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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Craig Smith - The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Craig Smith - The Sincerest Form of Flattery
TOPICS: Identity Theft, Flattery, Sincerity

Hey, welcome to Mission Hills. I know it’s all messed up right? You’re like, “Wait, wait, what are you doing here?” It’s Baptism Sunday, yeah. and so we’re actually going to mix the service up just a little bit, I’m going to do some sharing from God’s word a little bit earlier than we would normally do that. We’ll have so more worship towards the end of the service when we have the opportunity to be proud of some people saying, “Today is the day I’m going public with my faith in Jesus.” So, I’m going to try that again now that I kind of got you caught up. Welcome.

You can tell my voice is not quite back but it’s better so we got two more of these to get through today, let’s see how that goes. A couple quick announcements, number one, starting March 4th and 5th we’re going to be changing this service time. So, starting March 4th and 5th instead of 9:30 this actually is going to start happening at 9:15. And the reason for that is just that we’re trying to create a little bit more space in the parking lot between this service and the last service. Anybody experienced the craziness of trying to get out while other people trying to get in? Yeah so we’re hoping that 15 minutes kind of helps us out with that so that’ll start March 4th and 5th.

Another announcement, this one’s really important, it’s also really important that when I say this nobody looks shocked. So if you would just...especially the men in the room to be honest. Okay? So here’s what I want you to do, if you could just fix a blank expression on your face and just kind of lock that in. Tuesday’s Valentine’s Day. Okay? Enough said. I’m... actually I don’t know if there’s any way to miss that actually. All right? Our culture kind of goes crazy over Valentine’s Day, which is interesting to me because I’m not sure that our culture really knows that much about love. And yet we go crazy over the love holiday which is fascinating to me. And I don’t know why it is we struggle with the concept of love in our culture, some of it may be our language, we just don’t have enough words.

For instance, I’ve said this before but it bares saying again, here is a perfectly appropriate thing for me to say in the English language, “I love my wife.” All right? nobody goes, “Well, that’s weird.” They’re like, “Yeah, we get it. You love your wife.” But here’s another equally appropriate sentence in the English language, “I love Doritos.” All right? I mean that to me says...I mean if you can use this same word for your spouse and your snacks, we don’t have a good handle on this love concept. And that’s problem because you don’t have to spend much time in church to realize that love is the very center of the Christian faith, right? So, in our culture we say, “Love is at the heart of Christianity.” And yet we’re not entirely sure what we mean by love, that’s a problem.

So if you got your bibles, I’d love to have you turn with me to the book of Ephesians this morning. We’re going to be looking at a passage this morning that really kind of camps out on the idea that walking in love is the heart of following Jesus. We’re going to be in chapter 5 of Ephesians this morning, picking up where we left off last week. Starting in verse 1, Paul says this, he says, ‘Follow God’s example therefore, as dearly loved children. And walk in the way of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God.” He says, “Follow God’s example...” or literally become imitators of God and I think that it’s important that we understand that he’s not saying, “Go in the same general direction as God.” What he’s saying is, follow in his footsteps, get as close as possible to being like God as is conceivable for a human being, it’s pretty high calling.

And he says, “I want you to do this as dearly loved children.” Which there’s two things that’s important, number one, it’s our motivation for imitating God and secondly, it’s our example of what it means to do that. He says, “Do it as dearly loved children.” And what it means is, don’t do it as a way to earn God’s love, you don’t have to earn God’s love, God already loves you. God doesn’t look at you and go, “I love you this much, but if you’ll do X,Y and Z I’ll love you this much.” No, no. He loves you fully, he loves you enough to have sent his son to die for you before you did anything. Okay? So he says, “Imitate God as children who have been loved.” It’s a response to what God has done, it’s not a way to earn it. Okay? So there pressure’s off.

Second thing though is he says, “Follow God...or imitate God as dearly loved children.” And what he gives us there is the example of what it looks like. He other words, follow God by loving as you have been loved. Love in the same way that God has loved you. that’s why he goes on and he says, “Walk in the way of love.” You’ve been loved so, pay it forward, walk in the way of love. And the word there for walk literally means to walk around. The Greek word is Peripateo and peri is where we get the word perimeter from, they did like a fence around the perimeter. Pateo is kind of this idea of moving and so what he basically says is, “Move around”. And the idea is like love is in the center and we’re just kind of circling it. We’re walking the perimeter of love. Love is our anchor, it’s the tether point and everything we do is centered on this concept of love, so he says, “Walk around in love.” In other words, it’s not an act of love here and there. It’s not an act kindness once in a while, it’s supposed to characterize our lives, our lives are supposed to be anchored to, tethered to, centered around love and we just kind of walk the perimeter constantly.

He says, “Walk in the way of love.” Make this your new normal. “Just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as fragrant offering and as sacrifice to God.” What he’s saying is, let me be concrete, he’s know, I understand and the Greeks had more words than we do but he understands that if I just say, “Walk in love” You’re like, “Okay, what does that mean? Am I supposed to like be soft spoken? Do I look doe eyed at people?” what does that mean? What does it mean to walk around in love? How does...what exactly does that look like? And he’s like, yeah, I know I get it. So let me be more concrete, he says, “Walk around in love” means that you imitate Jesus. And what did Jesus’ love look like concretely? He gave himself up. He made a sacrifice of himself, he went to the cross, he sacrificed himself in order to move us to God. Really that was Jesus whole ministry right? His whole ministry was sacrifice to move us to God. I mean think about it, he came out of Heaven, he left beside glory and honor and came to earth. Why? So that he could move us to God.

He’d lived his life as a servant, he described himself this way he said, the Son of Man his favorite title for himself, he said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, the Son of Man came to serve.” He’s going to make sacrifices, he’s going to serve us. And gave his life as a ransom for many. In other words, he sacrificed in order to move us closer to God. He died on the cross, he took our sins. He suffered and he died for us. Why? To purchase our forgiveness, to move us to God. Really, Jesus’ whole life was oriented around the idea of making sacrifices for others in order to move them towards God.

And now Paul says, I want you to walk in the same kind of love. I want you to imitate God in this concrete way by making sacrifices in order to move others towards God. What he really says is this, that the clearest imitation of God, the clearest imitation of God is a life that is characterized by sacrifices in order to move others towards God. That’s the clearest imitation of God. When we make sacrifices in order to move others towards, I don’t know when you hear that idea of making sacrifices to move others towards God and you hear Jesus you’re like, “How could I possibly do that? What am I supposed to do? How do I make those kind of sacrifices?” God’s not necessarily calling us to make the same sacrifices but for our lives to have the same posture, that we look around and when we see an opportunity to move someone towards God we’re willing to give up whatever it’s going to cost us to do that.

I got an email a couple weeks ago, came from a woman she was new to our church and she wrote to describe her first Sunday here. Don’t worry, it’s good. I said that and I was like people were like, “Oh no. What did we do?” So she said this, she said, “One Sunday I got in my car, I drove to the church it was a late morning service I spent time pacing back and forth not knowing if I should go in. I sat in my car and my thoughts were negative. Random thoughts of suicide running through my mind. I was crying uncontrollably and I sat there with my head bent and out of nowhere I heard this tap on my car window. I looked over and there was an older couple in their late 70’s asking me if I was okay. I informed them that I was praying and I’d be fine. They looked at each other and then they said to me, “We’ll stay and pray with you.” Well, I was not expecting that. They put their heads down and I continued to finish my prayer and they looked at me and smiled, took my hand and walked with me into the church.”

Bam. You don’t know what sacrifice to move others towards God looks like in a practical way? That’s it right there. That’s it right there. Because here’s the thing, you go, “Well, what was the sacrifice?” So when’s the last time you walked past a woman sobbing uncontrollably and you thought, “I want to get involved in that.” Of course not. It’s messy and it’s uncomfortable and you don’t know what you’re opening yourself up to but this couple stopped and they said we’re getting involved in that. They gave up some comfort. And they said it was a late morning service which I assume either means 9:30 or at 11, as you know over the last few months here at 9:30 and 11 it’s not exactly easy to find seats. Which means that by interrupting their journey into the church there was a good chance they weren’t going to get their seat, they might even got up an overflow. They didn’t care.

They still stopped. And when she said, “I’m praying, I’m fine.” something inside them...the Holy Spirit inside them said, “No, you’re not.” But it would’ve been easy if they’d just been dismissed, they’d been given their pass, you can leave. But they went, “No, we’re still supposed to be here. We’ll pray with you. We’ll walk in with you.” Because there are no small sacrifices in God’s economy. There’s little things that we do to step outside of our comfort zones, to give up our preferences and our plans. God says you’re acting like Jesus and I will honor that in ways you can’t imagine. This is what Paul says is the heart of the Christian faith, “To love as we have been loved.” Which concretely practically means, that we make sacrifices in order to move others closer to Jesus.

Paul continues to highlight this definition of Christian faith by going on to talk about things that we’re not supposed to do. He says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity or of greed because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking which are out of place but rather, Thanksgiving. For this you can be sure that no immoral, impure or greedy person...such a person as an idolater has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

Now, we could spend a lot of time unpacking each one of those words but I’m not going to do that because I want to make sure we don’t miss the forest for the trees. And the important thing to understand here is that each one of these negative things that Paul has said don’t let this have any part in your life, each one of those has been chosen for a very particular reason. This is not a random list of sins, this is not a list of the worst of all possible sins, this is a specific list of sins that illustrates self gratification at others expense, do you know what I mean? It’s a list of sins that illustrate trying to gratify our own desires and pleasures at others expense. You’ll notice...I mean just to illustrate it, he’s says sexual immorality. All kinds of impurity and then, what’s that third one? Greed. It seems like a random thing to fit all on that list right? Sexual immorality, greed? Yeah because as he’s describing sexual immorality it is sexuality entered into outside of the perimeters that God sets up for it in marriage and at the heart of it with that’s looking to do is it’s looking to gratify its own desires.

It’s not others centered as it was intended to be in the conducts of marriage. And that’s why that list ends with greed because he says, let me just...let me just make it so you can’t possibly miss it, what I’m talking about is people who are just out to get their own stuff. So he says this, he says, “Imitate God by living in a way that gives up your own stuff to move other people to God and do not let be among you any of the stuff that is seeking to satisfy its own desires. In other words, the opposite of imitating God, the opposite of imitating God is seeking to gratify our own desires at others expense.

Even the language he talks about that obscenity and coarse joking, he’s talking about sexual jokes and he’s talking about put downs and all that kind of stuff but builds us up or makes us feel better in some way or satisfies something in us at other people’s expense. Because I don’t want you to have any of that, instead I want you to have Thanksgiving. But why Thanksgiving? Listen, being thankful breeds satisfaction. Being thankful breed’s satisfaction. And satisfaction paves the way for sacrifice. When we’re not thankful for what we have, we’re wanting more and we’re looking for ways to get more and we’re not in the position to be able to make the kind of sacrifices that Paul’s talking about.

So he says instead of doing of that, be thankful. Look at what you have, look at what God has blessed you with. Give thanks for it because thankfulness breeds satisfaction. We go, “What, this is actually incredible. I can’t believe God has allowed me to have this and this and this...” and what happens we become satisfied with what we have. And we’re never satisfied with what we have. We’re in a place to begin making sacrifices. Whereas if we’re ungrateful, then we’re dissatisfied and we’re not in a place to make the kind of sacrifices Paul’s talking about.

Unfortunately, we live in a world that argues against the kind of living that Paul’s talking about here. And so Paul says, hey I know you’ve heard a different way of living, I know you hear it constantly in the world around you, but verse 6, “Let no one deceive you with empty words. For because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” “Let no one deceive you with empty words.” in other words, you’re going to hear arguments that say that what I’m telling you is ridiculous. You’re going to hear arguments everyday that tell you that this life of sacrifice that I’m calling you to it’s absurd, it doesn’t make any sense, it’s unreasonable. You can’t do this, you’ve got to look out for...for number one. You got to look out for yourself.

Oh, oh sure, I mean you can be charitable every now and then, you can do a kind thing every now and then but the idea that you would live, that you would walk around, that you’d been tethered to the idea of sacrificial love for other people, that’s insane. And Paul says, you’re going to hear those arguments but they are “empty words.” There’s no power to them. Because the way the world’s walking and telling you to walk is going to take you out of God’s blessing. The world says if you really want to experience good things, you got to go out and get them. I’m telling you if you want to experience great things you have to live sacrificially and in so doing you imitate God and you stay in his footsteps and you will find that you are blessed every step of the way.

But that’s not what the world says and unfortunately it’s not even what we get inside the church. Even inside the church we get arguments that say hey, you still got to look out for number one. Oh, we disguise it in different language. We say it’s’s not reasonable to live the way Paul’s talking about, in fact if you flip real quickly over to 1 Corinthians Chapter 10, I think it’s a great example of the kind of argument that he’s talking about that you’ll find even inside the church. 1 Corinthians 10, he’s quoting an argument from the Corinthian church and it says this, it says, “I have the right to do anything.” I got to look out for myself right? And everything’s permissible for me. But Paul says, that’s what you say but not everything is beneficial.

But...but I have the right to do anything, I have the right to seek my own good. But everything’s constructive. You understand, what Paul’s doing is he’s saying, you’ve heard this argument. But I’m telling you it’s wrong. It’’s not beneficial, it’s not good. And then look what he goes on to say he says, “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” Everything’s permissible? No, it’s not. But more importantly you’re missing the heartbeat of the Christian faith. The heartbeat of the Christian faith says, “No one should seek their own good, but they should seek the good of others.”

Even in the church we’ll hear arguments. Empty arguments but loud arguments none the less they’ll say, “You can’t live that way.” It says, “Do not be deceived by empty words. For because of such things...” and by “such things” he’s referring to that whole package of self seeking behavior. For that package of self gratifying sin. Because of such things, God’s wrath comes upon those who are disobedient. That that phrase “...those who are disobedient” literally the sons of disobedience is the same phrase that was used back in Ephesians 2 to talk about those were dead in their sins and transgressions. He says, this self seeking behavior, it ultimately leads to an emptiness. Which is pretty ironic given that they...they think that they’ve got to go get their own stuff. Or who else would provide for them? He says, not only in the end are they not going to get their stuff that they were looking for, but they’re going to find the wrath of God.

So he says, verse 7, “Therefore, do not be partners with them.” Do not be partners with them. “You were once darkness, but you are light in the Lord. So live as children of light. For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth. And find out what pleases the Lord, have nothing to do with the fruitless needs of darkness but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” And to me the most interesting part of that is the way that describes deeds of darkness. And then when I hear somebody say, “deeds of darkness” and... and he’s going to...let me tell you what deeds of darkness are, I expect they’re wicked. Let me tell you about horrible deeds of darkness, let me tell you about abominable deeds of darkness, let me tell you about despicable, disgusting deeds of darkness, but that’s not the words he uses.

He calls deeds of darkness un...what? Unfruitful. I mean that...that seems pretty tame doesn’t it? I mean all the other says he could describe deeds of darkness he goes with, “unfruitful”? Not bearing fruit? Why would he use that language? And the answer is because the whole book of Ephesians is telling us about the mission of God. Tell you what God is doing, what God is doing is he’s bringing together. He’s bringing his people together, he’s getting rid of barriers and he’s bringing people together with one another and he’s bringing...he’s people who have come together closer to him. He’s drawing them to himself.

God is in the business of reconciling, he’s drawing us together with one another and he’s drawing his people to himself. That’s what God’s all about, that’s the mission of God as revealed in the book of Ephesians. He says, the deeds of darkness don’t produce that fruit. The deeds of darkness which he’s defined here as selfishness, as things that gratify their desires at the expense of others. He says, that’ll never get you there. This kind of self centered behavior will only drive others apart, and it will drive you away from me. So the...the worst thing he can say about deeds of darkness is it’s unfruitful. It won’t accomplish what the father’s heart is beating for. What Jesus’ heart bled for drawing us together and closer to him. Because all that self centered stuff it’ll take you in the opposite direction.

So he says, we’re not having anything to do with them but rather we are to expose them. Reveal them for what they are. Now, that...that’s an interesting statement. When he says, expose the deeds of darkness the question you have to ask is, who are we talking about doing that with? Are we talking about doing that inside the church or out with the world? And a lot of Christians have taken that...that verse as an example or as a justification for looking at the world outside the church and saying, “Look how messed up they are. Look how much sin is going on out. Look at all this terrible behavior going on. I mean, I’m just doing what Jesus said. He said, expose the deeds of darkness.” And I go, “No, no, no you misunderstood that.”

He’s not talking about outside the church, he’s talking about inside the church. And there’s two reasons I say that, number one, in the context here he’s clearly talking about how we treat one another. Okay? Second, Paul had some very specific things to say about how we think about the world outside the church. 1 Corinthians 5 he said this, he said, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” What business is it of mine? But, are we not to judge those inside the church?

This is where by the way, we rightly understand that that conflict that we sometimes get where Jesus said, “Judge not lest you be judged.” right? And yet Paul says, “Judge those inside the church.” Well, wait a minute, how...are we supposed to judge or not? How many of you have ever pointed out sin in some way. I have people go...have you not read your bible? Did you not hear Jesus say, “Judge not...” but you look awfully judgey to me. Anybody ever have this face? Yeah okay well, how is it then Jesus said don’t judge and then yet Paul says we’re to judge...because we’re talking to different conducts. Jesus was talking about judging those who are outside the community of faith. What he’s saying is,’s not our job to look at non-Christians and expect Christian behavior. I mean if we just think about that for a second, according to scripture we are born sinful. That are natural impulse according to Ephesians 2 is towards sin. Which means that the non Christian world is sinful by nature. Why would we expect Christian behavior from non-Christians?

We’re only able to act in any other way because the Holy Spirit residing in us, transforms us. We have been redeemed. Why would we expect redeemed behavior from unredeemed people? That’s insane. It makes no sense at all. And that’s why Jesus said, don’t judge those outside the community of faith but Paul says, inside the community of faith is a totally different experience. It’s totally different context. Inside the community of faith we have got to call sin for what it is and we’ve got to call selfishness for what it is. Which is the exact opposite of what has been done for us.

So he says, don’t have anything to do with the world’s way of living, instead expose it in your midst. Interesting enough he then says, “It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” The disobedient again is a phrase for those who are outside the church. Because it’s shameful even to mention it among yourselves and I think there’s a couple of reasons for that. Number one, When we talk about what the world outside is doing and when we cast judgment upon that and go ah, look at that and that and that, what we’re really doing is we’re giving a certain amount of power to that stuff and that’s important that we avoid that.

When I was learning to drive, one of the things I was taught was don’t look off to the side of the road because what happens is you’ll drift in that direction. when inside the church we spend a lot of time talking about all the negative behavior outside the church, it actually begins to have a certain amount of power. Because where our eyes are, our heart is drawn. He says, don’t even talk about it. Second reason that I think he says don’t even talk about it, is because there’s a very fine line between going look at that evil stuff out there and going, look how much better I am.

And you understand that when we begin to go, look how much better I am, that’s self gratifying behavior too. So here’s the reality, self centeredness is remarkably good at disguising itself as something else. Self centered behavior’s remarkably good at describing...disguising itself as something else. We go...we know right? We know, I’m not...I’m not supposed to say, “I don’t like this music.” or “I don’t like the way we’re doing this.” “I don’t like...” we can’t say that. So we go, “You know, I’m concerned about this kind of music.” “I’m concerned that we’re doing this.” What we really mean is I don’t like it. But we know we’re not allowed to say that. So we disguise it as something else. I’m...I’m...I’m know, I’m something.

And we do it in the church and we do it in our marriages, we do it in our families, we do it constantly. Now here’s an important question to ask yourself, where am I in danger? Where am I in danger of justifying self centeredness as something more noble? Jot that question down and wrestle with it this week. I’ll be honest, it’s a painful question. But it’s an important question.

Because if we don’t expose it in ourselves, God will expose it in us but that will be much more painful. He says, “Everything exposed by the light becomes visible.” Here’s verse 13, “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible. And everything that is illuminated becomes light.” In other words he says, it’s all going to be revealed for what it is. The self centeredness in us that we allow, will be brought to light, it will be exposed for what it is. But if we have to let God do it rather than doing the work of allowing him to allow us to recognize it so we can repent of it and be forgiven of it? If God has to bring it out, it going to be that much more painful. But make no mistake about it, it’s all going to be brought to light. So this is why they said, “Wake up sleeper arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” That’s probably a phrase that’s particularly important appropriate today because most of us think that phrase is was part of a...a ritual, as part of a confession that was made during baptism.

So in the early church when people were baptized, as we’re going to do today. They used this phrase, they said, “Wake up sleeper” as they went into the water and they brought up the congregation probably said something like, “Wake up sleeper.” You’re not asleep anymore, so stop acting like you’re asleep, wake up to the reality. He says...or they would say, rise from the dead and that was symbolically what was happening when they were brought out of the water. They’re...they’re no longer in the grave, they’re no longer in death. They’ve been brought to new life in Jesus. And what happens, he says, “Christ will shine on you.”

Christ will shine on you. Which can be really good or it can be really scary. Because if we got stuff that we don’t want to let out in the light, it’s not an option. When we come into a relationship with Jesus, the light begins to shine and self-centeredness will be exposed for what it is. So he says, “Be very careful then how you live. Not as unwise, but as wise. Making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.” He says, we can’t afford to live in the old way. He says, you got to make every opportunity to divulge in every opportunity because the days are evil and that’s an interesting statement to me. Take advantage of every opportunity and make the most of it. Every opportunity because the days are evil. Where are you getting that Paul? And here’s what he’s saying is this, we have an opportunity right now because the days are evil. That’s why he says, because. We have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world something of the heart of the Christian faith that they cannot miss because of how dark it is outside.

The days are evil and he’s defined evil with self centered. That’s the heart of all sin really. See, it’s the culture around us is so self centered, it is so self seeking, it is so interested in self gratification, that if we live, if...if...if we even begin to live in the way that Jesus calls us to, the way that he has lived for us, if we even begin to live with a willingness to sacrifice to move others closer to him it’s going to be such a blinding contrast that there’s no way they could fail to miss the reality. So he says, now is your chance to live in the way that Jesus calls us to live. To live in a way that is sacrificial. That sets aside self-centeredness in order to seek the good of others, in order to move others to Jesus and because the days are so dark your light will shine brighter that you could have ever imagined. really what Paul says, boiled down to one simple idea and it’s this, he saying, Jesus calls us to love others to him. Jesus calls us to love other to him. It’s a great message to hear on Love Week.

But if you look around at what the world considers to be love on Valentine’s Day, it’s a little different than the way Jesus defines isn’t it? Oh well, but we built it and we’re going to be reminded every day. Right up to Tuesday and then after that every time you go in the grocery store there’s leftover candy. We are reminded that our world may know nothing about love but we should know everything about it. We were called to love others that is to make sacrifices, to move them closer to Jesus. Three question to wrestle with this week as we think about love, number one, where do I fall on the spectrum of self centered to others centered? It’s a tough question. But where are you right now? I mean, I’m working through this and I’m realizing I’m nearly as far to the right as I should be.

And so then, what is God calling me to do to move to the right? What is God calling me to do to move toward other-centeredness? Question number two, what was one time that I let go of a preference and God used it positively? Remind yourselves on how God uses our sacrifices and if you can’t think of one in your own life, think of one that’s been done for you. Well somebody else sacrificed a preference, or made some kind of sacrificial gesture to you and God used that powerfully in your life. It’s important that we remind ourselves of how God uses these sacrifices. And number three, what’s one sacrifice that I could start making in order to move others closer to God? Let’s pray.

Jesus, it’s astounding how much you loved us and there is no better example of love as you define it, than your sacrifice on the cross. You died for us, enabling us to come to the father and we give you thanks for that. Lord we wrestle with Paul teaching but we’re to imitate you. That we are to live on a daily basis sacrificing our own desires in order to move others to you. And we confess to you that that’s hard. It goes against our grain as sinful people. It goes against the message we hear consistently from our world. And so we acknowledge that we cannot possibly live this way apart from your strength. We ask that you reveal in us, that you expose in us self-centeredness. Give us the courage to call it what it is, and put it aside. And enable us to love others to you. In so doing, to embrace love as you define it. In Jesus name, amen.

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