Joyce Meyer - What Is Love? - Part 3
Matthew 5:46 says, "If you only love those who love you, what reward will you get? Even tax collectors can do that". And he picked on tax collectors because they were among some of the most hated people back then. So, Jesus is saying, "I don't want you just to love the people that love you back. I want you to love the people that are hard to love". Yeah, you don't sound too interested in that, so. What is love? Well, God is love. And many times, when I have my "Thank you" session in the morning, which I've made a habit out of doing it every morning now, first thing, when I get up, and I don't even start trying to pray or asking God for anything till I first tell him everything I'm thankful for.
And so, I'm thankful for him, really thankful for Jesus. Boy, am I thankful for the Holy Spirit that he lives in us. I'm thankful for conviction. I'm thankful, when I sin, that God convicts me of sin. That he loves me too much to just leave me alone and let me be in a mess, but he'll correct me. Those whom God loves, he chastises. But we talk about love a lot. We love everything from ice cream to God. And I think we have to really know what the God kind of love is. I said last night there are four Greek words that are translated love in the Bible, so they don't all mean the same thing. But agape which is the God kind of love, divine love, the love that can love people that are hard to love, the love that can love enemies and people who have treated you unjustly, that's from the Greek word agape.
Phileo is a friendly kind of love. Eros is a Romantic kind of love. And storge, I guess, is how you say it, is love for your family. But we specifically wanna talk about this God kind of love. And I read a definition last night that I wanna start with again today of what agape is. It could be defined as charity. However, we often think of charity, nowadays, as giving away money or things, which doesn't even begin to encompass at all that agape is about. Agape love, now, please listen to these words, is unconcerned with self and concerned with the greatest good of another person. Wow. Agape is not born out of emotion. Loving somebody has nothing to do with how you feel.
You can not like somebody and still love them. Because love is really how you treat a person. It's not how you feel about 'em, or what you think about 'em, has nothing to do with what they've done to you. It's how are you gonna treat them? Or if they've been mean to you, are you gonna be mean back? No, that's the world's way. But we're called to a higher life. You gotta let go of the lower life and then you can have the higher life. And God tells us, gives us the formula for loving our enemies. Pray for them. How many people really pray, last night, I asked how many people were mad at somebody, and at least 65% of the people raised their hand.
Now, you know, that sounds funny, but it's really very sad. And it has me very concerned because as long as I've been preaching, I can go anywhere at any time, and I can ask that same question, and anywhere from 65 to 90% of the people, in the room, will raise their hand that they have unforgiveness in their heart. This is a huge, big, big problem. And it is shutting down the power of Christianity. It's keeping us from changing the world. And the devil has us holding on to something that does not bother our enemy. They don't care if you're mad at them. They are out having a good time and could not care less if you're mad at them. So, you're only hurting yourself. You're playing right into the devil's hands. And why don't you forgive? Because you feel. We have to learn to live beyond our feelings. And you can. You can separate how you feel from what you're supposed to do.
So, if you start praying for your enemies, it is very difficult to keep hating somebody that you pray for all the time. And so, you know, it says, "Bless your enemies". You think, "Well, I don't want 'em to be blessed". But see, we're not talk, God's not gonna, if you pray for God to bless your enemies, that doesn't mean he's gonna give 'em a new car. The first thing, he may bless 'em with is some truth and reality about their behavior. Come on. You know how to pray, they don't. As believers, in Christ, we not only have a privilege of knowing him, we have a responsibility to show the world who Jesus is. Come on. If you are gonna be a Christian, be a real one. Don't be somebody that just has a bumper sticker on your car, and a cross around your neck, and a big Bible, and go to church once a week, and live like the devil the rest of the week.
An unbeliever, maybe, can't forgive, but you can because you're full of God. And he's put his forgiveness in you. That means whatever you have in you, you can give away to somebody else. Amen? And I'm gonna have to talk about this some today because some way, somehow, I feel, I have to try to get it across to people how, so desperately important all this unforgiveness is. It has to be dealt with because we are just, Christianity is not impressing the world. They think we're half goofy, and phony, and hypocritical, but if we'll just really walk in love, I mean real love, the kind of love I'm gonna talk to you about today. Not just a word, not just something we say, but really get down to what it really is, and start applying it, especially, to people that are hard to love.
Wow. You know, there's a whole bunch of us. I mean, there are people like us all over the world. And if we'll all get ourselves off of our mind long enough to start really letting God use us, I do believe that Jesus can change the world through us. I mean, like, I really believe that. I'm not just saying it. I really believe it. You heard just a couple of these testimonies this morning. A.J., in prison, for murder, hating God. Now, he works for the ministry. I mean, God is so amazing.
So, agape isn't born out of emotion, feeling, familiarity or attraction, but from the will and is a choice. So, any one of you can decide to forgive somebody. And just because you still feel like your skin crawls every time you see them, that doesn't necessarily mean that you don't love them, because love is not how you feel, it's how you decide to treat them. "I'm gonna pray for them. I'm gonna bless them. If they need help, and God prompts me to help them, I'm gonna help them. And I don't care if I ever get anything back, I'm gonna do this because I love God and because of what he's done for me". And this is not something that you just do one time, one and done. I mean, we better get really, really good at forgiveness because it's only gonna get worse the closer we get to Jesus returning. I mean, get good at it. Like, the minute somebody is even in the middle of offending you, just say, "Uh-huh, no, I'm forgiving 'em. Been there, done that. Not gonna live", you know, like I said last night, they may not deserve your forgiveness, but you deserve peace.
So, do yourself a favor and forgive. You're not doing your enemies a favor when you forgive them. You're doing yourself a favor. Jesus said, in Matthew 25, "I was hungry, and you fed me. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to see me". And they said, "Well, Lord, when"? He said, "If you've done it to the least of these, my brethren, and you've done it unto me". Now, if we really read those scriptures and take that in, what he's saying is, "However you treat people is how you're treating me".
Now, I, maybe, need to say that ten times, but I won't. Jesus is a people person. And if I mistreat somebody, he takes it personally, and he doesn't like it. Amen? I got a little bit cranky yesterday morning with our pilot when he called me and told me that he couldn't get the plane out of the hangar, yeah. The thing where they keep it. Because the hangar door came off the track and so I got a little frustrated. Wasn't being patient like love this. And I called him back and apologized. You know, we're not going to all be perfect at all this stuff. We're gonna make mistakes. But the minute that you know that you have misbehaved and been rude to somebody or treated them wrong, be man or woman enough to humble yourself and call 'em and say, "I was wrong and I'm sorry". It will not kill you to say, "I was wrong". And I'll tell you something, people respect you when you admit that you were wrong rather than making excuses for it. Amen?
I told you, last night, that we had quite a day yesterday. And those days just, they bring that impatience out of me that's still there. But the good news that I didn't tell you, and I thought about this last night, was the impatience and the frustration that I felt lasted no more than five minutes. And I was able to work it out with God and get over it. You know, 40 years ago, that would have been like a never going away thing. I would have ruined my day, and my week. I would have been mean to people. I would have been rude to people. I would have felt sorry for myself. I would have complained and moaned and groaned. And so, we are growing, church. You're growing. I'm growing. And as long as we're growing, God's happy about that. Paul said, "I've not arrived". And I can tell you, I've not arrived, but I have decided that I am going to keep pressing on. Amen? God is love. And where love is, God is. I love that. You gotta think about that for a while.
Here's a story that makes the point. This was a story written by Leo Tolstoy, about a shoemaker named Martin. It's a little bit of a long story, but it's worth it. It begins with a background on Martin's life. "He was a fine cobbler as he did his work, and never promised to do anything that he couldn't do. He stayed busy with his work, in his basement, which only had one window, and through this window he could only see the feet of people as they walked by. He was still able to recognize most people by their shoes, as he had worked with most of the shoes at least once. He had a wife, but she died, and all their children had died in their infancy except one 3-year-old son. After he thought about sending him off to live with his sister, he decided to care for the child himself. Martin, however, was not destined to have a child as his son died a few years later, with a fever".
Ok, now, here's a man, he lost his wife and every child he had. "He denied God, wondering how he could allow such a thing to happen to him. One day, a missionary visited Martin. And Martin told him all about his hardships. And the missionary told Martin he should live his life for God and not deny him because God's will is the ultimate deciding factor in our lives". You see, it really doesn't matter what I want or what you want. The only thing that matters is what God wants. Because let me tell you something, and get this clearly, when all of this is said and done, and all of this world is currently passing away, the only thing that's gonna be left is God. And you don't wanna wait till then to try to get a right relationship with him.
We spend now getting ready for there. And even if you live to be 100, that's like, one piece of sand on all the oceans, in all the world, compared to eternity. Forever is a looong time. And I wanna live it in the right place. So, it's worth whatever I have to give up, whatever pride I need to swallow. It's worth saying "I'm sorry" when I need to. It's worth not hating people and forgiving people. It's worth obeying God. "He said, 'the only thing that really matters, Martin, is God's will'. So, the man suggested that he get a Bible and start reading it. So, he bought a Bible. And at first, he only read it a little bit on holidays, but as he read more and more, it became his daily habit. His life began to be filled with peace and joy. After his day of work, he would sit down with a lamp and read. Well, one night, Martin read a passage about a pharisee who had invited Jesus into his house. And in the house, a woman anointed and washed Jesus' feet with her tears. Well, Martin thought of himself as the pharisee, in that story, as he was living only for himself".
Ask yourself, who are you living for? What are you living for? And even, more importantly, what kind of a legacy are you leaving? When you're gone, what will you leave behind to be remembered by? See, I decided, a long time ago, I thought, "Well, I wanna leave 100 good power-packed books. And I'm way beyond that, now". But, you know, most of the books that have impacted my life were books written in the 16th, 17th century. So, if I work real hard now, I think people can be getting saved off my stuff 2-300 years from now, if Jesus tarries. Amen? I've left instructions with my family, keep my stuff on TV as long as you possibly can. And, you know, they don't have to know I'm dead. Dave, listened to a guy on the radio for years that was dead and didn't know he was dead. They'll just think that I'm the never aging woman. It's the word that helps people.
And I've told them, if it gets to the point where you can't keep it on TV anymore, and if for some reason the ministry can't keep going, I want you to promise me that you will put all of my teachings online, free of charge, for people to listen to any time they want to. That is my legacy. I have spent the last 45 years of my life studying the word and trying to teach people what God is teaching me. And I'm called to do it. I didn't just choose to do it. I'm called to do it. People ask me if I'm gonna retire. I can't even imagine such a thing. What in the world would I do with myself if I retired? I hope I die doing this. When it's my time to go, I'd love to go preaching. My kids don't like it when I say that. They say that would be awful.
Anyway, "Martin thought of himself as the pharisee, as he was only living for himself. As he slept that night, he heard the voice of God telling him, 'I'm gonna visit you tomorrow'". God told him, "I'm gonna visit you, tomorrow". "Well, the next morning, Martin skeptically watched out the window for God. While he was searching for God, he saw stepanovich shoveling away snow, and Martin invited him in for a warm drink and they talked for a little while. Martin told stepanovich about Jesus and the pharisee, and he was moved to tears. And he left, thanked Martin for the food, both for his soul and his body. Martin later saw a young woman outside with a baby, not properly dressed for the cold. He invited her in, gave her some food, warm clothes, money. Martin also told her about Jesus. She thanked him and left. Then he saw a young boy stealing from an older woman. He went outside and settled their argument and extended love and compassion toward the both of them.
Well, that night, while Martin worked, he wondered why God had not visited him. The three figures appeared to him in his home whom he had showed hospitality to that day. They said that when he helped them, he was helping God. Martin then realized that God had indeed visited him that day, and accepted him very well". This is what we have to understand. We're all looking for God. "Oh, I'd love to see Jesus. I wish he would come and just sit on my bed and talk to me". You know, I hear these stories about people, "Oh, Jesus came, sat on the edge of my bed and talked to me for 30 minutes". Well, nothing like that's ever happened to me. You know, I'll just tell you nothing like that's ever happened to me. But I've learned that I can see Jesus every day if I just love people. Because God is love. I want you to get this. God is love. And any time you're loving somebody, God is there. Amen?
So, anytime, you feel like you need a visit from God, just go do some random act of kindness for somebody. The world is hurting. We wait and look for all these spiritual things. "Whew..". "God, I wanna feel you". Well, go do something for somebody. So, last night, I read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, I'm not gonna read it again. I'm sure that you're all pretty familiar with it. "Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is humble. It's not jealous, not envious. It believes the best of everyone". Good stuff. But what does all that mean? Well, so we started last night. Love is patient. Hmm. Henry Drummond said, "Patience is the normal attitude of love". Oh, I wish I was one of those people that would have been born patient... And easy going and laid back. But not me! No, not me. I'm like... I care about everything.
If it's not the way I like it, I'm gonna change it. Oh, my goodness. Patience is an attitude, this is from the Greek. Patience is an attitude that grows only under trial. So, the only way that you can grow in patience is to have trouble. Boy, you guys are so excited, I can hardly stand it. And so, love is patient, but it only grows under trial. That's why the Bible says when you have trials, "You should be exceedingly joyful knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience". And when you're patient, fully patient, then you are "Fully mature and you're perfect and entire, lacking in nothing". One translation it says, "Wanting nothing". Can you imagine how much peace you would have if you wanted nothing and you were satisfied with whatever God gave you? My goodness, the discontentment can drive you crazy. Amen? It's patience under undeserved affliction. Patience in well doing. It's a Fruit of the Spirit. It perfects Christian character. It may involve waiting, but patience is not really waiting, it's how we behave while we're waiting.