For the past week, we’ve been talking a lot about types and characteristics of faith, which is the first element in what I call the “triangle of sufficiency.” In other words, there are three things that you and I need to live in the fullness of the Kingdom of God — faith, death to self, and agape love. For the next few of days, we’re going to look at the last two — death to self and agape love — in more detail because they go together.
Have you ever been annoyed by someone trying to help you or wounded by someone attempting to love you? If you’re like me, there are numerous times when someone meaning to help has actually caused harm; at the low end by being annoying, but at the high end by causing long-term wounds: shame, anger, frustration, bitterness and even unforgiveness. The fact is that sometimes others, who legitimately think they are helping us, are blind to the fact that their words and efforts are not being received as love.
The husband who works extremely long hours says that he loves his wife and kids by laboring obsessively to provide for them. However, most of the time, this is not perceived as love on the part of his wife; she would rather have him around more often and spend quality time with him. Similarly, many times parents say things to their kids, even when they are adults, that they believe is for their benefit, but is actually perceived as controlling, manipulative, or mean. Although they are trying to keep their children from doing something stupid, well-meaning parents can end up expediting their kid’s journey down the road to perdition!
Friend, love always seeks the good of the other person, not its own benefit. When you stop to examine your motives and the emotions that drive your behavior towards those you love, be sure that it is really them you are trying to help. Sometimes it’s your own fear that causes you to take actions towards another in the name of love, and this causes harm. As you embrace the death of your own selfish desires and seek love that is pure, only then can you step into true abundant life!