HAPPY VALENTINE’S WEEK _ day two
Could it be possible that you and I think so much of ourselves that we can’t even think of each other? We know that putting the interests of the ones with whom we walk in relationship above our own interests is vital to the life and health of a relationship. So why is it so tough? Whether it’s because of paralyzing insecurity or all-consuming arrogance (which is just another way of expressing insecurity), self-absorption is epidemic, even when we don’t intend to think only of ourselves.
Like in my marriage. I don’t get up any morning of the week and think, “Today I will be selfish. I will hurt my with my insensitivity. I even hope she cries.” If you get up any morning of the week and think that about anyone, then you need help. Just saying.
Like with my kids. I don’t plan my work schedule ever while thinking, “I am so tired of tucking my kids in bed at night. This trip will be a good break from reading One Fish. Two Fish. Red Fish. Blue Fish. for the 1037th time. I want them to know that I don’t really care anything about kissing them good night. I have more important pursuits.” If you ever think that about your kids or even your neighbor’s kids, the ones who picked on your kids and you secretly are hoping that their Capri-Sun leaks uncontrollably, then you are sick. Sick I tell you!
Like my brother who lives in northern Tibet (really just Booneville, MS but it may as well be that far away). I never approach a week thinking, “I don’t want to call him this week. In fact, I don’t ever want to call him again. He snorts on the phone a lot and then doesn’t pay attention to me like he has four boys running around the house or something.” Seriously. If you ever think that about a sibling or friend or even that annoying lady who called to sell you identity protection on your credit card but baits you in by telling you on the voice mail that she needs to talk to you about your credit card and fraudulent charges, then you really are a selfish, selfish person and may God have mercy on your soul. Well, except for that lady who fraudulently called you about the possible fraudulent charged. That one is okay.
What am I even saying here? That while we all certainly tend toward self-absorption and it is epidemic in all of our lives evidenced by our actions daily, we aren’t necessarily starting the day hoping to be that way. But when a relationship gets tough or a spouse hurts you or a sibling offends you or a friend’s fondness seems to have waned, then we typically respond by highlighting our interests offended against rather than putting theirs above our own. Why?
Could it be because we don’t LIVE LOVED?
Jesus actually taught that we would need to deny ourselves daily (Luke 9:23). He also declared that believing that God loves us leads to abundant life in the right now as well as in the not yet (John 3:16).
That’s right. John 3:16. The ultimate overused Bible verse. The ultimate football game Bible verse. The ultimate Valentine’s Bible verse. Yes, the ultimate life Bible verse. Why?
Because its implications are most profound. If you believe that you are loved by the Ultimate Lover, then you will be made to become less and less insecure and selfish day by day as well as freed to be enabled and empowered to live loved breath by breath.
When we trust that we are loved, then we can quit living to be loved and rather live to give love. We can grow through our insecurities instead of being paralyzed by them. We can tame our need to highlight ourselves and become more and more genuinely interested in highlighting others.
It won’t change overnight, those self-absorbed tendencies. But with surrender to be cultivated into we can in turn blossom something out of our lives that we could not have reaped on our own. We need the Holy Spirit to blossom this in us and through us.
22 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, 23 not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. 24 Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. 25 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. [Galatians 5:22-25, the Message]
Are you living loved?