Before I got engaged I told my future wife, Kimberly, that I had a few conditions. We would never have a cat, I would never sleep on the couch, and I wouldn’t do dishes. Nearly 10 years of marriage later and I’ve been reformed in two of those areas!
We all have things we don’t want to “shirk”. I hear it all the time from people. “I won’t do _______”. “I don’t eat ______”. I will never _______.” It’s ironic how years later most of these ultimatums have been reversed.
I want this statement from an old poet named John Oxenham to collide with all your hard and fast “nevers”:
“Love ever gives, forgives, outlives,
and ever stands with open hands,
for while it lives, it gives.
For this is love’s prerogative—
to give, and give, and give.”
Have you been shirking things in your life lately? Are you tired of giving?
The kind of life that Christ saved you for and calls you to live is one that represents Himself. It’s a life of faithfulness. It’s a life of hard work. It’s a life of finding joy in sacrifice and humility. We think that joy comes when things are going well. This is a misunderstanding of what joy is. The motivation of Jesus to die for you and I was one of joyful expectation. He had unwavering confidence in God the Father to save mankind through His sacrifice. His prerogative was to love and it was saturated with joy.
My theory is that grand gestures of sacrifice are easier than daily faithfulness. I say this because each week I’m faced with regret over opportunities that I passed up or even purposely avoided to work hard and love others. There are nights when I replay those moments of laziness or selfishness – when my prerogative was myself.
It’s the simple stuff like; doing things without being asked, cleaning up after others, letting others go first, cheering for others instead of tooting my own horn, being the first one to smile and listen, planning time to serve others and encourage them, or saying thank you, that pass by if I’m not prepared to give.
So why do you shirk(avoid) these things?
We could hold on to excuses like; they don’t deserve it, it’s their responsibility not mine, it’s their turn to love me, I don’t have time, or, it’s beneath me. But, in my heart I know that there is never a valid reason not to love as Christ loved me. The real reason I shirk loving others, if I’m willing to admit it, is because I value myself more. It’s hard to admit. It’s even harder to change.
However, you and I have this promise from God that “with Him all things are possible”. Perhaps you used to think that verse was about God helping you accomplish your dreams or desires but I think now more than ever that this verse is fuel for the humble heart that longs to love as Christ loved. It’s for the person that struggles with the tension between selfishness and selflessness. It’s for the person that longs to write love on the lives of others hearts but keeps writing wrongs instead.
Don’t let this week be another “Shirk Week”. I think our ultimate problem is not that we are “Shirking” the Spirit of God. God gave us His Spirit to work in and through us. God’s goal isn’t just to make you a better person but rather to transform your life and others through you. He wants to be Love in you, be Peace in you, be Kindness in you where you aren’t capable of it. Let’s be honest none of us are capable of sacrificial love or genuine compassion. We need God to work in and through us to accomplish this on behalf of our family, friends, and those we meet every day.
Don’t miss opportunities to work hard and love in daily ways, in faithful ways, just like God loves you. But cling harder to the work of God’s Spirit in your life and trust that God wants to love others through you. Above all don’t shirk the Spirit! Don’t keep score, don’t make excuses, don’t run away from opportunities to love – because if you give The Spirit freedom and chose faithful love then lives will be changed, yours included!
P.S. I still haven’t slept on the couch!