Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Selfish Love...

This morning, as I was driving to work, I was listening to a sermon on the radio and one of the focal Bible verses came from 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. This is a natural time of year for pastors to broach the subject of L♥VE, as we rapidly approach Valentine's Day... here is the verse from today's sermon:
For there are these three things that endure: Faith, Hope and Love, but the greatest of these is Love.         - 1 Corinthians 13:13 (ABPE)
The pastor giving the sermon was discussing how these three things are evidence that God is working in your life. The question raised was "Why is the greatest of these Love?" and his rationale was that God is the source of Hope & Faith, but God IS Love (1 John 4:16); that is, "Faith & Hope are the means to an end, which is Love." The main point the pastor was addressing was that church folk can talk- or act-a-big-game (perhaps by boasting about or misusing their God-given gifts), but what is really desirable for us as Christians (that is, "Christ bearers") is a relationship with God
As most people who have been in love will note, having a relationship is a two-way street.  You can love someone with your whole heart, but if it's unrequited, you don't have a relationship. Once you have started a relationship, it can easily sour if you lack communication with the object of your affection (I've also been reading The Five Love Languages, which is fascinating for someone with my Psychology background, too, but I digress)...

On the heels of this sermon, when I switched stations to listen to a Bible commentary show, I was treated to another poignant, though perhaps less-memorable (to me, until now) passage from the Bible:
One of the Pharisees asked [Jesus] to eat with him, and He went into the Pharisee’s house and took His place at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that He was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed His feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfume. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”          - Luke 7:36-47 (ESV)
The juxtaposition of these verses led me to an epiphany...
I love God & gladly claim Jesus as my Savior. I have been given (by God's Grace) a strong Faith & a fervent Hope. But when it comes to Love (yes, that Love that was the quintessential part of having a relationship with God), I am sorely lacking.
It's not to say I do not have love in my life. I love my husband & my son. I love all my family & friends (believer & non-believer alike). There are people I don't even know for whom I have a strong affinity... I guess that's a sort of brotherly-love...
But what I realized is that my Love for those most dear to me (especially God) is very selfish. I try to fit my Love into a box -- usually constrained by time, though frequently by physical distance or my inability to deal with distraction. I am cautious of Love (one might even say "fear it") -- though it may make sense to guard my heart from my fellow Man (who are, of course, human & therefore prone to accidentally or intentionally! being heart-breakers), there is no reason to doubt the Love God has for me. That PURE Godly Love (Agape?) is the kind that should evoke a grateful response & a desire to return & spread PURE Love as best as one is able.
So, I'm "sweetly broken" as I write this...
Do I not Love God enough? Am I like the Pharisee, thinking that I'm such a good person I don't need as much forgiveness as my neighbor & has that hardened my heart? God, let it not be so! I acknowledge that I am a sinner and, all sins causing separation from God, I've accepted the sacrifice of Jesus' blood for the covering of my sins. I think what I need to do is better show God my Love.
Sooo... what do I intend to do about this short-coming? Well, I intend to pursue the relationship that I COULD have with my Creator. I will make a concerted effort to read my Bible & pray daily (gotta open those lines of communication). I will seek His Will for my life.  I will stop making excuses about why I don't have time for the Lover-of-my-Soul. I will try my best to manifest the Godly traits modeled by Jesus at every opportunity. And, since every good goal is measurable, I will seek accountability for each of these things from those who know me best.

I am thankful that God has given me insight to these things! I have gone to the trouble (as you can see, I'm a terrible blogger!) to write them down here because I believe they may -- in some way -- help someone else who is struggling with the same thoughts & feelings.
May God richly bless each & every one of you who reads this post and may you (personally) come to know His abounding, unconditional, & eternal Love for you!