We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
I have a lot of one liners that tumble through my head. Sometimes I remember where I heard them and others just roll around and I don’t have any idea where they came from. I’m taking a fabulous class every Tuesday night that dives into scripture in a profound and beautiful way. A couple of weeks ago we were talking about the love of God and one of those famous one liners just kept running through my mind. The line is, “Love is just love!” We discussed something in class that proved that statement to be so incomplete!
We are all called to love God and love others. As simple as that sounds, I think we can all agree some days it’s harder than we think! Love is not just love…it’s commitment, it’s patience, it’s sacrifice, it’s humility and silence and joy. The depths of Gods love for us are massive and nearly incomprehensible. As we study the book of Genesis his abounding and merciful love is amazing. In one of our handouts there was a little three line piece from St. Catherine of Sienna that really touched my heart and made me realize that when it comes to God, love is WAY more than just love. St. Catherine lays out three stages of loving God. I’ll share them with you and perhaps they will stir up your mind and heart and give you great food for thought and prayer.
*The first stage of loving God is Servile fear: We obey God like a servant out of fear.
*The second state is Mercenary love: We love God because of what we will receive.
*The third stage is Love for the sake of love: It’s not about rewards or fear but simply born of a desire for relationship with God.
I’d like to say I’m firmly in stage three but that would not be true. I think I get there sometimes but I can find plenty of times I land squarely in stage one and two. I find my self in the first stage when I am aware of my sinfulness. It’s at those times I have to admit I change my ways more out of fear of punishment and not always because I recognize the deep ways I’ve hurt my Father. I’m often at stage two, looking for the “brownie points” as if they can be stockpiled or recorded in some heavenly score book. The third stage is where we will find peace and joy but there is a lot of humility and re-thinking involved in getting to and staying in stage three.
It all boils down to choices. It’s not about being perfect it’s about surrendering so that we can be perfected but his love. I really want to love him, I really want to be consistently at that third stage of love with the Father. I will choose that today and ask him to help me live that choice. That would be something to give thanks for!
A Seed To Plant: Take a good look at these three stages and ask God to show you where you are and then ask him to help you get where he’d like you to be.
Blessings on your day!
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