I know you must be wondering ‘what in the world’ I am talking about. I was thinking about the time when I wanted to wear my open-toed sandals, but had not polished my nails. I didn’t even have time to paint all ten toes, so I only painted the first three that would be seen on each foot! Once I finished, it looked as though all ten nails had been polished instead of only six. Of course, when I returned home and took my shoes off later that evening, those other four toes really did look sad.
What made me think about my sandal secret? Believe it or not, I was sitting with a group of people recently, when one gentleman began spouting poetry with great eloquence. The lady to my right laughed and replied, “It’s amazing to me that you’re the same guy who was fighting with his wife, and when she ran in the bathroom and locked the door, you shut off the lights and water.”
I was still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that he would take such drastic measures with his wife, yet sit with us and perform sonnets with great flare. He reminded me of my three-toe polishing technique. Sometimes we can fool those around us into thinking that we have it all together. From the outside looking in, everything looks great. But when they look closer, they see gaping cracks and flaws in our character. What is going on behind our closed doors may not be very pretty.
God does not want us to love each other the way I paint my toes; doing just enough to fool outsiders into thinking that what they see is the way we truly are. When in fact, we may be impatient, mean, self-centered, opinionated, and down-right ornery in our private lives. No, God wants more, much more.
Lukewarm coffee is not very appetizing. Neither is lukewarm love very satisfying. May I please tell you what I read in Revelation 3:14-18? This very sobering word from God says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So because you are lukewarm– neither hot nor cold– I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. [NIV]
I’ve found that it is too easy to become lukewarm and simply go through the motions of loving. Disappointment, disrespect, frustrations, listening to the wrong counsel, pride, pain, and focusing on getting your needs met are all knobs that can turn down the flame of your passion. Before you know it, you are distracted, and the relationships that should be the most important in your life are moved to the back burner or are even taken off the stove. One thing that God is teaching me about passion is just as you can choose to turn your passion down, you can also choose to turn it up!
Often my days are filled with so many responsibilities that I forget to make a connection with those I love. Rather than beat myself up about it, though, I ask God for forgiveness, and renew my resolve to do better. You know He is a God of second chances! Then, I get excited as I think that if I should see tomorrow, I will have another chance to do better. I wake up in the morning and thank God for a brand new day, filled with new mercies and favor. I ask Him to help me to love others more that day than I did the day before. I ask Him to show me how to forgive one more time, encourage one more time, have patience one more time, see the other person in the best light, one more time, and love them eagerly and compassionately.
I’ve been studying how Jesus justified us. Because He loved us so much, Jesus allowed the Heavenly Father to pour into Him all the sins of every person, and in exchange, He poured into us Jesus’ love. When Christ died for our sins, his blood washed away our past, present, and future sins. Now, all we have to do is admit we sinned when we turned from God. Then we can choose to turn back to Him and allow Him to lead our lives. When God sees us repent, turn to Him, and ask for forgiveness, and place our faith in Him, He justifies us. In other words, He removes our sin so far away from us that God sees us ‘just as if’ we had never sinned. He sees us as righteous, in right standing with Him, because we trust in Jesus Christ. Now that’s powerful love!
What does being justified have to do with not having lukewarm love? Well, I just figure that if God can love me just as if I have never sinned, then I should love others just as if they have never sinned. I’ve decided that I am determined to love passionately and let God handle the rest.
Gotta go. I just wanted to encourage you not to give up. Keep loving. Even if circumstances knock you down, get up, clear your head, dust yourself off, talk to God about it, and keep loving.
Nobody can take your love from you.
No one can make you stop loving.
You are in charge of your mind and your heart.
You have the power to turn the flame down and be mediocre,
or give love away.
I heard a minister once say that being mediocre is to be the best of the worst or the worst of the best. Neither description is very appealing, is it? God does not want us to half-step. He wants us to redeem the time, spending it wisely. We won’t get it back, so we might as well use it to love God and lift Him high for the world to see, through our decision to love.
Let’s make a deal. Until next time, ‘no 3-toes’ loving, alright? Enjoy the journey!
Scriptures to consider on the journey:
1 Peter 1:22 Isaiah 53:11 Romans 4:25 Romans 3:28
John 13:34-35 I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].
Question to consider: What can you do to improve your ability to love?