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Archive for tag Love

Command and encourage

Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
-- 2 Thess 3:12

Paul evidences pastoral concern: it is important that Christians work hard and do not abuse the generosity of others. So it is commanded - it is not an option for the extra-spiritual or the extra-practical. It's the baseline standard of care for yourself and your family. At the same time honest work is to be encouraged - with tenderness and concern for the person in question.

How could this possibly work in practice? How can something be demanded without being forced? Love must drive the demand. Hopeful, faithful love will neither admit failure as an option, nor will it trample the loved one.

Scougal on unrequited love

Perfect love is a kind of self-dereliction, a wandering out of ourselves; it is a kind of voluntary death, wherein the lover dies to himself, and all his own interests, not thinking of the, nor caring for them any more, and minding nothing but how he may please and gratify the party whom he loves: thus, he is quite undone, unless he meets with reciprocal affection.
-- Henry Scougal, The Life of God in Soul of Man, p. 75

I was particularly caught by the phrase "a wandering out of ourselves" - which seemed a particularly poignant description of the complete absence of self-regard involved in love. Not deliberate or disciplined self denial, but the most natural abandonment of selfishness in the honouring of another.

He goes on to contrast the tragic beauty of unrequited love where one offers oneself and the offering is rejected with the perfect love of God whose acceptance of us is utterly assured. David's description of God not despising a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) seems to ring the same tone: we can be sure that God will not hold out on us or keep us at arms length waiting to see if he gets a better offer.

The assurance of requited love - the knowledge that we are "accepted in the beloved" as Eph 1:6 (KJV) puts it; the proven extravagance of God towards us, giving his only Son for us on the cross (Romans 8:32), is a liberating invitation to love God with reckless abandon.