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Unlocking Your Legacy25 Keys for Success
By Paul J. Meyer
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2003 Paul J. Meyer
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLEGACY KEY # 1
LOVE-WHERE EVERY GOOD LEGACY BEGINS
-BECAUSE EVERYTHING OF VALUE MUST START SOMEWHERE
When I was a boy, I saw love in action and learned quickly that it came in many different forms.
* My brother, Carl, loved me by the way he fought off three bullies when I was just 15 years old and small for my age.
* My sister, Elizabeth, loved me by always having a listening ear and a kind word for me.
* My father loved me by the way he trained me, disciplined me, and spent time with me.
* My mother loved me by demonstrating how to forgive, how to communicate, and how to know God.
* My teachers loved me by giving me a lot of their time.
Having love around me, however, did not make life perfect. I had plenty of hurts and disappointments, not to mention many setbacks and losses, but in the midst of the realities of life, love always seemed to blossom. That is because love cannot be held captive by our thoughts, emotions, fears, or outside limitations.
Love brings unstoppable freedom when we learn to love as God intended.
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENTS OF ALL TIME
Jesus said there was no greater commandment than to "love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with allyour mind, and with all your strength" and to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31 NKJV).
Then, as if that wasn't enough, Jesus later added, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34 NKJV). That changes things considerably!
Loving God may seem easy enough (He never treats us badly and always has good things in store for us) and loving others like ourselves may seem doable, but loving others as Jesus loved us?
Here is a sampling of the ways Jesus showed His love for us:
* He stopped to talk with the lowest of the low. * He dispensed justice wherever He went.
* He healed the social outcasts.
* He ate with sinners.
* He cared for the poor.
* He gave up His will.
* He allowed His body to be beaten for our sake.
* He died on the cross for our sins while we were still sinners.
Loving others to the extent that He loved us is impossible, but that is the point! We cannot do it on our own-we need Him! And unless we have His love in our hearts, there is no way we can love others wholly, purely, or adequately.
That makes sense only because "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16). Without God, there is no love, but if we have Him in our hearts, then it is possible to give and demonstrate His love.
WHAT EXACTLY IS LOVE?
God is love, but what are the characteristics of love that we need to see evident in our lives? First Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV plainly states, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
That is love.
I once loaned money to the very company that fired me. My own desires wanted other things for them, but I chose to show Christ's love, regardless of how I had been treated. The $10,000 I loaned them to stabilize their company did in fact bring the stabilization they needed, so much so that a few years later they sold the company for 8 million dollars!
My act of love was of no financial benefit to me, but that was not the point behind my actions. I was motivated to love as Christ commanded-that was all.
How we practically show God's love comes in many different forms. My mother, for example, was like a magnet. Her love for others drew people to her like children to free ice cream. When my sister was young, she and her friends would come home and hang out with my mom. Most moms were not "cool" enough, but my mom loved those girls so much that they couldn't help but gravitate toward her. On top of that, her counsel was always timely and her presence seemed to soothe away their fears. The positive impact she had over the years through her love cannot be measured!
Love also comes in the form of discipline. My dad gave me plenty of that-and I love him for it. Scripture says, "The Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in" (Proverbs 3:12). If my dad had not disciplined me, I would not be the man I am today.
Sacrifice is also love in action. I have friends who sacrificially give of their time, talents, and money to charities that are helping the homeless, the hungry, and the poor. When asked why they have given for years without as much as a "thank you," I have seen them begin to cry and say, "I am doing so little. There is so much more that I could do."
The love so evident in their lives is the very love that Jesus commanded us to give. Our love, He said, should focus in three different directions: toward God, toward ourselves, and toward others. Each one is of utmost importance.
[#1] WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO "LOVE GOD"?
We are commanded repeatedly in Scripture to love God with our heart, mind, body, and soul. Practically speaking, this simply means that we are to obey Him in every area of life, for "if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him" (1 John 2:5).
This does not leave much room for loving other things, but that is part of God's plan. He wants us to focus on Him and to love Him exclusively. If we love God with everything within us, He has an amazing way of pouring back into us more than enough love for other people. That is because He doesn't just sit back and receive our love. Instead, He reaches out to us, touching our lives and blessing us.
Here are just a few of His promises:
* Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. -1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV
* For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. -2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
* And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. -Romans 8:28 NKJV
* Neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:38-39 NKJV
Though we love God through our obedience to Him, we always come out better off. (Somehow that doesn't surprise me.)
#2 WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO "LOVE YOURSELF"?
Loving God and accepting that He loves you is the foundation for loving yourself, for self-confidence, and for self-esteem. Loving self is therefore not the same as being self-centered or egotistic.
I have always believed that I have every right to succeed. This view does not cause me to believe that the world owes me anything. In fact, since I officially retired at age seventy, I'm just as active as I was before; it's just that now I have more freedom in choosing what I want to do with my time.
Work is something I will always do, and though I believe I will succeed, I act wisely and do the necessary preparation and planning to hit my goals. This belief in myself is love for self in action. The world can be cruel at times, as can close confidants, but I cannot let that get in my way. I must believe in myself before I believe in others.
This type of confidence in self gives you confidence to see others succeed. Their phenomenal growth doesn't discourage you in the slightest because you believe you have the same potential-if not more!
The "everybody owes me" attitude in our society is partly the result of no love for self. After all, love includes self-discipline, taking responsibility, and the realization that we have a part to play in our own success. If we succeed with no foundation (i.e., a foundation of integrity or self-discipline), the fall back to reality will hurt worse than if we had fallen from our prior lowly condition.
That is why most lottery winners are almost always worse off a few short years after winning the jackpot. They had no foundation before and they had no foundation after.
Love for self, on the other hand, prepares us for greatness.
#3 WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO "LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR"?
The foundation for loving our neighbor is comprised of two parts: a proper love of self and a desire to love others as Christ loved us. And since a "neighbor" is every person, regardless of race, gender, or age, we get to love everyone!
I've made it a habit to show love to people by noticing them, listening to them, asking them questions, and discovering their interests. Then, through a series of circumstances, I've ended up hiring many of them! In fact, some of the best individuals I've ever had working for me have come as a result of my simply showing interest and love.
I also make it a point to always be real, show respect, treat them as I would like to be treated, focus on their strengths, and try to be an encouragement to them. What happens as a result is often amazing.
One time I was in a restaurant with a friend when I happened to ask the waitress what she wanted to do with her life. She briefly told me she had always dreamed of going to college, then walked away. A few minutes later, the waitress and her mother (who worked in the kitchen) showed up and begged me to take the two of them out of town! The mother's domineering husband owned the restaurant, the mother explained, and she and her daughter were trapped and wanted out.
There was no way I could fulfill their request, but by me showing a little bit of genuine kindness, two individuals I had spoken with for only ten minutes in my entire life were begging me for help! A little love can make an unexpectedly big impact.
I once met an elderly man who was offering some prime property for sale. A few days later I returned to buy it, but by asking a few additional questions, I discovered that the real owners of the property had gone back on their word and were refusing to give him the commission he rightly deserved.
I immediately called the owner and said the deal was off unless he agreed to pay the commission, which he reluctantly agreed to do. The $25,000 commission came at a good time for the elderly man and his wife because they had no savings for retirement. I instantly made a friend that day by simply treating someone like I would like to be treated.
WHY GOD COMMANDS US TO LOVE OTHER PEOPLE
We all have had people rip us off, hurt us, and abuse us in other ways. Agreeing not to retaliate is good, but God is asking us to go even further and to love them! Why?
I believe there are three reasons:
1. For our own benefit
2. For their benefit
3. For God's benefit
# 1-For our benefit
From God's perspective, I believe He is more interested in our personal growth and character development than He is in what we do or how we look. Scripture says, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).
When we love others, we are demonstrating that we are obeying God and placing our desires second to His-a sure sign of character development.
And when others do not love us, we have the chance to show what is really in our hearts, as Matthew 5:46 NKJV says, "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?"
Tax collectors in Jesus' day were the lowest of the low, selfish scoundrels who collected taxes (plus a little bit more) from their own people for the Roman government. If we love only those who love us, our actions are no different than those who were considered to be the worst of society.
By loving those who don't love us in return, we are showing that we are different, controlled by something stronger than our own naturally selfish desires-it shows the love of God at work in our lives.
I remember my mother when I think of this type of love. If people hurt her, her level of love would only increase. I was amazed time and time again to see the love that poured out of her. By choosing to love others as Christ loved her, my mother was full of joy, peace, strength, hope, laughter, and a lot more. It is this kind of legacy that I have a strong passion to pass on to my children and grandchildren, to all who are associated with me, and to everyone I meet.
In addition, when we show love through our actions, God will reward us, just as Scripture says, "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High" (Luke 6:35).
#2-For their benefit
Obviously, those who have hurt you benefit by your not repaying them as they rightly deserve, but above and beyond that, they benefit by meeting Jesus through your love.
Several years ago a professional person in my town confronted me in his office with a damaging yet completely false accusation. I tried in vain to communicate the actual facts, but he would hear none of it. The conversation hurt me so badly that my health was severely affected.
As I was recovering, I decided that I would pray for him and do all I could to help him in his personal life. Instead of mentioning this individual's actions to other professional people who might know him or meet him, I chose to forgive him (forgiveness and love always go together). Two years later he called me and admitted he was wrong. When he asked for my forgiveness, I was quick to give it and was very relieved to have dealt with the issue.
"Love will cover a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8 NKJV) and knows no limits. Showing the love that Jesus intended will pave the way for others to know the same love, which is the greatest benefit of all!
#3-For god's benefit
I believe that by loving others like Christ loved us, we are able to accomplish His purposes in our individual lives. In essence, when we are obedient, He accomplishes His will.
Excerpted from Unlocking Your Legacy by Paul J. Meyer Copyright © 2003 by Paul J. Meyer. Excerpted by permission.
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