Learning to Love - Part Deux
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
Entering this latest phase of love school, God has been very gently and quietly speaking to my heart about where I am in my walk with Him. He has told me that I am headed in the right direction, but I am on the wrong side of the road. This revelation elicited a very impassioned plea of, “What does this mean, Lord?”
He lovingly began speaking to my heart, letting me know that I was still going my own way. I was walking in His direction, looking up each day to make sure I could still see Him, but not truly following Him.
Following means close—in step with Him.
He lovingly showed me the selfish and worldly things I need to leave on the other side of the road to cross back over to His side.
Repentance. I often don't even realize my need for it at all.
How grateful, how thankful for the loving and patient way in which He teaches us! And, as we draw ever nearer, closer to Him, our hearts become tender and our ears—attentive to His still, small voice further refining us and making us more and more like Him; more and more able to love others like He loves them and us.
It is only in returning that I recognize how much of Him I have missed.
It makes me think of someone in the Holy Bible whom I would give an “A” in love school: Mary—Not Mary the mother of Jesus, though she no doubt would have made an “A” if grades were given. I’m thinking of Martha’s sister, Mary, the one from whom Jesus cast out seven demons (Luke 8:2), the one who learned at Jesus’s feet when all the dinner preparations were being made (Luke 10:38-42). This Mary, the one who took the pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, anointing Jesus and wiping His feet with her tears and hair (John 12:1-3) was also the first to see Jesus after the resurrection at the tomb. This Mary knew Love and was focused upon Him—never taking her eyes off of Him.
The Book of Luke (Luke 7:36-50) tells us a similar story of a woman, a sinful woman, anointing Jesus feet with an alabaster flask of ointment. We don't know her name, and this time, rather than being at the home of Lazarus, Jesus was at the home of a Pharisee named Simon. Jesus could read Simon's mind as he looked down upon the woman for her many sins, and so told this story in Luke 7:41-48:
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Loving people is messy business. It requires focus—outside ourselves. It requires sacrifice. It requires us to be last.
J - Jesus
O - Others
Y - You
Perhaps you've already learned all these things and are putting them into real practice.
After more than fifty years on the journey, I have only just begun to learn, but I'm grateful to have the very best Teacher.