“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
– Matthew 6:21, NKJV –
Last week, I announced that today’s post just might be revolutionary.
My head feels full of a Living God of Love that I can worship, but cannot grasp.
Yet, I still must DO something. Somehow, I have to make the leap from theory to practice. From describing Love to actually living it.
As we have learned in the past weeks in the Practical Love Series, Love can be compared to many things.. We have discovered that even our selves must die in order for Love to be formed in us. All must be given over to Christ. All these lessons are still in place–and vital–as I approach today’s post.
Jesus’ famous words about our treasure were not merely a tool to urge disciples to be more generous in their tithing. Giving away money is only one facet of Love. His statement is much bigger than that.
Have you ever had to work on a project that you really hated? A prospect that dismayed, appalled, and exhausted you? Did you feel the same way about it when you finished? If you managed to do it well, did you find that the despised task gave you just a shred of pleasure when you stood back and saw the results? I have.
Just to let you know, I’m not a fan of concrete.
But a few years ago, when my family decided to expand our garden, we researched and found out that concrete block raised beds were the perfect kind of addition for us. This decision catapulted our family into a three-year building project full of cement crusted gloves, sunburns, aching backs, and a LOT of work.
As I slathered mortar in between block seams, I didn’t particularly care for concrete. When my fingers were trapped under the falling edge of a 30 pound cement block, I certainly did not enjoy the process.
But now….now, it is all different.
I look back and see the labor and the sweat and even the pain, but twelve raised beds stand inside the garden fence now. They overflow with tomatoes and cabbages and strawberries. Green beans arch over the pathways.
I look out over the fruitful project and say, “It was worth it.”
Mind you, I still don’t enjoy smashing my appendages with oversized bricks. But my persistent labor–and that of my family–turned the difficult task into an abundant harvest.
The process: HARD. The result: WORTH IT.
The practical part of Love is not easy either. Once we understand that our only hope of Loving is if God Himself fills us with His strength, we still have to roll out of bed every day and get to work. How do we do it? From the perspective of giving, Randy Alcorn explains Practical Love in this way:
“God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). This doesn’t mean we should give only when we’re feeling cheerful. The cheerfulness often comes during and after the act of obedience, not before it. So don’t wait until you feel like giving—it could be a long wait! Just give and watch the joy follow.” ―Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle
In the same way, you and I can’t wait until we feel Loving in order to start Loving. This kind of Love–the choice–is not hypocrisy. I have heard well-meaning girls say, “I can’t pretend to like that person. That would be hypocritical.”
Dear ones, this is not the case. Yes, you would be a faker if inside you had no desire to show Jesus’ Love to that person. However, if you truly desire to Love and merely do not feel the emotion at the moment (or ever!), do the Loving thing.
That is not hypocrisy. That is the imitation of Christ.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis discussed this idea. He pointed out that, as we imitate a person’s actions, we eventually learn to do better and better at the task. A baby is not very agile, after all. He is not born with a vocabulary already downloaded into his little head. Instead, he must learn by echoing his parents’ words or copying his parents’ movements. This is how we learn to Love like Christ Loves. This is how the new life is strengthened in us.
So…are you ready for the Grand Experiment? This week, I am picking a family member whom I especially want to learn to Love better. Every day this week, I plan to do three things:
1. Pray for this person every morning before I get out of bed. I want to ask God, “How do you want me to show Your Love to this family member today.” Also, I have to remember to pray for God’s strength–the only way to pull of this Grand Experiment.
2. Choose a “Will Not” to focus on for the day. For example, “I will not sigh when Mom asks me to unload the dishwasher” or “I will not object when my sister picks out the movie she wants to watch instead of the one I prefer.”
3. Prepare a “Will” to accomplish for the day: “Today, I will write my dad a note thanking him for all he does” or “Today I will take my brother out for a Sonic drink.”
The idea of this “Grand Experiment” is not to be nice to someone for a week and then stop again.
Rather, consider this our first baby steps toward Practical Love, our first three push ups in a new fitness program–or maybe learning the ABCs of this new language.
Are you ready to be God’s Love to that one person today?
Let’s do it!
“The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he ‘likes’ them: the Christian, trying to treat every one kindly, finds him liking more and more people as he goes on – including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning…When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.”
– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity –
Let us know how you plan to show the Love of Jesus for your Grand Experiment this week!