YOU MAY have heard that once you’ve accepted Jesus in your heart, everything is done out of love, not obligation. We are free from the law.
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
I’m sure there are lots of theological explanations about this, but I want to get down to real life. Let’s be real: we don’t always want to do what we should do, right?
There must be a great spiritual secret to be found here.
Even Jesus reached a limit. At Gethsemane, he asked his Father to let the cup pass…
The image of my mom cooking comes to mind. She did it out of love, and every bite exploded with the flavor of mom’s care for us. But did she always want to do it?
We were a family of 8, and my dad wasn’t much of a cook.
Preparing food for 8 every day isn’t easy. I’m sure there were lots of times when mom cooked because she had to. Those days when she was tired and weary and didn’t want to be in the kitchen… did she still cook out of love for us?
I ask myself, do I do things out of love or obligation?
When I have to get up early, maybe on the weekend, when I would much rather sleep — isn’t it better to be honest and say:
“You know what God, this really is NOT what I want to do right now. I would much rather sleep in. But I will get up and go.”
Or when I have to deal with a rebellious child who knows how to push my buttons and drive me to the limit… am I loving it?
Or when I go to serve in my church or volunteer, but I’m worn out from a hard day’s work… what’s my motive?
Many times, it’s out of obligation. That’s the cold, hard truth. Still, it might actually be better that way sometimes.
I ask… obligation to what? To who?
HERE’S THE SECRET…
You see, true, lasting, DURABLE LOVE is demanding.
It’s not a casual thing. Love requires tremendous energy and care to survive. It’s like an infant that depends on nourishment. But at the same time, that tender, helpless baby gives so much joy in return.
Yes. Sometimes I do things out of obligation, because I have to. I don’t always want to. I don’t feel anything at all except struggle.
BUT… I do want to please God. I do want to serve my family, neighbor and community. So there’s the secret.
If I remember the larger context, the weight isn’t so heavy. But if I focus on the immediate pain alone, it’s much harder.
There are many tasks I must do that I would rather not. You won’t see me skipping with joy to clean toilets.
The fusion of obligation with love – but not for gain – is a tremendous spiritual force.
It drives out bitterness and fatigue. It puts explosive flavor into a home cooked meal. It gives everyday chores new meaning.
And if you must hurt and bleed, God is glorified all the more.
It says, “I do not want to do it. I decide to do it. My motivation is love, not emotion, not gain.”
We don’t face a Gethsemane moment every day. But we do face day-to-day trials that can bring us down. So don’t feel guilty if you don’t want to – but do it anyway.
Decide to love.
And when you have to do something, don’t roll your eyes. Instead, lift them up to heaven. Like Jesus did.
And say, “Thy will be done Father.”
God’s grace gives you this ability to decide. And when you take that position, it’s a place of strength.
IT’S THE MANIFESTATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN YOU. IT BUILDS YOUR CHARACTER AS A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST.
Later, your Father in heaven will certainly return joy to you.
He’s obliged to… since God is love.
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