Monday, May 20, 2013

Ingredient #6 - Selflessness - (Love - Part 8)

" does not seek its own..."
I Corinthians 13:5

Mmmmm...that last piece of pie.  It looks so good and it's calling your name.  

When you offer it to the other person at the table you feel like you've really sacrificed something, giving up your desire to please them.  Wow.  That's love, isn't it?

Well, it actually is loving to sacrificially put the needs of another person before your own, but I have to admit - as sacrificial as giving up a piece of pie seems at the moment, it is hardly a true picture of sacrificial love.  The definition we use at Harvest of love is pretty simple but clearly defines this sacrificial love - You Before Me.  When you love someone, you put their needs before your own - or as Paul put it in I Corinthians, you do not seek your own.  

Your own what? (I can hear you asking it already - finish the sentence!)

You own way.

The NIV puts it this way - " not self-seeking..."  Love does not seek its own way, but lays down it's "way" for the other.  Our sixth ingredient in our reduction sauce of love is selflessness.  You before me, your way before mine, sacrificially putting the other before yourself.  True love.

Okay, let's flesh this out - Jesus first.  Romans 5:8 says it all:  "But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."  Putting our need for restoration and salvation, Jesus laid down His rights and exchanged places with us.  Even in the garden you seem Him wrestle - not with doing what was right or wrong but with the reality of being separated from the Father and bearing His wrath alone.  But love did not seek its own way - Jesus did not put Himself first, nor did He count the cost and walk away.  He laid down His life for His enemies - for us.

Jesus' example makes the real life situations that we face seem rather petty, but we need to see what this looks like on an every day basis for the average Joe Christian, so here goes:

  • Why do mother's sacrificially give up sleep for their babies?  For the love of a helpless child - putting that child's needs before herself. (Okay, Kristen, that one was easy...)
  • Have you ever worn an old pair of jeans so that your children or husband could have a new pair? (Again, Kristen, that's not that big of a deal...)
  • Have you ever given up a night out so that you could care for your neighbor's children while they have dinner out? Or offered to babysit for free so someone could go to a parenting conference at the church?  Or gave your night-out money to your sister who really needed the oil changed in her car? (Okay, meeting someone's needs is fine...)
  • How easily do you give up the remote?  What about when your opinion doesn't matter?  How do you respond when plans are made without you?  How do you feel when you're passed over for a leadership position, a ministry opportunity, a job or a part in a play?  Do you get frustrated when you don't like what's on the radio? (Hey, don't mess with my remote!)  
  • Do you get angry when people aren't grateful for what you do?  Does it irritate you to wait for others?  Do you quicken your step when walking into a restaurant to beat the other couple walking from the parking lot?  Do you serve yourself at dinner before others can choose their portion?  (For the love, I get it! I get it!)
At the heart of man is a selfish will that listens to the world when it tells you to stick up for yourself because no one else will - "You deserve a break today", "You're worth it", "Me before You!"  I've even heard it said, "God helps those who help themselves!"  But what God has exampled for us and what God demands from us is a self - LESS love.  

So, once again, we find ourselves in a test mode - start with those in your immediate reach.  For a few days, live your life as usual, but when you go to bed at night, think about your actions, your words, your expressions, your feelings - were they selfless or selfish?  After a few days, you may find that you may find it necessary to double or triple this ingredient in your sauce.

Patience, kindness, contentment, humility, graciousness and selflessness...take a deep breath and let the sweet aroma of this combination fill your mind.  But wait, we're not even halfway through the recipe...

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