The other day my oldest child, Bailey, had to get a tooth pulled. This was unfamiliar territory, so just the idea of a tooth extraction was kind of a big deal to all my kids (minus the newborn, of course).
But the procedure turned out to be extremely minor. We were in and out of the office within 30 minutes. Bailey soon commented on the fact that they all made way too big of a fuss about this tooth-pulling thing. The worst part was clearly the anticipation of it all.
However, while Bailey was finishing her no-big-deal procedure, her sisters were at home continuing to make a fuss of the whole thing. They had seen Bailey leave the house a little nervous, so they teamed up to create quite the “Welcome Home” set up. Homemade signs were hung in all kinds of creative ways — the funniest of which read, “Hallelujah, You Are Alive!” They blew up balloons, and they made her a cozy little spot on the couch, complete with decorations, a glass of water, the TV remote, a labeled spot for her promised milkshake, a picture frame of the family, and more. Obviously they didn’t get the “no fuss needed” memo.
Needless to say, Bailey felt super loved by the sweetness of her sisters (even though she didn’t need to stay planted on the couch), but I think I appreciated their thoughtfulness the most. What a joy to witness their sisterly love for each other!
And thus enters a spiritual parallel…
Sometimes, I wonder if we picture ourselves being kinda like the siblings — the siblings showing love to a sister who doesn’t reeealllly need it. We know we could sacrifice for others, but we wonder if it’s truly helpful or worthwhile to do so. We might even refrain from showing love because we’re not sure whether our sacrifice will be adequately appreciated. But, if God is the one we’re ultimately trying to please, maybe we’re overthinking this whole thing.
Who Are You Trying to Please Most?
When we go out of our way to love others, the obvious truth is, God is pleased! So in one sense, it’s not crucial to make sure we calculate the worth-it-ness of our actions.
For example, it turned out that Bailey didn’t need all that practical love she was shown— in actuality, it was kinda overkill. Nevertheless, when I as the parent saw my kids loving each other, I was pleased with the heart they were showing. A selfless loving heart is exactly what I want to see in each of my children! And is that not what God is concerned about in us too?
God sees our hearts, and regardless of how “needed” our love is, our selflessness and sacrifice honors him…and that is what matters the most!
The Logic of Love
I’m sure some people read this and think (at least I would), don’t we want to actually meet people’s needs— Isn’t that the point of loving others? Yes, at least partly. Our love is undoubtedly connected in Scripture to meeting the needs of others (1 John 3:17, James 2:15-16).
But that’s not the only reason we show love. We show love because it’s simply who we are as Christians (1 John 3:10), it’s an overflow of the love we’ve been shown in Christ (1 John 3:16), it’s a fruit of the Spirit’s work in our life (Galatians 5:22), it’s an issue of obedience to God’s commands (2 John 5), and to my point today, our acts of love truly please the Lord (Hebrews 13:16).
In other words, our love is not only about meeting needs — it’s also just what we do as Christians. It’s what God wants us to do. Therefore, while a strategic use of our energy and sacrifice is certainly a good idea, we don’t need to wait for the perfect opportunity. Simply showing love is a worthwhile endeavor.
Show Some Love!
It’s a freeing notion to ditch being worried about whether our love is received as well as we’d hope. We don’t need to calculate whether our efforts are worth our energy. We don’t have to wonder if we’re wasting time on people who won’t notice what we’re doing. Because God sees our love, and he is pleased; and if that’s all that comes from our sacrifice, that’s enough.
Like a parent who gets joy seeing the selflessness and thoughtfulness of her kids (regardless of whether the display of love was entirely necessary) so does God delight in those who freely give of themselves for the benefit of others.
So with that perspective in mind, let’s go all in loving each other well! Let’s focus on pleasing God this week through selflessly, whole heartedly loving one another…and I’m sure our efforts will greatly bless others in the process.