…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

What’s LOVE got to do with it? 

Yes, February has passed by along with Valentine’s day and all it’s festivities, but I hope the “love” shared and displayed hasn’t faded either.  In this post I’m going to talk about a 4 letter word that is most important in the life of a Christian. This word isn’t  FAITH or HOPE, I’m sure you could have guessed by the post title – it is LOVE.

You may have come across the verse in 1 Corinthians 13:13 – “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Love is greater than both Faith & Hope, really!?   FAITH is the foundation and content of God’s message, HOPE is the attitude and focus, LOVE is action. When faith and hope are in line, you are free to love completely because you understand how God loves. Paul says though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2) Having the highest degree of faith without love is nothing. Without love, genuine hope cannot exist. Is it possible to hope (long for or have a desire) for something you don’t love? I don’t think so …  Therefore unless faith and hope are coupled with love they are dead. 

It’s no surprise that love is a keyword in the 2 greatest commandments: Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). I want you to draw close attention to verse 40. What’s love got to do with it? Rather than focusing on all the things we shouldn’t do in the 10 commandments, we should channel our focus onto what we should do. That way we are looking at God’s Laws in a more positive light. I’ve heard some people use the above passage to support the opinion that we are not required to keep the laws of the old testament. However, if we love God we are naturally going to obey the first 4 commandments which deal with God ( vertical relationship). Additionally, the remaining 6 are centred on our relationship with  one another ( horizontal relationship), if we love one another we are going to think twice before stealing, lying or murdering them. As I mentioned earlier the greatest commandments have a central theme. So verse 40 can be read as “All the Law and the Prophets hang on Love”.  Love is the fulfilment of the Law, love enables you to keep the Law.

Horizontal and vertical Love is what the cross is all about. Firstly, you come to the Lord and then you share or display that same love with others. Therefore if you do not have vertical love, you will not be able to display horizontal love. Let me use a song I sung at primary school to explain this concept; Love is something if you give it away, Give it away, give it away. Love is something if you give it away, You end up having more”. You’ll agree with me that you can only give away something that you possess. So, in order to love and be loved completely we need to love ourselves first. In Matt 22:39 Jesus says: You shall love your neighbour as yourself, if a person doesn’t love him/herself, this command amongst all others becomes very difficult to follow.

Then again, you might have self-love but find it extremely difficult to love those neighbours who have carved wounds so deep you think they can’t be healed. You develop love through trial, by surrounding yourself with people that are difficult to love. Falling in love with God for example may not be at first sight, it takes time. The love you have for God develops through strain and the trials of life, if we persevere real love muscles eventually develop.

So I ask again what’s love got to do with it?

At the centre of Christianity is love, the greatest sacrifice in history was done because of Love. Love is a practice that our Saviour embodied. Through love we may do good deeds, care for our bodies and possess a desire to help humanity. Love involves unselfish service to others.  If our lives are full of quick-fix, feel good approaches to our fellow humans instead of intentional and purposeful responses to God’s unselfish love, we have failed to understand the meaning of the gospel. God’s love is evident throughout the bible, it governs the actions and decisions He made and continues to make. And finally, God is love

No matter what I say, no matter what I believe, no matter what I do, I am bankrupt without love.

I love this song called “The Proof of Love” by King & Country, please listen to and meditate on the lyrics.

Stay blessed,

Dara xx

Are you a flirt? 

So its that time of the year again where flowers, balloons, chocolates, pink and also red heart shaped cards are being bought as (what it seems like) everyone displays various acts of love to their significant other. Firstly I want to start with a question; Are you a flirt? An evangelist once asked this question during a sermon and ever since I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

I consider myself to be a flirt. Yes, I said it, as much as I probably wouldn’t like to admit it. I am a flirt. You may be asking why am I telling you this? And what do I mean by this?Let’s have a look at the definition. A flirt is the noun for a person who flirts.  

Definition of Flirt

While I was writing this post I asked a few friends what they thought about flirting, whether it was right or wrong, whether it was pointless or purposeful? I got very interesting comments and opinions which I will be sharing  through this post. With regards to the points in red, you may agree with some and disagree with others but I think they all important and helpful in understanding the concept of flirting with God. 

I am a flirt. I sometimes act as though I am interested in God, I wanna know about him. I say to him I want to strengthen our relationship by getting to know him more. In what ways may that be? By speaking to him more of course, by reading about Him, what He has done. What better place than His very own word -The Bible. So I make appointments with him. I say I’ll speak with Him in the morning but then I may be in a hurry when I wake up, so I end up rushing and squeezing in a little conversation. Or I may completely forget because the first thing I have done that morning is pick up my phone and scroll down my snapchat story list or twitter timeline. Once again he has been sidelined.  After feeling guilty for doing so I promise that I will speak to Him at night and even read a bit about Him, but somehow I miss that appointment as well. I sit back now and ask myself “Why am I flirting with God for my own amusement?, why do I say I will spend quality time with Him knowing that I don’t intend to because I am engaged in other things.  I show a superficial interest in God, or the idea of spending time with Him, getting to know Him, without committing myself seriously. I am not keeping it real with God. Are you?

The Bible says on countless occasions it’s important to know God. We are told to “pursue godliness”.  1 Timothy 4:7b says; we should “exercise yourself toward godliness.”.  I love the way the message translation puts it: Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. So there is no point in flirting with God we need to exercise ourselves towards true godliness.

Flirting is pointless if you know it is not going anywhere.

  • How would you feel if a guy or girl was flirting with you, but didn’t really plan to take things further in order to build a lasting & proper relationship. You would feel like you wasted your time wouldn’t you?
  • Don’t show a superficial interest in God knowing full when you don’t plan to spend quality time with Him. He wants your ALL, he wants a relationship with you.

There needs to be a substance out of flirting.

  • Even if we find ourselves flirting with God it is possible to eventually build a lasting relationship with him. We make the appointments to spend time with Him because we are interested in Him. He is interested in us as well he wants us to draw near to him so that we may be able to taste and see that He is good. He wants to shower us abundantly with His love.

You can’t be flirting forever… that’s rubbish. Flirting can be a process into a relationship.

  • Maybe before we know Christ, or God flirting may be acceptable. We are interested in Him but we have not been able to truly experience a personal and loving relationship with Him. However there needs to a point when we become one with Him and take Him more seriously.
  • When I meet my appointed time with God, I truly have a fulfilling time.Through flirting we will eventually fall in love with God and have a purposeful relationship.

You have to distinguish between flirts and time wasters

  • In a relationship where you are flirting with God and not intending to spend quality time with him you are wasting your own time.

Flirting is fun. Flirting could be flirting banter… Flanter!

  • Some say it’s fun, but should we truly be playing around with God. He takes us very seriously. By playing around with him we are in essence ridiculing the sacrifice he made many years ago when He sent His Son to die for us,

Flirting is is a problem when you are leading someone on.

  • Don’t lead God on. Stay faithful to him, in the same way he remains faithful to us. He keeps His word.

If you were interested in multiple guys or girls you could potentially flirt with all before you find one and settle. And this is the same with God, when we flirt with God we also flirt with other gods. Hasn’t God commanded us to Love Him?  Our love becomes divided when we flirt with other gods. God is a jealous God; He wants us to put him first in our lives. He doesn’t want to be another “love fling”. We are encouraged in God’s word to “Set [our] affection on things above, not on things on the earth”.( Colossians 3:2) God wants us to “love things above” he urges us to set our minds, thoughts, emotions and desires on heavenly things. These things are eternal and have higher significance, than the things we focus on while we are here on earth. To set out affections on things above means to look at life from God’s perspective and to seek what He desires. This is the antidote to materialism. The more we see the life around as God sees it, the more we live in harmony with Him. We must not become too attached to what is temporary. We need to be people after God’s very own heart.

Yes by flirting with God we keep in contact with Him, but we need more than that. We need to be truly committed to God. He doesn’t want mere contact time, he wants to develop a deep and personal relationship with us. Deep within our hearts, we desire to develop a strong relationship but the devil tries to keep us occupied with so many other things we end up developing a flirtationship. My prayer for us all is that God circumcises our hearts so that we may love him with all heart and with all our soul!

Have a lovely day!

Stay Blessed,

Dara  ♡

P.S- Have a great valentines day! Even if you are spending it single, like myself…remember God loves you abundantly. If you want to find out more about God’s great love check out last year’s Valentine’s day post : No Greater Love.

Death has lost its Sting

On Easter Sunday my grandfather passed on to sleep in The Lord. This post is written in reflection of my thoughts and encouragement for others whose loved ones have gone to sleep in The Lord.

Death is something people are often scared of. How  will it happen? When  will it happen? We want to be able to live our lives to the fullest, and accomplish all we would like to do. From the day Adam and Eve fell until the day Jesus rose from the dead, death held us ransom.

When a person has been captured and is being held for ransom, the perpetrators rely on the compassion of the person’s loved ones to get the payment they desire. So relating that to the scriptures in John 3:16 we hear that; God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten son to die for us and pay our ransom.  Now, whoever believes in The Son can have eternal life. Death and Sin still remain in humanity, but they do not determine our lives. God made the sacrifice over 2,000 years ago, so that we would know about the great love He has for us. God does for us, what we mere humans cannot do for ourselves. He saves us from living in despair and without hope. Through His son, and the decision he made, He has given us new life and hope of a resurrection morning when we shall live for eternity with him. God is not a distant, all powerful being or  tyrant, who demands payment for our sins. He has already paid for our sins. God doesn’t demand ransom, he provides us with his son, who paid the price.  God doesn’t hold us as prisoners, he sets us free from sin.  “Christ has truly set us free” Galations 5:1 

On the cross, sin was rendered powerless. Satan seemed to be victorious in the Garden of Eden, when Eve and Adam ate the apple and brought sin into mankind. He also seemed to be victorious when Jesus was betrayed, tortured and hung onto the cross where he died. However, God turned Satan’s apparent victory into defeat when Jesus  Christ rose from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection changed EVERYTHING for mankind. In Christ we are now free, restored, redeemed and reconciled back to God. We have been given the free gift of eternal life. 

The Greatest gift in the world (Anon)

The Author of the Gift
God
The Incentive of the Gift
so loved 
The Content of the Gift
His only Begotten Son
The Universality of the Gift 
whoever
The means of appropriation
Believes
The Benefits of its Gift 
Negative: Not Perish
Positive: Have eternal Life

 

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭2‬:‭14-15‬ NLT) From this we learn that, Jesus had to become human (“flesh and blood”) so he could die and rise again, in order to destroy the devil’s power over death. (Romans 6:5-11). Only then could he deliver those who had lived in constant fear of death, and free them to live for him. When we belong to God, we need not fear death, for we know that death is only the beginning of eternal life. Therefore, death should no longer be a source of dread or fear. Christ overcame it, and one day we will also. Christ’s death and resurrection free us from the fear of death because death had been DEFEATED. Many of us may experience death in one way or another but death is not the end; instead, it is the doorway to a new life. We have hope beyond the grave.

 

Just as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:55“Where O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?” 

The enemy (Satan)  has done the worst he can do. When he snatches loved ones prematurely, that is the worst he can do. The victory of Satan is not permanent, he has already been defeated.  Those who are ill and suffer before they die are victorious after death. Why? Because the Devil can no longer torment them, they are free. Death = Victory!

 

An empty grave is there to prove our Saviour lives. Because Jesus lives, we can face tomorrow. Because He lives all fear is gone. Because we know, He holds the future. Life is worth living because He lives. 

I’ve experienced the death of a few loved ones, but I Thank God for gift of His Son. His resurrection, gives hope to myself, and should give the same to other Christians. May we all be reunited with our loved ones on that glorious resurrection morning, when those asleep in Christ will wake up. Their bodies will be transformed and we who are still alive will be caught up in the clouds to meet our Lord and spend eternity with Him and our Father. In eternity, “God will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4. In the meantime, we should remember ,Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

“It is finished” was not the end. It was just the beginning, for greater things that were yet to come! 

 


Stay Blessed,

Dara x

No Greater Love

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So it’s Valentine’s day…Love is in the air. 💘 You may be celebrating the day with that special significant other ( aka your bae) or maybe like me you are spending the evening indoors with siblings, whatever it is you are doing I just wanted to share with you a love that is true, real and genuine. This sort of love can be extended into ALL our relationships, not only the lovey dovey ones. 💑 In our 21st century society we are constantly bombarded with adverts, movies and songs that display shallow love. However the Holy Book itself has something to say about love.I’m sure we are all aware of this very famous passage in 1st Corinthians 13, which describes what love is;

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Our society often confuses love and lust. Unlike lust, God’s kind of love is directed outwards towards others, not inward towards ourselves. It is utterly unselfish. This type of love is not natural. It is only possible if God helps us set aside our own desires and instincts, so we can give love while expecting nothing in return. Thus the closer we become to Christ, the more love we will be able to show others.

Now what is the greatest love? “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” John 15:13. Christ’s love towards us all was demonstrated not only in his words but also in his sacrificial death. We are to love one another as Jesus loved us, and he loved us enough to give his life for us. Woww!! even though he knew that we might not love him back. No, I’m not saying we are going to have to die for someone, but there are other ways to practice sacrificial love: listening, helping, encouraging, giving. On this day think of someone in particular who needs this kind of love today. Give ALL the love you can towards him/her.

Blaise Pascal said: There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man (& woman) which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus. Today in our society it is very common to see couples together, treating themselves and displaying their love for one another. For someone that is single like myself, it is possible to question how can I fill that “empty” vacuum in my heart. “I want that love, affection that others receive”, but the truth is that nobody on earth is capable of making you complete. No matter how many love letters, surprising gifts, warm hugs or sweet kisses one receives they are not able to fill that vacuum in your heart. Don’t get me wrong you can gain happiness in such a relationship but you may find yourself still longing for a greater love. This greater love that will fill the vacuum in your heart is that of Christ who died JUST FOR YOU! What you long for is the love that is never ending and unconditional.

Now ladies listen up💃 … whether you are single, dating, married, young or old there is a man who is passionately in love with you. That man is Jesus Christ! He loves you soooo much more in a second than your future husband or boyfriend can in your entire lifetime. His love is everlasting, no matter how many times you fall out, disagree or forget/neglect him ; He will always be around waiting for you to come rushing into his wide arms. Guys… it’s okay to love your ladies. But you should always remember that “You shall have no other gods before God” Deuteronomy 5:7. Don’t put the love you have for others, higher than the love you have for God. If you love God with all your heart, when the time is right you’ll find your perfect match. Till then focus on your loving father in heaven.

Whether you are alone on this Valentine’s day or you are being showered with love by your significant other, always remember that God shows his love towards you everyday through his Grace. Even though he cannot buy you flowers and chocolate, he bought YOU eternity with Him when he sent His Son to you. Check out No greater love by Smokie Norful (below)

Stay Blessed,

Dara x