Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Love is in the Lights II

If you've read my brief article for the Bradenton Herald, you'll see why I think that turning your lights on at night can be a great example of love. I mean, once you're inside your house, you don't get to enjoy them anymore. In fact, that's often the main reason (not the only reason as you'll see) I go and turn my lights on some times. However, last night, self preservation (I didn't want to get shocked in the rain) kept me from "loving my neighbors."

But while turning on your Christmas lights may dip into the essence of love (finding delight in the delight of another, even in your own sacrifice), it by no means reflects pure love. For instance, putting up Xmas lights can be a way to "out do" your neighbors. One episode of Home Improvement delved into Tim "the Tool Man" Taylor's obsession to have better lights and arrangement than a particular neighbor. They battled it out year after year. That may be hyperbole, but that episode certainly reflects the competitive attitudes existing within men's hearts.

Another motivation for putting up Xmas lights is self protection. One could simply put up lights because they feel obligated, for everyone else is doing it and they don't want others to look down upon them. They may not care at all about blessing others; they simply don't want to look like a scrooge. So in this case, the motives would not be 100% pure either.

Sometimes I want to bless others, sometimes I turn my lights on simply because I don't want others to say or think, "Why doesn't that joker have his lights on? What's his deal? Is he playing the "economy" card?" Often those two motivations collide within my heart.

Such is the case with all things we do. That doesn't mean we become inactive. Our motives are never 100% pure, and so everything we do has to be offered up in faith to God. Faith not in the action, nor the motivation, but faith in Christ-the one who perfectly loved his neighbors on our behalf. So we can love, even with a mixed heart, because the object of our faith is what makes the action "good."

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