The story of Isaiah’s encounter with a holy God speaks volumes of how God loves well and wants us to love well without expectation of a return. The story starts with Isaiah standing in the presence of a holy God (Isaiah 6). He is completely overwhelmed with sorrow facing his sin. He confesses and God supplies forgiveness and purification by a seraphim providing a burning coal for Isaiah’s mouth.
Completely humbled, Isaiah is shocked to hear God’s invitation, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah volunteers, “Here I am! Send me” (vs. 8). In response, God basically explains,
“Go love these people by sharing my message but don’t expect to be loved back. They won’t respond. So don’t expect any feedback to encourage you, any gratitude to support you, any praise to empower you. I, only, will know and appreciate what you’re doing. I am the only one who will provide everything you need. Keep your eyes on me.” (my paraphrase)
Isaiah must have gulped, yet spoke up, “How long, O Lord?” (6:11). Isaiah must have gulped again when God explains the people will never be responsive. Did Isaiah want to take back his offer?
Yet God wants us to represent his glory by loving others with no assurance of applause, approval, or acknowledgement. TWEET THAT!!!
The more we can accept this commission with no assurance of having our own needs met, the more we can love others well. The more we can know God is approving us, the more we can love others well. The more we accept the assignment as intended to bring God glory, the more we can love others well.
We don’t know whether Isaiah had a choice. You and I do have choices when it comes to being selfless. The problem is we often don’t recognize there’s more than one choice. For instance, consider:
- Our adult child is addicted to drugs. What other choice could there be but to pay for rehab? That’s the way to force him to change.
- Our hung-over husband is unable to go to work. What other choice could there be but to call in to say he’s got a migraine? The family needs him to work.
- Our friend complains about another friend’s mistreatment. What other choice could there be but to tell her she’s always right and the other friend always wrong? Her side of the conflict makes it clear.
In situations like these, we can’t imagine any other way to love but the obvious. And what we’ve always done. Yet such choices may not be loving others well when our goal is to protect others from pain and be seen in a positive light. Yet we are convinced we are giving God glory.
That’s when we need to examine our heart’s motives and seek God’s will out of a purer heart.
(This post is excerpted from Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory)