Chasing a Mirage
14For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. —2 Corinthians 5:14-15
A few years ago my wife and I visited New York City and took a few hours to visit parts of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I remember one piece in particular. The Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio was designed by Italian Francesco di Giorgio Martini in the Fifteenth Century. This wood study was created to reflect the interests of Duke Federico da Montefeltro in art and science and includes rosewood, walnut, oak, beech, fruitwoods in the walnut base. There are books, an hourglass, a globe, musical instruments, even benches in the wood design.
Here is the crazy thing: the entire Studiolo design is an optical illusion. In fact, the Studiolo appears to be three-dimensional. So much so, that some near-sighted individuals have even attempted to take a seat on the benches!
That is one amazing mirage! But let me tell you about another mirage that is not so amazing, the mirage of self-love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 says, “Love is does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing.” Here we see the other side of love in the characteristics of selfishness. But why do people choose to do these obviously unloving actions? Why do we do these unloving actions?
The absence of true love is the result of loving ourselves too much or loving others too little. It reflects our lack of love for God. Because we love ourselves, we say hurtful things. Because we love ourselves, we envy the blessings of others. Because we love ourselves, we attempt to puff up our egos. Or if there is not much to puff up, we seek to downgrade the worth of others to meet our own self-love needs.
In strong contrast, we see the love of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Once we realize the depth of Christ’s love for us and embrace His grace and forgiveness at the cross, we can experience freedom from our bondage to self-love! And we can be free to love others, finding joy in ministering to their broken, sinful hearts as God allows. —Luke Ahrens
Prayer – Almighty Father, forgive me for how I love myself most, how I treat others poorly to make myself feel better, and how I strive to get blessings You may intend for others. Help me to focus so much on the grace You lavish on me I cannot help but love others as You do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.