Devotions this week based on Sunday’s Message: The Difficulty of Love! (LISTEN HERE)
Do you find love difficult?
Receiving love is a piece of cake. When some gives a gift, does something nice for you, expresses appreciation, etc. that is enjoyable and fills our “love tank.”
But why is expressing love not always easy…and in fact at times very difficult?
Perhaps some of your answers might include:
I don’t have time right now.
They were mean to me in the past and I don’t feel like loving them.
They need to apologize first before I show any love to them.
They won’t appreciate or repay me if I love them.
What else would you add?
I can come up with a lot of reasons to not love and why I don’t need to love, but here’s the reality… I AM the one that makes love difficult.
Sure, I certainly acknowledge that some people are more challenging to love than others, but is that an excuse not to love? NO.
So how do I make it so difficult?
I’m battling with my sinful nature that only wants to love me and do what’s best for me. My sinful nature is my selfish nature. It loves me more than anyone else and wants me to keep my focus on loving me. Loving others is an interruption to loving me.
Instead of loving others, the Apostle Paul puts forward what comes out of this sinful nature of mine…
Galatians 5:19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
Instead of loving, my sinful nature would rather hate the person that wronged me. Instead of working toward peace, my sinful nature wants me to hold a grudge and allow discord to continue. Instead of rejoicing in the success of others and celebrating them, my sinful nature would rather be jealous and connive ways to bring down the success of others. Instead of taking time to understand another person, my sinful nature would rather have a fit of rage and seek to gain for myself through threats and anger. Instead of coming along side another person and helping them succeed, my sinful nature loves to carry a selfish ambition that uses people along the way for personal gain. Instead of…my sinful nature loves to feed itself. The list is long and the problem is strong.
I AM what makes love difficult because MY sinful nature loves to love self more than others.
In order to love, I must daily drown, fight off, suppress my sinful nature.
How? Perhaps Martin Luther’s explanation to the blessing of baptism helps. It’s a reminder to make daily use of the blessing of our baptism: (From Luther’s Small Catechism)
- What is the meaning of such a water Baptism?
- It means that the old Adam in us should be drowned by daily sorrow and repentance, and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, in turn, a new person daily come forth and rise from death again. He will live forever before God in righteousness and purity.
- Where is this written?
- St. Paul says to the Romans in Chapter Six (Romans 6:4):
- “We are buried with Christ through Baptism into death, so that, in the same way Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, thus also must we walk in a new life.”
So today is going to be no different than other days. Your sinful nature is going to want you to only love yourself. With the power of God’s Spirit working through your baptism, drown that unloving, self-centered sinful nature in the tomb of Jesus and let the new man full of God’s love and grace live boldly and brightly today!
Apply: Think of a situation in which you find it hard to love. What aspect of your sinful nature is getting in the way and making it difficult?
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for being so self-centered and living life focused on loving self. Empower me through your Spirit and the blessing of my baptism to daily drown my sinful nature and let the new man you gave me rise and shine and show your love. AMEN.