Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).”
I love this passage. It simplifies all Christian endeavors into one as being love. Love is not only the goal, it is also the motivation. In other words, unless love is the reason behind our life’s pursuit (often it is not), everything becomes meaningless because love, more specifically the love of God, transforms what is bound by this world into something hopeful & eternal. The power of love is that it enables us to see what our world could never see.
The problem with sin is that it dilutes, taints or corrupts our love for God & for our neighbors. What is so dangerous about this is that even with impure motives one can accomplish a lot using human wisdom & diligence, and it will appear as though it was for the right reason & motives. I hope that makes sense. It’s a dangerous place to be in because it’s quite easy to feel comfortable in it while our main goal of loving God & neighbors go unreached.
Here’s an example from the mission field. I have to confess that for the first 10 months, learning Mandarin was very stressful for me. I used to be a functioning adult, but now I was starting lower than a Taiwanese kindergartener. I felt stupid and wanted to get out of this as quickly as possible. I found myself studying Mandarin all the time. Eventually I had to ask myself why I was studying so hard and why I was so stressed about learning this language. I’m embarrassed to admit that love was not the main reason, but desire for self-worth & self-significance was. I was trying to prove my worth, competence & effectiveness through my progress in learning Mandarin. I think lack of joy often points to the fact that we are deviating from what is in God’s heart.
Well, adjustments had to be made, and now with proper goal & motivation, I am happier & healthier. Understanding why God has brought us to Taiwan helps us to put things in the right perspective. 1 Corinthians 13:1 sums it up well, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” I do have to examine my heart on a continual basis though for “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it (Jeremiah 17:9)?”
At the end of the day, there are 2 questions that can help us to assess whether our heart has the right goal & motivation.
1st: “Who is being glorified and being loved?” or “Who/what are we boasting about?” There should not be “I” or “me” in any of the answers.
2nd: “Do we see people as the object of Christ’s love & those who need our love?” or “Do we see people merely as those to be used to further our goals?” Look at how we view people honestly. There is a subtle line that exists between reaching out to people because you love them or reaching out to people to further MY mission.
Love is the only framework in which we must serve.