…as yourself

You may or may not recognise that the title of this post is the end of a verse that is repeated in several portions of the Bible (to be exact in 10 separate passages). Here is the full text as it is found in Mark 12:30-31:

30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment.31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Whilst preparing for this post I was certain about the points I wanted to raise with regards to the topic of self-love, but after researching and studying more of the Word there is an additional angle I will be presenting. Over my teenage years, I have come to realise that the relationship I have with myself sets the tone for every other relationship I have. If I love and appreciate myself those around me are more likely to do the same. If you don’t love yourself whether it be your appearance, qualities or characteristics it would be a lot harder to appreciate and love the positive aspects of those around you.

What is self-love? The dictionary says it is “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness”. Now self-love can be seen as both a negative and positive thing, as with all things in life one needs to strike the right balance. On one hand, a person can be prideful, arrogant and believe he/she is better than everyone else, which is a sin. And then there is naturally loving yourself. Naturally loving yourself is to be thankful for how God made you. Whilst searching for bible verses about loving yourself there isn’t an explicit command to do so and I reckon it’s because it is something that naturally occurs in humans. However, what I did find was the connection made between loving your neighbours as yourself and warnings against certain types of self-love.

So going back to the key text about loving your neighbour as yourself, it is not explicitly a command to love yourself, as this is our default position. The society in which we live in doesn’t lack self-love. The command is telling us to love others as we would ourselves. Our actions and attitudes towards others will be motivated by love, specifically the one that we display towards ourselves. As believers, if we lose the motivation of love, we become critical of others. We stop looking for the good in them and only see & focus on their faults. The real problem in our society is the excess of self-love. If we cast our minds back to the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, only one of the men that passed the injured man was a true neighbour. The Levite and priest failed to help the man in need not because they loved themselves too little but because they loved themselves too much and as a result put their interests first. However, the Samaritan showed true love, he gave his time, resources and money with no regard for himself. His focus was outward and not inward. Now loving your neighbour as yourself doesn’t mean that we must love ourselves before we can love anyone else; it means that in the same way we take care of ourselves and are concerned about our own interests we should do the same towards others.

We are reminded in Philippians 2:3-4 – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others.” From this passage, I have learnt the following:

  • We don’t tend to do things out of love, but rather for our own desire for benefits or praise (selfish ambition) | the bible warns against this
  • Doing something through conceit is to have excessive pride in oneself, self-interest and self-preoccupation
  • When we put away our selfish ambitions, our conceit and tendency to be self-absorbed we will naturally have more concern for the interests and needs of others
  • Paul isn’t saying it’s wrong to look out for our own interests, but that we should NOT only look out for our own interests
  • Loving others requires humility, valuing others and always making an effort to put others’ interest first. Anything other than that is selfish & vain and far from God’s standard.

Now I am not saying that we should see ourselves as worthless because after all we are made in God’s image and that makes our net worth veryyyy high. The balance that we need to strike is that you and I are God’s unique creation, loved by God in spite of our sins (& many flaws), and redeemed by Christ. We should respond to His love by sharing it with those around us.

As I mentioned above loving others requires humility. I probably haven’t finished a post until I’ve included a thoughtful quote so here is one by Rick Warren: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less”. True humility is service to others, service to a cause greater than your own personal ambition.

My prayer is that the Lord will fill us all with a humble spirit. A heart of flesh that sees the best in others and doesn’t focus on their flaws. May the Lord remove the spirit of pride, jealousy or boastfulness from our beings. May God also help us to remember His great love for us, and as we remember this may we be able to share this love with those around us.

Key Undilutedword points to take away;

  1. Focus on the strengths of others and don’t point out their weaknesses & flaws
  2. When we as believers lose the motivation of love, we become critical of others. We stop looking for the good in them and see only their faults.
  3. Focus more on how you can share God’s love for you with others
  4. True humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less
  5. Love yourself but don’t let that stop you from putting the needs of others ahead of yours

Stay Blessed!

Dara x

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Have a Fruitful February!

If He did it before, He can do it again. The same God who got you through your past trials, is the same God with you now. If you find yourself faced with a Red Sea situation and it seems as though you can’t move forwards, backwards left or right, remember the God who parted the waters of the Red Sea can part the sea in your life. He will make a way, where there “appears” to be none.

Have a fruitful February! xx

Don’t let bitterness steal your sweetness

As you may already know I love quotes, so I might as well start with a quote that struck my attention when I started to think about forgiveness:

Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace.

Often times we find ourselves holding grudges because of what someone did or said to us. Whilst growing up with my younger sister there have been several occasions where words have been said & deeds have been done which left me feeling very angry towards her.

My sister is exactly 20 months younger than me but that doesn’t stop her from going into my wardrobe and helping herself to MY clothes and accessories. There was a particular time she took a clutch that I had received for my birthday and till this day I never officially got it back (to add insult upon injury she broke the clasp on it). I remember finding out about the broken clasp and was sooo angry with her – how can you take something that doesn’t belong to you, break it and not even feel remorseful? I was more than angry!! But as I reflect on those days, I realise that the more I stayed angry the more I didn’t give myself the chance to move on, but my sister, on the other hand, was living her merry life (WITH MY CLUTCH). It’s a petty example but it just goes to show and represent the fact that a lot of the time we want to stay mad at someone for petty reasons. At the end of the day, the other person is living life as though nothing had happened and you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to have the peace God wants for you.

If we don’t learn to forgive the “petty” things how would we be able to forgive the bigger things? Click to Tweet this!

I once watched a video about things we practice and the overall gist was that when we constantly practice certain habits we become experts at it. So if we constantly practice the art of being unforgiving we become experts at that. If we always hold grudges against people we will always find a reason to hold grudges – even when there isn’t one. You go around with a jar filled with hurt, pain, grief, and anger. That is very toxic and it certainly isn’t the life God intended for us.

Countless times in the Bible we are reminded to forgive others because God has forgiven us: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you”, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven”. So it is no surprise that the key to forgiving others is to remember how much God has forgiven us. Time for another favourite quote of mine by C.S Lewis: To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. 

Peter asked Jesus “how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Imagine only giving someone 7 chances, if I apply this to my sister I am certain she has used up all her chances. But Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22.  Of course, Jesus didn’t set a literal limit to how many times we should forgive, he isn’t sitting in heaven counting a tally chart. God’s mercy doesn’t run out after 490 allotments of grace, if he did I’m sure we have all probably exhausted our quota. As long as we repent God is willing to forgive us. God then asks us to extend this grace onto our fellowmen, don’t keep a track of the number of times you’ve forgiven them.

Jesus doesn’t end there he goes on to tell the parable of the unmerciful debtor. You can read Matthew 18:21-35 for the full version, but the overall gist is that: a servant owes the king 10,000 talents which he is unable to pay but the King instead of throwing the servant into prison and selling his family into slavery allows him to go free & cancels all his debt. This same servant is owed 100 denarii by a fellow servant, but the king’s servant grabs the man by his throat and demands to be paid. He then throws him into jail. Now there is a huge difference between owing someone 10,000 talents and 100 denarii (1 talent = 6,000 denarii). This parable illustrates God’s forgiveness towards us. It’s as though our debt to God is like the distance from the earth to the sun. Now compare this to the debt of our fellow human beings which is mostly like a few yards. God is willing to forgive us the distance between the earth and the sun (149.6million km), but we struggle to forgive each other a measly 12 inches. Think about this when you are unwilling to forgive others.  Just to clarify; God forgives us first (not only after we have forgiven), he shows an example that we should aspire to follow.

Another aspect of forgiveness that seems to be forgotten a lot of the time is the act of forgiving oneself. Ever made a mistake and continued to beat yourself up about it? If you want to be able to forgive others you must first foster an attitude to forgive yourself first. 

Forgive yourself first. Release the need to replay a negative situation over and over again in your mind. Don’t become a hostage to your past by always reviewing and reliving your mistakes. Don’t remind yourself of what should have, could have or would have been. Release it and let it go. Move on. Click to Tweet this!

Undiluted word points to take away:

  1. Forgiving frees you from a life filled with toxicity
  2. If God was able to forgive the inexcusable in you, you should attempt to forgive the inexcusable in others
  3. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you let people off the hook for their behaviour
  4. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we constantly allow people to use us as a punching bag
  5. Forgiveness is the act of giving up bitterness and resentment in order for you to live a sweet life (your best life 💃🏿 )
  6. Pray for those who have offended you
  7. And most importantly, Learn to forgive yourself!

Stay Blessed,

Dara xx

P.S – Don’t forget this page is available to send any prayer requests you have.

Living our best life in 2018

First and foremost – Happy New Year!

New Year New Me? Does that sound like a phrase you are familiar with? Some people detest hearing that phrase as it seems unrealistic for one to completely change and be a new person after the clocks strike midnight on the 31st of December. Okay, so if it’s not new year new me, how can we make this year different from the last? A phrase that was thrown around a lot last year was “I’m living my best life”. For those of you who have never heard it till now – it’s a statement made at the end of a sentence declaring the actions you are doing are causing you to live your greatest life possible. 

I don’t know about you but I want to live my best life, not many of us would want to settle for a mediocre life. Towards the end of last year I noticed myself saying the phrase “I’m living my best life” more and more. Examples of when I believed I was living by best life included; travelling to France for my 20th, going to Disneyland, travelling to 5 different American states within 15 days, eating out and eating good good food, crossing things like golf, pottery and going to a west end theatre show off my bucket list. Even though those are all valid examples of living my best life, after coming across a tweet on twitter (see below) I believe there’s more to living your best life.

After seeing the above tweet I couldn’t help but consider the truth behind it: If I am not living for Jesus am I truly living my best life? I am reminded of Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Here we find a call for Christians; to represent Christ at all times – wherever we go and in whatever we say. The bible goes on to say in Psalm 37:4 – delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heartTo delight in something means to experience great pleasure and joy in his or her presence. This can only happen when we know that person well. Therefore if we are to delight in the Lord, we must get to know him better.

Earlier on in Psalm 16:11 David says; you make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermoreIt simply states in the Lord’s presence there is fullness of joy. David had full confidence that his life with God-both now and forevermore – would be marked by the highest and best pleasures. This is life lived above shallow entertainments and excitements.  Thus to truly live our best lives we must actively seek to remain in the Lord’s presence.

I came across another tweet which stated : Our best life is in obedience to God’s Word! – not far from the truth is it. In Matthew 6:33-34 we are admonished to: Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. What I then concluded was that in order to live our best life possible we need to be obedient to God’s word and a prime example in which we can show obedience to God is by seeking his kingdom above all else – Above all the trivial things this world fools us into being preoccupied with. Only then can the aspects of “living our best life” be our portion.

Now my final verses to share with you; Psalm 34:12-14

12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

Here are some Undiluted words to take away from that passage. If you want to live your best life;

  1. Keep your tongue from evil 
  2. Keep your lips from telling lies 
  3. Turn away from evil 
  4. Do Good
  5. Seek & Pursue Peace

I would say those are all pretty self-explanatory points and essential keys to follow in order to live our best life in 2018.

Now I leave you with Joyce Meyer’s words:

May your 2018 be filled with nothing but the BEST that God has in store for you. Go forth and  seize every opportunity to live your best life possible for God and yourself.

Stay blessed,

Dara x

P.S – Hope you’ve stopped collecting Ls, if not I guess you need to be reminded of last year’s New Year Post – https://theundilutedword.com/2017/01/05/a-year-without-ls/  😜<<
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Shout out to God 2017 edition

As we are in the final hours of the year 2017, I believe it is only right to take a moment to reflect on the past year and Thank God for his faithfulness.  One of my favourite quote by Zig  Ziglar says:  The more you are grateful for what you have the more you will have to be grateful for. Here is a wordle  that summarises the things I am grateful for and the prayer requests God has answered on behalf of myself & my friends and family.

Here is a list of the things I have learnt this year (including quotes that have resonated within me);

  1. Hard work always pays off
  2. When you pray in faith , God already answers your prayer
  3. A grateful heart is a magnet for more blessings
  4. The smallest step in the right direction can turn out to be the biggest step of your life
  5. Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny
  6. When you put God first you will truly never lack any good thing
  7. Never doubt that God can do the impossible; he can turn the mess you’re in to an awesome miracle
  8. Always take the opportunity to be a blessing unto others

There were times in this year when things didn’t go as I would have loved them to go, but what I learnt was that bad days are just that -a bad day not a bad life : therefore for that I am super grateful.  A friend on Instagram shared this verse which I thought was really interesting; Deuteronomy 8:2-3 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

What I learnt from this was that God brings you to a place where all you can do is depend on Him. God wants us to be in a position where our total dependence is on Him. We have to rely on God beyond our own knowledge and ability.

Finally, I want to say a big thank you to you my readers, thank you for encouraging & supporting me. I said it before and I’ll say it again Thanks be to God for sustaining and using me as a mouthpiece to spread His word. I learn a lot from the posts I share and thus my relationship with God continues to be developed. There’s morework to be done, but I know I am on a journey that is getting me closer and closer to God.

Stay tuned for my New Year’s Post on living your best life in 2018.

Happy Almost New Year!

Stay Blessed xx

Happy New Month – December!!

What you’ve been praying for may not have come yet but remember that God works with a different timetable. He knows exactly when to take you out of what you’re going through & when to step in. Leave the logistics to Him & rest in His peace. What you think is a delay is really God putting you on reserve for his absolute best. Wait & see it’s going to be worth it. Have a glorious finalé to the year 2017! xx

Stay connected to the plug!

Plugs are those that always come through for you. Your plug might be a member of  your family or a friend, it can even be someone you least expected. By now I’m sure you get that I’m not talking about an appliance plug. A plug usually has something that you need and they give it to you without being asked.

A friend giving you their Netflix password. An aunt connecting you on her Spotify Premium for Family. A friend that offers to pick you up in the dead of the night. A friend sending food to your house. Mum hooking you up with that good good food.

Amazing right? If you don’t have a plug you are definitely missing out.

Where are you going with this you may ask?

In life, God is our ultimate plug.  Your go-to-guy, your number one. As the book of Matthew says: He knows the things we need before we even ask Him (6:8). Now let me share an analogy with you, so you have a better understanding of what I’m explaining. Have you ever been in that situation where your phone battery is running low and you quickly run to get your plug to save it from dying? Now, iPhone users can relate to this, your phone has been on 1% for the past 5 minutes and it’s still going strong until you click on snapchat and the next thing you know you are staring at your own disappointed reflection as your phone has now completely died.

When would have been the most appropriate time to get your phone connected to the plug? obviously, wayyyyy before it showed signs of extremely low battery. That is exactly how we should be with God. We need to remain connected to Him 24/7 (Disclaimer: I’m not advising this should be done with your phones), it shouldn’t be when we’ve exhausted all our power that we turn to God.

I’ve just moved into a new house for third year, whilst setting up my wifi an error occurred and the next available date for an engineer to visit was over a week away.  Fear and panic rushed through my body when I realised I had to wait sooo long before I was reconnected to wifi 😕 How was I supposed to survive without it? Hmmm, would I have panicked that much if my connection to God was disrupted for over a week? <foodforthought>

I’m reminded of the passage in John 15:4-5:

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

The Word abide in the bible means: to stay (in a given place/state/relation), dwell, endure, not to depart, to continue to be present, to remain as one, not to another or different. The fruits listed in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are the fruits that we bear when we abide in Christ. You may not be able to see the roots of a tree but you can tell what tree it is by its fruits, likewise if we are rooted in Christ those around us will know by the fruits we display.

How do we Abide in Christ?

  1. Abide in His Word
    • We need to constantly spend time reading & meditating on God’s Words. The Word has 3 main functions:
      • Word keeps us from sinningI have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11)
        • Jesus used it whilst being tempted by the devil in the wilderness
      • Word gives us continual guidance (Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105)
        • Principles to help govern our life
      • Word gives us life, a world view, philosophy 
    • The Word of God is like living water, however society is constantly dehydrating us spiritually. As a result Jesus is evaporating from our lives. Unless we actively do something to rehydrate ourselves we will be left dry.
    • Personal devotions, listening to sermons and spiritually feeding our soul is essential
  2. Abide in the Church 
    • The church is the body of Christ, so it is not a surprise that christian fellowship is a way in which we can abide in Christ
    • Being in the environment of christian fellowship is useful as it gives us accountability
  3. Love – Abiding and Obeying
    • It’s impossible to abide in Christ & live rebelliously
    • Jesus explicitly says if you love me you’ll keep my commandments, therefore we need to obey Him and walk as Jesus walked
    • 1 John 2:17 – whoever does the will of God lives forever

If we were as concerned about being plugged in to God in the same degree as plugging our devices wouldn’t we be living great lives?

Without any juice, what good is a phone? It’s a useless piece of aluminium, glass incapable of functioning in the purpose in which it was created.

In the same way, what good are we? If we aren’t plugged into our power source daily we are nothing and as the book of John says we can’t do anything worthwhile / of eternal value. The rest of John 15 explains what happens when we abide in Christ and the conclusion I got was When we abide in Christ, circumstances can’t dictate our happiness. Abiding in Christ is a means by which our joy may be full (John 15:11).

Key Undilutedword points:

  1. Stay Connected to the Ultimate Plug – God, without him we can do nothing worthwhile
  2. Abide in Christ via reading His word, fellowshipping with believers and obeying his commandments
  3. Share your plug with others – the more you walk with & abide in Christ the more you want to share him with others
  4. Be the plug for others!

Stay Blessed,

Dara xx