Am I loving well? Part 4: Dying to Self
It is the last day of February and our last day of considering means to reflect God’s love. Thank you for going on the journey with me.
Week 1: Speak well HERE.
Week 2: Process emotions well HERE.
Week 3: Forgive HERE
Today, Week 4: Surrender
A verse I lean on frequently and heavily to make decisions about sacrificial love is Luke 9:23: Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
The Greek word for deny is arneomai: properly, deny (refuse); hence, contradict, refuse to affirm or to confess (identify with); disown (repudiate). Repudiate means to refuse to accept or be associated with.
I deny myself. I refuse to be identified with myself. I refuse to be associated with myself.
All God. No me. I die.
This is what it means to love. That is how Jesus lived. He is the one who showed us how.
We are to study others and then serve them. As I mulled over this last post I was paying attention to how I aim to love and decided to share some of my “little deaths” in order to love my husband well.
I don’t like cleaning the house. I find kitchens and bathrooms important, but the living areas less so. As long as they are clutter free, I am fine.
Every time I leave my car from the driveway, all items come with me into the house. Every time I pump gas, all trash goes in the trash cans. If I go to a store and see a trash receptacle by the door, same thing; but I don’t have to have my car washed and floor mats scrubbed to be comfortable in my car.
It’s the same at home. I like a tidy environment and clean surfaces, but I don’t have to dust to be comfortable. I also like the floor to have nothing on it but the furniture, but I don’t have to mop and vacuum to be enjoy being home.
He gets his car washed…a lot. About two years ago he basically admitted my unwashed car (though clutter free) embarrassed him. On our next anniversary I gave him a commitment to wash my car regularly.
After a year of doing much better at the car washing thing, I noticed he would make the bed if it wasn’t made. “Hmmm,” I thought, “that is important to him.” I also noticed that even when the house was cluttered on occasion (thank you teenager boy), as long as the floor was vacuumed, he would comment how nice the house looked. “Hmmm,” I thought, “vacuuming matters to him.”
Truth is, I don’t enjoy washing the car, making the bed, or dusting; and the least favorite cleaning chore for me is vacuuming!
To love my husband well, I die. To love him well I deny myself, take my my cross daily and do the cleaning that does not matter as much to me. I aim to pay close attention and serve all people in such a way. Yes, I fail every day, but my heart has a genuine sense of relationships not being about me and always about the other.
But what about “me time?” What about “margin?” Of course, I take care of myself, but such questions concern my relationship with myself. Did you notice that? When entering a relationship with others, the other always matters more than me. (Again, if you are in a dangerous relationship because of emotional or physical abuse, this post does not apply. Get help immediately.)
Here is our final list from Amy Carmichael’s book, If, See if you, too, see her statements aligning closely with Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ, and it is not longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, emphasis mine)
Am I really dying to self? (Read each several times. Let them sink in.*)
If I hold on to choices of any kind, just because they are my choice; if I give any room to my private likes and dislikes, then I know nothing of Calvary love. (98)
If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love. (109)
If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider “not spiritual work” I can best help others, and I inwardly rebel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary love. (140-141)
There is a solution.
For the last time this month, let’s cry out to God, confess our selfishness, and change our ways.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)
Lord, grant us the ability to display YOUR love to the world, not kindness.
Picture Explanation: A friend dropped off flowers and a book that contained a typed tree of biblical truth that her mother created; I have been praying for THIS girl and the others kidnapped for three years (please join me); my parents had these visitors in their yard three days ago; and a near miss that I am glad did not occur in my yard!
*Page numbers are offered as they appear in my Kindle version, Generation 1.
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