law or love?

Last night I was talking to Sam, just kind of meandering through my thoughts, (yes, I do that occasionally) and I told him that it makes me feel happy to do little things to make his life easier, or find ways to help him.  Sometimes when he comes home from an especially long day at work exhausted,  I’ll take his shoes off for him and rub his feet.  I love to give him that bit of relaxation and pleasure.

Now, when I was with my first husband he would from time to time sit down, snap his fingers, point to his feet and say “Shoe service”, at which point I was supposed to go to him and take his shoes off.  Guess how I felt about that?  (“Happy” wasn’t one of the adjectives I would have used.)

Interestingly, it’s the same action.  Actually, with Sam, I’m adding more service – I’m rubbing his feet.  But it makes me feel good.  It makes me feel close to him.  Why?  Because I’m doing it out of love and desire to please him, not out of obligation or fear.

I bet you’re smart enough to see the same parallel I saw when I thought about this.  It’s exactly like my relationship with God.  For so many years I tried to do the things I “should”, keep the rules, do what I was told – and I felt frustrated, like I always came up short.  Which, of course, I did.   We all do, when we base our relationship with God on religion, which is doing things to please God.  We can’t possibly do it well enough.  But now, in my new understanding of loving God and knowing his love, doing the same things has an entirely different feel.  I want to do what makes him happy.  I don’t want to do things that will reflect badly on him or pull me away from him.  It’s not at all about keeping the rules, it’s about how love changes the heart.

But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him.  Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. I John 2:5-6

We have known and believed that God loves us. God is love. Those who live in God’s love live in God, and God lives in them. I John 4:16

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