The Crow and His Foe

It’s audio devo day!

Did you know that God’s royal law of love includes a mandate to love and value yourself? Learning to live this way is an essential part of obedient discipleship. Today we learn some practical ways to renew our minds until we are thinking like He does on this matter. Grab something hot to drink, put on an extra blanket, and let Jesus pour His love into you as you listen here:

(Does this minister to you? Know someone else that needs to hear it today? You can either share today’s blog link with them, or look up my Feeding on Jesus podcast for sharing and subscribing. You’ll find it at these links on iTunesGoogle PodcastsStitcher, and most other podcast platforms, with episodes identical to these audio devos!)

*******************************************

I love how God does this. I was in the middle of putting this podcast series together for you about loving ourselves… and He provided a live illustration. As I sat in the backyard having my quiet time, a crow flew in. He perched on the railing upstairs for a second. Then he immediately began attacking his reflection in one of our dark-tinted windows. He would crash into it, and fall down, dazed. A few moments later, he would hop back up on the railing, see his “foe” again, and repeat the attack. He never could win! After at least six crashes to the floor, he gave up. Battered, he flew away wobbly, as if limping through the air.

What a perfect picture of the way we treat ourselves sometimes! Have you ever slung negativity at that person staring back at you in the mirror? Have you then gone away wincing, with an emotional limp? You know, this being antagonistic towards ourselves as we gaze at our reflections… it’s a “lose-lose” situation. We can’t win when we do this. Just ask our friend, Mr. Crow. When we direct hostility towards our own bodies and personalities, we only end up hurting and weakening ourselves.  

Deeply loved child of God, let’s not get confused like this poor crow. You are not your own foe.

Instead, let’s jump into what the Word says about this. “Your calling is to fulfill the royal law of love as given to us in this Scripture: ‘You must love and value your neighbor as you love and value yourself!’ For keeping this law is the noble way to live” (James 2:8, TPT).

Last week we talked about looking intently into the “perfect law that gives freedom,” out of the previous chapter in James. As we gaze into God’s Word, it reflects back to us who we really are in Him, and brings us into glorious liberty. Here, in James 2:8, we have God’s continuation of this theme. We now learn another name for the “perfect law that gives freedom.” It’s the “royal law of love.” It simply proclaims, “You must love and value your neighbor as you love and value yourself!”

Notice that this command has two parts. Your neighbor, and yourself. Both parts are equally weighty. The next verse in this same passage shows us just how weighty: “But if you treat one person as being more important than another, you are sinning. You are guilty of breaking God’s law” (v. 9, NCV). Do you see that? If you favor a rich person over a poor person, you are committing a sin. Yes, this is absolutely true. However, don’t miss the other half of the application. If you, in your heart, judge that someone else is more inherently important and valuable than you are, this is the same sin. You are “favoring” them over the precious child of God that you are.

James is quite frank with us here, letting us know that God takes these matters very seriously. Sinning against the treasured ones that He gave His Son for matters very much to Him. Among those treasured ones is you. To not love and value yourself is literally to sin against yourself. “Sin” in Greek is hamartia, and it means “to miss the mark.” Holy Spirit is gently letting you and me know, that not loving ourselves is missing the mark. Here’s the flip side: Loving yourself is an essential part of obedient discipleship.

Look at the royal law of love one more time: “You must love and value your neighbor as you love and value yourself!” Loving and valuing yourself is a “given” in this Scripture. It’s the basis, the starting point, for loving and valuing others. You see, you can’t love your neighbor very well if you don’t love you.

Here’s where we are going to need some critically important renewing of the mind. Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (ESV). When it comes to loving ourselves the way Jesus loves us, we need Him to renew our minds. We need His help to get rid of some “stinkin’ thinkin.” Transformation is going to happen within us as we adopt a brand new way of thinking about ourselves… as the primary objects of Jesus’ love.

Listen to this Scripture again in the NLT: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). Even if the world all around us is swirling with self-criticism, He exhorts us not to copy that behavior. Instead, He beckons us up to a higher way. His good and pleasing and perfect will is that we would cherish ourselves as He cherishes us!

I want to mention something vital here. Jesus never beats us over the head about these things. On the contrary, He calls out to us with so much love. Romans 2:4 expresses tenderly, “…The goodness of God is gently drawing you to repentance” (Weymouth). With His goodness, with His kindness, with His gentleness, He draws us to repentance. He draws us up higher into a better way to live, where we aren’t attacking ourselves in our mirrors like Mr. Crow. Did you know that the Greek word for repentance is metanoia, and it means a change of thinking? The gentleness of Jesus is what will attract us into a radically transformed way of thinking about ourselves.

My dear friend, I also need to tell you, if you’ve had a life-long habit of self-derision and self-criticism, you have a new mindset to adopt. You have a new habit to build. This transformation is going to take focused determination and commitment on your part. Remember, James 2:8 tells us that this is the noble way to live. In other words, it’s going to be worth the effort. If you are wondering how this works out in practical reality, I have three extremely helpful tips I want to briefly share with you. This is how to change your thinking:

1) Memorize Scripture. Specifically, Scriptures that speaks of your preciousness to God. If you need some help on which ones these are, the two podcast episodes previous to this one were full of them. I’d encourage you to go back and take some good notes on them. Then, once you have committed these verses to memory, build a habit of speaking them out loud over yourself. Daily. Even if you don’t feel like you deeply believe what they say. Science tells us that we humans can convince ourselves of anything by enough repetition. God put that capacity into us! Let’s use it for the renewal of our minds!
2) Practice intentional self-kindness in the mirror. Instead of giving mental space to criticism of what you see there, tell yourself God’s truth on purpose. Think of yourself as His vessel of love. Allow His love to flow through you, to you as you speak words of life to your reflection. Do this every day.
3) Recognize, Reject, Replace. Pay attention to the old habitual negative thoughts when they try to start up. With all your heart, reject them. Reject them out loud even. Then replace them immediately with one of the Scriptures that you have committed to memory. Work hard on incorporating kindness into your self-talk. Fight the battle! Don’t give up. You will win!

Yes, you will win. Even science backs us up on this one. Neurologists explain that we form new habits and ways of thinking by burning new neuron pathways in our brains. Doing so takes concerted effort and commitment. Sort of like how blasting a new road through a mountain takes a lot more effort than taking the long way. You could just drive around the mountain on a road that already exists and it would be so much easier. You could just fall back on the old neuron pathways. It would be so much easier to just keep treating yourself harshly, then to put in the concentrated effort necessary to build a new way of thinking. But Jesus is asking you, will you put the work in to build a new road?

Do you hear Him?

“Someone says: “Build, build! Make a road! Clear the way, remove the rocks from the road my people will travel” (Isa. 57:14, MSG).

Who is that Someone? It’s the Holy Spirit. Will we heed His beckoning? Will we put the hard work in to build a brand new road to travel on? Will we stop fighting with the mirror and embrace His call to love and value ourselves as He does?

*********************************

Have you ever quit a harmful habit? What did it take to make it happen?

 

13 thoughts on “The Crow and His Foe

  1. Great insight & thoughts concerning self. Never thought about how serious Jesus takes this.

    Interesting, before reading this I was thinking about this very topic. Why? Warming up a cold mug in the microwave this morning after sitting in a cold cupboard all night, an inscription on the cup brought attention to these verses.

    I gave my wife this mug for her birthday last year. What is the inscription?

    “Love yourself”

    Be Blessed Jennifer & keep writing!

    David

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good thoughts presented here, although I am often concerned with how much attention Christ-followers are encouraged to “love yourself.” According to Ephesians 5, no one ever hated his own flesh. Rather what we are being encouraged to do is to not despise our dual-self for what we have done.
    However, we should sometimes despise ourselves (Luke 18:10-14), but we don’t because we love ourselves so much. And in fact, some of what we think of as self-hatred is actually greater self-love because we do hate some of the things we do. And the more we love ourselves, the more we will hate what we have done.
    Rather, we should focus on Jesus and the life of the Triune God until we become less “self-conscious.” Of course, none of us can attain this perfectly, but THIS is what we should strive toward rather than self-love, which is natural to us.
    Think of the peace one feels when admiring the Grand Canyon or a beautiful sunrise. The awe inspired lifts us out of our “self-love” or self attention completely, and for at least a moment, we are UN-self-conscious because of the wonder outside us.
    Practice the Presence of the Father, and we will be more like this day by day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I so appreciate your insightful coments, C.A.! We are very much on the same page about the vital importance of humility and dying to ourselves, as you can see here:

      https://feedingonjesus.com/2018/06/20/__trashed-3/

      https://feedingonjesus.com/2019/02/02/want-to-know-gods-will-for-you/

      I have written quite a number of others, but those give you a pretty good idea.

      I view this as one of those areas that is not either/or, but both/and; one of those sets of complimentary truths. We are to hate sin and selfishness and die daily with Jesus, and we are also to align ourselves with His immeasurable love for us, and not align ourselves with our enemy by giving place to self-derision he would love for us to participate in. I used to be very harsh with myself, but as I have grown in maturity, He has taught me to be gentle and kind in my attitude to myself, in submission to the way He loves me.

      I am so glad you you mentioned this vitally important compimentary truth, thank you so very much!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve just had the realisation that I often look at my comments and see them as being very much about me. Sometimes I feel I should try and open them out a bit. While listening to this devo I had a sort of ‘a-ha’ moment that in offering my experiences and what I have learned from this I can provide so much more than trying to write something which is not from my heart.

    The harmful habit I’m trying to quite at the moment is going to sleep too late. I am a night owl, but my current obligations involve earlier mornings than my later schedule will allow. I’m doing ok, but I commit to doing a bit better each day.

    Thank you for the encouragement to kick “stinking thinking”, by leaning into God to follow the new pathways He provides. Peace to you Jennifer. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree with you, Hamish! That is the power of your testimony, like Rev. 12:11 talks about. It really does help others so much! I know that it has been a wonderful encouragement to me, to hear what God is doing with you on your journey in Him 🙂 I am so grateful that you take the time to share here! Many, many blessings of abundant grace on what He is currently helping you with regarding your schedule and sleep!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Jennifer Arimborgo Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s