“God’s love is fire and your love is fuel to be ignited and burn brightly for a dark world to see.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – February 16, 2022
For all the law can be summarized in one grand statement: Demonstrate love to your neighbor, even as you care for and love yourself. Galatians 5:14
Sometimes I am harder on myself than what the Lord expects of me. Especially as a younger man, I would set more goals that I could achieve with excellence, and exhaust myself in the process. Emotional margin and time were scarce for my family and for myself—a sure fire recipe for relational conflict, exhaustion and an unsustainable lifestyle. What compounded the problem was convincing myself the reason for my whirlwind pace was because I was serving God. But, if I was truly honest with myself, my reasons were not that lofty. My big ah ha: it was easier to be busy than to slow down and really get to know my wife, children, friends and work colleagues. Even more reckless was starving my soul in the name of soul winning. I needed to give myself permission to be still. I needed to be me—not some elusive self I’ll never become. Love gave me permission to be who God created me to be—His beloved child in whom He’s well pleased.
Paul and James, both reminded their readers of the supremacy of love over the law. Keeping the law is summarized in loving others as we love and care for ourselves. The law without love is unachievable, but the law with love is fulfilling. The law Paul is referring to is the ten commandments in the Old Testament book of Exodus. Love becomes the motivation and demonstration of our attitude and actions when living out the law. Since we do not harm ourselves, because of the love we have for ourselves, so we do not harm others because of our love for them. The same is true for helping ourselves and helping others. Love lives out the law in love, thus fulfilling the law. Love gives permission to serve in the Spirit not strive in the flesh.
Henri Nouwen, the respected academic and faith practitioner, captures the idea of giving ourselves permission to be loved, “I deeply know that I have a home in Jesus, just as Jesus has a home in God. I know, too, that when I abide in Jesus I abide with him in God. “Those who love me,” Jesus says, “will be loved by my Father” (John 14:21). My true spiritual work is to let myself be loved, fully and completely, and to trust that in that love I will come to the fulfillment of my vocation. I keep trying to bring my wandering, restless, anxious self home, so that I can rest there in the embrace of love.” Wow, yes, we can rest in the embrace of the Lord’s love!
Is there something you need to give yourself permission to stop doing? Like being available to immediately answer every email, call, text or post? Or to pack your calendar so full there is no room for interruptions or emotional refueling? Only inflated egos seek to impress colleagues with a schedule that is packed full. A calendar that simmers like a molten volcano is ready to spew red-hot lava all over the landscape, decimating all forms of life in its destructive path. Give yourself permission to have one day a week that you guard from any appointments, so you are able to pray more, think more, do less and trust God to accomplish more! Replace screen time with game night, a puzzle, a library or museum. Get a massage. Take a nap. Take a friend to lunch. Do nothing. Above all, give yourself permission to become the Lord’s best version of yourself.
To prayerfully give yourself permission is not being selfish or irresponsible. Rather it’s a responsible way to live out the abundant life Jesus promises His followers. The Lord who lacks nothing, desires your love—and as a part of your primal needy self, you need His and your love. God’s love is fire and your love is fuel to be ignited and burn brightly for a dark world to see. Give yourself permission to refuel with rest and renewal ready to be an inextinguishable light!
“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16, MSG).
Heavenly Father, show me how to love myself in a manner that helps me become more like your son, through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name, amen.
Consider these screen time alternatives to experience with your family.
Hillsong Worship: See The Light
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