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Are you stingy?

What does it mean when we say something is "ours"? As kids, I would hear my little ones struggling to let go of a toy they wanted to play with, declaring loudly, "MINE", and then swiping it away from the other one who was also interested in playing with it. They saw that toy as theirs, if even for a moment, not wanting to let go of it to any other kiddo desirous of a chance to put it into use. It became obvious to me that even though they had just declared it as "theirs", in short order it would be abandoned as they moved on to some other toy in the box. There are times we declare something to be ours without really intending to put whatever it is into constant 'use' in our lives. I have a washing machine and dryer, but they aren't used everyday. I have a dishwasher that I also don't use everyday. I have a hose in the backyard that may get used once a month if that. To 'have' doesn't mean we always 'make use of' the thing. It is quite possible this is how we treat our relationship with God - we have one, but we don't really put much into it by investing in it everyday!

“Listen, people of Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is the only God. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ERV

This 'everyday' kind of relationship with Jesus isn't an on-again / off-again kind of deal. If it is to be living and renewed, it needs constant attention. I don't have plants that require much effort to keep them alive because I don't have much desire to spend hours upon hours tending them. I like how they look, but I need 'easier' ones that look good, but don't require the same effort. The relationship we maintain with Jesus can be hard at times, because it seems like we are making all the right steps, but the 'feelings' of the relationship growing or maturing are just not there. The heart doesn't 'feel it'. You know why God asks us to put our whole heart, soul, and strength into loving him? It is because our 'heart' would get discouraged by 'not feeling it' if it stood all alone!

We need to put our soul into it - our mind, will, and emotions, not just our emotions. We need to put our strength into it - spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional. We might want to compartmentalize Jesus into one part of our lives, but to truly love him, we need to bring him into our emotions, will, thoughts, reasoning, rationalizations, energy, and the list goes on. To 'love him with' means we bring all to the table - we don't limit the investment of ourselves, but rather give all entirely to him. Mind, will, and emotions may help us make huge strides forward, but have you tried to just do things you 'knew' were right? You had the intellect to know the choice was correct, but you lacked the drive to actually do it long term. You need the 'will' to back up your convictions, but even the 'will' alone cannot 'get us to do something' we don't really desire to do!

What we are asked to do is bring what we have to the feet of Jesus. Mind, will, emotions - coupled with strengths and weaknesses - then trust him to help us make the most out of what we have brought to him. The faithfulness of 'coming into his presence' is oftentimes a struggle, but it is where we find our heart, soul, and strength are renewed the best. It is where our emotions are settled, our spirit is lifted, our thoughts are ordered, and our steps are determined. Don't be stingy in loving God - do it with all you've got and see just how much he gives in return! You won't ever be disappointed. Just sayin!

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