I am a recovering liar. I still often find myself saying things that are contradicted by my true motives. Foremost of these lies is when I say “I love you” to my wife. This lie becomes evident when I substitute “love” in a sentence for “prefer” or “choose”. Example: Wife, I prefer you before myself. Lie. When push comes to shove, I still prefer and choose myself to anyone else, even my wife. I may abound in acts of service for her, but peel back the layers behind these acts, and there lies the core motive that in order to get I have to give.
I suppose that I could love my wife more by trying harder to “choose” her, but I quickly find myself powerless to change my core motives. Instead, I’m inclined to apply another layer of good actions above the self-centered core.
I previously discussed the greatest commandment, where Jesus lays out the sequence of love prioritization: Love God first with all your heart, then your neighbor. While this commandment of proper love sequencing is critical to maintaining a meaningful relationship with God, it also implies that loving your neighbor genuinely is impossible without loving God first.
Throughout the Bible, human life is compared to dust. It reminds us we are created souls, breathed into fragile tissue that has an 80-year average shelf life. If we choose to live that life without God, our lives have no meaning beyond maximizing the utility of those 80 years. Everything that we do for another person will ultimately be tainted by that thread of self-interest.
However, if we choose to live our lives in relationship with God, we root ourselves in an eternal and omnipotent God who calls us His Beloved. This is the God who promises to walk with us through every hardship of life. This is the God who in his core essence is Love. So when I choose this God and immerse myself in His words, I tap into a reservoir of His personal, highly-focused attention. My core desire for being preferred and chosen by someone is satisfied. My heart overflows with joy, even in the midst of trying circumstances, because I know God is in control of all my circumstances.
And then something supernatural occurs—I find myself able to respond and give my heart to God, obeying his commandments with joy, and loving my wife and every person God puts in my life with genuine preferment and choice. This love doesn’t come from me—it flows into my heart when I fix my eyes and ears upon God’s Word. From there it transforms my restless mind, giving it peace and understanding of Truth. Finally, it permeates into my heart of stone, springing it free from self and death and into the radiant light of abundant life.
Beloved, may you do the same.