Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Love is not self-seeking

I am beginning to see a theme.  Love and selfishness do not mix.  They cannot co-exist even.  You can not have it both ways.

As I was thinking about how love is not self-seeking I was reminded of how Jesus earthly ministry begins.  I was thinking about the the time after Jesus is baptised in the Jordan River by John the Baptist and then immediately he is led by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days.  We are told that Jesus ate nothing during this time and was tempted by the devil.  For 40 days Jesus is pressured, prodded, and proposition by the devil to seek something other than God's will for his live.  The devil tries as hard as he can to get Jesus to stop loving us.  To love himself more.   He tries to convince him to think about himself and not about us.  Maybe because even the devil knows that selfishness and love do not go together.

The devils first move is to try to convince a hungry Jesus to turn stones into bread to feed himself.  The next move, the devil offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and all their authority and splendor.  All Jesus has to do is worship him.  The offer is for Jesus to be the King of Kings without the cross.  The devil offers Jesus a shortcut.  Love does not take the shortcut.  Without the cross we could not be restored into a relationship with God.  Jesus loves us and wants to have a relationship with us for all eternity.  It is not about kingdoms and authority it is about love.  His mission will not take shortcuts.  If he is self-seeking he probably takes the shortcut.  If he is self-seeking he probably whips up some bread for dinner.  But, Jesus is not seeking what is in it for him.  He is thinking about you and me.  He is not seeking his own comfort or his own glory.  He is seeking us.  He come to seek and to save us.

The move from self-centered to God centered happens as we move from being self-seeking to God-seeking. As we seek first God and his Kingdom all others things are added to us and our love becomes more like his.  This is not self loathing or not loving yourself it is about loving God and loving others.  It is about seeking God not self. Love is not self-seeking.  Jesus gives us the example.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Love is not rude

I remember growing up being told "don't be rude."  This usually was when I had interrupted someone or my body made inappropriate noises. As I grew older I begin to see that rudeness was about more than noises or just social norms.  My parents and teachers where helping me to honor others. When we cut in and talk over someone it inadvertently says "what I have to say is more important than what you are saying."  When we are inappropriate in our action and behavior around others we are saying "we don't care what they think." 

Rudeness is dishonoring others. It is a lack of respect for others.  It is a disregard for the value of another individual. All for the sake of self. 

Love does not do that. Love honors. Love respects. Love values others. Love is not rude. 

Love lifts up and elevates others. It understands that everyone is of great value and worth and treats everyone accordingly. It thinks of others feelings and cares about how others are effected. Love is not rude. 

Love does more than be polite or show good manors.   It values, honors and respects others.  It is not rude. 

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, February 17, 2014

Love is not proud

proud
adjective
  1. 1.
    feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one's own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated.



  2. 2.
    having or showing a high or excessively high opinion of oneself or one's importance.

Love is a selfless act.  Love is not about getting satisfaction from what we get or have.  Love is about others.  Love sees and celebrates the importance of others.  It finds satisfaction in the achievements, and qualities of others.

As I read this definition of pride and thought about how love is not proud.  I thought about a young man from our church family who is a close friend of my oldest son.   This young man is a very good athlete.  He is the best golfer on the team and the best basketball player.  He would never tell you that.  He is  humble.  One of the qualities that I really appreciate about Chase is that he is always more excited to talk about what one of his teammates has done or something my son has accomplished than his own.  Chase could win the tournament or lead the team in scoring but he is going to be excited and tell everyone about the success of his teammate.   He is truly more happy about a shot my son makes than his own scores.  He gets a big smile on his face and is ready to talk about what his sisters achievements,  his brothers success or his friends qualities.

This is what love does.  It is not proud.  It celebrates others and recognizes their importance.  It is selfless and about the other.  I thank God that when I reflect upon love there are people in my life that come to mind that are examples of what love is (and that he is a 17 year old friend of my son).  I often talk about how there are people  in our life, and we need to be people, who are little windows into the love of God.  We catch a glimpse of what God's love is all about through these people.  Through a window we can only see a small portion of what is on the other side.  We can't see everything that is out there but we can see part of it and understand what it is like.  People like Chase can  help us to catch a glimpse of what it means that love is not proud.  I hope you have someone in you life that is not proud and recognizes and celebrates the importance of you.  That is what love does.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love does not boast

Yesterday was Valentines day. I woke up early because I needed to make a long road trip to visit a friend who is near the end of his life. When I got up I placed a valentines card that I had for my wife on the counter for her to find when she woke up. I kissed her goodbye and left anticipation her response when she found the card.  As I drove I kept thinking she would call any minute to thank me for the gesture of love I had left for her.  After time had past I started to think maybe I should call and just check to see if she got my card. After all, had she gotten it she surely would call to tell me how much she loved me and how thoughtful I was, right?

Thankfully she called me before I called. However, I was thinking I should call and tell her what I had done. 

We do that sometimes don't we. We want to boast about what we have done. We do apparently loving things and then we say "look what I did!"  We say, "see what I did for you."

Real love does not need to be noticed. It does not expect something from others. It does not draw attention to itself. Love does not boast. 

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love Does Not Envy

It was interesting that as I reflected upon "love does not envy" I came across a translation that used the word jealous rather than envy.  Being the easily distracted person that I am I begin to wonder if they were really the same thing?  Is there a difference between envy and jealousy.

If Paul is writing about God, who is love, is he saying that God does not get jealous?  Exodus 20:5 tells us that God is a jealous God and so does Exodus 25 and Deuteronomy 4 and 5.  Our God is a jealous God.

Can envy and jealousy really be the same thing?  I don't think so.

Envy has to do with wanting something that you don't have which somebody else has.  It is an emotion of wanting another persons things or attributes.  It is a feeling of discontent and resentfulness

Jealousy on the other hand is about not wanting to lose something that you have that is yours to someone or something else.

God created us for his pleasure.  We are his children.  His handy work or masterpiece. He loves us and does not want to lose us.  We are his but we have to choice him.  We are created by our Creator to love our Creator but the only way that it can be true, real, love is that we choose to love him in return.  We are His and we are restless until we find are place in him but we have to choose him.  God is a jealous God because he does not want to lose any of his children.  God is love and he does not want his children to be without His love.  He desires that none would parish and be separated from him.

God does not envy.  He is not discontent or resentful that he does not have something someone else has.

Love does not envy.  It is not resentful or discontent.  It does not want for other peoples stuff or belongings.

I think that when it comes to our love we often confuse envy and jealousy.  We see them as synonymous so what we are calling jealousy is really envy and our envy is really jealousy.  Maybe understanding the difference in these two emotions can help us to love more like God loves.

Love does not get resentful and discontent or long for something that belongs to someone else.  Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Love is Kind

I want to continue in this thread of reflection on the way that love is described in 1 Corinthians 13.  What does it mean that love is kind?

Here is a definition that I came across from Merriam-Webster:
kind  adjective

: having or showing a gentle nature and a desire to help others : wanting and liking to do good things and to bring happiness to others
A gentle nature.  Nature is at the core of who we are. It is in our DNA.  You might even say it is our DNA.  God is love.  That is who God is.  There are  many statements about the nature of God.  God is omnipresent.  Meaning that he is always present.  God is omniscient.  Meaning he knows all.  God is omnipotent.  Meaning he can do anything and is all powerful.  These statement tells us about God at His core.  This is God's nature.  He is these things and will never cease to be these things.  This is what makes him God and you and I not God.   By our very nature we are none of these.
I think the most profound statement for us to understand about the nature of God is that God is love.  If we can really grasp this aspect of God's nature it truly changes the way that we understand and see God.  When begin to understand that God is love and not just loving or does love.  We can see that God is always going to act in love.  He cant help it.  It is who God is.  This means his commandment are an expression of love.  His guidance and direction are an expression of love.  It means that his desire is to help us.  Always.  This means we have to throw out any idea of a punishing, wrathful, vengeful, God.  Love is kind.  Love is gentle by its very nature and desires to help others and likes to do good and bring happiness to others.  God desires what is best for your and me.  God desires to help you.  God desires to bring happiness to our life.  It is his very nature.  God has your best interest at heart.

I need God to work on my love so that it can be more gentle at it's very core.  I need God's help to shape me so that I love from a pure place of desire to help others and bring happiness to others.  At my very core I am not love.  But the promise of the scripture is that God, who is love, will transform us so that our love can become like his love and our character like his character.   It is a process that we have to submit to.  But we can trust that if God calls us into this live changing relationship with Him it is what is best for us.  We can trust that if he says he will "take from us our hearts of stone and give us a heart of flesh" than it too is what is best for us and he will do it.  I want my love to be gentle by nature and desire to help and bring happiness to others.

Love is kind.

In Christ's Love and mine,
Doug

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Love is patient

This morning I was thinking about  love as it is described in 1 Corinthian 13. Paul begins his description of the characteristics of love with "love is patient."  

This led me to Google and a search for the definition of patient.  Here is what I found:

pa·tient
ˈpāSHənt/
adjective
adjective: patient
  1. 1.
    able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.

Love is able to accept or tolerate delays without becoming annoyed or anxious.  Love accepts suffering.  Love tolerates problems.  All without becoming annoyed or anxious.  

Hmm?

Am I accepting and tolerant.  Paul says "Love is".  Do I become annoyed and anxious with delays, problems and suffering?  The bible says "love is patient."  

I am still a work in progress.  God is not done with me yet.  I long to have a love like Jesus that is not easily annoyed and anxious when delays, problems and suffering are present.  

Delays will come.  Problems are inevitable.  Suffering happens.  As I work to love my wife, my children, my family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and all people as Jesus loves,  I will experience them all.  My response should be to love without letting the anxiety take over.  Love without allowing myself to just become annoyed.  I will certainly need God's help in this.  It is a good thing he says he will love through us.  He will come and make his home with us and in us so that  his love, which is patient, will overflow from us.

Today, I am trying to be conscious of how my love is, or is not, patient.  I am leaning on Jesus to take this lump of clay and mold it into His masterpiece.  I give my love, and my idea of what love is, to Jesus. 

Lord, help me to accept and to tolerate delays, problems, and suffering without becoming anxious or annoyed.  Amen.

In Christ's Love and mine,
Doug

Friday, February 7, 2014

Free Will TGIF

I am a big fan of free will. I like my choices. I like that I am able to make my own decisions. I like that I have the choice and I am responsible for right and wrong in my life.
Most of all what I like about free will is what it tells me about God and his love for all of us. You see without free will we would not know what love is. Without the ability for us to choose not to love God we would never know what it means to love and be loved by God. In fact we would not know what love is at all. 
You see God does not want us to have some false, forced, or manipulated love. He wants us to know true, deep, meaningful, heart moving love.  
So, instead of creating a creation that is programmed to love him he gives us free will. Because he loves us and wants us to know love.

Thank God it's Friday!

In Christ's' love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Learning to Love

The truth is we don't know how to love like Jesus.  The bible when describing the unconditional love of God says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1Corinthians 13:4-8)
We have to learn to love like Jesus.  As we are transformed and grow in our relationship with Christ our love will become more like His.  It will become more patient, more kind, more humble, more forgiving, more trustworthy and more unfailing.  We are a work in progress and our growth can be guage by the change in our love.
Here is the tough part.  We don’t develop and learn to love like Jesus in moments that are easy to love.  We learn to love like Jesus when it is difficult to love.  When our love requires patients we have to lean on the love of Christ.   We grow in our love when we love without getting love in return.  We grow in Christ like love when we love those who persecute us.  We learn to love when we love always, no matter what.
We need to embrace the difficult times of love as opportunities to grow to be more like Christ.  We need to recognize those moment when love is difficult for us are our opportunities to learn to love like Jesus.  In these moment we need to trust and rely on the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus and allow his love to flow through us and teach us to love like him.  
In Christ’s love and mine, 
Doug