Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: “I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.” Luke 18:9-12

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:

The negative impact of people who love conditionally is powerful. There are none who escape the touch of spiritually superior self-righteous people, but there are many who learn to counter their negative influence and move forward. Unfortunately, we must at times disconnect inwardly with those who have powerfully influence us in this way. Their connections to us become more like chains than supportive hands or arms. With some of these people we can minimize our involvement, but often this is not a possibility because of the close nature of these relationships. As we learn to live fully connected to God and His unconditional love, He will protect our hearts and minds from being penetrated by the negative influence that comes our way from certain people and He will help us to extend unconditional love to them at the same time. This inner disconnect is very important for us and for them. The Scriptures clearly spell out the supportive, helpful, accepting, caring, loving relationships to which God has called us. By moving forward in this way and holding ourselves and others to the standard of unconditional love we break the chains that imprison our hearts and minds.

Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:

Lord, thank you for how you are strengthening my connection to you and your unconditional love. You really are protecting me from the impact of conditional love the comes my way. Forgive me for all the ways I have loved conditionally. Help me to go forward in ways that avoid the trap of superiority and self-righteousness. Your unconditional love for me leaves no room for such negative and wasteful ways. Thank you for holding my hand and loving me so freely and wonderfully. Amen!