I was thinking that since yesterday was Valentine’s Day, I should have written about love. But then it’s so easy to express our love and appreciation for people on the one day a year that we’ve built up to be the day where we celebrate the love we should have for one another. Even the meanest bosses on Valentine’s Day may share flowers or chocolate amongst their staff. We feel obligated to sow love on Valentine’s day and so we do, then the day after we put aside the real love challenge that God has commanded us to take up of loving others and showing it every day.
I was reading online reviews of a devotional I was thinking of buying and one criticism of the devotional in question was that it focused too much on feelings and on the emotional aspect of our relationship with God and not enough on doing and getting away from the focus on ourselves to focus on others. A man of God (a priest specifically) was actually the leader of this criticism and so it carried some weight with me and I didn’t just brush it off and it’s something that’s made me think ever since then.
As a Christian, what’s more important: doing good works that show God’s Love out in the world, or focusing on building a personal relationship with God? I know these two are not mutually exclusive and a mature Christian should be able to manage both at the same time ideally. But if it comes down to it, which is more a priority? Which will lead to the other? And does one help the other? If I focus on good works and sharing God’s Love with others, does that draw me closer in my personal relationship with God? OR if I strengthen my prayer and meditation (on God’s Word), does that inspire me to get out there and do good works that will show God’s Love to others.
I think ultimately, it’s a hard call to generalize which is better. It is my view that ultimately, it’s not what we do that saves us or makes us worthy of God or His gifts and blessings. What we do has very little to do with it. God is not looking for the best Christian or the most pious person or Mr. Charity or Ms. Do-it-all. If our Salvation and God-intended blessings came by deeds, very few or none of us would be saved. God knows our hearts and our minds and sees our actions and it’s not because of those things He saved us. Rather, He saved us IN SPITE of those things. Our salvation and blessings in Christ is down to God’s love and amazing mercy on us. Our role now is not to just do good things so we can be seen as good people worthy of God or because it’s the “Christian thing to do,” but to live a life of faith: believing His Word and Promises and living our lives according to that Word. God has a new purpose for our life and it’s not to fill it with deeds (Martha-style) but rather to fill it with faith and trust in His Guidance from His Word (Mary-style) and join in the work Christ already started on earth: letting the Glory of God shine through Him. When we do God’s work, let it not be because we think those acts are what makes us good Christians, let it rather be because we are showing love and continuing God’s work on earth; let it all be to the Glory of God.
Ephesians 2:7-10 (MSG)
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d donethe whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
Maybe the Valentine’s Day honeymoon is still on today or this week. Maybe we can still show love as long as it’s easy and we’re all getting along. But what of when we rub each other off the wrong way? Sometimes it’s hard to keep harmony with those close to us when they hurt our feelings or we feel slighted or put down. Our instinct is to give as good as we get and stand up for what we see feel are our rights when we fe disrespected. God wants us to be better than this. To put love Above pride and hurt feelings and try to keep the peace with those around us. He wants us to return insults with blessings and turn the other cheek. To not just want peace with others and pray for it but to do the dirty work and actually exercise patience and love when it’s difficult to do so. Everyone can keep the peace when people are loving and respectful to them. As Christians God respects us to go the extra mile of having love and compassion for those who hurt within themselves enough to lash out at us. Let us be quick to forgive, apologize and not need to be the one who has the last word if it will keep the peace.
1 Peter 3:8-11 AMP
 Finally, all of you should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing with one another, loving each other as brethren of one household, compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).  Never return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing from God–that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection.  For let him who wants to enjoy life and see good days good–whether apparent or not keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit).  Let him turn away from wickedness and shun it, and let him do right. Let him search for peace (harmony; undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts) and seek it eagerly. Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!