Read Matthew 21:33-46
Andrea: As if the discussion of humility wasn't uncomfortable enough, today we continue with Hannah's principals of love and contentment. Giving and Serving. As we continue to explore the topic of living a self-less life, we see that an integral piece of the puzzle is love. And a characteristic of love is to give.
“The poured-out life gives life and power to others. The more love gives, the more it fulfills itself for it is Love’s prerogative to GIVE and GIVE and GIVE.”
The more love gives the more it fulfills itself? It sort of feels like we’re crossing the line into absurdity here, doesn’t it?
God loves working contrary to human intuition. The first will be last. Weak will be strong. Helpless baby as Savior of the world. Gain a fortune, lose your soul. Eternal life comes through death. Contradictions pepper the Biblical narrative and the epistles. God’s plan is so big, it would fry our brains to even try to grasp it. (That’s a lose interpretation of Isaiah 5:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”).
How many times do we hear in our culture, “all I do is give and give and give, and I get nothing in return!” This statement is as true as the one preceding it. The difference is the condition of the heart during the giving process.
If we give to our families out of obligation, we will get tired of it. If we invest our time into teaching a Sunday school class just because there is no one else to do it, we will burn out. If we put in extra time at the office for the hope of recognition, we will be unsuccessful. But if we change our hearts to reflect “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” the reward will come. Albeit in likely unexpected ways.
Then comes service. “To be utterly abandoned to the act of giving oneself to others and going down lower is the joy and ecstasy of love.”
Alysun: When I came across this notion that I should “serve God by serving my family,” I have to admit I really hated it. The very idea that being self-less will bring the joy and rejuvenation I desired seemed restrictive (and exhausting).
I thought on this topic after reading the traumatic words. Serve more? Give more? Obviously the author of this fairytale idea didn’t know how hard I worked for my family (the author I was reading is the mother of 4 preschoolers, so maybe she has a glimmer of an idea how hard mom’s work). I may or may not have stomped my foot a few times. I was irritated. I wanted the answer for renewal to be MORE FOR ME!
After I was through stomping around, I prayed about it. The answer came as soon and I quieted my heart and mind. Then it was revealed to me as if God himself was sitting on the edge of my bed, explaining a simple concept to me, the child. “Your perspective is wrong. You are looking through the world’s glasses, not Mine.”
Although it was clear, it wasn’t easy. I now saw that all the “me” philosophies filling my head (“I need some time to myself,” “Someone pamper me, I deserve it!” “Leave me alone, I’m grumpy!”), were not of God. God’s plan is to bring glory to Him, no matter the cost. Even when the cost is my selfishness.
It’s not all “bad/hard” news. There is an intense beauty in giving up of one’s self. Serving God through acts of service with a happy heart brings lasting joy. Let me say that again…. LASTING joy. And there will be “me time” along the way. There will even be pampering. It’s an inevitable blessing of living for Christ. Instead of deserved (said while stomping my foot), it is a blessed gift, sweet and rejuvenating. Good things are so much better when they are freely given instead of demanded!
True refreshment comes from our source of strength; taking more time with reading the Bible. More prayer. More practicing what we preach moment by moment in how we live.
We are too busy to waste time on things that don't last. All the pampering in the world won't buy contentment... or a servant's heart.