God's definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love. In our culture, even if a pastor doesn't actually love people, he can still be considered successful as long as he is a gifted speaker, makes his congregation laugh, or prays for "all those poor, suffering people in the world" every Sunday.
But Paul writes that even 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 Cor. 13:2-3 ESV).
--Francis Chan, Crazy Love, p. 94
These words really struck me today as I sat eating my lunch.
Replace that word "pastor" with the word "missionary" or "teacher" or "Rebekah."
In our culture, even if missionary teacher Rebekah doesn't actually love people, she can still be considered successful as long as she is a gifted speaker, makes her students learn, and prays for the "poor suffering people in Haiti" every day.
Is that how I measure my success?
Would I rest content with stellar academic performance and zealous godliness among my students without noticing that I never really loved them?
What proportion of my time do I dedicate to loving compared to lesson planning?
Do I actively pursue being better at loving the way I do with being a better teacher?
Do my students feel like I love them, or do they feel like they must merely live up to my standard of perfection?
Are all my efforts merely "as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal"? (1 Cor 13:1)
|Alanda, one of my students|
|Espaniel, one of my students|
|Cherline (pronounced "Shelly"), one of my students|
Lord, I haven't loved my students with perfect love. I don't even know how to. I like them--I enjoy them--I'm fine with being around them--but I admit I don't love them with that undying, never-ending, unquenchable thing called agape. Will you please supply me with a big dose, until I'm full to overflowing?
I come to Thee, O fount of love, to fill my empty cup with Thy bounty. I open my heart to Thee to receive the seed that only Thou canst plant. I yield myself to Thee, O Christ, Thou who loveth perfectly, and invite Thee to live out Thy holy love through me. Teach me to love. Fill me with love. Let love be the heart and cornerstone of my every word, thought, and deed.
Thank you, my Savior.