I remember walking downstairs in my house and seeing on my phone that my dad was calling me. I love my dad immensely, but we rarely talk on the phone without me first talking to my mom. Therefore, when I see his name calling me, my heart stops for a moment fearing something is wrong. My fear was founded, as he was calling to tell me that my mom was in the hospital and very sick. I was scared, but calm, trying to be helpful to him. As soon as he said goodbye, my panic set in. I am half the country away from them and had no way to quickly get to them to check on her or to help my dad. I instantly sent a text to my friend, who is a nurse and lives in the same town as my parents, asking for help. She called to find out the details and was soon at the hospital checking on my parents and making sure my mom was receiving the best care available. That evening, she sent my dad home to finally get some sleep and stayed at the hospital late into the night to be with my mom; to be me when I couldn’t be there. The next two days were filled with her checking in with them and relaying all the information to me. Afterwards, my sister sent me a text with the following verse, which adequately describes my friend.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (The Message), “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”
Reading these verses in this version spoke clearly to me. The New King James Version says, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” While I “get” the verses in this version, and I know I am to love, it wasn’t until I read, “His love was not cautious but extravagant,” that the love I am to show gleamed clearly. My favorite two definitions of extravagant, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary are, “Exceeding the limits of reason or necessity,” and “Extremely or excessively elaborate.” That is how God loves us, by exceeding the limits of reason, and giving to me more than I even need!
There are so many ways to show love, and you can probably think of many ways you show love to those around you or that love has been shown to you by others or by God. Take a minute and think about it. What are some ways that God has shown you extravagant love; that love that exceeds the limits of reason? Mine are too many to list in this post! However, it makes me think about how I show love. Does the love I show others exceed the limits of reason? Does it exceed what they need? Am I cautious in the love I show, or am I extravagant?
Thanksgiving and Christmas time is a period of the year that many people try to show love. They give to charities, drop change in the red buckets outside stores, give toys, food, and volunteer to serve meals on the holidays. This is great and is often extravagant! Now, think about the times of the year before and after that. How can you show extravagant love all year long? Think about your neighbors, your family, friends, strangers you encounter, and anyone else that you will have the opportunity to show love to. Contemplate what your love looks like. Whether it’s being there for a friend, serving at a shelter, being kind to those in your life you deserve it least, or demonstrating love in another way, you can be extravagant, you can exceed the limits of reason or necessity.
I encourage you to write out Ephesians 5:1-2, in the version that speaks to you most (you can compare versions by going to www.biblegateway.com ). I encourage you to follow, to imitate, the way God loves us. I encourage you to learn the life of love, that love that is not cautious but extravagant. I encourage you to love in a way that does not seek to get something (not even a “Thank you!” or a “Wow, that was nice!”), but seeks to give of yourself. I encourage you to BE EXTRAVAGANT and LOVE LIKE THAT.
God, you are amazing! Thank you for the way you love us extravagantly through salvation, family, protection, and providing for our needs, often more than we need or could hope for. Please ignite in each person who reads this a desire to love without caution. Please bring to mind, for each reader, a person to show that love to. Give wisdom on how to show it and opportunities to exceed the limits of reason and necessity on how we show that love. I pray that you give each of us the desire and courage to not be cautious, but to BE EXTRAVAGANT and to love like you do.