Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love Works On Valentine's Day

Does it seem to you that the primary motivators in life today are fear, guilt and anger?  I think that motivational trinity has crowded out what God intended—the motivation of love.

It’s happened to the church, too.

We seem ever to want to be motivated by crisis, by calamity, by a good cause and a good appeal, by a big need, or by a needed kick to our backside.  I know the church doesn’t really want that, but it seems like it does.  And I sure don’t like it.  It’s not that we shouldn’t be motivated by a sudden event, it’s just that we can become addicted to the energy and appeal of the moment.  And there is something much better, something more true and constant, something given by God Himself.  The church was made for it.  You were too.

God’s love produces confidence and daring and assurance and peace and rest and hope and, well, everything we need.  God’s very being is love—He does nothing apart from what He is—so if we, His sons and daughters, attempt to do much of anything apart from love, we fumble and act unnatural.  We feel it, too.  Like something’s seriously out of whack in us.  And it is.  When the behavior of the Corinthian Christians went seriously crazy, the apostle Paul pointed them back to the love of God because it is the prime motivator—it rescues and refreshes and compels the people of God (2 Cor 5:14).

God’s love works.

I’m reminded of what love did to the Macedonians.  God gave an amazing grace to these people who lived in “extreme poverty” such that in their joy they gave what little they had so others could hear the gospel.  The Macedonians were in love with God, having been won-over by His love for them.  And that love “welled up in rich generosity.” (2 Cor 8:2)

Paul then wrote to the Corinthians that they, too, should “excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.” (2 Cor 8:8, italics mine.)

That’s why the Macedonians gave – they were in love!  They didn’t give motivated by an appeal to sacrifice, they didn’t give to make sure their tithe was on time, they didn’t give because others were in need, and they didn’t give because it was the right thing to do.  They gave because they were in love, and that made their giving “acceptable” (2 Cor 8:12).  Their gift wasn’t acceptable for any other reason but love.

And that’s what drives me nuts for the church.  I want believers to know and be motivated out of a burgeoning love affair with God.  I don't mean we should never give unless we're right then invigorated by love, but I fear we've gotten used to giving without it.  We've learned to motivate and to be motivated by something else.  That's what makes pushy pastors and manipulative motivators out of our leadership.  And they don't like it any more than we do.

If we're not looking and doing good, it's because we're missing love.

If your motivation is low right now, go get some love—you need it and can’t live without it.  If your giving lacks, if your service is stunted or reluctant, if there is gossip in the church and “sin in the camp,” go get some love—you cannot live without it.

“How can I get some of His love?” you ask.  You might read Ephesians 1, or think about the gospel, which says you have been given everything for nothing, or ask Jesus what He thinks of you right now (you know it will be good!), or take a walk and start thanking God for what He has done for you in Christ, or pick up a favorite book and turn to that great passage about God’s love for you, or email or call someone and ask them to remind you who God has made you to be and what His thoughts are toward you.  Or email me – I’ll help you.  It’s an assist and pleasure for me to think on and talk about God’s grace and love.

Because for me too, love works.

1 comment:

  1. Victoria Thomas Gaines8:25 PM

    Ralph, Happy Valentine's Day. And, this is so good, I think I'll read it again:-)