Friday, January 11, 2013

THAT Four-Letter Word

By Julie Gernand
No, it’s not what you may be thinking.
It may be cliché, but today’s topic surrounds one word with four little letters: L.O.V.E.

LOVE: Giving to others what they need the most when they deserve it the least at a great personal cost.

Did you get that?

Re-read that definition above.

Cool. Stuff. Indeed.

No, I cannot take credit for such a wonderful explanation of love. While in the car on my way to work last week, I was listening to 90.1 FM Moody Bible Radio. (Great station. Give it a listen.) Anywho, radio host Chris Fabry was interviewing a man named Chip Ingram, a pastor, author, and teacher from California. His words and ideas were too good not to go un-shared.

Chip’s most recent book is entitled Spiritual Simplicity: Doing Less, Loving More. His goal is to help others find and share the joy of Christ by loving like Christ, and slowing our lives down enough to do so. He wants for us to respond to the faults and needs of others in a Godly manner instead of consistently seeking our own desires and living solely for our own well-being.

Think about it: How often do you think about yourself? About what you want? About what makes you most comfortable, and will make you the most happy and satisfied?

A hypothetical example:Dan’s wife was recently ill with the flu. Sick as a dog. It had been a long weekend with a booked schedule, and Dan got home from work late Sunday evening. He was so tired and just wanted to settle down, have a late dinner, and go to sleep – but his wife needed cough medicine. Earlier that day, he been having disagreements with his wife over the phone about their bill payments, and Dan did not feel like getting something for someone who had just been unkind to him. However, despitenot wanting to go out and make another trip into town, Dan went and bought his wife what she needed.

This, on a seemingly small level, is what it means loving another person by giving them what they need most, when they deserve it the least, at a great personal cost.

Think of an example from your own life. Right now.

I can think of so many instances when I did not choose the loving road. How often do we ignore what others need because we feel they don’t deserve something? How often do we hold grudges against co-workers and withhold kindness? How many times have we gotten so mad at a family member that we refuse to call them on their birthday, or "forget" to invite them to our home for the holidays?

Chip Ingram tells us, "In contrast, godly love responds to failure with truth and grace, not with fascination and satisfaction."

In his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul addresses a church that is struggling with similar failures. He writes, "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (1 Cor 13:6-7)

I know one true example of trusting, persevering, unexplainable love.

And it came for you and for me on the cross.

Do you think Jesus WANTED to go to the cross and die a horrific death to save our pathetic mankind? Think again!! And yet, he was willing! On the night before the crucifixion, Jesus sat in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed to the Lord to take this circumstance away from him if he could; that there would be some way to avoid what was to occur. He prayed so fervently that his sweat turned to drops of blood. Yes, our Lord Jesus wept that night. Yet, Jesus told his Father that he was willing to do what was asked and required of him. He would perform this act of love for us - the truly undeserving. All because of this unquestioning, all-consuming, unending love that flows through the Holy Trinity and into our lives.

Yes, but how do we know that Jesus wants US to love like THAT?!?

Because the Bible tells me so in John 13:

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." 

I believe he most important words in that verse are ‘as I have loved you’.

That’s an intense command.

You mean, WE are supposed to love someone else so much that we’d be willing to DIE for our neighbor?

Why, yes indeed.

What’s that you say? That sounds really hard?

I know, friend. I know. In fact, it’s darn near impossible for most of us. Probably the hardest thing we will EVER be asked to do: to give out of love for someone else, even when it means doing something we do not FEEL like doing at the time!


Take a deep breath…….

Know that you are loved by our Lord SO MUCH that it is impossible to fathom…..

And the next time you feel like responding to someone out of a selfish desire, choose love.

Oh, how much different our world would be if we all did so……

Even the smallest act of love brings a smile to our Lord’s face.

What one (or more) act(s) of love can you do for someone today?

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