Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Better Four-Lettered Word than “Love”

“Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion;

and to you shall vows be performed,

O you who answer prayer!”

~Psalm 65:1-2a (NRSV).

Better than “love,” it is to give. It is a simpler thing to get our minds around.

To give is a great blessing to others and from God to us via the blessings of kind.

How best do we learn to give?

God is the Model of Giving

The Lord—the God of Psalm 65, for instance—is the God who is forever giving to all creation. It’s not until we begin to take stock of all the things we ought to be truly thankful for that we realise just how good God is—notwithstanding his greatness.

God is not this way just because it’s his nature to be good. God, and certainly Jesus, is this way also as a model for us to follow by. We’re to share in this goodness. Indeed, we’re to propagate it.

Giving is Practical Love

Love, unfortunately, has sometimes much intangibility about it. “I love you,” is many times uttered when the person in receipt of the loving words or gesture doesn’t actually feel loved. It’s therefore often flowery and it perhaps denigrates the real meaning of love, which is always action-oriented.

The practical love is a ‘given’ love.

It extends itself for the other in graciously generous acts of kindness.

It subsumes the self so the expenses of life are shared. It has no first thought for itself.

To Those Who’ve Been Given So Much...

A significant part of Psalm 65 is in the ‘harvest psalm’ genre. That is that the Lord has given us so much and the only worthy response from such a ‘harvest’ of things, and the life provided us, is thanks.

“Thanks-Giving” is therefore connected beautifully as a response to that which has been given. Thanks-giving is secondary giving.

For the person giving, ours is thanks as the reciprocal instinct. In other words, for the implicitly giving nature of God we’re rightly disposed to thank God for our abundance, and more we could not ask for.

But a better thanks than merely thanks is the gift-of-return, which is the gift of giving. Giving, therefore, puts meat onto the bones of love, making it tangible and liveable.

So it is for us. We’re to give, and by that we love. When we give, others know our love by the things we’ve done, and even though they mightn’t be able to express anything but thanks they’ll have known love through us.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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