Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Current Study: Love
Today’s Topic: Love Means Serving
Today’s Scripture: John 13:1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
Others. It is the one word that I think best describes love. It was certainly the way love was expressed in the life of Jesus. His life was all about others. How can real love be about anything but others? True love is the denial of self. True love is expressed in the service of others.
For three years Jesus had taught and modeled the principles of the kingdom of God to the disciples. He had shown them the love of God. He had sacrificed his time and energy for the sake of others. He had compassionately met the needs of others. And now, as the time drew near for Him to offer His life as the perfect sacrifice for our sin, He would show us the full extent of His love. He would humble himself and become a servant.
It is so easy for us to get self-absorbed. Life tends to be a downward spiral into serving self. The pace and demands of life catch us like an undertow and drag us down. We use every ounce of energy we have just to try and stay on the surface. At times we feel like we are trapped in a whirlpool that is spinning us in a tighter and tighter circle around self-preservation and self-fulfillment. As we approach the dark hole in the middle from which there is no return, our focus is less and less on the calm waters outside the whirlpool and more and more on the darkness approaching. We are about to become totally absorbed in self.
But look at the life of Jesus. As the time for His own glory grew closer he became more absorbed by the lives of others. As the pressures of life mounted, He spent more quality time with others. As the rejection and persecution by people He loved increased, so did His concern for their well-being. When we would be focused on protecting self, He was focused on serving others. Jesus lived this way because He chose to be motivated by love. Love always puts others ahead of self. Love always serves others.
The second of the five love languages I have chosen to address is Acts of Service. When Jesus wanted to model the full extent of His love for His disciples, He became their servant. He had taught them this principle earlier in His ministry when He said, “The Son of Man has come not to be served, but to serve.” He had loved them and others that way consistently. But now was the time He would model the completeness of that love. Twelve men who had committed to three years of personal training for ministry by the Master, were now gathered for a meal. In their preparations no one had remembered to hire servants. Not one of them considered that role for themselves. As they entered for the meal, and removed their sandals, not one of them thought about the necessity to wash the dust off their feet so they would be clean as they reclined around the table together. They had not yet learned to be fully focused on others. They were still self-absorbed.
To show them the true heart of love as manifested in service to others, He got up, removed His outer garment, took a basin of water and a towel, and proceeded to wash the disciple’s feet. He washed all of them, including the one who would betray Him. He showed them the full extent of love by performing an act of service even for the one who was undeserving. His life was all about others.
Yesterday we talked about the words of love. They are necessary, but not independently adequate. Words must always be confirmed by action to be understood as truth.
There is a deadly disease that destroys relationships. I suffer from a severe case of it right now. I think many of you do also. I have named it MoFaValBirChrisaryosis. Call it Holiosis for short. It’s a disease that damages our relationships at least 359 days per year. That’s because we tend to only show expressions of love on holidays – Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, Christmas, and Anniversaries. We go out of our way – maybe – to make that day special, and then hope that the overflow of love will keep the tank full until the next holiday. In reality, those holiosis expressions of love are merely self-centered attempts to create an image of love, because for 359 other days of the year we live self-absorbed lives. There is only one cure for this disease – daily acts of service and expressions of love.
Love is a lifestyle. Jesus proved it. He did it by always thinking of others first. His love in us will be proven by our service to others.