Lesson 1 -- third quarter 1993
June 6, 1993
How "attached" are you to the other members of your congregation? Perhaps that is too broad for you. Narrow it down, then. How attached are you to the others in your youth group? I mean, all of them! What are the limits of your love and commitment to each one of them? What good would you not do for them?
Love is a hard word for us because we paint all kinds of mushy word pictures in our mind and emotions when we hear it. And we find it nigh impossible to paint certain people into such a picture. Then we feel condemned by verses which tell us to love our enemies, to love our neighbor and to love the brotherhood. And we become somewhat frightened and ashamed when we are told that the measure of our love for God is our love for our brother. We just have a hard time working up nice, mushy emotions about and feelings toward certain individuals.
I have good news and "bad" news for you. The good news first -- genuine love neither hinges nor depends on feelings and emotions. You can actually love someone without feeling mushy, warm and brotherly! Now for the "bad" news -- loving is so easy it's hard. Loving is doing good for another. For because you endeavor to benefit only the recipient of your love. You have no interest in personal gain; the futility of that is shown in 1 Corinthians 13:3. Doesn't that indeed sound easy? However, it's also hard because life simply teems with untold opportunities to do good to others. You know, if we aren't "careful" we will find ourselves over-exerted in our efforts to love others!
Now let me fling another good-sized "monkey wrench" into the works. God calls on us to so love (do good for) others that we willingly take a personal loss. Ah, you see how that steepens the price of love? A bit ago I said love has no interest in personal gain. Now we talk about personal loss. You've no doubt heard the expression, "Give till it hurts." The challenge in this lesson's aim is to "Love till it hurts."
Hurt. Personal loss. Self-sacrifice. Note these Bible examples:
Let's learn from the widow in particular. I will freely acknow-ledge that I do not practice that kind of loving, not even the kind that Jesus mentions in Luke 3:11: "He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise." Ouch!
Let's make it practical. I don't know what your average monthly earnings are, but I know what mine were in 1992 -- about $1200 after taxes. My expenses for vehicle, utilities, medical, clothing, food, rent, banking and miscellaneous needs averaged $1195 each month for our family of six. I am satisfied; I need no more. However, how do I go about giving and loving till it hurts? Quite easily, if I would.
Compare your earnings with your expenses. Look around you and see how God would have you love from your abundance. Now look somemore and see how God would have you love till it hurts.