Loving without Expectations
Bible Reading: Matthew 5:46, 10:8; Luke 14:12-14
“Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8b).
As many of you know, I’ve made many trips to Uganda working with Hope and Mercy Mission. It’s been a tremendous privilege to be a part of the amazing work God is doing in that region of the country. Mission teams of folks from churches on both coasts of America have ventured there many times to assist pastors and churches in the region and God has worked through them to do incredible things. Early on in my involvement in that work, I was hesitant to keep asking for funds from our church family for our repeated visits. I questioned whether the people would tire of my repeated appeals or if we could afford it. But I didn’t understand or appreciate the extent of God’s readiness to provide through His people. Ultimately our church in Astoria spent many tens of thousands of dollars in supporting that ministry. But we never lacked for funds. In fact, our church finances prospered as we expended resources in that missionary endeavor. Donations would come right on time and from unexpected places, as God’s people demonstrated an eagerness to assist their impoverished brethren on the other side of the world. The churches involved would work to send many suitcases full of provisions for the folks over there–books, t-shirts, dresses, eyeglasses, gifts and candies for children, pens and pencils and notebooks, medical supplies, and all sorts of other needed items. Hope and Mercy Mission would buy boxes of Ugandan Bibles to distribute to the many churches involved over there. It was always quite an undertaking to unpack and sort through all the suitcases of supplies when we finally arrived in the village. We knew that on the other side of those gifts we’d witness the overflowing gratitude of our Ugandan friends.
God was working through His people to lovingly provide and assist their brethren in a far away place, and it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve witnessed in my life. All those folks gave in Jesus’ name, sacrificing their time, effort, and finances, to help folks that they’d never seen and who would never be able to pay them back. God’s love is like that. He freely gives and calls us to freely give as we’ve freely received.
How incredibly blessed we are as believers in Christ! Indeed, we are the recipients of “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:3). In “lavishing upon us” the riches of His grace, God has filled our cups to overflowing (Ephesians 1:8). All three persons of the Triune God have had a part in this. The Father has chosen and adopted us; the Son has redeemed, forgiven, enlightened, and enriched us; and the Spirit has sealed us, thus serving as a guarantee of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:4-14). How has this happened for you? What did you do to deserve these incredible blessings? The answer is, of course, is that you’ve done nothing to merit any of that which you have received (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Corinthians 4:7). These blessings have freely come to you entirely by the grace of God–simply because God is who He is. Indeed, everything pertaining to your salvation, from that moment of saving faith until you are taken home to glory, has been freely given to you. Indeed, you and I have freely received!!!
It is in the nature of God’s children to love as they have been loved (Ephesians 5:1-2). Jesus has saved us that we may “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). He’s made a radical change in us. The world loves, but according to the rules of its barter system approach, in which love is shown with the expectation of receiving something in return. God’s love is something far more glorious in that it flows from His heart, it comes with no demands or expectations. The child of God is Spirit-led and empowered to love in like manner–whether it be love shown to an enemy or a stranger or to friend–to love without expectations is a part of what it means to love like Jesus.
Freely You Have Received, Freely Give
Father. Praise You and Thank You for the incredible blessings You’ve bestowed on me according to the riches of Your grace. I was so incredibly lost in sin, but then You intervened. I had hoped for forgiveness, but by Your grace You’ve blessed me in an exceeding, abundant, beyond all I could ask or think manner! In lavishing Your grace upon me, You’ve filled my cup to overflowing. Thank You that it’s in Your nature to give like that! Forgive me for my sinful tendency to hold on to things as I do. Change my heart, Lord, and open my eyes to the glory of Your love and Your ways. Grant that I might walk according to the example of Jesus, who said it is more blessed to give than to receive. From Your hands I’ve received infinite blessings, may my heart and my hands be ever glad to freely pass them on to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.