As we rapidly approach Christmas we think of the gifts we will give and the gifts we shall receive. How appropriate then is it that we take time to consider the greatest gift ever given, Love. In the 36th Psalm one is forced to consider, in stark contrast, the difference between a world and person that is devoid of love and a world that is filled with it and a reminder that true love comes from God.
The first half shows us a deceitful and self-centered person content in their own iniquity. They fear neither God nor man and embrace evil. They live to serve only themselves and work only for their own advantage. Their concern is themselves and will do anything as long as it benefits themselves and care little for the impact on others. “It’s a dog eat dog world and nobody loves me like I love me. As long as it makes me feel good, that’s all that matters. I don’t have to answer to anyone nor does anyone control me”. Do any of those thoughts and words sound familiar? If so, perhaps you have encountered this line of reasoning. This is a world without justice, without kindness, without empathy, were the only god is Self. The ends justify the means and it’s a fight to get ahead and getting ahead is all that matters. What kind of world would that be if everyone felt that way? Sadly, I fear we are on our way to finding out more and more every day. In a world filled with instant gratification and everything designed to create or enhance pleasure, the idea that someone would actually sacrifice something for someone else without expect of reward, advancement, or even appreciation is exceeding rare. This is a world that knows not love.
The second half points out the difference in the loving kindness found in God. God is love and so it pours forth from him in righteousness, fairness, truth, care, and protection that knows no bounds. It’s as high as the heavens, expansive as the skies, and more unshakable than the mountains. God loves and cares for man and beast and wishes them all to be drawn to Him. Why? What does God gain, what do we bring to God? Nothing, not a thing. There is nothing that we have that God needs. There is nothing that God is lacking that we can somehow provide. God wants for nothing, He only wishes to share what He is and Has with us, His creation.
This was made manifest in the Christ child. This infant in a manger, the word made flesh, the reason of God put into form that man could know was all about sharing the infinite love of God with man. It is through Christ that we can find the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love of God. It is through Christ that we can have light and life. It is through Christ that we can go to the river of life and be filled to overflowing and become Children of God. God does this simply because we exist and He loves us simply because we are. This is true love, totally unconditional based on nothing. Love for loves sake. This is love that Paul writes about in the 1st Corinthians 13, this is the love that knows no bounds, this is the love that allows this world to be more than a terrible journey from birth to death.
This is the greatest gift ever given – the fact that we all know people, and hopefully are, that do not just care for or glorify self; that we are willing to sacrifice and care for others simply because they are; that there is any idea or concept of compassion, charity, or grace in this world is all because God has infused the world with it. This is something that does not come from within man, but wholly from without, from God, our creator. This is why pain and suffering seems so wrong, why we have issues with injustice, why suffering bothers us, because we know that in a world filled with love this should not be.
Yet far too often we resist the source of the love that would repair the world, that is God Himself. We fear what it means to be accountable to Him and what it means of us to care for others. We fear what we will lose rather than think about what we will gain. All God truly desires is that we would be so filled with His love that we wouldn’t have room for sin, iniquity, transgression.He desires that we would not worship self and fall to the dark world of the first verses, but a world filled with light and life flowing from the river of life and love which comes from God. If you know not this gift, I invite you to come to Christ, drink of the abundance of His house and be filled with this most precious gift, the gift of Love.