Joyce Meyer - Loving People Who Are Hard to Love - Part 1
- How to know Jesus
One of the signs of the last days, in Matthew 24 it says, "And then many will be offended". Boy, people are touchy today. Man! And this is just not unbelievers. I'm talking church people. "They will betray one another, and will hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many". We have to be so careful, today, about deception. Just because you read something online doesn't mean it's true. Amen? And if you read something unkind about somebody else, the first thing that should come out of your mouth is, "I don't believe it just because you said it".
The Bible says that every accusation should be proven in the mouth of two or three faithful witnesses, people that actually really know what they're talking about. When you hear gossip... Chris won't mind me sharing this. Three or four years ago, somebody called me up and told me something not good about her. And you know what I said? "I don't believe that". I said, "I just do not believe that. I know her and I don't believe it". But I said, "I'll tell you what I am gonna do when I hang this phone up, I'm gonna call her and ask her". Do you remember? I called you, and you said, "That's not true". I called the girl back and I said, "It's not true and whoever told you, you need to call them and tell 'em it's not true".
You know how quick you can ruin somebody's reputation just by passing stuff on that you've heard? I just, people who talk about other people, they don't know anything about 'em, it's just ridiculous. I read online the other day, I don't know why I did this, but I decided I'd look me up. I normally don't do anything like that but I thought, "Well, I'll just see what they're saying about me, today," so. I looked it up. And the first thing I read is: "All of her clothes come from Gucci". I don't even have a pair of Gucci sunglasses. I don't have one thing. People just make stuff up. Just anything to try to make you look like you're stealing people's money. The devil doesn't want people believing and so he tries to give a bad reputation to people that are trying to spread the gospel. And, you just... thank you. Even if I had some Gucci clothes, you'd still love me, right?
One time they wrote about me in the paper that I had a $25,000 toilet. Who in the world would have a $25,000 toilet? I don't even think you can buy a $25,000 toilet. I mean, just stupid stuff. So, don't believe everything you hear and whatever you do, don't spread it to somebody else. 'Cause here's what happens, when you tell somebody something, even if they don't wanna believe it, they've still got it in 'em and they've gotta try to get rid of it. And it makes 'em just a little bit more suspicious of that person than they would have been. One of the things we need to commit to tonight, if we're gonna walk in love, is to say good things about each other. And let me just tell you what your momma told ya, "If you can't say something good, don't say anything at all". Amen?
Let's protect each other. Can we do that? We're family. Let's protect each other. "And because of the lawlessness that will abound in the land, the love of many will grow cold". Another translation says, "The love of the great body will grow cold". And that means the church. So, what's happening? Because of all the trouble in the world, people are focusing on that. And that, you know, the more you focus on trouble, the meaner, the sourer you're gonna get. We need to let the devil just do himself in, and we need to focus on God, and helping people, and being a blessing to other people, and walking in love. Sometimes we need a little help. I had "Love" tattooed on my ankle. That way, reminds me every time I see my foot to walk in love. I need a little help. I need to be reminded sometimes. Amen?
I got another one too, right back here. The guy said that Dave and I were the oldest people he'd ever tattooed. And this one says, "I belong to Jesus". See that, devil? I'm owned and bought with the blood. And of course, Dave got an American flag. Now, I know some of you think gettin' a tattoo is demonic. Well, in the Bible, in Isaiah it says there were people who had tattooed on their hands, "I belong to the Lord". In Isaiah, it says that God has a picture of us tattooed on the palms of his hands. So, before you get an opinion, why don't you read the whole book? Amen? So now all of you that have been wanting to get one, but you wondered if it was right or not, well, there you go. God commands us to love everyone. Luke 6:32, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners can love those who love them back".
So, loving people that love you, that doesn't really tell you anything about yourself. If you really want to find out the kind of love God's talking about, you gotta love people that are mean to you. People that aren't so good to you. You say, "Well, that's just really hard to do". Well, the first thing you need to do is stop saying, "It's hard". That's one of our biggest excuses, "Well, it's just hard. It's hard. It's hard". In Deuteronomy 30, it says, "Nothing God has told us to do is too hard". So, we need to start saying, "I can do whatever God has told me to do". Not "It's too hard". In the Bible, we see the word love a lot. But there's four Greek words that are all translated love. Which is kind of a shame, because then we just lump it all together: and we love the cat next door, and we love ice cream, and we love our kids, and we love our house, and we love our car, all of that kind of love that we're talking about is connected to a warm, fuzzy feeling.
And see, when somebody mistreats you, you're not gonna have warm, fuzzy feelings. You're gonna wanna knock 'em across the room. But you know what, one of the things I've found out in my 45 years of studying the Bible, you can feel like doing the wrong thing and still choose to do the right thing. Come on. Did you hear me? Walking in the flesh is walking according to your feelings or according to your own carnal mind. So, I'm gonna say it again. You can feel like doing the wrong thing and still choose to do the right thing. And after all, it is about choice. God has given us a free will. Do you know what a chance he was taking when he gave us free will? Man. Every choice that we make has some kind of an effect. And I'm just gonna go ahead and say this early, we have way too many disobedient Christians.
"Well, everybody does it, these days". Well, you're not everybody. And if you're the only person that you know that does it right, if you love God, Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey me". He did not say, "If you obey me, I will love you". He's already made up his mind to love us. But one of the ways that we show our love for God is by being obedient to him. And I have found out that when you do the right thing while it's still hurting you, that's when you're growing. When it's easy to do the right thing, then you've already grown. You've already gone through the hard parts and now that has become part of you. And the longer you will walk with God, there will be more of that, and more in that, and more of that. So, we just keep growing in our walk with God. It's called spiritual maturity. Amen? And as far as I'm concerned, after you're born again, that's the most important thing to do is start growing spiritually.
But there's four Greek words, translated love. There's eros, which is Romantic love. It's the love you feel for this good looking man that you've met and you're just like, "Ooh"! Every time you see him, your heart beats hard, "I looove you. I love you". Well, I wanna tell ya, you better get married on something other than that. Because the way I love Dave now is so much deeper. My God, I didn't even know what love was when I married him. You don't know what love is until you go through some things with people, and you put up with some stuff and you forgive 'em over and over and over, and you learn how the two can become one. There's storge: S-T-O-R-G-E, and that's family love. That's the kind of love you have for your kids or your mom and dad. That kind of love. Phileo is brotherly love. The feel, the love that we all feel for one another. And all those are good, but the love that we're after is agape. And that's divine love. The kind of love that God has for us.
Now, right away, we think that's impossible, but it's really not because the Bible says that the love of God is poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit when we're born again. So, anything we have in us, we can give away. If you have it in you and somebody needs it, you can give it. So, God would not require us to love people with that divine kind of love, which means they didn't do anything to deserve it. God is not just doing love, he is love. That's why while we were still yet in our sin, he died for us. That's why on the cross, having had nails driven into his hands and feet and been beaten, he could say, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do".
That's love. When we can stop looking at what people are doing to us and understand what they're doing to themselves by what they're doing to us. You understand me? I'mma say it again. We need to be more concerned about, "When you mistreat me it's, I get, I can get through that, I've got the healer living on the inside of me, but you've hurt yourself. And I need to pray for you because now you're Messing up your life by not treating me right". Three of the four kinds of love involve emotion, but God's divine love does not. It may be there, but it may not. And God is requiring us to treat people the same way whether we have that fuzzy feeling or whether we don't. Now, I know, right away, some of you are thinking, "Well, surely, you're not just telling us that God wants us to be a doormat and let people walk all over us and mistreat us and abuse us, blah, blah, blah". Well, no. And depending on how far I get, which is usually not as far as I'd like to, I will tell you that some people you have to love from a distance.
I had to love my father from a distance for a long time because he was a sexual abuser and it wasn't wise or safe to be around him. Nobody's asking you to be abused or beaten on or just let somebody totally trash talk you and downgrade you and disrespect you all the time. But God is requiring us to love people. And it's really not, what God is asking us to do is not that hard. But the one main thing I have to try to get across is love, the kinda love God's asking for, is not a feeling. So, we have to get that through our heads or we're never gonna be able to do this. It's not a feeling. Amen? It's a God thing, on the inside of you.
"How many times should I forgive my brother for the same thing"? Well, however many times it takes. Love is long suffering. Let's say it like it should be said, "Loooong suffffering". Amen? I would imagine those first five, or six years Dave and I were married that he did a lot of looong suffering. And I can tell you, one of the reasons why I'm here today is because Dave showed me this kind of love. And he, man, God had the right guy picked out for me. And when I was still married to my first husband that was running around on me all the time and mistreating me, I would lay in bed at night with him and pray that someday God would give me somebody that would really love me. And I always said, "Make it somebody that'll take me to church".
I like, I was born again when I was nine and I really wanted to serve God, but I just couldn't pull it off without some help. I'll tell you, love, real love, the God kind of love has some characteristics that we don't know very much about. There's a lot of prickly people in the world. John Ortberg calls 'em "Porcupine people". You know, a porcupine has 30,000 quills, phfft...Comes out to protect 'em. You know, we give away every kind of stuffed animal, but I've never given anybody a stuffed porcupine. Somehow, they're just not real loving. But you know what? In mating season, even porcupines find a way to get together. Which tells me that if desire is strong enough, you'll even put up with a little pain.
So, you see, I really want to do this love thing. I mean, I want to do it! And so, God help me: I printed it on my foot, I confess it, I read about it, I preach about it, and I am not gonna shut up until I can do it. Amen? Now there's a tough love. That's the word they call it. And it really just means, you know, you're not helping somebody when you keep doing for them what they should be doing for themselves. So, if you've gotta 40-year-old kid that's still living off of you, well, then, you might help 'em more if you ask 'em to move. And I think the church is all mixed up about love. "Well, we just wanna show 'em love".
Well, you know, there was a guy in the church that was in incest, and he wasn't repentant. Paul put him out of the church. And he said he did it to wake him up, that he couldn't more or less have his cake and eat it, too. In other words, if you want to be part of this fellowship, you can't keep living in incest. But no, we don't do that anymore today. "Well, we just wanna show 'em love". That's not always love. Sometimes, you love somebody more, if you do confront them, but then continue having a loving attitude toward them. What happens is, a lot of times, if we confront somebody, then we shut them out of our lives. And that was the thing that Dave never did. I didn't know what love was, and he showed it to me. And a lot of people need to see it.
And that's why this message is so important to me, 'cause I'll tell ya, this is the answer to the world's problems. They asked Jesus, "What is the most important commandment"? "You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself". That's it. You say, "Well, Joyce, what about faith"? Well, Galatians 5:6 says faith only works and is energized through love. Jesus tells us in Mark 11 that we can ask for anything, and God'll do it. We can pray prayers that'll move mountains. We need to pay attention to the buts and ifs in the Bible. If you have anything against anyone, drop it, leave it, let it go, or your prayers won't be answered. So, I can just say I don't care if you intercede 5 hours every day, if you've got unforgiveness in your heart, you're wasting your breath.
Jesus said, "One new commandment I give unto you". One, everybody say, "One". Love. Love people the way God loves you. It's so much fun to love people. It is so much fun to love your enemies 'cause they just don't get it. They just, it's like, "Are you nuts"? They just don't get it. But that's the thing that'll melt hard, cold hearts. Well, how does God tell us to treat our enemies? Well, "You've heard that it was said, 'love your neighbor and hate your enemy'. But I'm telling you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you".
So, there's really only three simple things that God tells us to do to fulfill the requirements of love. Pray for people that hurt you. Bless and do not curse them. And that means to us speak well of them and not evil. So, when somebody does hurt you, that means you need to pray for them, and you don't get to talk bad about them. That means you don't get to tell somebody else what they did. And boy, isn't it hard when somebody's hurt you and, you know bad stuff about them, and you hear other people just say, "Oh, they're just such a great guy. They're just so", man, it's so hard to keep your mouth shut. You just want to say, "Yeah, well, let me tell you a few things". And then the Bible tells us, if our "Enemy's hungry, feed him: and if he's thirsty, give him something to drink".
So, for me, it's come down to a real simple formula, you hurt me: and the first thing I'm gonna do is pray. The second thing I'm gonna do is make a commitment not to talk about you, and the third thing I'm gonna do is tell God if you need any help and he wants me to help you to please let me know. It's a challenging thing to do, but I believe it's the only thing that's gonna change this sick, sad world that we're living in. And, you know, there's enough of us, who, at least claim to be Christians, if we would get out in the world and act like one and really start just loving people with the love of God, with this agape. I honestly believe and maybe you think I'm nuts, but I honestly believe that we could change the world. You know, Jesus turned the world upside down with this message. Amen?