Saturday, January 30, 2016

Wholehearted Love

Have you ever been wholehearted in something?

A hobby?
A relationship?
A sport?
A job?

How often are you wholehearted in your love toward others? I mean really loving them, all the way.

When we’re halfhearted in our love for others, it’s actually because we’re being wholehearted in our commitment to our own comfort or safety or whatever. That’s why we calculate and begin to plan our path of minimal (or at least controlled) cost-to-me.

But Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He is calling us to be all-in for others like we are naturally all-in for ourselves.

Jesus showed us what this kind of love looks like in the parable of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:30-37, emphasis added):  
Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy."
Loving his neighbor looked like compassion to a stranger. His heart went out to this man on the street. But he didn’t stop there. He actually did something about this man’s plight. He went to him, which means he took a risk. It could have been a ruse. The robbers could have been lurking behind a rock waiting to pounce on this compassionate but unsuspecting soul.

He bound up his wounds. He poured on oil and wine. He gave time and resources. He gave them willingly. And he went all the way with it.

It’s so easy to begin to calculate. To seek to minimize the outlay. This man wasn’t looking for the minimum requirement. He was committed to loving his neighbor as himself.

So he set the man on his own animal and brought him to an inn…AND he took care of him. He didn’t just drop him off. He took care of him. This man he didn’t even know. And the next day – he must have been there overnight taking care of him – he paid for their stay (and then some). Perhaps the man was now stable enough that some normal R&R would lead to recovery. So, the Samaritan left him in the care of the innkeeper, promised to cover any additional expenses, and promised to return. THAT is wholehearted love.

And Jesus said… "You go, and do likewise." (Luke 10:37)

How in the world do we do that?! 

By warming ourselves at the wholehearted love of God for us dire-straits sinners. 

God wholeheartedly loved this world and willingly gave us his only Son. We were in worse shape than the man on the road in Luke 10. And the Son of God took on flesh to love his neighbor to the utmost. He didn't just nurse us back to health. We were spiritually dead and without hope. He died and rose again so we could be resurrected, made alive together with Christ. He didn't just give up some of his resources. Though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that we spiritual debtors could become rich with his love and mercy (2 Cor 8:9). Get near the blazing glory of that love, and experience it (Eph 3:19), and your heart will swell with wholehearted love for neighbor. 

We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Aren't you glad God isn't halfhearted in his love for us? 

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