By, Isam Itson III
Love conveys an attitude of value expressed in acts of respect and consideration for the needs and concerns of others. Love is attentive to what is praiseworthy in others. Love draws attention to what is worthy of praise in others. Love does not boast and brag to draw attention and praise to itself.
My dad used to say, “don’t worry about what people might say about you, just keep doing what you need to do.” When I first arrived in the Philippines to teach at the Calvary Chapel Bible College I was 26 years old, but I looked like I was still in high school. The real mark against me according to my students was that I was not even a pastor. I was just an instructor. Their first teacher, my boss, was a pastor in his late forties, married with children, and had years of experience as a pastor and missionary. I knew what they were thinking because I had seen it before, “What could he teach me?”, “He’s so young, and he is not even a pastor.”
Rather than worry about their opinion of me I simply prepared my lesson plans, developed the curriculum, conducted the classes, and held our students accountable for practical service at church and on campus. It wasn’t long before they warmed up to me and realized the value of my instruction and leadership. What they did not know was that I never had any concern for their opinion of me. I was focussed on preparing them for a lifetime of healthy, committed, and productive ministry as pastors, bible teachers, and missionaries.
Love is not about self-promotion. Love does not pursue personal recognition of any kind. Love celebrates what is praiseworthy in others and stays focused on serving the needs of others. Love doesn’t need to be recognized. Love keeps pursuing excellence in meaningful, attentive, and considerate service to others. The loving person is secure in the knowledge and experience of their worth to God and their value to others. The loving person knows their presence and contribution is vital, even if the people around them initially dismiss them.
The scriptures clearly express the value of a human being. God made people to thrive as his representatives on the earth. All of us are made to glorify God by honoring his love for each other and the other living creatures. He affirmed the extent of our value by sacrificing his son, Jesus Christ, on the cross to allow for the restoration of our proper relationship with him.
Every one of us is loved by God, valued by God, and instrumental to the fulfillment of God’s purpose for the world. When someone does not honor that fact in their relationship with us, that is an expression of their foolish pride. We are able to view ourselves and others in light of the scriptures rather than the shortsighted and ill-informed opinions of humans who do not agree with God. God’s grace expressed in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and his Holy Spirit living within us affirm God’s power and faithfulness on our behalf.
We easily forget God’s grace and faithfulness within the flood of voices that contradict God. We get caught up in the advertisements that focus on our ignorant insecurities. The people and companies that tell us we need what they supply in order to feel physically safe, financially secure, socially relevant, relationally valuable, and sexually attractive, are not our friends. They exploit our fears and insecurities for their personal and corporate profit. God simply says, “I love you. Now, start living for me by honoring my love for others. I am with you every step of the way”
We learn and grow in this as we engage with others, examine our failures, and reengage with our newly won knowledge. We know that God does not love anyone more than he loves us. And we know that God does not love anyone less than he loves us. The apostle Paul said it like this to the members of the church in Philippi,
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8,9.
We have the everlasting love, support, and affirmation of God. This frees us from our anxiety regarding how we look to others so that we can turn our attention more fully upon helping and celebrating others. This positive attention is vital to helping people embrace God more fully and fearlessly. Our encouragement and affirmation goes a long way toward helping others experience their value to God and God’s people. It allows people to experience their significance to God in relationship with us. Our encouragement also reinforces the fact that God is the source of all goodness and the legitimate recipient of all glory. We praise God for the gift of their life. We praise God for what he has revealed to them and how that enriches us. Their achievement takes nothing from us. Their achievements are an expression of God’s goodness. Because we are secure in the knowledge of God’s love for us revealed in Jesus Christ we are free to keep doing what we need to do in imitation of Jesus Christ and to rest in the peace of God’s presence.
1. Have you ever been dismissed by those around you, but continued to work with purpose? What was the outcome?
2. “Every one of us is loved by God, valued by God, and instrumental to the fulfillment of God’s purpose for the world.” How does this statement relate to your view of yourself?