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Our daughter, belly at beach-ball status with her fourth boy due anytime, has been watching our other two grandchildren while our son and his wife work on their fixer-upper house. The gift of filling her house with  all of five children under the age of seven for several days in the last week – it can make her weary. Additionally, her husband has been working longer hours for the past several weeks.

The days may get long, but she chooses to joyfully serve, enabling her brother and his wife to spend time together conquering their project.

Seeing her serve with love makes this mama especially happy. Even more so, since I’m forced to view from afar due to living in a different state during their project.

Love, true love, is the most powerful force in the Universe.

This might be proven, not only by the rush of love to rescue, like when moms don their wonder woman costumes to rescue their babes, but by the fact that God is love.

What continues to stoke the fires of true love?

Siblings:

When we are in a family, our love is fueled by our desire to remain in relationship. This is a sweet gift from God. He knows we can forsake a friendship that is unsatisfying, and sometimes it is even necessary to do so. But with siblings, the bonds are for life. We only have two choices: either pursue one another in love or allow barriers when we aren’t in agreement. I can’t think of one person who doesn’t desire to have good relationships with their siblings.

Marriage:

When you first fall in love, it is usually physical attraction that kindles the fire. But if it is only attraction, the fire is destined to die. Love’s fire requires much more to keep it blazing than loving your lover ‘looking fine.’ 

Because, Babe, “Lookin’ don’t last.”

The blaze of love is kept burning by death.

Not the murder of our physical bodies. That is just death unto dust. But the murdering of our selfishness – that is the death unto love.

If we want relationship, if we desire union and fellowship, then sacrificial love is required. There is no getting around it.

Either we die or love dies.

And love is the foundation of real living.

Offering ourselves on love’s altar requires pausing in the places where we meet with a choice: to fight for our right or yield up our will in preference for the other.

This is the call of all followers of Jesus.

When Jesus exhorted us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, this is what He meant. Death to selfishness. Death to the “my way” on the highway of life.

Love is a daily dying.

To take up our cross – to be willing to bear the burden uphill – for the sake of another.

Because, true love? It’s not a feeling, but a sacrificial offering of ourselves. You are a gift of God, you must believe it to be free.

The opportunities to love at a cost to ourselves become ‘fruitful unto life’ in this world. They are . . . reflections of Christ. They are the acts of the sacrificial love written about in Romans 12:1-2; the self-denying offering “holy and pleasing to God.”

This is true worship, bending down to lift others up.

There is a vast difference between being a living sacrifice and a doormat.

In this call to lay down our lives, there is a back door the enemy uses to sneak in and distort the beauty of the way of Jesus – so I want to say a word about being a doormat. First by way of contrast:

A servant is one who is strong in identity, willing to go low to lift others up.  

A doormat is weak in identity, one who thinks herself inferior, allowing herself to be trampled on.

At first glance, you might not understand the difference, but look a little deeper and you’ll see. A living sacrifice is aware of her value, and is serving out of a heart filled with love. She has joy in her love.

A doormat is one who does not know her true value, and bends out of fear, submitting to one who wants to dominate or bully her. If you happen to see yourself in that story, then please seek a trusted friend, pastor, or counselor to see yourself out of bondage.

There are people who seek worship for themselves by being dominant. If we bow to their wishes, for us, that is idolatry. This requires discernment of our own hearts and the actions of others.

None are immune from doing things for the wrong reason. We can even vacilate between the two by forgetting our original intent to bless the Lord and people. The test is to ask ourselves “Who am I serving today, my ego or Jesus?”

The good news is that if we find ourselves loving for the wrong reason, we can repent and the Lord will help us see clearly. Often, just pausing to look up and ask for help when we feel overwhelmed will set our messy attitudes back in their proper perspective.

When we remember our value is found in God, and the works we do are for Him, we will be sturdied again to love from a pure heart. And the bully will lose his or her power over us, even being transformed by our refusal to serve the wrong god.

Another way to check is to make sure Jesus is our first love. Every day.

 

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