Give it away
Every one of God’s commands must be interpreted and understood in the context of relationship. Sin is only sin in the context of relationship. If sin can be summed up as selfishness, then when I sin, I am choosing myself over someone else; I am placing myself above anyone else. Looking at sin this way fundamentally changes my perspective. Life is no longer living by a set of rules. It becomes living from the heart. And sin becomes an attitude that costs relationship, intimacy, being known and accepted. When I view sin in this light, and I know that my deepest desire is to be known, then the question becomes: Is my selfishness really worth losing my deepest desire?
The truth is that selfishness is really just the perverted interpretation of a legitimate desire. I want to be cared for, looked after, loved, but instead of waiting on or allowing someone to give me love, I seize it, take it by force, and hoard it. The act of trying to take love by force is the very definition of sin. Love and sin and relationship are intimately intertwined.
There’s an illustration with us standing over a pile of paper wads . . . each wad a piece of love. When we fight over the pieces, it feels like there’s not enough to go around. We wrest and grab for more while trying to protect what we have. But, if instead we try to give the pieces away, there’s more than enough for everyone. The amount of paper wads has not changed. What has changed is how we view them, how we handle them. The pieces of love stop being a commodity to be amassed, as in “he with the most toys wins.” There’s no competition with winners and losers.
“Love isn’t love ’til you give it away.” It’s an old Michael W. Smith song. I know, I know, but I’ve got to give him cred.
It’s easier for us to give money away than to love. We live such isolated lives, detached from each other while clinging to our possessions. Why do we treat love like a commodity? Love is not a finite product to be traded back and forth. It has no limits and will not run out. It’s not something we spend or need to keep track of, “it keeps no record” (1Cor 13:5). Love is not something we need to fear running out of. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear” (1 Jn 4:18). Fear is not in love’s character, and love never fails (love never runs out; 1 Cor 13:8)
We should treat love like it grows on trees. We should be extravagant with it. Instead of rationing love, we should toss it about wildly and without discretion, giving it to anyone and everyone in our path. But we are so concerned with casting our pearls before swine that we end up only knowing how to sling mud at each other. Love was never meant to be contained and stored, saved for those who really deserve it. If that were true, God would have never loved us first (1 Jn 4:19).