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Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10

It’s the difference between religion and relationship. It’s the difference between peaceful living and stress. It’s the difference between holiness and sinfulness. It’s the difference between abuse and encouragement. It’s the difference between prison and freedom. It’s the difference between fear and courage. It’s the difference between defeat and confidence. It’s love.

Love excites us, brings peace into our lives, cures us of the addiction to sin, encourages us, frees us to be ourselves, gives us courage to survive attack and confidence to use the gifts we have to better the world around us.

In the Old Testament God gave his people all sorts of rules and regulations to show them how to live lives free of all the bad stuff life throws our way. Never forget, when He created Adam and Eve in the garden, He never intended that they be separated from Him. Their sin in the garden destroyed everything. God created us in His image to enjoy life, to enjoy love, to enjoy each other.

The Bible says Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. That wasn’t just physical nakedness; it was emotional and spiritual nakedness as well. The underlying power of their lives was love, the love of the creator-God to them and their love for Him in return.

Then ‘sin’ got in the way. Sin is really just another way of saying ‘getting what I want in my way’. When sin entered, our relationship with God, ourselves and others was forever changed. There was only one thing that could rescue us from the emptiness and pain of life: LOVE.

True love, Godly love never ever hurts. Period. There are so many things that get in our way, that keep love from showing itself. People get in the way by abusing us for their own selfish purposes. Our past keeps us from enjoying the forgiveness that only Jesus offers. Religion keeps us from enjoying the freedom of enjoying all that God has given us. None of these things are powered by love.

Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn us or to accuse us or to remind us of all our faults. That job is reserved for religion. Jesus came to love us, just as we are, where we are, regardless of our propensity to rebel against Him.

Don’t try to truly love your neighbor or your enemy until you have learned how to love God and yourself. It won’t happen. Only when we are completely enveloped by a love for God and ourselves will love flow to those around us. When that happens, when we learn to love God and ourselves, love for the other people in our lives, even those who hate us and hurt us, will be a natural result, not a forced action.

PRAYER: Father. I thank you today for your unconditional, unending and undeserved love. I confess to you that the love I’ve learned in life hasn’t been all that great. It’s brought pain, shame, guilt and remorse. I need to learn to love you and myself so I can be free to love others. I’ve hurt so many people in my life and now I resolve to love them your way through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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