I’ve decided my goal for life is to learn how to freely give. Sometimes I look at myself and see only mean and petty motivations. I see hypocrisy and self-centered manipulation. And this is when I despise myself most, for this is everything I abhor. Because honesty is so important. It is better to be honest and real—no matter what that means—than sickeningly insincere. It is better to be a miser than give with strings attached. When Jesus healed the sick, the blind, the possessed, did He demand they spend the rest of their life serving Him? Did He seek out those who could do something for Him? Did He turn away blind Bartimaeus because this poor beggar could never return the “favor”? Hardly. Instead He spent His entire life giving to those who would never give anything in return. He gave His very life for wretched and fallen sinners. Why? We have no idea. Why did God decide to redeem this fallen creation? We don’t know. It just is. God gave all for those who have nothing to give. This is the essence of Christianity.
The world is ever-grasping, demanding, and cruel. It is a place of unrelenting “fairness” where every good deed or favor is carefully recorded so that it can be used against the receiver someday. It is a world of cynicism and disillusion where mercy is met with the skeptical question, “what’s in it for you?” It is a place of implacable judgement because grace is foreign to the darkness.
This beautiful post has been going around the blogosphere today and I was struck with how the theme fit in so well with what’s been on my heart. The article is basically the reflections of a recently-divorced man after 16 years of marriage, the lessons he learned too late to save his marriage. At the core of everything he lists is the principle of unconditional love. To love your spouse without trying to change or mold him/her. To love when your partner is lovable and to love when they aren’t. Marriage is pretty much the most significant human relationship and success or failure at learning unconditional love will define the rest of your life, but the concept applies to most every other relationship. And one could argue from the lesser to the greater, that if you don’t know how to give freely in other relationships you will probably struggle to do in a marriage situation.
Because freely giving should be a way of life, not a rare exception. Because we are here to show mercy. Because as Christians we should take the light of the Lord into the dark and unforgiving world. To give our time, our energy, our attention, our love, without expecting anything in return. Because this is what Christ did. And it is so liberating. And simple. Find out what someone needs and give it. To love someone for who they are, not for who we want them to be or who we think they might become. As sinners we want to mold people into what we want, we want to use them for our goals. To love them and simply let them be is harder, but so very powerful. God gave us the greatest example of this in that, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5.8) Does this mean our fallen nature never changed? No, for God’s love transformed us, but we first had to be loved while sinners. It would not work any other way. And in a lesser way, we can take the Gospel to the world simply by loving like God has loved us.