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Outdo one another.

Nope. Not in a competitive kind of manner. Not in a being better than others kind of way.

But outdoing one another in LOVE and SHOWING HONOR. It is so rare, especially nowadays.

Jesus said that we will be known by our love for others and Him. Not by what we do, or our career, or our successes, or our stuff. Those things are much easier to do and easier to accomplish and get recognition for.

Loving others - now that can be super difficult sometimes. Remembering that God will never disappoint us makes it a lot easier to show that love to others. Being disappointed by others (or disappointing others ourselves!) should not come as a surprise. It shouldn't overly discourage us or ruin our day. Our entire hope isn't in relationships working out perfectly. We can live in peace, without those conflicts consuming us or getting us all worked up.

Trust me, I get it - being in conflict with others can sometimes affect me a lot. But all we can do is our part - try to restore and forgive. And then remember that we can't please everyone and we won't always be able to keep everyone happy with us.

Letting minor offenses go is a much more free way to live.

We love because we were loved. We love because God first loved us. But we also love to show the love of God. He reconciled us to himself, 2 Corinthians says. So therefore we become reconcilers.

I love this story from a podcast I heard: "An example of what that could look like in your life - it’s a funny example so I don’t know if you’ll relate to it - there was somebody that was gossiping about me. And someone who they gossiped about me to told me what they said. In the same time frame, they ask me to do something publicly nice for them - to endorse or sell something for them. I was like, well, that’s interesting. The timing was really close together. I was really hurt. I was hurt that they didn’t respect me enough to come straight to me. I was hurt that they felt the freedom to disparage my name in a way that I felt wasn’t fair. Nothing in me wanted to celebrate that person, but I did it! I said the nice things and I put it online. I like this person and they have great things to say - they sinned against me but they are a great content creator. That person if they were listening to this probably wouldn’t know that I heard about it. I think what it did in me was it freed me from that unforgiveness. Actively loving that person and publicly loving that person and praising that person took away some of the hate in my heart. For you, it might be taking them a casserole. But sometimes we intentionally have to bless the person that’s cursing us - because that is biblical. When you are cursed, you give blessing. When someone hits you on the cheek, you turn the other cheek. It is the mark of a Christian. It is so radical and so unthinkable that we would sign up for more hurt and we would bless people that hurt us, but it is part of what shows the world God in us. It’s a backwards love. It’s not one that makes sense. We’re working from a different source and worldview and paradigm that requires loving people without expecting anything in return. That’s a hard way to live.

Some of you are feeling like a victim because you have given and given and given and not gotten anything in return. Again, there are times for boundaries and times when relationships turn so toxic that you really do need to set up healthy ways to interact with people. We are still human and we have limitations. In general, the way we love is if it’s from God, then we can give it without end and freely without expecting anything in return. Most of the love in life that we give, we don’t get anything in return. If you have kids, you know this full well. They are not regularly thanking me for raising them. They are looking at me and complaining about what they don’t have, what I did, what I didn’t do, and they’re not very often going, “thank you for nursing me and birthing me and tutoring me and carpooling me.” And anyone that has led anything! Very few people are going to turn around and say, “thank you so much for pouring your guts into that and doing that work with excellence for my good.” I have such a heart for pastors right now and those that serve locally, because it is such a hard time to lead and such a thankless time and everyone is so frustrated with you and so frustrated with what you’re doing or not doing. That thankless love is actually regular in our lives. And God calls us to it because he knows it’s going to overtime cause people to see God in us." Love that reminder. Show love, speak life. Even when it feels "undeserved" or unnatural.


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