The Poverty of Love

12 May

I recently heard the phrase “the poverty of love.” Immediately when I heard the word “poverty” my mind drifted towards the image of a person in need. It conjured up images of someone hungry, thirsty and without shelter. I thought of a neglected overlooked soul.

But as I ran the words through my head again I began to visualize it in a different way. What if this wasn’t a person who didn’t have but a person who realized how much they had? What if this person instead of being in need was a person who’s life was overflowing into others? Love was a force that was causing them to give themselves away. They did not see their time, talents or treasures as items terminating ultimately upon themselves but opportunities to invest in others.

Love is one of those things that demands a response from us. It is often painful and costly demanding at sometimes the greatest cost. Love isn’t a warm fuzzy feeling that speaks of what makes us feel good. Our use of love is often reduced to the things that make us happy. I feel like the scriptures point to a different picture of the way love is given and received. Love is an expression of something or someone that we are laying down our life for. Yet it is one of those ironic things that when we learn to give ourselves away that joy, trust and hope seem to catch up with us in the end.

I think that we are often like that Far Side cartoon that has a caption saying “school for the gifted” where there is a boy pulling on a door that says “push.” We constantly do and say things in an effort to feel complete, safe and loved. And in the process many of the good gifts of God become things that we abuse, distort and in the process turn into idols because we are trying to get from them what only God can give us. And the idols return the favor abusing and distorting us. The gifts of God are great servants but they are vengeful gods if we let them rule us.

I think that even to begin to give ourselves away we have to know that we are loved in the first place. I have a deep rooted conviction that the more I am finding my value and worth in Christ the less I am looking to find value in things. And when we do have those moments that we realize that value is not earned but given by God it puts things in perspective. Titles, people, possessions often become unveiled and we see them for what they are. When I know where my worth comes from I can resist being a workoholic because my value doesn’t come from a job title or a kind of car I drive.

To quote my friend Tony who quoted C.S. Lewis the other night, “we have this fear that God wants to take away the things we love when he really just wants to take away the things we hate, we just aren’t aware of it yet.”

What if the poverty of love is simply the description of a person who has the ability to give themselves away? When I know that I am loved I can give myself away.

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