40 Day Challenge
Introspection and Unselfish Love
Jeremiah 17:10 (KJV) “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
Though this first section is specifically subtitled “Biblical Wife”, we all who follow the Lord Jesus, are called the Bride of Christ. So, if you are a woman, see this as an aspect of your physical position in this life and as part of the Church. If you are a man, see how you may fit into this subsection in regard to being a part of the Bride in your relationship to the Lord and as a witness to those around you.
This subsection of today’s challenge will begin with a myriad of questions to promote some self introspection and clarity of your personal perspective along these lines. We will then explore the aspects of unselfish love.
(1) Are you frequent and consistent in your prayer time and Bible readings?
(2) Are your daily decisions guided by what God’s will is in regard to His Word?
(3) Do you maintain a heart of gratitude for God and what He has done for you?
(4) Is your priority to please God or to please people?
(5) Is your priority to be holy or happy in life?
The questions above are focused on your preparatory foundation for discipleship and maturity in both your human and faith-based relationships. If you find that you are not able to honestly answer positively to these questions, what is there you feel you could do to grow in these areas? Create a plan of action and step up to follow through with that plan.
The following questions are geared more toward your home life, but can also be seen as examples of your person-hood / temple of the Holy Spirit and your life in general.
(1) Is your home under control, or chaotic? (housework, environment feel, disciplined -obedient children, etc.)
(2) Are you able and comfortable at a moment’s notice, to entertain company, without feeling embarrassed by the appearance or the behavior of your family members?
(3) How do you manage your time throughout the day? Are you able to accomplish all you have set before you to do, or do you struggle regularly with everyday tasks?
Just as with the first set of questions, if you are unable to respond in a positive way to the above, create a plan of action to tackle these areas and strengthen the pillars of your surroundings. This will help you to be more effective in every area of your life, which is exactly where God wants you to be. You will be of much more use to Him if you can manage your home and person-hood.
1 Timothy 3:5 (KJV) “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?”
In the next set of questions, you will evaluate your strengths and weaknesses in regard to how you relate with others. This is very important in every relationship and gives necessary strength to every witness.
(1) Do you communicate with others in a concise way, or are you typically a rambler, easily distracted and going off on tangents?
(2) Are you a good listener? Do you really hear what is being said to you and ponder it before speaking, or do you hear bits and pieces, being more concerned about what you may say next?
(3) When you speak to others, especially your spouse and the Lord, do you speak in a respectful manner, or are you critical, sarcastic, and rude in your tone?
(4) Are you able to express yourself to get your point across without others feeling that you are attacking them?
(5) Does your spouse, or others, able to freely share their thoughts and feelings with you – in confidence and fearless trust? This will reveal if even the Lord can trust you with deeper insights.
(6) Do you publicly recognize when others do well, or do you speak judgmentally or critically to and over them?
(7) Is the perception you give to others one of being positive or negative?
The above questions you just answered reveal a great deal about your strengths and weaknesses. Many of these are critical to a healthy relationship, especially in marriage. They also allow you to see if or why you may or may not be used more by the Lord.
Luke16:10-11 (KJV) “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?”
These following questions will reveal your character. Be honest, because the first step in making changes in the right direction, is acknowledging the truth, then seeing steps to strengthen those areas of weakness. The entire purpose of our lives on this earth is to grow into the image of Christ, and to be used by Him to the fullest extent, for His glory and your good. This means that there must always be growth, every day that He grants you.
(1) Do others consider you to be confident, arrogant, or aggressive? If so, why?
(2) Do you usually express the Spirit of power, love, and self control (discipline), or one of fear and timidity?
(3) If the Lord asks you to do something, do you boldly obey, or hesitate from fear or doubt?
(4) Do you believe that you must understand God’s purpose for your life before moving forward, or do you move forward, trusting He will direct your steps in the way of His will?
(5) Are you comfortable and confident to initiate intimacy in your relationship with your spouse, as well as with the Lord (by revealing the real you)?
(6) How do you handle stress in life? Are you positive and graceful about it, or do you react according to the degree of stress you are facing with tension?
After answering the above questions, how did this exercise make you feel? Why do you believe that you felt the way that you did while responding? Do you feel you can trust those feelings? Why or why not? What are the two points above (out of all of the questions) are you the most drawn to with a desire to improve in? Why did you choose those two?
Do you believe that you can accomplish growth in those two aspects, or additional aspects covered above? What would it look like to you for you to see yourself overcoming in those areas? How do you believe these changes can affect your relationships, both human and with the Lord? Now, with all that being said, are you committed to growing toward the Lord in His image, and expressing this to those around you?
Take a moment to pray to the Lord to help equip you for this journey. Ask Him to reveal His Word and His Will to you in an easy and clear way. Request His assistance through His Spirit, and to surround you with those trusted in Him to help disciple you through this changing process. Pray that He will guard you through this and strengthen every area of weakness so that through your weakness, He is shown strong.
Romans12:10 (KJV) “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another”
First, let’s clarify something. As we know that the world’s various societies, especially in the west (United States), we are exposed to cultures of “self” focus. The range of self focus ranges from the typical self-centeredness (vanity), to secular self improvements using new age philosophies. All of these go against love and the example set forth by Christ for those who follow Him. This being the case, we must focus to a certain extent upon ourselves in regard to making changes which conform to Christ according to His Word. This is where these challenges come in.
You may have noticed that I have included some reference links at the bottom of each of these challenge posts. These links are to books which I am reading, that assist in the ideas from which I am sharing. My issue with these books is that they are mostly self focused singularly, and I am trying to spread that out to show how some aspects cover our relationship with the Lord as well. As shared in the previous two posts, all of our human relationships are examples and training grounds for our relationship with the Lord. If we can better understand how to properly relate to each other in a Biblical way, then we can better understand how we relate to the Lord and vice verse.
We know from the words of our Lord, that we are to deny ourselves (our desires, will,wants, dreams, etc.) for the sake of Christ and His will. This is love, to lay your own life down for another. Jesus said this is the greatest love, whether by death or even by living for another, for their good and not your own (john 15:13).
When someone is in a relationship that is dominantly a self-centered relationship,as most secular relationships are, an environment of neediness, increasingly demanding,and overly sensitive which becomes an unhealthy cycle of abuse. This abuse is that of misusing another to fulfill holes within yourself. When we are complete in Christ, reliant upon Him alone to fill and complete us, we can then have an abundance of overflow to be as His image to those around us. The Lord is able to fill our cups to overflowing so that those around us will be blessed by what floods beyond ourselves. When we are lacking, we become like a sponge, leaching everything out of those around us. In this, we are of no use to the Lord because He has to send others to help us. Though we may find ourselves in this situation from time to time, some live in this type of circumstance. You can tell the difference between one who finds themselves in many battles, yet still manages to continually give of themselves, and others who find themselves in constant battles, yet can only take from others and never giving anything of worth to others.
This being the case, it is through marital relationships that these tendencies are enhanced. There is no other relationship that better exemplifies our relationship with the Lord, than the husband and wife. When a couple come together, begin dating, all seems great. True, they may have issues (disagreements) from time to time, but normally nothing major (at least in the moment). However, once this couple marries, those minor disagreements become major battle grounds, if not addressed quickly and correctly. We are never promised to get along with everyone always, and being in the flesh, we may not always understand the reasons behind why the Lord does some of the things that He does. This can be very frustrating. Outwardly, we may appear graceful and content, but inwardly we may be screaming and stomping around in selfish reactions. In a marriage, these inward reactions become outward reactions and reveal weaknesses that are in need of attention. If we can gain control over these areas in the physical, we will be more mature in the image of Christ in our relationship of faith.
Some masks that selfishness displays are moodiness, complaining, laziness, irresponsibility, boasting, bragging, overly talking and not listening, among many others. Even doing what may appear as selfless, can in fact be selfish, when it is done for the sake of bragging, manipulating for control, or receiving an award for it. This is something the Lord spoke in great deal about against the Pharisees.
As you are reading through these points, does your mind wonder to areas you may be weak in, or your spouse’s weaknesses? This can reveal your true heart in this matter. As Kendrick states in The Love Dare, “you either make decisions out of love for others or love for yourself” (p. 12). True love, as shared in 1 Corinthians 13:5 does not seek its own. The true key in showing true love for others is found in humility. Even salvation is found only once we humble ourselves, recognize we have sinned against the Lord, and repent (turn from those sins), and follow Him faithfully.
The expression of selfless love can be seen from smaller examples of serving your spouse before yourself, or in the larger picture of jumping in front of a bullet to protect them. Both expressions are from the same type of love. When a couple begins to date, the female takes note in the back of her mind of the things her prospective husband does or does not do. Does he open her door? Does he guide her into a room? Does he give more attention and care to his vehicle than her? How much time does he spend asking her questions verses talking about himself? These small things reveal a great deal. As we discussed previously, those small things we see in the dating relationship are only heightened in the marriage. These little expressions can also show a great deal of the man’s relationship with the Lord. Many times there are some men who go to church to be near a woman. They spend a lot of time doing what they believe she desires of them, but not truly being a converted man of God. A true woman of God can spot this falsity quickly, even if just through their conversation and focus outside of the church. If more would properly inspect their potential partner, as well as themselves, more marriages would last and be faithful witnesses to the unfaithful world around them.
Regardless of how you may view yourself in this moment, ask yourself if your spouse believes that you have their best interest at heart. If you cannot honestly respond with “yes”, then ask yourself or your spouse, “What can you do to create an environment that would make them believe that you do?”. In the same manner, can you honestly say that the Lord believes that you seek His will over your own? If not, what can you do to make this a reality?
Philippians2:3-5 (KJV) “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not everyman on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”
As with the example above pertaining to a man focusing on his vehicle more than his partner, and as a person may focus more on their job than their obedience to the Lord… Realize that where your time and money are, is where your heart will be.
Matthew6:21 (KJV) “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
For today’s challenge, spend some time and money on a special gift for your love done. Put thought into what they would like or appreciate rather than what you would like or appreciate. Also, spend some extra time in prayer and in reading God’s Word, as well as give something of value (energy, money, etc.) to doing something the Lord is placing upon your heart to do for Him. Regardless of the outcome, (appreciation or lack thereof) continue on in this direction, while keeping up with the previous challenges and know that soon you will see things change for the better.
James 3:16-18 (KJV) “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
**Day 2: Introspection and Kindness**
**Day 4: Self Control and Thoughtfulness**