October / November 2018 - Vol. 100
 The Prodigal Son by Rembrandt.

Costly, Difficult, and Inconvenient Love for God  
by Tom Caballes

"[Christ Jesus] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to
be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of
men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of
death, even death on a cross.
" - Philippians 2:6-8 ESV

We live in a world where love has been romanticized too much. We can see this fact in the movies and TV shows we watch. Why? Romantic love sells. There is a place for romantic love, especially in courtship and marriage, but if that kind of love is all we look for with God, then we become deluded. True love for God is far from romantic love. It is many times hidden, tedious, and unglamorous. It may seem unrewarded and unrecognized – at least here on earth.

At times, true love for God is not cheap, easy or comfortable; it may be costly, difficult, and inconvenient. Jesus becoming human to die for us is like you becoming a cockroach because you love those critters so much that you become one of them to die on their behalf. Think about that! If that is how Jesus loved us, should not we be ready to love Him back in a similar way? It will not always be that way – but are you ready, when called, to love God that is costly, challenging, and inconvenient?

So How Do We Grow in Loving God in the Same Way He Loved Us?  

  1. Offer your life to God fully – no ifs and buts; no strings attached. Desire to love God come hell or high waters, no matter how much it would cost, no matter how hard it might be, and no matter how inconvenient it could get. Desire to love God with all of your life for the rest of your life. Live a sacrificial love for God daily.
  2. Be formed by the word of God. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 ESV) Let God transform your selfish love to one that is like God’s love for us – full, lavish, and unconditional.
  3. Offer your heartaches, failures, and disappointments to God. Life on this side of eternity is not meant to be perfect; if it were perfect, why would we wait for our eternal hope in God? Some of our prayers will remain unanswered. Can we still love God even if our prayers do not go our way? Or would we act like spoiled brats who will throw a tantrum before God? Even at times of heartaches, confusion, and disappointments, we can still love God because we know everything will turn out good for those who love Him – see Romans 8:28.
  4. Aim to live a martyrs’ life - not necessarily the one who will give his life fully to God once, but one who will offer everything he has to God daily in costly love. It may come in the form of forbearing a grumpy office mate daily or forgiving someone who has hurt you badly – these are all chances to offer a costly love for God. Practice denying yourself; since you belong to God, you are not your own anymore – see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
  5. We can only love God based on how much understanding and appreciation we have of how much God loves us first – see Ephesians 3:14-19. Live a life of gratitude for God’s love for you. For those who are forgiven much, loves much. Streams of costly, difficult, and inconvenient love for God will overflow out of your heart naturally the more you know and draw closer to Him. Loving God will become a pleasure rather than a pain. And you cannot outdo God in His love for you! So dwell, bathe, and meditate on God’s love for you always. 
Other Scripture passages:
  1. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13 ESV)
  2. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16 ESV)
  3. Other Bible verses: John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 13: 1-7; Ephesians 5:1-2; Galatians 2:20; and Romans 8:35.
For personal reflection or group sharing
  • In what ways does your love for God cost you, inconvenience you, or difficult for you to do?
  • How can you live a daily martyr’s life in your circumstances? 
Tom Caballes is the National Senior Administrator and a National Coordinator of the Lamb of God, a community of the Sword of the Spirit with 7 branches located throughout New Zealand. Tom also leads Kairos New Zealand, an outreach program for high school, university, and post-university aged people. 

Tom and his wife Mhel and their two daughters live in Wellington, New Zealand.

Top image: The Prodigal Son, detail of  painting by Rembrandt

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