God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
The Love Prayer and Inventory
So for about a month now, I’ve been practicing this particular prayer routine and it’s yielded some interesting results. If you want, you can read about it here: Prayer.
Part of this prayer routine is modeled after the chapter in the Bible that’s sometimes called “the love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13. What I’ve been doing is praying for God to make me a man who has the attributes listed in 1 Corinthians 13. So the prayer looks like this:
“Make me patient today.
“Make me kind today.
“Make me a person who doesn’t envy today.”
Then, at night, before I go to bed I look over the list of attributes and I do a self inventory: Have I been patient today? Was I kind today? Was I a person who didn’t envy today . . . (So far I’ve been fairly consistent with the prayer. Somewhat spotty with the inventory.)
One wonderful thing that’s happened as a result of this prayer is that Kathy and I have begun praying it together, in the morning. For a long time now Kathy and I have already been praying together and/or doing some other kind of devotion in the evenings before bed. And now we have this new time together with our Lord in the morning and it’s one of the best times of my day. It’s really great!
But something else has come out of this routine. I’ve noticed there’s this one part of 1 Corinthians 13 that jumps out at me every time I pray this prayer. It comes from verse 5 and that part of the prayer goes like this:
“Make me a person who doesn’t insist on my own way today.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)
My Own Way
When I started praying this prayer, I didn’t think about any one attribute as being more challenging than any other. But one month in, wow! This one part of love hits me. I now realize how far I am from following Jesus’ commandment to love when it comes to this particular area. Because I’m praying this prayer at the start of the day and knowing I’m going to try to take this inventory at the end of the day, I’m noticing when that desire to insist on my own way crops up.
If you could hear the battle in my head when I’m desiring my own way, it would sound like this:
“But my way is so obviously better!”
“But her way doesn’t make any sense!”
“Sure, I know I’m insisting on my own way, but after he sees how good my way is, he’ll thank me for insisting on my own way later.”
What comes next in 1 Corinthians 13 is also interesting. “Love is not irritable or resentful.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) Funny how that’s exactly what happens when I don’t get my own way — I become irritable and resentful. I once heard one of my favorite authors Brant Hansen (jokingly) say it this way: “If everyone knew how nice I am when I get my own way they would all just do what I want.”
All this dialogue about insisting on my own way reminds me of a certain group of brothers who wanted their own way. They hated their youngest brother. And they wanted him gone. So they threw him in a pit, then they sold him to slave traders, and then they told their dad he was killed by a wild animal. So they got their own way.
But God intervened. And this youngest brother grew up to become second in command of the nation of Egypt. During a famine his brothers had to present themselves to ask for food from this man who was now second in command (though they didn’t realize he was their little brother but only recognized him as a great Egyptian leader). The person I’m referring to is, of course, Joseph.
His brothers were feasting with Joseph before their return trip home when this happened.
Judah’s Gift to Joseph
Before the brothers leave for home, Joseph gives the steward of his house these instructions: Fill up their sacks with all the food they can carry, and put their silver in their sacks. Also, put my silver cup in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver and grain. (The youngest one is Benjamin. Born from the same mother as Joseph after Joseph was sold into slavery.)
So the steward does as Joseph instructed.
Morning comes and the men are sent on their way. They aren’t very far along on their journey when Joseph says to his steward, Go after them, and when you catch them, say, Why have you repaid good with evil? You have the cup my master drinks from and uses for divination. This is a wicked thing you’ve done.
So when the steward catches up with them he says what he was ordered to say. And they answer, Why are you saying these things? We would never do anything like that! We brought back the silver we had from last time. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master now? Tell you what, if you find the cup on any one of us, that person will die; and the rest of us will become your master’s slaves.
All right then, the steward says, It’ll be how you want it. Whoever has it will become my slave, the rest will be free from blame.
They all toss their sacks to the ground and open them up. Then the steward searches them, beginning with the oldest and working his way to the youngest. And there it is, the cup, in Benjamin’s sack. Right away they despair and tear their clothes. Then they load up their donkeys and head back to Joseph’s house in the city.
Joseph is still there when Judah and his brothers come in, and they throw themselves to the ground in front of Joseph. Joseph says, What have you done? Don’t you realize a man like me can find out what’s happened by divination?
What can we say? Judah responds. What can we say? What could we do to prove our innocence? God has exposed your servants’ guilt. We’re now your slaves — we ourselves and the one who had the cup.
But Joseph says, Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the one who had the cup will become my slave. The rest can go back to your father in peace.
Then Judah approaches Joseph and says, Please excuse your servant, my lord, please allow me to have a word with my lord. Don’t be angry with your servant, even though you’re equal to Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, Do you have a father or a brother? And we told you, We have an elderly father, and there’s a young boy born to him in his old age. His brother’s dead, and he’s the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.
Then you said to us, your servants, Bring him down here to me so I can see him for myself. And we said to my lord, The youngest son can’t leave his father, if he leaves, his father will die. But you told us, your servants, Unless you bring him back, you won’t see me again. When we went back to your servant, my father, we told him everything you said.
Then our father said, Go back to Egypt and buy some more food. But we told him, We can’t go unless our youngest brother Benjamin goes with us. We can’t see the man’s face unless we bring Benjamin.
Your servant, my father, said, You know my wife had two sons. One of them went away and never came back, I said, He has surely been torn to pieces by a wild animal. And I haven’t seen him since. If you take Benjamin, and harm comes to him, I’ll die from grief.
So at this point, if the youngest isn’t with us when we go back, and my father, whose life is closely bound up with his, sees he isn’t with us, my father will die. Your servants will bring him down to the grave in grief and sorrow. I myself guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father.
So please, let me remain here as your slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return to his brothers. How can I go back to my father if he’s not with me? No! Don’t let me see the misery that would come upon my father. (Genesis 44)
What God Wants for Christmas
Imagine with me what Judah and his brother’s must be saying to each other at this point: What, what, what? What does Joseph want? Why is this happening? When will it stop? We gave Joseph our silver to buy food. Earlier we left Simeon as a prisoner, for collateral. We went home, we came back, we brought Benjamin as requested. We brought gifts, almonds, honey, the best the land has to offer. We bowed before Joseph — four times so far! But no, none of that is what Joseph wants. So what then? What? What is it?
What does Joseph want from us?
Have you felt that way during 2020? Have you ever asked those questions over the course of this year? Maybe like Judah and his brothers, you’re asking yourself those questions now: “Why is this happening to me? When will it stop? What does God want? What does Jesus want from me?”
The answer for Judah and his brothers concerning what Joseph wanted was this: Joseph wanted the brothers themselves. He wanted the brothers to give themselves to him. At the end of our text we see Judah offer himself to Joseph. And in the following chapter of Genesis, we see it’s not until Judah finally offers himself to Joseph, that Joseph reveals himself to Judah, and the rest of the brothers.
The answer for you is the same. It’s the same with your greater than Joseph, Jesus. He doesn’t crave your money. He doesn’t need your worship. He doesn’t want to imprison anybody. He doesn’t need your gifts. He doesn’t need your sacrifices. What does He want?
He wants you.
He wants you to give yourself,
All of you. Everything. Everything you are.
He wants your life.
That’s why I struggled with loving the way Jesus wants me to. Jesus wants me to not insist on my own way. I struggled because I want to give myself to God but only in part. I want to give myself to God but I want to reserve the right to insist on my own way when I feel strongly enough about it.
But here’s how we’re missing out when we hold back part of our life from God:
The moment we make that commitment, the moment you flip that switch in your head and your heart, to give all of yourself to Him, everything, your whole self — as Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, Jesus will begin to reveal Himself to you. And intimacy with Jesus will grow. And as that intimacy grows, anxiety will dissipate. Fears will ebb away. Love for God will well up in you. Love for people will flow forth from you.
And these are the things God wants for you.
So what’s the best possible gift you can give God for Christmas?
The gift He wants is you.
All of you.
Newly released book by Kurt Bennett, now available on Amazon!
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.