I listen to a lot of music. One of my favorites is TobyMac. I had this song playing as I cleaned the kitchen this morning.
And a line from the song really struck me:
“Anything, I would give up for you/Everything, I’d give it all away”
And I thought, would I really? Give up ANYTHING?
I’ve been wrestling in recent months with giving. Giving money, giving time, meeting needs as I see them. I’ve made peace with the idea that, as far as giving money goes, we can’t make the grand gesture. We don’t have the financial wherewithal to pay someone’s house note for a few months until they get back on their feet, or pay someone else’s light bill, or buy them a week’s worth of groceries. But we can buy a meal for a homeless man, or add a little extra to our grocery shopping to give to our church’s food pantry, or contribute to Operation Christmas Child boxes. So that’s progress, at least as far as recognizing our capability to give financially and doing what we can, letting go of the idea that it’s too small to matter.
But when it comes to giving time (which is usually in short supply when I’m working, but which I’ve had a surplus of while I’ve been out of work), I find myself confronted with something I never thought was an issue for me: I am selfish. I don’t want to go out of my way. If I’m asked to do something that takes me out of my routine, that would keep me from getting things done according to my agenda, I start trying to think of reasons why I can’t do it. I want to hang onto my time and use it the way I want to use it, not in a way that would help out someone else.
I know, it’s not mine to meet every single need. I know there are times it’s appropriate to say “no”. Where I struggle is when I’ve got the ability to do it, but straight up do.not.want.to because it inconveniences me. And it’s only recently that this has come to the forefront of my attention. If you’d asked me twenty years ago if I were selfish, I’d have said, of course not. But God is working on me, and clearly, this is a burr He’s trying to rub off of me. And it is one big, ugly burr. I see it in how I relate to my family sometimes. I see it in how I relate to others sometimes. And that all ties back into how I relate to Jesus. When I’m selfish with my time to someone else, I’m telling Him that my wants are more important than this thing He’s asking me to do.
That’s a bitter pill to swallow, especially knowing that, as a Christian, I’m supposed to be striving to be more Christ-like each day. And Jesus is the epitome of unselfishness. After all, He laid down His very life for me. And I balk at taking time out of my day to help someone? Ouch.
There’s another TobyMac song in my iTunes library that is a good reminder for me of what love, the love we’re supposed to have for others, needs to look like:
This is harder than I thought
Harder than I thought it’d be
Harder than I thought
Takin’ every part of me
Harder than I thought
So much harder than I thought it’d be
But empty’s never felt so full
This is what love
Poured out, used up, still givin’
Stretching me out to the end of my limits
This is what love (this is what love)
This is what real love
This is what love feels like poured out
Used up still willin’ to fight for it
This is what love feels like
Yeah, this is what it feels like
Like floating confetti
The beautiful gets messy
When the fallout finds the floor
But in the depths of the trenches
Is the richest of riches
Love is calling us to more
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” — Matthew 25:34-40
Lord, remove my selfish heart and replace it with a heart that beats in time with Yours, that steps forth willingly and sacrificially to meet needs.