Saturday, December 08, 2018

"I Love You" Is Imprinted In My Life, Not My Lips

Self-absorption is defined as "a preoccupation with one's own feelings, interests, or situation to the neglect of others." 

By nature, every person is self-absorbed (selfish). We constantly think about how we feel, what we like, and how we can change people around us to more enjoy our lives than we think about what is best for others.

Selfishness is like a slithering snake with a poisonous bite. Nobody sees it as it silently and secretly slithers closer. It is rarely noticed until it strikes. Few flaunt their love for self, and most deny it exists, but selfishness afflicts all of us.

When one thinks about self-absorption biblically (and logically), one may trace the source of every dysfunction and maladjustment in life to the serpent of self-absorption  "For where there is self-absorption and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice" (James 3:16).

Here are a few symptoms of the poison of self-absorption:

1. Your finger freezes in a permanent position of pointing at others.
2. Your brain fixates on fixing others with nary a thought of fixing yourself
3. Your tongue casts continual condemnations of character in others.
4. Your eyes lock on the worst in people but go blind when looking at yourself.
5. Your heart is searing in pain and you're unable to love the person you blame.

Self-absorption must be crushed to live life to its fullest.

I must die to self.

Jesus alone has the power to crush the head of the serpent that poisons my life. Surrendering to Him as Lord moves me to focus only on the sin in me (Genesis 3:15) and to always see the best in others. To be His disciple, "I must daily die to self and follow Him" (Luke 9:23).

So how do I know Jesus has crushed the head of the serpent of selfishness in my life?

Real Love Is the Antidote

"By your love, all will know that you are my disciples." (John 13:35)

There used to run on television a Wendy's commercial where an elderly lady would order a hamburger from a rival hamburger chain, separate the buns, and ask the question, "Where's the beef?"

I think those of us who name Christ as Lord should ask the question: "Where's the love?" 

I can claim to be Christ's disciple and can say "I love you," but the proof is in the way I live. Christ fills my heart with love for others because He daily crushes the serpent of self-absorption in me. 

The result of this crushing of self-absorption in me is similar to what happens when a thorned-stemmed rose is crushed. The sweet aroma that rises from me is the fragrance of love for others. 

Love In the Mirror

When a self-absorbed person says, "I love you," what he means is "You make me feel good," or "You make me look good," or "You make my life good."

Christ slays this self-absorbed concept of love and fills our hearts with real love.

So what does this real love look like?

It is beautifully described in I Corinthians 13. There are fifteen characteristics of real love.

1. Love is patient.

The Greek word translated "patience" is a compound word meaning longsuffering. I don't really display the love of God until I suffer. More pointedly, real love involves suffering a long time. To love while suffering is like the dark side of the moon. It is rarely seen or discussed. We all suffer deceit, broken promises, slander, disrespect, unjust anger, rejection, and innumerable kinds of other injuries. Most people "want out" of relationship when that happens. When self-absorption is not present, I'll suffer long and love others.

2. Love is kind.

Kindness is more than just "grinning and bearing it." This biblical word kindness means "doing good." "Do not repay evil for evil to anyone; but always do good to all" (Romans 12:17, 21). That is real love.  Love is not saying "I love you" because "You make me feel good." Real love is showing "I love you" by doing kind things for you even when you're evil towards me. 

3. Love does not envy. 

Christ causes His people to feel content "whether our rank is as high as that of angels, or as low as that of beggars." We have learned, by God's grace, to be content in any situation we are in (Philippians 4:11). So we "rejoice with those that are rejoicing" (Romans 12:15). Love means we find happiness in seeing others prosper. 

4. Love does not boast.

Love never exalts myself to a superior position by saying, "I would never do that!" or "That's one thing that can't be said about me!" Boasting is a declaration of comparison. Boasting is the belief that others are not as good as I. Rather than saying, "I am the very least of all the saints" (Ephesians 3:8) and "I am the foremost of sinners" (I Timothy 1:15), I'm conveying "I don't deserve this" through a spirit of superiority.  When I compare and boast I am defending myself, not loving others outside of myself.

5. Love is not arrogant (proud).

The difference between boasting and arrogance is similar to the difference between what is displayed on the outside of the house and what actually goes on in inside. Arrogance is an attitude; boasting is a behavior. I must be careful from assigning pride to others (I do not know others' hearts), but I must be diligent in identifying pride within myself. Love is not proud. Humility is not stooping to be smaller than I am, Humility is standing at my true height with an appreciation for the Highest. When I truly see God, I see myself as no big deal.  

6. Love does not dishonor others.

Facebook, politics, and Hollywood seek to convince me that rude, uncouth, unbecoming individuals are people I should admire or imitate. But Christ tells me something different. "Love does not act unbecomingly"  When I am rude, denigrating, and dishonoring to others, it's a sign that self-absorption rules and Christ's love is absent. Outward disappropriation of you is a sign of Divine reprobation in me.

7. Love is not self-seeking.

Before Christ, life was all about self. It was all about demanding my rights, getting what is due me, and forging my way ahead of others. But Jesus performs a transformational change within. He changes the inner compass. "Love is not self-seeking." As Albert Barnes writes,  "No man is a Christian who lives for himself alone. No man is a Christian who does not deny himself. No one who's not willing to sacrifice his own comfort, time, wealth, and ease, to advance the welfare of mankind has any part in Christ."

8. Love is not easily provoked.

The word translated provoke (paroxynomai) means "to make sharp, sharpen" as in stir up, stimulate,  irritate, arouse to anger, or exasperate. This verse is translated "not easily provoked" (KJV), "not provoked" (NASB, NKJV), "not irritable" (ESV), "not upset with others" (NCV). It's used only 4 times in the New Testament. Whenever we allow another person to control our emotions, we reveal self-absorption. We want to "feel," "experience,' or "live" a certain way, and the person who "provokes us" is getting in our way. What is it everyone wants in life? "What is desired in a man is steadfast love" (Proverbs 19:22). When I develop the habit of turning to the steadfast love of God (Psalm 33:20-22).

9. Love keeps no record of wrongs.

There is a distinction to be made between wrongs suffered by me and wrongs suffered by others. Resentment over the former is called hate; resentment over the latter is called honor. The refusal to keep a record of wrongs perpetrated against me is an act of genuine love. But God calls on me to protect the weak, the persecuted, and the defenseless people in our world, so I must notice wrongs done to others (and keep a record). "Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked" (Psalm 82:4).  God never wastes my experiences or sorrows. He reigns over the affairs of my life with transcendent goodness. I can rest, refusing to keep a record of wrongs done to me because "we know that God causes all things to work together for good" (Romans 8:28). Do you know this to be true in your life? If so, you'll keep no list of the wrongs done toward you. 

List keeping of the wrongs done toward you is not a list kept on a refrigerator door. It is a list locked in your mind and heart and revealed through your language:
List keepers use absolute language. "You always, you never, I would never, etc."
List keepers relate based on performance. Loved ones get tired of trying to measure up.
List keepers can't trust; they protect themselves. The prospect of future hurt paralyzes relationships.
List keepers hurt people because they hurt themselves. Healing only comes from Christ.
10. Love does not delight in unrighteousness.

What does this mean? The word unrighteousness translates the Greek adikia (a = not + dik√™ = right) and means "a condition of not being right."  A loving person will take steps to make right what is not right, help straighten what is bent, correct what is crooked, and adust what is unjust. But the motivation is always for the betterment of others, never oneself. Since God alone has the power to make right the unrighteous, God's people are only tools in God's hand. The tools remain on the shelf if the crooked one is blind to his crookedness. So we pray that God will turn on the light in another person's heart and patiently wait to be used by God when He turns the light on.

11. Love rejoices with the truth.

When Jesus is Lord, we come to grips with reality and rejoice! This is who I am. This is what I've done. This is where I've been. This is me. Truth in Greek is the compound word alethia. The little "a" means—not,  and "lethe" means - hiding; So truth means "not forgetting" or "not hiding" In ancient Greek mythology Lethe was the daughter of Eris, goddess of strife and discord. Lethe was known for her sleeping and hiding in the shadows. She is often contrasted to the goddess of memory and light—Mnemosyne. The Greeks gave to the river that flows through the valley of Hades the name Lethe. Ancient Greeks believed that souls were made to drink from the river Lethe before being reincarnated so that they would not remember their past lives. This forgetting and concealing were "good things" to the ancients.

But for the Christian, the little "a" (not) before "lethe" (hiding) best describes who we are. We are people who don't hide or cover. Real love never allows us to forget our faults and never encourages us to hide our harmful habits. We rejoice in alethia because God loves us "even when we were sinners." Why seek to get steadfast love from anyone else but Him.  The person who rejoices with the truth is always quick to seek forgiveness of others and never hides in shame when faults are pointed out by others because he or she is secure in God's love for them.

12. Love bears all things.

The word "bear" in English translates the Greek word stego. This words means "to cover" or "to hide." It conveys the idea that you will "cover" or "hide" the faults of those you love. You might object and say, "Wait! We just read that love "rejoices in the truth!" You're correct. Alethia means "to not hide" and people who love always rejoice in not hiding. So which is it? Do we hide and cover or do we not hide and not cover? 

Answer: Love means I am open about my faults, but I cover the faults of others. In every marriage counseling session when one spouse is more vocal about their mates' faults, I immediately began asking probing questions of the one pointing his or her finger at the other person. Marriages ultimately break down because someone is refusing to love the other person. "Love covers a multitude of sins" (I Peter 4:8). We are not ashamed to reveal our faults, our failures, our wrongs, our past, our sins. Jesus Christ has removed the guilt we feel and given us the love we need; we are open. But we get no joy or satisfaction pointing out weaknesses and failures in those we love.

This "bearing" does not mean "enabling." Not at all. Love means that I will always talk to the one I love about his problems for his sake, but I will refuse to talk with other people the problems of the one I love. 

13. Love believes all things.

Love looks beyond where a person has been to where a person is headed. That means one who loves looks beyond what others have done to what others are declaring. Love believes. This truth might cause some concern in some because it's different than what many have been taught. "Talk is cheap," we are told. "Doing is proving it." That's true when it comes to a personal evaluation of myself. But placing others on a performance scale is the opposite of loving people. Peter asked, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me and I forgive him? (Matthew 18:21). Jesus responded, "Seventy times seven!" which actually is a Hebraism for infinity.

There is never an occasion where you are not to forgive the one you love.  In a parallel passage, Jesus says. "If your loved one sins against you seven times in a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him" (Luke 17:4). The disciples respond, "Lord, increase our faith." (Matthew 5:38-48). It's not increased faith that is needed; it's increased love. Love believes the person who says, even if the person does repeatedly opposite of what he says. Believing others doesn't do us any real harm because being hoodwinked and defrauded by others is in God's hands, not ours. It's better to believe in someone and have your heart broken than to have no heart. British poet Alfred Tennyson wrote, "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." If you've ever told somebody, "I don't believe you," you're actually saying, "I don't love you."

14. Love hopes all things.

"Love hopes" is not "wishful thinking" about other people. Hope conveys a settled certainty. Hope is the Greek word elpizo, and if you make elpizo negative by adding the preposition "a" in Greek (apelpizo), you have the Greek word  for "despair."  Hope in all people means you never despair over people. When I love others by never losing hope in people, I will not let myself become dependant on the actions of another for my personal happiness. I will never shut myself off from one who has mistreated me or wronged me. I will recognize that life's events are orchestrated by God for my good and His glory. I will always be conscious and aware that my need for control reveals my distrust in God. I will live life with the joy of each present moment and without any fear over the future. "Therefore having such a hope, we have great boldness" (II Corinthians 3:12).

15. Love endures all things.

When I endure, I abide in a relationship and do not personally abandon. This word "endure" is the Greek word hupomeno and occurs seventeen times in the New Testament. It is a compound word: hupounder and menoabide. It means "to abide under a burden." When I love someone, I don't abandon him or her, but you abide in the relationship. When I endure, I support you and feel no need to shame you. I am not enduring when things are going well; I am enjoying.  Endurance speaks of a burden. "Hupo" refers a willingness to abide under a burden, to lift, and to support. When I endure others and the burdens they bring, I love people the way Christ loves me. "Let's fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 12:2). 

Summary: Next time we're moved to declare our love, we might consider reading I Corinthians 13 to ensure the love we profess is our way of living and not just our way of speaking. 


Rex Ray said...


A very good post!

You quoted James 3:16: “For where there is SELF-ABSORPTION and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and ever evil practice.”

I spent quite a while with Google and failed to find what translation you used. I noticed there is “self-absorption” 8 times in the post.

You said, “By nature, every person is self-absorbed (selfish).” (Self-absorbed is used 3 times.)

Definition of self-absorbed: "absorbed in one's own thoughts, activities, or interests."

So, I don’t see anything wrong with being self-absorbed because if you’re not concentrating on what you’re doing, it will more than likely be a mess.

I believe the NLT states James 3:16 best: “For wherever there is jealously and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wrong. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through ever circumstance.”

Wade Burleson said...


In James 3:16, the English translation is most often "envy" - so my translation of the word "self-absorption" is tied to the knowledge that envy occurs in the person who is only thinking of himself, upset that others are more blessed than they, and unable to rejoice with the rejoicing of others.

I consider self-absorption and selfishness synonyms with subtle nuances - self-absorption an attitude, selfishness an action.

I admire you for doing such good research on your own!

Samuel Conner said...

Under the heading "no record of wrongs committed against oneself", I think it is important to distinguish between careless harms that arise in the course of living in a fallen world among fallen people who are, like ourselves, still not conformed to the likeness of Jesus, and intentional harms committed by people who may be determined pursuers of evil and likely to harm us again, and who may in future harm others.

And it may not be clear on casual acquaintance whether a person is a "garden variety" careless sinner or a genuinely dangerous "predator."

I would advise remembering wrongs experienced with an analytical agenda to understand "who is this person;" not for the sake of ongoing grievance or vengeance, but with a protective agenda.

I'm sure you agree. A simplistic application of this text has in practice been used in some church contexts to revictimize people who have suffered grievously at the hands of wolves masquerading as sheep.

Christiane said...

I understand that people today are genuinely fearful of 'wolves' because its the wolves who have been working overtime to stir that fear up and to create deep divisions among our people in this country and also in the Church.

But Our Lord came into a broken world also, two thousand years ago, bringing a different message. A VERY different message. I believe that Wade wrote this post in response to Our Lord's message. We have too long been afraid of 'the others' but hopefully, with Christ's help, we can live in imitation of the Samaritan who stopped to care for an injured stranger somewhere on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. Christians are to be in the business of healing and caring, not being 'afraid' like the Disciples cowering in the Upper Room before the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them. Wade's refuge program is an example of 'living' Christ's love by reaching out towards those who are in great need of Him.

As for 'those other sinners', are we also not to be included with those in need of God's mercy? I once read a very wise quote from an Orthodox priest, this:

"Before the altar of God, I stand in union with human failure throughout the ages, and in union with the infinite compassion of Christ.”
(Father Ernesto)

To be human is to daily find comfort in this prayer:
"Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, have mercy on me, a sinner"

Wade Burleson said...

Samuel Conner,

Good point. A person filled with love will put a perp in prison for the good of the perp and others whom the perp may intend to harm. I like the strength of such actions.

Rex Ray said...

I’ve had a cellulitis ankle for years. Now I’ve got a finger doubled in size, and the other hand is swollen. But this morning, the mirror said it hit my nose. That’s adding insult to injury.

The Veteran’s Administration has been working on effects but not the source which Mayo says is “antibiotics via IV for five to fourteen days.”

I may go see Mayo in Phoenix, Arizona. (I’ve been there several years ago when my ankle was not so bad, and they didn’t give a treatment.)

Christiane said...

time to get to your doctor with that swelling . . . or go to the ER if you can't get a prompt appt. . . . . sounds worrisome, not a good sign

Rex Ray said...


I knew if anyone replied, it’d be you.

Got a life insurance application in the mail today for $35,000. I’ve gotten the same one several times before, but never replied. This time I’m sending it back ‘postage free’.
I answered their questions:
AGE? 148.
ADDRESS? Heaven.
(It was mailed to my father. He wouldn’t pay $10/month for life insurance during the war.)
I’ll quote him in saying, “That’ll break’em from sucking eggs.”

Rex Ray said...

Published by Lifeway Press …Angie Smith

Paul’s Age Events of Paul’s Life
0 Born in Tarsus, A.D. 10 (Acts 22:3)
20 Crucifixion of Jesus A.D. 29-30
24 Stoning of Stephen/Damascus Road (Paul’s salvation)
36 First Missionary Journey A.D. 46-47 (Galatians) (?)
38 Jerusalem Conference A.D.48-49 (Acts 15)
40 Second Missionary Journey A.D. 50-52 (1 & 2 Thessalonians)
43 Third Missionary Journey A.D. 53-57 (1 Corinthians, Galatians ?)
47 Trip to Jerusalem with Offering (2 Corinthians, Romans)
47 Arrest and imprisonment; Trip to Rome as prisoner (2 years) A.D. 57-59
50 First Roman imprisonment A.D. 60-62 (Ephesians, Philippians,
Colossians, Philemon)
54 Released from prison A.D. 63-65 (1 Timothy, Titus)
57 Final imprisonment and martyrdom A.D. 66-67 (2 Timothy)

I believe this is pretty accurate.

Christiane said...

Hello REX RAY,

I think of all the interesting things about St. Paul, this stands out the most:

St. Paul, when he was Saul, possessed a great, righteous and angry zeal and Our Lord was able to turn that strength to His service in an intervention in which Saul was given a deep insight into the workings of the Kingdom of Our Lord, so much so that in time, as St.Paul, he was inspired to write the magnificent Corinthians 13 chapter . . .

Christiane said...

Happy St. Lucia's Day to them whose heritage celebrates this beautiful Christian observance in the night of the winter solstice.

Rex Ray said...


Paul was a hero and a martyr in telling the truth about Jesus.

Just got home after five days in the Dallas VA hospital. I’m a lot better.

Christiane said...

REX RAY, for goodness sake!

thank God you went to the doctor with that swelling is all I'm going to say, just thank God

Rex Ray said...


My 5 days at the Dallas VA hospital may show how there’s ‘TWO MANY COOKS IN THE KITCHEN’ when our government is involved.

On Wednesday, I was put in an emergency room at two PM, and later transferred to a room where there was another patient. I’ll call him Bill. They started IV antibiotics. (Missed supper.) I showed a doctor a two page article about my problem of cellulitis by Mayo Clinic. It said it would take from 5 to 14 days to cure it. He agreed, but I never saw him again.

At two AM, Bill still had his TV on and with his constant coughing, I started looking for a place to sleep. A nurse took me to an empty waiting room, but after nearly two hours the lights and TV had me looking elsewhere. Found the perfect place; small room with a recliner and a light switch. Too soon, a guy yelled asking what I was doing.
“Trying to find a place to sleep.”
“You can’t sleep here; this is a conference room only!”
At the main desk, they told me I’d be transferred to another room when one was available. (never happened.) They asked where I was going to look next.
“I’m going to try Home sweet home again.” At 5 AM, I believe sleep came from exhaustion, and I learned to sleep when Bill did.

On Thursday, a nurse took a lot of blood. Said they’d put something in it, put it back in, then a Nuclear Medicine machine it would find any infection by detecting ‘white cells’.

After the blood was put back in another doctor said: “Since there’s no fluid coming through the scab, you’ll be going home today.”
“But what about the test?”
“We’re cancelling the test, but we’ll double check by x-raying your ankle.”

My left hand was swollen badly, and my right index finger was double in size.
Three x-rays were taken; not of my ankle, but my FINGER.

Late Friday, the Nuclar Medicine machine did its thing by a technician. The doctor in charge had left and wouldn’t be back until Monday.

On Sunday, I was discharged and was to pick up antibiotic pills from the VA hospital in Bonham which is open from 8 to 5 on weekdays. It is five miles from home, wheras Dallas VA is 2 ½ hours from home)

Monday, I picked up the medicine but it was my BLOOD THINNER, which I have plenty. I would have talked to the doctor but he’d left early. I’ll try again in a few hours. :)

Rex Ray said...

I’ll add:

Left hand’s not swollen but I don’t let it be touched if I can help it. Ankle hurts and right finger is reduced in size but leaks fluid. I think I should have stayed on IV antibiotics longer, but I’ll try their antibiotic pills.

Christiane said...

Hello REX RAY,

Our veterans deserve much better care than they are getting, although I do think that people try, but it DOES sound like your case was not supervised appropriately and that the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing. I don't think that they 'experiment' on vets so you are safe from that, at least.

I spent over a week in hospital on IV fluids for double pneumonia earlier this year, and they cured it, but took away my blood pressure meds which threatened some very delicate partial corneal transplants in both eyes (I found out months later) . . . so I went back to my old doctor (I have to drive into the city) and he straightened everything out.

Do you have a follow-up visit already for when the anti-biotic meds are finished? If not, get one now. Keep a daily journal about the pain and swelling and note any changes in it.
For goodness sake, if you get worse dramatically, go to the ER immediately.

I'm so glad you got SOME help, even if it seems confused and a bit slap-dash . . . do you have any home-care coming in to take blood pressure, evaluate swelling, etc.?

You need to faithfully take those anti-biotics on time and finish all of them. That's important. You have my earnest prayers for your recovery. This episode sounds serious, Rex and you will need to be followed up with some good medical care for a while.
God Bless! Please let me know how you are doing . . . Wade won't mind, I don't think, and God Bless him too. We (my faith community) will also pray for you in our way, which will help, I'm certain. May you be blessed, dear friend.

Anonymous said...

Good apps that need to be installed. Apps that have popular casino games Many that you are familiar with Choose to play here.