be no space in your heart for jealousy to grow. Gratitude will choke it out.

Second, if you truly love other women like you love yourself, you’ll want their children to behave, their husbands to be loving, their ministries to succeed, and their cooking to taste great. When your concern is for their good, rather than your own, you’ll be free to rejoice when they rejoice (Rom. 12:15) instead of comparing your life to theirs to see how it measures up.

Bearing the Family Resemblance

What will it be, ladies? Green eyes or gratitude and love? The change won’t occur easily or instantaneously, but there’s really only one option for sisters within the family of God.

Let’s begin changing the way we look at one another today.

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A healthy Christ-follower is gentle to the core.

Gentleness in the Bible is not the opposite of strength; it is not wimpishness, as modern usage might suggest; it is rather, strength under control, harnessed to love and serve. Gentleness is all the more real because every time it is practiced, gentleness is a freely made choice that is backed by strength.

Isaiah, in foretelling the coming of Jesus describes him in shepherd terms: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isa. 40:11). This is a strong shepherd! He climbs rocky mountains looking for pastures, he carries recalcitrant lambs, he leads. But he notices those who need help, and those who are hungry, and those who require protection. It is his gentleness that notices, and cares.

So it is with healthy Christians. People who follow their strong shepherd grow constantly in gentleness.

~J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom in God’s Will: Finding Guidance for Everyday Decisions 

Photo: OBMonkey

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Kindness is a habit that softens the atmosphere. It is an outgoing of neighbor-love that becomes instinctive, and is often unnoticed even by the person who practices it; yet voices and actions and even thoughts surrounding acts of kindness impart this softening toward others as if it were a benevolent virus, a happy infection that eases everything for everyone.

The bewildered “sheep” of Matthew 25:31-40 could hardly remember when they visited the prison, fed the hungry, welcomed a stranger, and they had no idea that Christ valued these acts of kindness so much that he considered them as done to himself. Kindness is like that. It is a selfless form of thinking that sees a need and meets it, almost by reflex, with no thought of reward.

Like the other fruit of the Spirit, kindness comes by receiving and then imitating the kindness of God, as the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

~J.I. Packer & Carolyn Nystrom in God’s Will: Finding Guidance for Everyday Decisions

Photo: OBMonkey

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Patience…is a habit of mind and heart that grows out of inner peace. Patience trusts God to be at work even in the frustrating events of life, whether it is engorged traffic or crying babies or implacable vendettas or a seemingly unending series of personal disasters. Patience thinks before speaking, aiming to avoid offending. Patience wills the self to see the world from someone else’s perspective—and to walk with that person through their world.

Patience is rooted in hope because “if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Rom. 8:25). Patience takes the long view; unfazed by short-term setbacks, it will carry on unruffled instead of giving up in despair. Patience accepts God’s timing and responds to others in a way that reflects the patience God has toward us. “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord…is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

Patience sees today in the perspective of eternity—and so can laugh.

~J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom in God’s Will

Photo: OBMonkey