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The Nature of Our GodSample

The Nature of Our God

DAY 1 OF 4

An Other-Centered Love

Vincent Van Gogh, the painter, once remarked, “The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

True love is unquestionably beautiful. If it is indeed an art, it is an art form worth all of our attention. But what does this art involve? What does it include? What does it look like? These questions are relevant because the word love has lost most of its punch and much of its clarity.

Love is not self-centered, self-preoccupied, or selfish. It is unfailingly other-centered. All its focus rests upon the other person. God tells us in Philippians 2:3–4 ESV, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Verse 4 clarifies verse 3. What does it mean to “count others more significant than yourselves”? It does not mean we have to consider them more gifted, whether that is true or not. It simply means we are to focus on them and not on ourselves, to look to their interests and not just our own. 

For example, let’s say you run into someone you know at the grocery store and you are focused on that person. How can you encourage her? You can ask how she is doing, and see if that problem with her child that she had asked you to pray about is resolved. It means you will probably do more listening than talking. You will not be concerned with how you look or whether you seem clever or not. All the focus will be on the other person. This is extremely difficult for those of us who are mere humans. There is a deeply rutted streak of self-centeredness running right through most of our hearts.

There was a farmer who placed an ad in a newspaper. It read, “Farmer, age 38, wants wife, about age 30, with a tractor. Please enclose picture of tractor.” We chuckle at the farmer, but we tend to love in just the same way, being more interested in what we get than what we give.

But true love is unselfish and other-centered. In her book Mission Legacies, Florence Allshorn notes, “I used to think that being nice was loving people. Now I know it isn’t. Love is the most immense unselfishness and it is so big I’ve never touched it.” I feel exactly the same way: Love is so big, I’ve never touched it.

Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, caught the essence of love when he wrote in 1851, “Christianity did not come in order to develop the heroic virtues in the individual, but rather to remove self-centeredness and establish love.”

Other-centeredness is not natural, but it is exceedingly Christ-like. All of Jesus’s attention went to others because that’s the way love is.

Day 2

About this Plan

The Nature of Our God

How much do we know Christ? Sometimes we know more about Jesus of Nazareth than about Christ, the Son of God, who is eternal. In this plan based on the letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul gloriously presents Him,...

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We would like to thank Jeff Wells for providing this plan. For more information, please visit: http://www.woodsedge.org

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