Mentoring Minutes

A Tale of Two Loves

Hesed/Agape – The Real Truth About Real Love

We’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last few weeks discussing the brokenness of relationships and the lusts and selfishness of porneia and pride that destroys them.  It’s time we shifted to what God’s Word has to say about love. 

Don’t miss this—God’s love is a commitment, a choice, and an act of the will.  Feelings aside, we choose to love and, as a matter of Biblical principles, that’s exactly what we’re called to do in every relationship…spouse, family member, friends or enemies.  We make the choice to commit to what’s best for them regardless of their actions or responses to us.  We choose to guide our emotions, walking in Truth rather than just follow, be guided by, or be a slave to our feelings.

Love is also an intentional investment in others.  We willingly submit and intentionally give of ourselves for their sake.  We may not feel like it, but we are always called, as disciples of Christ, to love—so we have to invest in others whether they choose to do so in us or not. Can anyone say “Cookie Jar?” (see

You may understand these principles, even if they are difficult to grasp, but this next one can be difficult to accept.  Yet it is directly from God’s Word and we need to pay attention to it so we can more fully understand His love and live it out in our lives and relationships.

The Full-Orbed Love of God – A Tale of Two Loves

God’s Love as Compassion

God’s love is a full-orbed love.  Let me explain using the example of two men in Scripture.  With the first we find a love based on compassion that prompts the perfect response from Jesus.  In Mark 1:40-42 we read, And a leper came to Jesus, begging Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.” (Bold text mine and added for emphasis)

Here we see Jesus emotionally moved to compassion to the point that He acted on that compassion and did what any of us would expect Him to do—He healed Him.  You don’t even have to be a believer to like this guy.  He heals people and restores their life and livelihood that leprosy, in this case, had stolen from him.  What a great guy and what an act of love!

The Greek word, splanchnizomai, means to be moved with compassion or pity.  This word and related words is used 12 other times in the New Testament and every single time it translates as someone being moved with emotion to the point of doing something favorable for the other person. 

I’m no Greek scholar, but I think it’s very clear that Jesus’ act of love was an act of compassion motivated by how He felt for the leper.   I’ve never run across anyone who has a problem with what Jesus did for this guy.  How loving and wonderful He was in His perfect love for the leper.

Before we move to the next man that Jesus encountered, let me give you a question to ponder: “Does God/Jesus always love perfectly?”  Your answer may get challenged in your own thinking and that of some of our modern-day churches and culture as we look at the other side of God’s “full-orbed” love.

God’s Love as Painful Truth

In Mark 10, another young man pursues Jesus.  “As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ And he said to Him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.’ Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.”  (Mark 10:17-22)  (Bold text mine and added for emphasis)

I’ve heard dozens of sermons on the rich young ruler, and one thing I’ve never heard explained with any clarity was the phrase in verse 21: “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him.”  As I studied and prayed about this, fully believing that Jesus/God always loved perfectly, I asked The Spirit to show me what’s going on here.  It’s easy to see Christ’s love for the leper, as it is likely what every one of us would have done had we the power and opportunity to do so. We would have healed him and given him back his life.

The love for the rich young ruler that Jesus displayed is puzzling at best and frustrating at worst.  If we’re honest with ourselves as believers, and especially as modern-day church-going believers, we struggle with Jesus’ response to him.  Here the Greek word is “agapao,” rooted in “agape” or God’s selfless, sacrificial love.  “Agapao” is used 110 times in the New Testament (appearing 47 times in the Gospels) and “agape” appears 106 times in the New Testament (8 times in the Gospels)* and every time it deals with love for others that esteems them above self—whether it is a family member, neighbor, stranger, or enemy.  *The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon

What in the world is God trying to tell us?  First of all, I think He is teaching us that love expresses itself perfectly every time.  In the case of these two men, one expression is with heartfelt compassion and the other in heart-spoken Truth.  But I think there’s a second lesson that The Holy Spirit is trying to teach us through the choice of words used: the deeper word defined as love with the rich young ruler is “agapao” and is stronger than the description of love as compassion.  While we must teach and model compassion, sharing truth is the most loving thing we can do and we must present it completely regardless of how those who hear it may respond.  Jesus knew the rich young man would reject His loving truth, but the greatest and most perfect act of love was to tell Him the Truth that alone could set Him free.

Some time after I’d prayed and come to this understanding, I was teaching this and sharing these thoughts. There was a couple sitting on the front row and you could see that his wheels were turning.  He raised his hand and said, “Greg, I’ve never heard this before, it’s powerful. But I do have one question.  You’ve been talking about ‘agape’ love as God’s selfless, sacrificial love that He desires all of us to know in our marriages, families, and in His Church for each other and others.  What was Jesus sacrificing in this case?”

Admittedly, I’d never gone that far; I’d just accepted what The Holy Spirit had shown me that I just described above, but this was a great question.  I quickly and silently asked The Holy Spirit to guide me as I always try to do. Here are the thoughts that immediately came to my mind.  (I have to be careful here because I do believe that this is a legitimate answer from The Spirit, but it may not be the only one and we must be careful how we apply it.)  This is simply food for thought…

I looked at the gentleman and then the rest of the attendees and said, “You remember the guy who carried the money bag for Jesus and His apostles?”  Several replied, “Judas.”  I said, “Correct, and here’s where I think Jesus may have been sacrificing.  He could have said, ‘Why don’t you sell 90% or 50% or even 10% and put it in Judas’s money bag?  With your wealth we could really expand our ministry and reach many more if you join us and give of your wealth.’”

You see where I believe The Lord was leading me and teaching us?  His love always begins in the heart of the individual involved.  As we make more and more disciples and build relationship then we expand our outreach and ministry through them.  Again, I want to be careful, but I’m not sure what else Jesus was sacrificing if it wasn’t something that could be done for Him and His ministry. Yet He loved the man enough to tell him what he needed to hear even if it meant he would walk away—and he did just that.

What does this mean as we learn about sacrifice and compassion when it comes to God’s love toward us?  How do we live in that love with Him and with others? 

Contact L&L to let us know what you’re thinking and how we can help.

Give online as The Lord leads –

You can find videos, articles and podcasts at

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – It can be pretty easy to have compassion for and serve our fellow man, even out of our own flesh…as we may be rewarded by others’ applause or esteem.  However to tell someone the Truth is always the most loving and best thing we can do…and that’s not always easy.   

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s) – 1) Look for ways to act out of unconditional compassion and follow through accordingly; 2) Evaluate areas and relationships where you may be withholding the Truth to keep in good standing with others; 3) Ask The Lord to show you how you can both give compassionately without pride and speak truthfully in love; 4) Ask for His strength for you to consistently love with His full-orbed Love.

Self and Lust – A Biblical Story and Modern Movie Mash-up

I present the Love and Lordship series multiple times a year.  In our discussion on agape and porneia we view a clip from Fireproof: The Movie and I connect it with King David’s adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband, Uriah (one of his top lieutenants).  A few years ago as I was presenting this The Holy Spirit gave me some insights that have helped many in their battle against porneia and other sins.

We view the movie clip where Caleb (Kirk Cameron’s character) is looking at some pictures on his computer screen and up pops a porn invitation.  He struggles with whether to click on it or not but chooses to read the “The Love Dare” journal that his father has challenged him to work through. He ultimately chooses against the porn and takes his computer monitor outside and destroys it with a baseball bat.  It’s both comical and poignant at the same time.

During one of these teaching sessions as we transitioned to talk about King David’s struggles, I was prompted to ask if anyone noticed what Caleb was viewing on his computer when the “temptation” popped up?  No one had noticed and neither had I for several years of seeing it.  I revealed to them that he was viewing some really nice boats. 

The backstory was that he was selfishly withholding things from his marriage and wife while saving money to buy a boat.  Disclaimer:  buying a boat is not in and of itself selfish, but for the purposes of the movie it clearly was. 

I then asked the men to explain the significance of what he was viewing.  Silence.  Here’s the insight, and then I’ll apply it to a retelling of King David’s story to give us more discernment as to how our natural selfish mind thinks and how the enemy uses it in temptation and attempts to lead us into sin.

God has all foreknowledge and wisdom, which means He can see the future and know what we’re thinking and our responses.  There could be another whole book on that statement alone, but it’s true and it’s all we need to know for the purposes of this story and teaching.  Satan, on the other hand, does not have foreknowledge and can only respond and act on what we are thinking.  This is why it’s so important to guard our thoughts, take them captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), and renew our minds (Romans 12:2) so he can’t get a toe, foot, or stronghold in our lives.

Isn’t it interesting that as Caleb was viewing the boat, the item he was sure would fully satisfy him, that the porn temptation popped up?  The selfish state of his mind (the movie has made it clear that the boat was an idol for him) made it easier for the enemy to draw him in.  He wisely chose to fight against it and won the battle.

Now let’s apply that to King David. I ask for some leeway here as I’m going to “fill in some gaps” in the story that completely fit the context and may help us see how the self-absorbed mind makes it so much easier to fall into temptation and sin.

Second Samuel 11:1 says, “in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle,” and then proceeds to tell us that King David decided to send his general and army out to clean up some unfinished business in war while he lounged around his palace.  There’s nothing particularly sinful about his choice, but it does give us insight into his mind.  He was thinking about David rather than his army.  Otherwise he would have gone with them as kings do.

The Bible gives us no indication whatsoever that he stayed home for any particular reason and especially not to look for naked women.  One evening he’s walking on his palace rooftop and sees a beautiful woman bathing.  He’s stricken with her and immediately asks his servant to go ask who she is.

Here’s where I interject David’s potential and likely thought patterns based on his self-absorbed decision to stay home and take it easy rather than go to battle with his men.  What story do you think David may have crafted in his mind as his servant is inquiring about the beautiful woman?

Maybe it goes something like this…“I can’t wait for my servant to return and tell me this woman’s name and even more importantly that she’s single and available.”  I mean initially if he’s going to enter into a relationship he wants it to be done the right way and I’m sure he’s thinking this is all going to work out great.

The problem occurs when the servant returns to report that Bathsheba is not only married but it is to one of David’s top men, Uriah the Hittite.  Now David has to figure out whether he’s going to continue with the story in his mind where this woman is his to have or follow God’s Truth and leave her to her husband.

Once again, the choice reveals where the mind is leading.  David sends for her and sleeps with her.  Seems like he’s gotten away with it until Bathsheba sends a report that she’s pregnant!  It couldn’t be her husband as he’s off fighting David’s war.

David schemes to bring Uriah home so he’ll sleep with his wife and cover it up.  Uriah does the noble thing for both nights and does not sleep with his wife because that would not be right with the other warriors out to battle.

David devises a plan and sends a letter to Joab, commander of his army, to put Uriah on the front lines where the fighting is most fierce.  As designed, Uriah is killed in battle.

David then eventually marries Bathsheba and thinks the ruse is complete until the prophet, Nathan, approaches him approximately nine months later and tells him a story.  The story is to convict David of his sin but while he recognizes the sin in the story, his sin has blinded him to the fact the he was the one guilty and deserving of death. 

Here’s what we need to learn from David and Caleb.  We must guard our hearts and minds as self-absorbed thinking opens the door for the enemy to tempt us.  We then have the choice to avoid the temptation and sin or give into it.  The sooner we change our thinking, including at the very beginning as we dwell on our self, the easier it is to avoid the temptation.  The more we think about self the easier it is to give into the temptation, follow through on the sin, and even cover it up and be blind to it in our own eyes.

That’s the nature of self, lust, pride, and sin, and the sooner we die to self and live for Christ and His love the stronger we are in Him to overcome any temptation.

Knowing who we are in Christ and knowing and aligning our thoughts with His Word and Truth gives us the best view of who we are in Him and keeps us from becoming so self-absorbed and vulnerable to temptation and sin. 

Contact L&L to let us know what you’re thinking and how we can help.

Give online as The Lord leads –

You can find videos, articles and podcasts at

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – The problem is not that we necessarily think of ourselves too highly, we simply think of ourselves too much, usually with some worry and anxiety…Do I look good enough?  Do I have enough?  Am I successful? And it goes on and on!  As we know who we are in Christ it’s much easier to have a realistic view of yourself without allowing self-focus to make us ripe for temptation and sin.

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s) – 1) Ask The Lord to reveal to you when you are self-absorbed (this doesn’t necessarily mean sin but simply focusing almost exclusively on self); 2) Evaluate what prompts you toward self-focus; 3) Begin to replace those thoughts with God’s Word and what you can and should do for others; 4) Act on this new thinking by serving others as The Lord leads.

The Cookie Jar – A Satire on Love

This may come across as corny or silly, but I have so many that come up to me after sharing this—sometimes even months or years later—and share their appreciation for this illustration.  So here it is…

Picture yourself as a child, or maybe as a parent with your children, gathered around the dinner table nearly finished with the meal.  The children in the picture are struggling to clean up their plate, so mom or dad grabs a jar out of the pantry and takes the top off. The smell is awesome and the children want what’s in that jar.

Trouble is, mom or dad says, “If you clean up all the green things on your plate you can have one of these.”  The smell is incredible, so with a few veggies under the table, some in the dog’s belly, and a few making their way slowly down the child’s throat, the plate is finally clean!

“Gimme, gimme, gimme,” say the children and mom or dad lovingly obliges. What parent doesn’t want to be a part of that?

So what happens next?  Well every parent sits “Betty” and “Johnny” down and asks them if they would like to learn how to get cookies whenever they wanted. 

“Watch carefully,” says dad.  “First you see that I screwed the top five times.  It really requires six, but that would be too tight for you and we certainly want you to get into the cookies and eat all of them if you like.”

Once this is done, dad places the jar in the far back part of the corner cabinet behind the flour.  He then explains, “You guys see where I put it, right?  You need to be very careful as you pull a chair over and climb on the counter.  You know you’re not supposed to be on the counter, so be very careful and if you hear us coming down the stairs jump in the chair and act like nothing happened.  We’ll do the same.”

“Be very careful. If you push the bag too quickly the flour will blow out and get on the door, cabinet, and counter and we’ll know you’ve been in the cookies.”

“Now that you have it, carefully unscrew the top, five times remember, and then have at it! Eat as many as you want. Whoever gets the most…good for them!”

If you’ve continued to read this far, then you’re probably rolling or squinting your eyes and/or saying, “Whatever?!?”  Of course it doesn’t work this way.  How many of you had to be taught how to find and get into the cookie jar once you’d been given cookies?  How many of you had to be taught how to keep your hand out of the cookie jar maybe with a slight slap on the hand? 

It’s completely silly, thus the satire.  Love is not giving our children all the cookies they want; that’s unhealthy and unloving.  We give them cookies sparingly to enjoy without the health risks and we teach them to share and give to others. 

Because children don’t fully know or understand that “too much of a good thing” can be very bad for you, we teach them the discipline of keeping their hands out of the jar as well as the concept of sharing once they’ve been given these wonderful treats. Both the discipline and the sharing are concepts rooted in love that we must learn or we will not know how to love.

I’ve seen numerous couples dating, living together, or married that have never been taught what it means to truly love. 

The Cookie Jar Explained

Stick with me as I explain.  How many of you were born selfless?  I hope no one raised his or her hand.  How many of you were born selfish?  I hope all of you raised your hands.  We are all born selfish and that must be overcome in order to love and build good relationships.  The natural inclination, as with the cookie jar, is that once we’ve found something we enjoy, based on our tastes or feelings, we want more of it with no desire to share, unless it benefits us.

While you can do cookies that way as a selfish person, at least until you run out, relationships of this manner never work long-term.  We have to be taught to be selfless, and if we are not, or we hold onto our selfish nature, it will show up in any and every relationship.  What does that look like? If you’re still not putting together the parable of The Cookie Jar, here it is.

I’ve seen numerous couples in relationship, even many walking down the aisle with their imaginary cookie jars tucked under their outside arms.  “I’ll give you one cookie if you give me two.”  This is all they’ve known or been taught as “love.”

Literally, I’ve seen this over and over. People are seldom, if ever, taught that the only way Love really works—sticking with our Cookie Jar analogy—is when we learn to say, “Here, you can have all my cookies.  That’s what I think of you, whether you give me any cookies or not.”  Obviously if you find someone not willing to share or give of themselves it’s not likely they are ready for a loving relationship.

Eventually you’ll figure out that those who never learned to love don’t share or give away their cookies without demanding more in return than were given.  You realize that this won’t work.  Over time the one who demands more than they give will eventually realize the person they’ve demanded from has run out long before they did—so they move on to the next person…and the next cookie jar.

Here’s the bottom line of The Cookie Jar seen from the perspective of God’s hesed/agape love.  Love is not give and take.  Love is give…period!  If I never learn to give and become selfless, if I only learn to take and demand or exact an exchange that’s at least equal but preferably in my favor, then I will never know love. 

Only when I learn to die to my selfishness and be willing to unconditionally give myself for the sake of others will I ever be able to love.  This is a lifelong pursuit.

That’s what Jesus did. He said, “Here, you can have all that I am (“all my cookies”).  I give my all to and for you.”  He doesn’t demand or coerce, He just loves.  The only way we can know that is to know Him and learn to love as He does.

With regard to dating, porneia/lust and love, remember that you must first learn and begin to die to self in order to love.  Then, not only can you love, but you can also help others know what it is and recognize it in others.  No matter what you see in another, no matter how “hot” they are or how much they may turn you on, remember that love is not defined as a feeling.  It has good and bad feelings associated with it.  Love is a commitment, a choice, and an act of the will.  And that is why discipleship (discipline, “Cookie Jar”) and love go hand in hand as much as the world abhors the thought of it and does everything to convince you otherwise.

I explain further with this from Theology of the Body by Christopher West.

The tendency to “grasp” seems built in to our fallen nature.  We can observe it even in little children.  For example, when my son asks for a cookie for dessert, before I can even get the cookie out of the box to present it to him as a gift, what does he do?  He grasps at it.  Taking advantage of this teachable moment, I might say to my son, “Hold on, you’re denying the gift.  Your papa loves you.  I want to give this cookie to you as a gift.  If you believed in the gift (and the giver…added and mine), all you would need to do is hold your hands out in confidence and receive the cookie as a gift.”  This is the problem with us all.  We do not trust enough in our Father’s love, so we grasp at the “cookie.”

Imagine what our marriages, families, and relationships would look like if we knew and practiced this kind of love, “Here, you can have all my cookies?”

The Cookie Jar in Real Life – “Who’d You Buy the Roses For?” 

I’d known this gentleman most of my adult life and we were great friends. You might even say we were best friends.  The Lord brought us together again after several years in our own marriage and family.  He approached me one Sunday evening at church and asked if we could meet and I said, “Absolutely!”

We spent some time catching up and he told me his marriage was falling apart and wanted to see what he could do to reconcile.  He did everything he could in humility and with grace but she left him for another person.  He did the typical rebound dating and within a fairly short time was in another “serious” relationship that ended in marriage and a second divorce within less than two years.

All I just shared is a brief setup for a great lesson that he has taken to heart and I pray you will as well.  When it comes to what real love is, the culture’s “give and take” definition of love is actually more lust and selfishness wrapped up in keeping score. First Corinthians 13:5 tells us that love does not keep records of wrongs, or keep score.  That’s the Cookie Jar mentality the world defines as love.

This man still had some things to work through and lessons to learn as he quickly jumped back into another “rebound” relationship.  It was this relationship that helped us both learn more about God’s kind of love.

After a few weeks of this couple dating and seeing each other nearly every day, she explained that the following week she would have to spend most of her time working due to the timing and demands.  She would not be able to see him and it was legit.  He understood, or so he thought. 

On Tuesday evening of that week he decided to surprise her by simply stopping by her condo and leaving her a dozen roses.  How romantic!  He wished her well and let her know he was thinking of and praying for her week and left the roses.

On Friday evening he showed up fully expecting her to be ready to go out on another date as the week had passed and she was free, in his mind; but she had promised to spend that night with her daughter. 

She was surprised to find him there when she opened the door.  There had been no communication, simply expectation and assumption.  She explained that this evening was going to be spent with her daughter and he graciously said he understood and left.

We met the next week as usual and he recounted the whole story of the week–the roses, the Friday night “rejection”–and as it had festered in his mind, he’d become quite agitated.  He couldn’t believe that she “stood him up” even though there was no date arranged.

We talked briefly about the communication side of things and he understood that his assumptions and expectations were guiding his emotional responses.  He was still frustrated and said to me, “I can’t believe after I left her alone all week–except for the roses and to tell her I was praying–that she would turn me down for a date on Friday.”

We’d been talking, as mentioned, about relationship, love, communication, and expectations.  I truly believe The Holy Spirit laid the next question on my mind so I said to him, “Let me ask you one question.”

“Sure,” he said.

“Who’d you buy the roses for?” I asked.

“For her, of course,” he retorted with a faint hint of disgust.

I repeated the question and he slowly and a little more thoughtfully repeated the same answer.

“I’ll ask one more time,” I said, “Who’d you really buy the roses for?”

He thought about it and it hit him, based on what we’d been discussing and how things had gone.  He looked at me and slowly and resignedly said, “I bought them for me, didn’t I?”

“Now you’re getting it.  Friday night proved that Tuesday night you were being nice so you’d get something in return,” I said.

That’s the culture’s description and modus operandi when it comes to so-called love.  But that’s really lust because we do things with the full expectation of a return.  God’s love, agape, is selfless and reaches out and serves regardless of the response or return.  It’s hard to grasp in our selfish flesh, but the love He gives to us and desires for us to share with others never takes into consideration the expectations or responses.  It gives us the full option to respond, but love continues even when others don’t respond or do so negatively.

We will have expectations because we’re human.  The reality is that expectations are the termites of relationships.  When we encounter unmet expectations we tend to define our partner, our relationships, and ourselves accordingly.   I’ve seen this played out over and over again whether it was roses, candy, gifts, sex, or any other cookies from the cookie jar.

In God’s design, we choose to give and love even when our expectations are not met. This is God’s kind of love that He desires for us to have in every relationship, but we must remember that apart from Christ we can’t love in this way.  Self gets in the way every time.

Contact L&L to let us know what you’re thinking and how we can help.

Give online as The Lord leads –

Check out @Loveandlordship for “L&L LIVE” every Thursday at 3:30pm on our Facebook page.  Also you can find videos and podcasts at

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – God’s Love is defined simply as “Give – 100%; Expect 00!  What gets in your way of loving like Jesus?

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s) – 1) Determine how you’ve understood and acted on love…according to the world and self or according to God’s Word?  2) Pay close attention to how your own expectations impact those around you and your loving, or not so loving, responses to them; 3) Make it a habit to go to God’s Word in your study, prayer and quiet time to determine both of the previous items and how you will respond; 4) Confess your selfishness every time you give into it; 5) Ask and trust The Lord to change how you see love and how you act accordingly.