Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lavish Love

Receiving Lavish Love
You have seen those big, innocent eyes look up at you while handing you some adorable gift of love, weather it be a crayon scribble or a dripping peanut butter sandwich a five-year-old made for you. All over his or her little face is unqualified, unbounded love. 
Unfortunately, many people learn to restrict that emotional, uninhibited expenditure of love, because it is not appreciated, it is refused or deflected by the recipient. We may feel terribly uncomfortable in the presence of lavish love and we cannot accept it. Our hearts are teflon and compliments slide off. Generally, we mask our inability to accept such touching and heartfelt praise behind a pseudo humility which responds, “Give the glory to God” or “It’s not big deal.”

Without realizing it, in our uncomfortableness in embracing other’s praise, we hurt and insult those who have expended the emotional effort and vulnerability to give us such a gift. Inadvertently, we are being very selfish by demeaning other’s offering to us. At those moments, it takes effort to stop our automatic response and  accept the gift of love with an attitude of appreciation. When we do that, when we are excited about the gift of love, we are actually complimenting the person back. We are saying to them, “Wow. A gift from someone as precious and I value as much as you! You have made my day!!”

It’s a win-win situation. 
Giving Lavish Love

Giving love via compliments can feel at times like giving blood; we are pouring out, sacrificing and sometimes even depleting our inner emotional resources for another. There are reasons we at times do not give unreserved love; we will measure our compliments.
An older generation taught us that you will fill someone with vainglory and pride if given unreserved compliments. Rather, perhaps, we should think of it this way. All of us are wounded by life and pride is really a parasitic creature that feeds off of insecurities. True, lavish love given unconditionally, actually pours upon the soul and washes away that parasite. Love heals.
Regrettably, we live in a culture that tends towards a self-conscious judiciousness when we give love, as if this shows how level-headed we are. We will always add a contingency to our compliments such as “You are so smart! Now, that’s not to mean I don’t ever disagree with you, but all in all, your a smart person.” “Keep that up and your bound to be pretty good some day.” “You cleaned this kitchen very well, and you don’t always do that.”

Christians are especially worried that if we compliment someone living in open sin they will get the idea that our words somehow sanction and approve the sin. This is where we go very wrong. Just because you tell your son he is the kindest husband you have ever witnessed doesn’t translate into his brain as you now approve his pot smoking.

What the person hears is measured love and measured love leads to pot smoking, not unmeasured love. Love covers a multitude of sin and heals it. Unconditional love is what all sinners need, not just from God but from us. Lavish love is powerful enough to change, even without our caveat of qualifying words. 
Another problem with unmeasured compliments is that it is exhausting. There is just so much of ourselves we can give and then we are spent. So we disburse our compliments, ration them, out of expediency. 
However, I am learning that the more we are connected to Christ, the more we pray, He renews our cup of love to overflowing and then, all of a sudden, there is no need to budget our compliments. Lavish loves begins to overflow on to others. Our source of love becomes the eternal fountain and therefore is everlasting.

If your feeling stingy in compliments, if you moderate your praise and thankfulness towards others, do not feel guilty; do not condemn yourself, for often we need a little gentle praise ourselves! Go to Christ for some deep hydrotherapy of lavish love, drink deeply of His tenderness and be washed in His cleansing water of affection and you will be refreshed and ready to go out and flow out His love upon others.