“Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe Me.”
Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.
What would it take for me to be grateful?
For the things others have given me, the heartfelt support, the prayers, the love, and all without expecting anything back?
For the things God has given me so lavishly–life, breath, a loving family, and a life that continues to amaze me even in hardship? Of course, I owe so much to God and all those who support me, but they pour out love without expecting me to do anything in return.
And that is love. True compassion for others doesn’t seek to gratify the giver’s own desires. It is content in doing good. And for the Christian, even moreso, it seeks to do the will of God and love others with no expectancy for a return. True love spurred on by the Holy Spirit is not like a business investment. I don’t pour into something only so I can get something back. That is selfishness.
Altruism, the act of giving or doing good things for others without any expectation of something in return, is alive and well today. I have seen selfishness rear its ugly head in our churches, I have watched silently as the give-and-take, expectant, morally capitalistic mentality invaded those who I know to love Jesus. That is unfortunate, yes. But I have also seen a love so fierce, so selfless pour from the same people. I think humanity is, by nature, selfish. But only the love of God can break through and change us into the kind of people who do things for others, not expecting anything in return.
I’ll close with a story that evoke this sense of God-given selflessness.
Last summer, I went to the beach with my parents and my aunt. My aunt suffers from a lot of health problems and gets very tired and burned out when walking long distances or exerting herself too much. We stayed ocean front, right over the dunes. One day, we rented a special wheelchair that would help her to get over the dunes and out on the beach. It was rough getting her out there, as there were a bunch of sandy hills. By the time I’d pushed her out on the flat sand, she was so tired. We sat on the beach for a while and then I brought her back.
I sat on the porch watching while she sat in a chair at the end of the boardwalk. She was crying, no doubt thinking about what she used to be able to do in a grisly contrast to the limitations her health brought on now. (But then again, I am just speculating.) Then, my mother walked up to her with a bucket of water, washing the sand from her feet and comforting her with her words. I saw a beautiful picture of contextualized Christlikeness. I couldn’t help but think of when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet in the upper room. This was a beautiful picture of servanthood, where Christ laid down his own preferences and desires for the greater calling of teaching them how to treat each other. This is one of the beautiful things about submitting our lives to Christ. We are given the privilege of laying down our own selfishness in favor of loving and serving others unconditionally. It is our joy, it is our calling. I will never forget the picture of unconditional service that my mom showed at the beach that year.
Pour yourself out for others, no conditions. That is love.
God, give us hearts for the lost, hands that would seek to serve without expectation of something in return. Help us break away from our ideologies that keep us focused on self and let us drown in the truth that we are called to serve others. Help us be more than altruistic, help us be faithful to You. Give us a passion for Your word and for letting Your Spirit breath life into us. You are beautiful and amazing. Thank You for taking on humanity by sending Your Son to die for us. Thank you for understanding us and, like a loving Father, for giving us good gifts. May we always be grateful for You.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children,let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” -1 John 3:16-18