Are You Excelling?

I’ve been thinking a lot about love. 

Thinking about how it is something so readily spoken of, but so rarely expressed. 

Why is that we–who have been loved so lavishly by God–are so frequently stingy or insincere in our love for one another?  Does that strike anyone else as an outrageous incongruence? 

I get that there are some people who are just prickly.  They’re hard.  They’re hard to love.  We all know someone who pushes the envelope of our tolerance. 

However, what concerns me is that love for others is becoming such a rare commodity.  I mean the kind of love that really treasures, values, and esteems others.  We don’t seem to have any problem loving ourselves.  Maybe this is why I’ve been jarred awake by the lack of love expressed in our communities of faith–the Scriptures tell us that in the last days people will be lovers of self (2 Timothy 3:2). 

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.  ~1 Peter 1:22

Our lack of love is not a knowledge issue.  We know love is prerequiste of true discipleship (John 13:34-35).  No.  This is a practicum deficiency.  Love isn’t love if it’s only in word–it’s in becoming deed, or action, that it qualifies itself as truly love. 

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God,  but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  ~1 John 4:7-11

Do you note the action verbs?  He didn’t just think about it or consider it or wave a happy wish.  He acted…bodly; outrageoulsy.  He risked it all to demonstrate His love.

I think this is where we get hung up.  We’re afraid to risk; risk rejection, misunderstanding, or maybe even vulnerability.  But that’s self-love.  When we choose safety for ourselves over the risk of reaching out to others we miss the whole message of the cross.  There was nothing safe about the cross.  It was a total commitment for the sake of another.

To whom can you say you are totally committed for their sake?  Where are you taking risks?  Where are your risking vulnerability to image God in His love for others?  Really?  Stop and ask yourself the question…and don’t be satisfied with your safe answers.  The Biblical authors were not soft about the love that was to be experienced in the Christ community.  Note how many times they exhort us to love and then follow it up with an urging to love even more deeply.  Doesn’t God know how quick we will be to justify and reward our half-hearted attempts? 

I’m preaching mostly to myself.  I find myself wanting to check-out on love more than I can humbly admit.  But if I don’t preach to you and you don’t preach to me, won’t we just keep growing colder in our apathy to one another?  We must expect more from ourselves!  I think about my 65 pound basset hound as the picture of what love should be like.  When Percy Basset loves you, you know it.  He smothers you with his enjoyment of being with you; slobber, howls, and all.  You never have to doubt if he really means it–there’s no denying he digs you.  Shouldn’t we all be so free with our love?

Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed, you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in Macedonia.  But we urge you, brethren to excel still more.  ~1 Thessalonians 4:9-10

Excel still more.  It’s never done.   There’s no box to check.  As long as you are breathing, be excelling at love!

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