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Chapter 9 - Love is a Choice
Consider a husband and father whose wife suggests that they consider home schooling their children. The husband cannot but help include the desirability of the second income his wife could supply into his calculations. This is illustrative of the choices we make everyday (big or small) .
For many people, daily choices seldom involve anything religious. For them their religion has more to do with the hour they spend on Sunday at church listening to a sermon and singing three hymns. However, the radical Christian has to involve his faith in every aspect of his life. In regard to love, he has to consider if his choices serve selfish or selfless interests.
Almost every purchasing decision has to include a consideration of who is being served (self or others). Another major category of decision making is how to spend time. The bible gives us as an example a picture of how Jesus made the choice to set aside that to which he was entitled to show the greatest love.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: - Philippians 2:4-9
The word 'robbery" (plunder) here is a little unusual. It is used to convey the intensity of desire one has to hold on to what one has. Here the image draws upon the the picture of a thief who often has a greater desire to hold on to what he has stolen than the original owner.
A guy who taught religious law once asked Jesus how one got eternal life. Jesus asked him what was written in the law (his field of expertise). The man quoted the Old Testament law;
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.- Deuteronomy 6:5
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. - Leviticus 19:18
Jesus told him that he was right. However, the man may have been embarrassed by this instruction in his own field of expertise and went on to ask who was his neighbor. To this Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan, ending by asking which of the three men in the story was 'neighbor' to the injured man. The response was the one who showed mercy. Jesus responded go and do likewise. The point was that 'love' was exercised by choosing to show mercy.
So much of the human experience is bound up in the lessons we learn about what we have to do to get what we want. For example, a baby learns to cry to get fed. A toddler learns that to get a desired toy away from another child stealth of force can be used. As we grow we learn how to get praise or punishment from parents. The marketplace and employment also drive home the lessons of methods of acquisition.
The problem for the people of Israel and even Christians today is that we often apply this thinking to our relation with God and we seek to discover the requirements for us to earn his favor. One can understand how much more difficult it would be for the people of Israel, since they were specifically given the Law, but we both often miss the fact that we are in truth unable to keep even the simplest rules much less earn our way into Godís favor.
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. - James 2:10
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. - Galatians 3:24
The verses cited by the Jewish law scholar both make reference to love (selflessness). This has to be the basis for our relationship with God and each other. From this comes humility, gratitude, and a clarity of vision that better sees truth.
Many of our routine daily choices are made reflexively. This reflects something deep inside of us that is manifest when faced with making a choice. It is almost like having a computer program operating inside of us. The Christian process of sanctification is like continously rewriting the program code so that we learn to have different reflexes.
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: - 1 Peter 1:22
Our process of sanctification (reprogramming) is accomplished through 'obeying the truth' and results in a love of our fellow Christians that has no pretense. A pure heart and purse soul result from being reprogrammed by truth and the work of the Holy Spirit.
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