Love Serves

love-serves-1I have blogged quite a bit about the tendency of our culture to be pragmatic. That is, people determine the rightness or wrongness of something based on how it feels to them. If it feels good,  or if they get something positive out of it, then it must be good; but if it feels bad, or if they don’t  get anything out of it, then it must be something they need to abandon.

True love is never pragmatic. Although culture tells us it is:

  • “You’ll know he’s the one by how he makes you feel.”
  • “We’ve fallen out of love.”
  • “There’s just no spark there any more.”
  • “He’s let me down one too many times.”
  • “You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling, oh that lovin’ feeling….”

“We dress ‘love’ in the fantasy of evening gowns and tuxedos, with silver and candelabras. But most of the time…love comes dressed in overalls—it is practical, down-to-earth, everyday hard work. It is really thinking of the other person and doing what the other person needs and being what the other person needs when he or she needs you to be there.” —Dr. Richard Dobbins

love-serves-2In writing to the church at Ephesus, Paul told them he became their servant—literally this means their waiter. But not so he could get something out of it. Instead it was a love completely focused on them…

  • the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the sake of you (Ephesians 3:1)
  • God’s grace was given to me for you (v. 2)
  • this grace was given to me to preach to [you] (v. 8)
  • my sufferings for you, which are your glory (v. 13)

Speaking to the Ephesian leaders as he was traveling to Jerusalem, he said…I served the Lord with great humility and with tears (Acts 20:19)

  • I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears (v. 31)
  • I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing (v. 33)
  • In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak (v. 35)

Dear Christian, is this the kind of love you demonstrate? Do you share God’s grace with the hurting? Do you walk alongside those who are limping or about to give up? Do you stand through the storms with those on the battlefield?

It’s not what I get out of it. 
Love focuses on the other person. 
Love is devoted by a solemn promise. 
Love doesn’t view “suffering” as something bad, but for the other person’s glory. 
Love doesn’t seek recognition or rewards. 
Love simply does what is important for the other person.

If I Only Would Have Thought That Through…

These words are usually said after we have messed up something. We look back and say, “What was I thinking?!”

The truth is: you were thinking, it was just wrong thinking.

The Apostle Paul writes this:

Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Romans 13:14)

The King James Version, instead of do not think, says, “make no provision for the flesh.” In other words, the idea here is forethought.

We have a filter at the base of our brains called the reticular activating system (or R.A.S.). This is what lets in the important things, and keeps out the unimportant things. But here is the vital issue—

YOU CAN PROGRAM YOUR R.A.S.!

You tell your RAS what’s important and what’s unimportant. Paul says that if we use our forethought to consciously decide to clothe ourselves with Christ, we are programming our RAS to spot the things that glorify Him and ignore the things that gratify our fleshly desires.

A phrase that I use often (hat tip to Dr. Richard Dobbins) is: I need to think about what I’m thinking about.

By doing this, I’m able to see how I’ve programmed my RAS. It’s either programmed to look for God-honoring things or flesh-gratifying things.

Try it for yourself. Make the conscious decision to read the Bible every day. Then in your prayer time, ask the Holy Spirit to help you think about God-honoring things. If you will do this, you will notice that you are noticing more things that please God, and that you are ignoring more things that please your sinful nature.

Sanctuary Needed

Why is it that a bad morning at school follows you and becomes a bad afternoon at home?

Why is that a bad day at work follows you and becomes a bad evening at home?

We all have a tendency to hang on to things. But the problem is we end up taking out our problems on those who didn’t create the problem. In other words, our family takes the heat from us because we know they will still love us, even after we unload on them. So we make our problem their problem.

Yes, we all need someone to listen to us vent when we’ve had a bad day, or we’ve been snubbed by someone, or we’ve gotten an after-school detention, or we’ve been chewed out by the boss. But venting is different from transferring. Venting is when we express our hurts to someone who loves us; transferring is when we take out our hurts on someone who loves us.

Dr. Richard Dobbins gave some wise counsel on how to avoid doing this:

“Develop the mental and spiritual ability to put space between your workplace [or school] and your home life. Treat your home life like a sanctuary. Don’t bring the feelings created by being treated unfairly in the workplace [or school] home with you.”

Maybe this will help you. Here’s what I do: I have created a boundary line (in my case it’s a road) over which bad attitudes created during the day cannot cross. As I approach home I remind myself that my family was not who gave me trouble, so I’m not going to bring my trouble home to them. If I need to, I’ll stop my car and sit for a few minutes before I cross that boundary, just to make sure my attitude is right before I cross that boundary line.

Where’s your boundary? Where can you make some space, so that your home becomes (and remains) a sanctuary?

Lessons From A Puppy

I’m learning great lessons from hanging out with my puppy Grace. Today I was observing how Grace lives in the moment—how she is fully there in whatever and wherever there is.

  • When she’s hungry, she eats.
  • When she’s full, she walks away from her dish.
  • When she’s thirsty, she drinks.
  • When she’s satisfied, she walks away from the water bowl.
  • When someone is around to play with her, she’s on full-throttle GO!
  • When she’s alone, she amuses herself.
  • When she’s tired, she takes a nap.
  • When I leave a room, she follows me.
  • When I have to go somewhere in my car, she’s right with me.
  • When I’m happy, she wags her tail.
  • When I’m upset, her tail and ears hang low.

In short, whatever there is to do, she does just that without holding anything back. And most of the time what she’s doing is based around who’s doing what around her. She’s always fully there in the moment.

I have had a quote in my files for quite some time from Dr. Richard Dobbins. I’m challenged by this thought about married love because it can easily apply to every relationship I have:

“But most of the time Christian married love comes dressed in overalls—it is practical, down-to-earth, everyday hard work. It is really thinking of the other person and doing what the other person needs and being what the other person needs when he or she needs you to be there.”

The great “love chapter” in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13) really is about being there for others … focusing on others … and then living fully in the moment for them. Check out a few verses from this chapter from The Message paraphrase:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

I’m working on being fully there for the ones I love today. How about you?

%d bloggers like this: