I’ve been slowly chewing on this notion for a few days now, so forgive me if my thoughts are still a bit jumbled!
So often lately I catch myself doing things for people in my life and then wondering why they aren’t repaying me, why they aren’t kind to me in return, why they don’t even respond at all to the love I’m trying to show them.
Perhaps its because I’m not really showing them love at all.
I’m showing them some kindness in hopes of receiving something in return, as if my kindness is an investment. I’m showing them a selfish side of me, I’m showing them my fallen nature – who would want to respond to that? Then, it hit me. Love is not an investment. That’s just being selfish or lazy or weak, its not love. We may call it love, but we are lying to ourselves and to those we are seeking to love. We respond with love when we are first loved, when we are filled with love.
When I took a class on St. Paul and his letters in college my professor told us that when Paul was converted on the road to Damascus he discovered that every answer resides in Jesus. Paul didn’t know what all the questions were going to be, but he knew all of the answers are in Jesus. How true! Jesus never loved as an investment, He loved and continues to love because love is good. Love is beautiful. Love is Truth. “Love and truth cannot be separated” – Pope Benedict XVI (though I’m fairly sure someone said that before him, I just can’t remember who!) Jesus loves because He is love. True love, then, is never an investment on which we should expect a return. Hope for it, sure, hope to be loved and respected in return, yes, hope! God loves not expecting a return, rather He waits patiently like a lover, hoping that we will love Him and turn to Him.
I don’t want to beat the dead horse, so I’ll simply leave off with a few closing thoughts. True love never seeks a return, never expects or demands a return. Love is not an investment, it is only ever a gift, one that must be freely given or else it is not really love. “Love…does not seek its own interests” (1 Corinthians 13:5). St. Paul goes on to say that love, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7) Love bears and endures times when we feel disrespected, hurt or even rejected by others when we offer them the love we have received.
Truly, we are called to offer the very love we receive from the Lord. We aren’t called to change that love, to offer it conditionally, we are called to offer it in the same manner and form in which we receive it – unconditionally wrapped in mercy from God and drenched in the blood of Jesus. Too graphic? I think not. Love. In the Gospel according to John we hear Jesus telling us, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34). As I have loved you – not in some other way, not kind of sort of like I have loved you, but as I have loved you.
Let us love, not as an investment, but because we are loved and because the Lord stands and the door and waits to fill your heart with His infinite love. Let us love.