“What’s for dinner?” my husband, Dana, asked after work this week.
“Hardboiled eggs,” I said.
“And?” He looked at me funny.
“Just hard boiled eggs,” I said.
A few days before, we’d decided to forgo our normal weekend grocery shopping in favor of picking up a few staples – bread, milk, butter, and eggs – and getting by on what we had so that we’d have more to share with others at our church’s Refugee Relief Dinner.
We’re not some special kind of holy, but on a tight budget, reducing our grocery bill is one way we’ve found to live more generously. The trick to successfully incorporating such a life practice – like anything else – is to pursue it out of love rather than from a sense of guilt or duty.
Webster’s defines ‘duty’ as ‘something that one is expected or required to do by moral or legal obligation.’ ‘Love,’ on the other hand, is ‘a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.’
Why does it matter?
In my experience, love does what duty won’t. Love leads to life, while duty can easily lead to resentment, bitterness and emotional or spiritual death – especially when a person feels cornered or coerced into doing something he or she normally wouldn’t. Duty demands; love liberates. In essence, duty lays on a burden, while love lightens a burden.
The question then becomes, how can I become more loving?
I find the answer in the words of the apostle John who says that love comes from God. It also says that we are to be imitators of God and manifest his love to others (I John 4:7-12).
Those words take on a deeper challenge when we seek to love not just our friends, but our foes. “If your enemies are hungry, feed them,” the apostle Paul writes, quoting from Proverbs. “If they are thirsty, give them something to drink… Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good,” (Romans 12:20-21).
To have such a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person – especially one who may do me harm – requires more than my natural abilities. It requires an infusion of love that only God himself can provide. This I receive by becoming more aware of the great depth of his love for me, despite my failures and inability to earn it.
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8 says.
Compared to that, what’s giving up a week of groceries?
Thanks to all the people and businesses that joined in, our little country church was able to raise $580 at last Friday’s dinner. Click here to see how it is being used to aid Syrian refugees or watch the video below.