Sabbatical Learnings: Lesson Two Was My Response to God, To Others

The second half of my sabbatical I asked God the question, “How can I possibly love you in return, Lord?” My thoughts went to the love languages and I asked God what His love language was, and how best I could love Him in return. I was reminded of how He says that to love Him is to obey Him. My mind went to the commandments that He calls us to observe. Yet, when one loves someone, they naturally seek to honor them.

Honoring the commandments is simply pointless when you do not understand the depth of God’s love for you. Our acts become religious law. However, when we honor the commandments out of a deep love for God, and for His sacrifice of His son, our hearts long to honor Him in return. We love Him because He first loved us. This simple truth dug deeper within me.

I again pondered over how, when we grow up to become adults we often make things so utterly complicated. Our minds become overwhelmed by things that we must do in order to be a follower of Christ. We mistakenly find our identity in doing things rather than in being with Jesus. Our minds instead go to doing ministry and doing things for Jesus. Yet, what He asks of us first and foremost are our hearts. If we do things for Him and without love for Him, we are just making noise.

We can easily succumb to noisy selfishness even in ministry. We resort even to doing ministry in order to honor our own name. His name becomes forgotten and in thinking we are doing things in His name, we can fall into the trap of doing things in our name and building our own kingdoms. How does one know when this happens? For one, when ministry leaders become envious of one another, this selfish kingdom building becomes evident. The body of Christ is torn in two, the name of Christ is tarnished. Yet, others will know we are Christians by our love.

Our love for each other only shall flow out of our love for God. If our love flows for each other out of anything but God’s love, it becomes abusive, controlling and manipulative. Our love becomes bondage over others. Perfect love casts out fear and God’s perfect love brings freedom. Yes, the commandments are summed up in two points; love God, love others. Of all the deep and theological truths that one can learn, if one never learns how amazing God’s love is and instead takes it for granted, no theological truth will satisfy. No hearts and minds will ever be transformed. No freedom will ever be gained.



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