Once again we want to look at the perfect example of the one perfect Man that walked on this earth, Jesus Christ and to see in Him an example for us to follow, particularly in the area of love.
We have seen, in a previous study, how Jesus’ love was shown, not in sentimental words, but in the fact that He valued people; He had compassion for people. People were more important to Jesus than material things. The love of Jesus is seen in the fact that He was willing to die in order to save people from their sin. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. The highest proof of God’s love is in this, that He gave His Son to die for us. Jesus said, ‘‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends.’’ It was just not physically that Jesus died. Every day, in His relationships with people, He died to Himself. This is the cross that He told us to take up daily. The greatest proof of my love for another is that, I am willing to die to myself, to my rights, my reputation, my own interest, in my relationship with that person. Anything less than this is not love.
The world is full of people who seek their own; who are always seeking how this will benefit me. That is what I meant by using people for one’s own ends. True love is totally interested in the other person and not interested in what I can get out of that other person for myself. If we don’t cleanse ourselves from this filthiness of the flesh and the spirit, there is in all of us, we will never be able to love others with the love of God. We must ask the Holy Spirit to remover from us, to help us crucify, these wrong attitudes, so that we can love people with the love of God.
This is one reason why Jesus was never irritated by people, even if they were crude, or stupid, or they made mistakes. They may have been slow, but they never got on His nerves. They never upset Him; their untidiness, their disorderliness, their slowness, their carelessness never made Him impatient and irritated. Why do these things that you see in other people irritate you? I will tell you the reason. It is because you are not willing to die to yourself. That is the reason. You do not know love.
We sing about love, we speak about love. But what is the proof of love? – That I am willing to die; that when I see something slow or disorderly or untidy in that person, I am willing to die. I must love him first. You say, ‘But don’t you think that we should correct him and set him right?’ Yes, by all means. Jesus also corrected. Why did people accept Jesus’ corrections and not accept corrections from the Pharisees? Why was it different that when Jesus said something they listened and when the Pharisees said the same thing, they wouldn’t listen? It was because they saw Jesus loved them.
When people see that you love them, they will accept your corrections. It is when we don’t love them, and we correct them, that we become like the Pharisees. See, if I am irritated with a person, I am unfit to correct him. I need to correct myself. If I am impatient with people, I am not ready to correct them. I need to correct my own impatience first. But how many people see that? Do you see that you need to correct your irritation, your impatience, and your lack of love, before you correct the untidiness, or the disorderliness, or the carelessness, or the slowness of other people? Jesus said that before you see a speck in the other person’s eye, you remove the beam from your own eye.
You know a perfect person can easily bear with imperfect people. Jesus was perfect. That is why, even though He lived in a world that is totally imperfect, He could bear with the imperfections of people. We who are not at all perfect; we who are so imperfect, why is it we cannot bear with other imperfect people? We are imperfect and they are imperfect. They have to bear with us, and we have to bear with them. Why is it that we find it so difficult to bear with other imperfect people around us? I will tell you the reason my friend; it is because we are imperfect.
The more we press on to perfection, the more we take up the cross, and die to ourselves. The more we will be patient, the more we will tolerate the mistakes of others. We will be able to forgive them. We won’t get upset, we won’t get irritated. We will then say, “What does it matter 2000 years from now?” It won’t make any difference, this little thing that you are getting upset about. You see, you will see things from eternity’s viewpoint. You see that that person has to be loved more. Never mind if he made a mistake.
Look at the way some parents get irritated with their children. You think they really love them? Yeah they love them enough to feed them, clothe them, educate them, and sacrifice many things for them. But, when the child does something to cause some inconvenience to the parents, the parents get upset. In all our relationships, we need to die. It is when we love a person that we can correct that person. When the beam is taken out of my eye, then I can see clearly to be able to take the speck out of the other person’s eye. Look at Jesus’ love in the way He spoke to people, in His speech. You know our speech is a great revealer of what is in our hearts.
Jesus said that from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Whatever is in your heart will come out when you speak. You can’t hide it for long. Why do people belittle others, pass remarks and jokes about other people that hurt them? Why do they do it? – Because they are not like Christ. They don’t love. I wonder whether they were even born again! Such people don’t seem to have any sensitivity to say rude things about other people, to say things that hurt others. That is sad. They make subtle wounding statements. You see that sometimes among husbands and wives, who say sharp things, stinging remarks to one another. Jesus never did it; not even once.
He knew how to rebuke people strongly. He turned around once to Peter and said, ‘‘Get behind me Satan.’’ But He didn’t say that in irritation. He didn’t say that in anger. He said it to help Peter to see how that, in that statement that Peter had made at that time to Jesus to avoid the cross, that it was satanic. God wanted Jesus to go to the cross and here was Satan trying to stop Jesus from going to the cross through Peter. So to help Peter see the seriousness of the fact, He said that it is satanic. Well, otherwise, He would never hurt people. He never made any subtle, wounding statement to anyone. He never discussed the weaknesses of the disciples behind their backs.
How do we know that? Isn’t it amazing that, in all the three years that His disciples were with Him, He never even discussed Judas Iscariot with all the other eleven disciples? He never exposed Judas in all those three years. I will give you the proof of that. If Jesus had been discussing the weaknesses of Judas Iscariot with all the other eleven disciples, behind Judas’ back, then at the last supper, when Jesus said one of you is going to betray me, everybody would have known. “Yeah, yeah we know that’’, they would have all responded, if Jesus already has spoken to them about Judas. Everybody would have said, ‘We know who that is.’
But none of them knew. They all said, ‘Lord is it I?’ How it is that none of them knew? It proves that Jesus never discussed even Judas Iscariot. Jesus was not a backbiter. Jesus was not a gossiper. A lot of believers are gossipers. A lot of believers are backbiters. You know why? They haven’t seen the glory of God. They haven’t seen the goodness and the love of God in Jesus Christ. They talk about being filled with this Spirit, and having supernatural experiences and praising and shouting, but they haven’t been freed from backbiting and gossiping.
We need to see the glory of Jesus, and only then we can be like Him. The Holy Spirit wants to show us how Jesus lived. The Holy Spirit says, ‘Now let me make you like Him.’ He doesn’t just say, ‘Be like Him’. No, He says, ‘Let me make you like Him.’ Isn’t that good? Supposing the Holy Spirit just showed me the glory of Jesus and said, ‘Be like Him,’ I will just give up in discouragement. I will say, ‘Lord, I can’t.’ But that is not what the Holy Spirit says. The Holy Spirit shows us the beauty of Jesus in the way He spoke, and then says to us, ‘Now, my son, my daughter, will you allow Me to make your speech also like that – pure, good, loving? Will you let Me control your tongue? Will you let Me control your speech from today onwards?’ This is the fullness of the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is self-control. We can be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that we never hurt anybody with our words or any such thing. He leads us along the path of death to ourselves. On the other hand, Jesus used His tongue in a positive way to encourage people, to correct people. He made His tongue an instrument of life in God’s hands. We read a wonderful verse in Isaiah 50:4, where it says concerning Jesus’ tongue (it is an amazing word), ‘‘You have given me the tongue of a disciple so that I can know how to speak a right word to a weary person.’’
Just think of you having a ministry like that. You don’t have to be a preacher. You may never stand at a pulpit, but just to have the right word for weary people. Do you know how many weary people come across your path every day? How many people do you think you meet in a day – in your office, in your neighbourhood? There must be at least some. And some of them are weary. Do you have a word to encourage them, or do you just sit back and discuss politics, the weather, and they remain with their heaviness? God wants to use your tongue. God wants to use your tongue to speak a word of encouragement, and sometimes a word of correction too. Jesus used His tongue also as a sword, to cut down the proud and the haughty.
Think of how the Roman centurion must have been encouraged when Jesus said, “I have never seen such great faith’’ or the Syro-phoenician woman, when Jesus praised her for her faith. You read that in Matthew 8 and Matthew 15. Think of that sinful woman, in the house of Simon the Leper (in Luke 7), who was encouraged when Jesus praised her for washing His feet. Mary of Bethany was praised for her sacrificial offering. They would never have forgotten these words of Jesus. Think of how Peter was strengthened when Jesus said, ‘I am going to pray for you.’ Just a few words, what strength! Many people must have heard words like these from Jesus’ lips and they can come from your lips too if you ask the Holy Spirit to give you the love of God in your heart for people.
This is part of the Basic Christian Teachings Series, a set of 72 short messages presented by Zac Poonen. You can download the audio mp3 files or listen to Basic Christian Teachings by clicking here.