During an extensive conversation with a good friend I realized something that rang out fairly obviously. The realization came up as we examined the reasoning behind the things we do. Both of us agreed that every act in the life of a human is done out of either love or pride; maybe too simplistic of a theory, maybe not. It may be hasty to say ‘every act’, but as you ponder the majority of choices you make throughout your life, you are either being a loving person or a self-absorbed one.
Let’s take a look at the evidence here: Helping at a charity function could be done out of love. What a great thing for someone to do. Whether it is raising money for a specific charity, volunteering, or donating items, charity work is a loving thing to do. Or is it? Sure some people may be doing all of these things out of love, but there are others who do them out of pride. I like to call this group the “look at what I did” people.
Now, let’s take this a step further and examine the complications. In most churches there are those who truly have been given amazing gifts from God. The major problem occurs when they become the “look what I did people”. It becomes tragic when their focus turns from using their gifts in love, to using their gifts in pride. Something is being tarnished in the process. They become like the Pharisees, openly flaunting their gifts in order to earn praise and honor.
The “look at what I did” people love the attention. Each comment of praise makes a deposit in their pride bank. Eventually, from one good work to the next, the pride bank is bulging and the desire for want steadily increases.
After some time, a “look what I did” person begins to thrive on pride and the accolades they receive. Doing any act out of love is basically impossible, because, in the shadows, lies a growing ego.
God is not impressed by the prideful ego of man. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition … ” If we ditch this selfish ambition, works or acts done in life will be done out of love, and not love for ourselves, but love for others.
What better way to serve God and live as Jesus lived, than to do all things out of love? This seems impossible. I know, it seems extremely far-fetched to do all things out of love. Not saying that it would be easy, but it is something to strive for.
Imagine a world where everyone was doing as much as they could out of love? Cars would never be cut off in traffic, there would be no pushing in long lines, courtesy would no longer be a thing of the past, and gossip (especially in church) would be non-existent. Imagine, the potential of what would church ladies could do when they get together.
God calls us to act not out of love for ourselves, but love for one another. Philippians 2:4continues with, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.” In other words, in everything we do, we have to remember it’s not about us. In Eugene H. Peterson’s translation of the Bible entitled The Message, this passage reads, “Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
Quite obviously, there is no better example of acting in love than the love that the Father and the Son showed to us. God sent His only son, Jesus, to the world in order that He would die. Not just die but be persecuted, beaten, mocked, humiliated, and then killed. In a human body this suffering would be unbearable. Jesus Christ suffered an excruciating level of pain, so that we may be given the gift of living forever with Him in paradise. He bore all the pain of our sins; the nails that went into His hands and feet were for our sake. The crown of thorns lain on His head pricked Him hundreds of times for our sake.
Jesus even broke down the night He was at the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples. Falling to His knees, He prayed, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?” (Matthew 26:39, The Message). But in love it was the will of God that Jesus would die on the cross. God willed that His son would die so that we may live. If anyone has ever questioned the idea of true love, the answer is here.
Jesus died in the name of love. As for us, we are prideful people. We enjoy praise, recognition and receiving thanks. We need to learn, as children of God, to die to the world in the name of love, just as Jesus did. To become dead to pride, dead to arrogance, dead to the desire for praise. We need to learn to do whatever we do in the name of love, in the name of God. After all God is love. Pride just doesn’t fit the equation.
[Natalie is a 19 year-old freshman at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada.]