This is the title of a song by a folksy female artist from the 1970’s. I vividly recall being a young teen hearing this song and playing it over and over on a vinyl record. It was unusual to be named “Julie” in those days, I was typically the only one in a class and my name was often misspelled “July.” I would have preferred something exotic like Daphne…
So young then, and so much life yet to live. As I look back on the younger me through the lyrics of the song I can remember what I thought my life would be like today. As with most childhood dreams reality turned out much different. Better than what I imagined actually because then my life was apart from Christ. I was lost, and alienated from God and the special love He has for His children. I lived under God’s common grace and it would be years before I found Christ.
One of the lyrics in the song really struck me today as I listened to this song. “We want you to love the world, to know it well and play a part. And we’ll help you to learn to love yourself; because that’s where loving really starts.” Have you ever labored under that same delusion? I have. There was a significant chunk of my life when I believed that before I could really love someone else I needed to love myself. I sought love and approval constantly because I thought that before I would have enough to spare I had to be overflowing with incoming love.
What I learned is that the tank always hovered someplace right above empty no matter how much was poured in. I, like other humans possess a bottomless pit for love intake. We do crazy things to be loved, or what we perceive love to be anyway. We play games with others, we manipulate through tears and fears, we beg and plead and threaten if we are not receiving the amount of love we think we are entitled to. We even walk out on people we want to love us thinking that if they see us leaving they will be sure to follow, professing their love in some new and convincing way. All to no avail. No matter how much we get it is never enough.
Loving doesn’t really start when you learn to love yourself…it begins when you understand that you have to love someone more than you love yourself. Ask any new mommy who gets up and walks the floor with her infant in the middle of the night. It is certainly not love for self she does this, believe me! All that is within just wants to sleep and the crying to stop because it is a big exhausting bother to keep doing this over and over. Oh, how she may want to roll over and cover her head with the pillow, but her love for that other little person pulls her out of bed often several times on one short night.
We know God in Christ demonstrated this selfless love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8) It was not until God enacted His plan of grace in my life that I was able to truly begin to understand that love equals sacrifice.
“…He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” Hebrews 9:26- 28
“…but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, Hebrews 10:12
Christ, the sinless Son of God sacrificed Himself for us while I was still dead in my trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1) and then was patient in His time of my day of salvation. All the wile knowing what kind of a sinner I would be prior to my conversion. Whew! It staggers my mind to consider the love of Christ!
Because of this love I do play a part in this world and I do have a love for the lost. Because of His love I am able to love others more than I love myself. His is the standard to reach and when I love others to the point that I would die in their place then I will have become like Christ. Until that time you and I are to serve and sacrifice for the benefit of others. Our lives are to be spent in the pursuit of Christ-likeness, exuding grace to each life we touch in the process.