Loving people requires intentionality toward others, but also towards ourselves. What's that mean? Well, have you ever found it hard to be consistent in your love for others? For the most part, don't we think the challenge to loving people is more about them? But what if the challenge to loving people is not so much about the other person, but us? If it is, then that means we can make a shift in ourselves to help us love people no matter what. So what shift are you talking about? Positive thinking? Some spiritual experience? A new attitude? Those may all help, but I would argue the shift involves our understanding of emotional needs and which needs we value the most. Why? Because emotions are at the heart of relationships and the emotional needs we value the most often determine how or even if we love people.
For example, we mentioned Sunday that if security is the emotional need we value most, we will find it hard to love people different than us. Why? It's not that security is bad. We need some level of security in our lives. But what are the chances of us loving people different than us if security is the dominant force behind our love? Slim, right? However, if we value the emotional need for surprises over security, we will be more likely to venture off into loving people who are very different than us. Why? Because we will look forward to the surprises that come with loving a person who is much different than we are.
Another example is the emotional need for significance. If significance drives us then we are likely to love people who agree with us, but will find it difficult to love people who disagree with us. Why? Because people who agree with us make us feel good about ourselves, but people who disagree with us may create an anxious feeling. Now, if we value the emotional need for growth over significance then loving people who see things differently than us is much easier. Why? Because people who value growth are more open to hearing different ideas or ways of doing things.
If you missed yesterday's message, I would encourage you to watch it on our website, cantonnazaren.com, or on our app, canton nazarene connect. As we looked at the good Samaritan, we learned how emotional needs really drive how we love people. If you struggle with loving people, God may have a shift for you to make in the emotional needs you value most. So, bottom line, maybe loving people more like God requires us to get more intentional about understanding our emotional needs and how they impact how we love.
Our verse and prayer today are ones that invite God to open up a fountain of compassion in us so we can do the intentional work of loving people.
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)
"Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble."
"Father, we thank you for Jesus Christ. We thank you Jesus for laying your love on the line. May we lay our love on the line for other people. We confess our critical spirit, pointed fingers, and judgmental attitude. Open up a fountain of compassion in us for people. We know this will require humility. We pray you would give us the eyes and heart to see the emotional needs of others and meet those needs. Help us to do the intentional work of knowing ourselves and making the shift to align our priorities to Your priorities. Make us a compassionate servant like the good Samaritan. In Jesus' name, Amen."