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Posts Tagged ‘Abraham’


Hearts

Image by eirikso via Flickr

Love, it’s a funny thing. It can mean many different things to many different people. We’re given ideas about love from a multitude of different places that tell us how we express love, receive love and allow love to come into our lives.

Then we’re told how we can express love better, as if most of us don’t already know that we’re not so good at that already. Not many of us will go as far as to say we’re good at this thing called love. In my estimation those that do, either are not facing reality or have bumps along the way of their love pathways that they are guarding as closely as Fort Knox.

The funny thing is that even though we know we’re not very good at it, as is evidenced by so many books, shows and other help’s that are out there, we don’t really take the necessary steps to actually learn from the One – namely Christ – who knows all about love and how it works.

Why?

In our world of ‘me first’, the love that Christ introduces us to just doesn’t seem very personally fulfilling.

Again why?

Because sacrifice of our own self just doesn’t do anything for any of us on a personal level. And, it’s been that way since the beginning of man. Although we would all like to think that we’ve come from some sort of Golden Age when things were better back when and our culture has become something other than what it was with our “me first” mentality, the reality is that mankind has always been about “me first”. It just looks a little different in this day and age.

If we go back to Genesis and look at Abraham, a friend of God, letting his nephew choose his portion of land first, which turned out to be the best, most fertile land, some of us naturally think Abraham got the short end of the stick because he gave up his right to choose first and get the best land. Why would he do such a thing? Precisely because he was a friend of God.

David’s another one. He’s called a man after God’s own heart. Impetuous, emotional, seeming to break all of God’s law at one time or another. But, he didn’t take the kingship from Saul when he could have. David sacrificed his own life for years, living in caves with criminals, because one thing he wouldn’t do was take what the Lord hadn’t allowed him to have yet. So he showed love for Saul by waiting and in the process he sacrificed a portion of his life because he was a man after God’s own heart.

There are others in scripture and in the world around us who do the very same thing, but many times we don’t see them because what they do is so foreign to us. And this is pretty much because what God has done is so foreign to us too. We have hard time getting on-board with a God who says love is sacrifice, because we don’t see what’s in it for us.

We like a kind, gentle and loving God as long as that love is based on how we define love which generally has it’s foundation in “what does it do for me?” instead of His kind of love that says, “So what about me? What can I do for someone else?” Bottom line, is that His kind of love is a little hard for us to focus on because it’s so foreign to us. Until He allows us to focus on it it just looks fuzzy and unreal.

And with love, like pretty much everything else with the Lord, is not about how we define it, but about how He defines it and not only defines it but does it. Because He doesn’t just tell us what to do and expect us to do it, He shows us what to do then just asks us to follow Him on the path He’s already cleared for us.

“On this account the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it again. I have received this commandment of my Father.”

John 10:17-18

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Naomi entreating Ruth and Orpah to return to t...

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It’s funny because the last couple of days I keep reading, and rereading, the Book of Ruth. Even though you’d think that Esther would be the book of the week.

I have always loved the Book of Ruth. One of the first school reports I ever wrote when I was young was about the Book of Ruth. There was just something that resonated with me about a young woman who loved Naomi, her mother-in-law, so much that she would sacrifice the life she could have had by going back to her own family for the great unknown of following Naomi into the future.

Yet, there’s so much more to the story than that of Ruth, who gave up everything she could have because of her great love for Naomi, and, in the process, ended up with it all given back to her in spades. I mean, really, she ended up marrying one of the wealthiest guys around, who was taking care of her before she even realized it. And, by marrying Boaz she secured a life for both herself and her mother-in-law. Not only that, but she was King David’s great-grandmother and, as such, in the lineage of Jesus as well.

This week, as I read and reread the story, it occurred to me that the Book of Ruth isn’t actually about Ruth at all. It’s about the Lord’s faithfulness to Naomi. Now this thought may have crossed my mind before, but I don’t remember it, and it certainly didn’t have the impact on me that it did this week.

The book starts with Naomi, it ends with Naomi, and in between is the Lord’s provision for Naomi in the form of Ruth and Boaz. When you look a little more closely at the story, it becomes apparent that sometimes our lives are woven in such a way as to be a deep and abiding blessing for someone else.

In other words, the Lord may, and usually does, form our lives to fulfill His promise of care and provision for someone else, not necessarily ourselves. Just like He did with Ruth’s life which was formed in such a way as to provide for Naomi.

This doesn’t always sit well with any of us, we want our lives to be about us, not anyone else or the Lord’s provision to them. Yet, in scripture that’s all you really see, how the Lord uses His own people to take care of others, from Abraham who took care of Lot, to Joseph who took care of his family, to Moses who took care of the people of Israel, to Rahab who took care of the spies, the list goes on and on, showing how God uses the lives of His people to fulfill His promises of love, care and provision to others.

This idea really shouldn’t come as such a surprise to us, even though it does. Because after all, didn’t Jesus do the same?

“Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Praise the LORD who has not left you without a family redeemer today.'”

Ruth 4:14

 

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