Monday, September 7, 2009

Like a Penny

There is a cute little song my dad taught Leah and I when we were younger, that I think is a good illustration of love. It goes something like this:

"Love is like a little penny,
Hold it in your hand and you don't have many.
But lend it, spend it, the best that you can,
You'll have so many, they'll roll all over the floor.

"Love is something when you give it away, give it away, give it away.
Love is something when you give it away, you end up having more."

A couple posts back I wrote about love and specifically God's incredible love toward us and how we can show our love back to Him.

But, as I read in I John today, God does not intend for us to hoard the love, but to give it away.

"By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers." - I John 3:16

I believe this "knowing" is experiential - we know God's love because we have experienced its immeasurable fullness in the fact that we have forgiveness, salvation and new life through Jesus' sacrificial death.

"As an example, Jesus shows us that true love is concrete and active, not merely felt or thought, but lived out." - IVP New Testament Commentaries

It may be difficult to wrap our minds around the idea of "laying down our lives." What does this really mean and how do we do it?

"Christ alone laid down His one life for us all; we ought to lay down our lives severally for the lives of the brethren; if not actually, at least virtually, by giving our time, care, labors, prayers, substance: Non nobis, sed omnibus. (Latin for "Not for ourselves alone.") Our life ought not to be dearer to us than God's own Son was to Him. The apostles and martyrs acted on this principle." - Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

John also gives further explanation of how to live out love.

"But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in Him?" - I John 3:17

Wow - this hits me right in the heart. I know I have seen, yet passed by, so many needs of others in my life. I have put my wants and priorities before them. I have been unwilling to give unselfishly without expecting anything in return. So many times I have been reluctant to get dirty, to give sacrificially, to just plain give. Yet, "love is something when we give it away."

Love is a noun, but it becomes a verb when it becomes active.

"Our superfluities should yield to the necessities; our comforts, and even our necessaries in some measure, should yield to the extreme wants of our brethren. 'Faith gives Christ to me; love flowing from faith gives me to my neighbor.'"

"Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth." - I John 3:18

As I think about going to Uganda I think about love and being able to love as God would want me to. I know my brand of love is often selfish, wrongly motivated, shallow and limited. It can also be superficial. My version of love might make people like me or encourage friendship, but, in the light of eternity, is that kind of love really effective?
Honestly, I don't have the love that is required on the missionfield or even in my daily life here at home. Which is why I need to be emptied of my tainted love, to be filled with God's pure, life-changing love. It is only God's brand of love that can truly touch hearts and change lives for eternity. It is purely motivated, sacrificial and unlimited. When we draw on God's love we never have to fear running out before we reach the next person.
I simply love this verse from the hymn, "The Love of God."

"Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky."

Take your cup, your basin, your bucket and dip it into the ocean of God's boundless love. But, don't keep it to yourself, pour it into the lives of others. Give it away!


  1. I love both the song your dad taught you (can you hum me a bar? :-) and "The Love of God"!
    Wonderful post--thank you!

  2. Thank you, Lauren! I appreciate your "visits" and comments. : )