by Rt Rev Thomas Low, Bishop, Lutheran Church in Malaysia
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Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1,2).
Read Ephesians 5:1,2,6–14
Loving someone and giving of oneself to that someone is a mark of genuine love. We cannot claim to love someone and remain passive. That love is merely an idea or intention. It is conceived but not born. Unless love is birthed, it has no reality. At best, it is just a ‘feel-good’ experience within us.
To love someone necessitates giving part of ourselves to the beloved, otherwise our giving is just a set of actions, fulfilment of a duty, completion of an event.
As a parent, I can give time, effort and financial resources to my daughter without loving her. I wake up at 6am, get her ready for school, spend 20 minutes on the road, and drop her off. Then I fetch her home, feed her and put her to bed. I have fulfilled my duty as a parent and I can do so without ‘heart’. Yes, it involves sacrifice of time and resources but, without adding my ‘self’ to the task, it is not love, just duty. When I give of my ‘self’ to the task it becomes life-giving, life-changing and life-affirming.
I wake up at 6am and urgently get her up because I do not want her to be late and suffer the consequences. While she is still half-asleep brushing her teeth, I am rushing to get her breakfast ready because I do not want her to spend the morning in school feeling hungry. I get anxious when the traffic is slow to school. She gets out of the car and waves goodbye with a smile, assured that I will be there again when school is done. When I collect her from school she will talk non-stop about her day – about friends, teachers, what she has learnt, how she has been good or bad, followed by streams of questions. She will make fun of me, and I her. There will be laughter, shared joys and sometimes, tears and anger. I live a busy life with so many people and things requiring my attention but I can make sure that in those moments, however brief and routine, I can always give of my ‘self’ to her and she returns the same. Such sacrifices become life-giving, life-changing and life-affirming.
Our Lord Jesus’ love for us involves him giving himself totally to us, even to the point of death. His love is one of self-giving that begat in us a life of forgiveness, joy and hope. Let us be mindful of all our relationships that God has gifted us with. Life is precious and fragile. Handle with care. Let us love by giving of our ‘self’ just as Jesus did and just as Jesus did, make a difference in all our relationships.
Loving Saviour, we pray for those serving the Lutheran Church in Malaysia, as they nurture, equip, care for and help their members grow spiritually and draw closer to God. Amen.
The devotions from this week are taken from LCA International Mission’s 40 Days – A Lenten Devotion and Prayer Guide. They are written by a variety of people who are connected with LCA International Mission. Some are LCANZ members who support International Mission in different ways, and others are from partner churches throughout the region. You can download the full prayer guide here.