I used to think I was a loving person – and then I got married – and I realized how selfish I really am.
It was a new season of life in which my current resources were insufficient to meet the new challenges of my life.
And I had to grow spiritually to become a more loving person.
Then I had kids – three of them. (Not all at once – it just seemed like it :-).
Each of them was a great joy and added so much to our lives. But each of them also added a new level of challenge for my wife and I in which our current resources were insufficient to meet the new challenges of our lives.
And so, we had to grow spiritually to become more loving people.
Now, my mother in law is living with us who’s 83 and showing signs of early dementia.
And we’re very grateful for the opportunity to take care of her and give back to her as the scriptures teach us (1 Timothy 5:4).
But while we’re happy to serve in this way – it’s also a new season of life in which our current resources are insufficient to meet the new challenges of our lives.
So, again – we have to grow spiritually to become more loving people.
Okay, I’m going to change that from “have to” to “get to”. We don’t “have to” grow spiritually – we “get to” grow spiritually - because that really is something that's good for us.
A friend of mine told me many years ago that he refused to frame the challenges in his life as “have to” and instead frames them as “get to”. It’s a much more positive way of looking at things.
So, with our new challenge, we get to grow spiritually to become more loving people.
Is there something going on in your life in which you get to grow? Do you find that your current resources are insufficient to meet the new challenges of your life?
Then you also get to grow to become a more loving person.
And that means we need more of God – and less of self.
Fortunately, God’s resources are unlimited – and he’s very generous with them.
We just need to tap into them.
The Apostles faced the limitations of their love many times in scripture. One situation that stands out to me is found in Luke 17…
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” (Luke 17:3-6, NIV)
Notice the problem is a lack of love (we need to be more forgiving), and the solution is to have more faith.
So, Jesus is teaching us that we grow in our love by growing in our faith. When we reach the limit of our resources, it’s time to tap into God’s unlimited resources.
Jesus starts by raising the standards of our love for people:
He says to rebuke those who sin against us (vs. 3a).
Most of us would rather let it go because we’re people-pleasers or sinfully strike back because we’re unloving.
He says if they repent, to forgive them. (vs. 3b)
Most of us would rather hold a grudge because it’s easier to seethe with resentment than forgive and let go.
He says even if they repeatedly sin against you and then repent, you need to forgive them. (vs. 4)
Most of us throw up our hands at this point and say with the Apostles, “Increase our faith!” (vs. 5) (Translation: “Are you kidding me? We can’t be that loving, patient, and forgiving! Help us to grow!”)
In other words: “Our current resources are insufficient to meet the new challenges of this situation. I can’t love that much. I don’t have it in me.”
And what does Jesus tell them?
“He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” (vs. 6)
In other words: “Yes, this is too much for you – but it’s nothing for God. Choose to have faith! And even a little bit of faith will tap you into the unlimited resources of God to meet and overcome the challenges of this situation easily. You can grow in your love by growing in your faith and relying more on God’s power.”
I heard someone say recently: “Being uncomfortable is growth trying to happen.”
Many times, that’s true.
Like when babies start teething.
Or when pre-teens have growing pains in their knees.
…Or when adults enter into a new season of life that stretches us beyond our current level of spirituality.
That’s when we get to grow.
That’s when we cry out with the Apostles: “Increase our faith!”
And Jesus reminds all of us: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
We grow in our love by growing in our faith.
When we come to the end of ourselves, that’s when we need more of God – by faith!
Are you in a new season of life in which your current resources are insufficient to meet the new challenges of your life?
Take heart! You’re not alone. It’s all part of the plan.
Like babies teething,
and pre-teens having growing pains -
your discomfort in a new season of life is part of the growth process…
It means you get to grow.
“Lord, we’re unable to handle the overwhelming situations you allow to come into our lives. Please, sustain us, and give us the faith to love those around us with the love of Christ. Help us to not look to ourselves, but to you for our strength, endurance, and love – for your resources are unlimited and you’re eager to share them with us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”