Saturday, February 5, 2011

For Love of the Self

One night a few weeks ago, everyone went to bed early. I was left with a quiet house, a Bible, and the Bible study homework that had been gathering dust for a few months. As I snuggled up on a comfy chair, resisting the urge to grab popcorn and a cup of tea (I'm trying not to eat right before bed, which is a very difficult habit for me to drop!), I found myself once again remembering how much I love God's Word. And how convicting it is. In fact, I thought I was doing pretty well, which is simply evidence that I haven't recently been in the Word enough. When we really examine God's standards, we see how far short we fall - and how overwhelming His grace is for Him to give everything for such ungrateful, imperfect creatures.

Today's moment of conviction was tucked inside one of the most familiar passages in my mind: 1 Corinthians 13, the famous "love" passage. I have reflected on "love is patient, love is kind" before, but looking ahead to verse 5, I stumbled upon these provocative words: [love] is not self-seeking. "Self"...that must mean me. Love is not me-seeking. Love doesn't seek MY good. If I love God, I'm seeking HIM. I am seeking His glory. That doesn't leave room to look out for my own interests, preferences, and ideas. It doesn't leave room for my vain thoughts and selfish frustrations and woeful disappointments with the fellow humans in my life.

As I reread those lines, a fleshly little voice whispers in velvet undertones, "That's too hard. Put others first? Sure. But that doesn't mean you have to make their breakfast first. You don't have to smile when your toddler keeps waking up and you're lucky to eek out a broken six hours of sleep. Get your rest, your workout, your shower, your cup of tea, and your favorite slippers. Then you can think about changing wet sheets or convincing your husband to take out the trash. Do it when it's convenient...for YOU."

Isn't that what our society is all about? Me first? "You deserve it" is the spoken or unspoken message of most commercials. "You're worth it." "You've earned it." None of the voices of pop culture are saying, "Actually, you're worth nothing, you've earned nothing, and you deserve Hell." Only the voices of truth dare to admit such harsh statements that throw our teacups and slippers for a loop.

I love the Amplified Bible's extension of this verse:

Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking...

Not my love, but God's love in me. Not my rights, but doing what is right. Not my way, but God's way. It all sounds simple and cliche, yet when the velvety voice points out the specifics, I realize how often I seek my own interests, my own comfort, and my own way. To really change is going to take more than my will-power. I may be able to refuse a late-night snack, but I can't stand strong against the subtle temptations of selfishness on my own. "God's love in us" - that is what calms the angry, inspires the lazy, convicts the indulgent, persuades the stubborn, and drives out the selfish. The only way to stop insisting on my own rights and my own way is to fill every recess of my mind with Him. Dear Jesus, save me from the trap of always seeking my own good. In the very details of my everyday life at home, let me surrender my rights and desires to Your perfect and holy Will. Show what it really means to love You more than I love myself.

1 comment:

  1. Amen! Great post, Manda! It is so hard to fight upstream against this mentality - not only socially, but within my own flesh, as well. But with His power, it can be done!