“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money…scoffing at God”
II Tim.3:1,2 NLT
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Mark 12:29-31 NLT
It’s not natural, this requirement of loving God and loving others. It’s not even possible apart from the Spirit’s work in us. Unless we are rooted and grounded in the love of God displayed for us in Christ, it will never seem safe or smart to stop spending our life energies to serve our own interests, amass stuff, and look out for the wrong ‘number one’.
But thanks be to God, He has better intentions for us than we have for ourselves. He knows that when we love Him best and most we will find the Life we were intended to have from the Creation of the world. And He is willing and able to incline our hearts to that end.
I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. Jer.32:40 NLT
For you are a holy people, who belong to the LORD your God. Of all the people on earth, the LORD your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure….It was simply because the LORD loves you, and because he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors…Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. Deut.7:6,8,9 NLT
Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life… Deut. 30:19-20 NIV
Last night in our women’s Bible study we read and re-read Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers, these ones to whom he longed to make known ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ.’ He prayed that God would grant them an understanding of the unfathomable depths of His love for them so that they might be filled up ‘with all the fullness of God’.
What rationale for self-interest is left with a love like this at work on me? And as for loving money and all that it can buy me, why? Being loved by the Supreme Ruler and Owner of everything makes that notion laughable too.
Still, it is difficult to rise above cultural norms and see myself as expendable for God’s purposes without an instinctive self-preservation kicking in. I admire Paul’s testimony: “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24 NKJV)
And though I still cringe to read verses like this, because I see myself as falling so short of their ideals:
Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me (Jn.12:25-26 NIV)
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. (I Jn. 3:16 NIV)
By faith, I keep reading them and trusting that the God who loves me and is committed to my good will do for me far beyond anything I can ask or imagine, including the fulfilling of these verses in my life!
And as He does for you and me what only He can do, our lives will shine with a love that is inexplicable apart from Him. Our lives will declare His glory.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Ps. 143:8 NIV)
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21 ESV)