We must love more.
Please Lord, teach us the most excellent way.
Love never fails.
One day recently I dropped my daughter off to a party. I haven’t felt such shame and judgment in quite awhile. My heart vacillated from defending myself, to a great desire to burst into tears, to run away quickly. The later I chose.
My daughter has this gracious politeness about her that I wish I possessed. No comment seems to disrupt her. She responds in grace.
At the door, she stepped aside to let another child ring the bell. She offered her greetings and remained quiet.
“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” – 1 Corinthians 10:24
As we entered she was greeted with the “we missed you at church this morning” comment and she responded with a gentle, “thank you.” She felt no need to explain her absence and felt confident in the grace our Father has over her. She knew the time with visiting family was permissible. I just stood there and quickly walked in behind her.
Note to self: don’t ever ever ever tell someone you missed them at church ever again. Tell them you miss them.
The girls have done so great on memorizing their Bible verses so that’s why they are receiving this party.
The host looked down at my daughter and asked, “have you seen the new verses we will be learning? They are much harder and are from the church Bible reading plan IF your family is doing the Bible reading plan.” As she looked at me, I tried to smile.
My girl answered, “we can learn them and smiled with authenticity.”
I awkwardly mumbled something about “anything is possible.”
Note to self: never question what another family is doing at their home for their family reading and worship.
At that moment, the legalism of my childhood overtook me like a huge wave. She can’t know, checklists are dangerous for me. We are seeking to operate from grace not rules. The minute we start checking boxes something inside me shuts down.
The battle of perfection is too strong. Aren’t I good enough?? Isn’t my child good enough?? Oh man, this is gross. We are never good enough. Doesn’t Jesus cover us? Does He condemn me if I didn’t teach my kids a scripture today?
My heart feels stomped on. It hurts to the deepest core of who I am. Teach my daughter the love of Jesus. Teach her she will never add up, but she doesn’t have to. Teach her that Jesus came because we are weak and He is strong. Teach her that knowing Christ is so much sweeter than knowing His word. His Word is the good news that ushers us with delight to Himself.
Note to self: Knowledge does not rescue us. Jesus is our Rescuer. He pulls us from the pit and gives us a firm place to stand. The Savior, Redeemer and Lord of our life is Jesus.
We aren’t condemned. We are free. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. My God sent Jesus and Jesus covered all my blunders and inadequacy and deficiency. He says, “come to me, I give rest.” Our laboring and toiling don’t define us or justify us. We are wrapped in Grace because the lover of our soul is Jesus.
My little girl whispered to me, “I feel guilty that I’m here at this party decorating cookies. I memorized that scripture for the party and I should want that scripture more than this party. I don’t even remember it very well.”
Hush baby, let’s speak about it in the car. You decorate that cookie. It’s going to be ok.
“Mama, can I take a cookie home for my brother?” Yes dear.
Oh Jesus, I see you in her. Maybe she didn’t learn the scripture purely, but she’s foregoing her second cookie to bless her brother. That’s Jesus in her and I thank you.
Note to self: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
As we drove away, we talked about the motive of her heart for memorizing that scripture. She was told they wouldn’t receive the party if everyone didn’t memorize the scripture. She said she did it for the party not for Jesus. Her heart was sad.
We talked about how our Father delights when we hide His word in our hearts because He is teaching us and taking us to secret places with Him. He’s refining us and purifying us.
How are we delighting our Father when we memorize His word for earthly rewards?
We discussed that there is nothing inherently wrong to being challenged to memorize the scripture. And, if the whole group loses the party if one doesn’t comply, it’s the right thing to love her friends by memorizing that scripture. Also, her teacher is assigning the task to her and she needs to comply out of respect for her elder.
But, let’s be honest to God about the motives of our heart. Let’s admit I memorized Your word for a party, for friends, or for my teacher. Then we can ask Him to change us, the deep inner secret place of us, where we have a desire to memorize His Word for Him.
She said, “I circle verses that speak to be in my Bible. Maybe I could learn those for Jesus.”
Good idea. Let’s do life for Jesus.
What do I do for an earthly reward? What do I do to please my friends or my boss?
Teach us Father to live, breath and exist for Jesus.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31