Oil and WaterFound in: Main Articles
I always thought I knew how to love well.
After all, my heart is drawn to many things of which I care deeply. Seems noble enough, right? Many times though, the trouble lay where I’ve cared too much and not in the healthiest ways. Something goes wrong, and by default, concern for a desired outcome snowballs into this heaping mound of worry and stress. Because strangely enough, that’s what love has always looked like to me.
It sounds way more dramatic now that I write it down.
I did it without thinking. It was my normal.
Making worry and care synonymous resulted in this unfortunate projection of love that looked something like: If I am not worried, then surely I am not concerned enough. So because I care, therefore I should worry and stress out about it in proportion to how much I care. This behavior soon became my identity as a lover of many people and things—“well, I’m just the worrying kind because I care so much.” As if I’m doing someone a favor by operating in dysfunction.
Yesterday I dug up some roots in my folks’ backyard. I had to go deep to get those darned things out of the ground and it took all my strength to complete it. Today it occurred to me while reflecting on this idea that worry itself is not necessarily the root, it’s the fruit of a root, which needs a forceful yanking up from the ground, a nasty little booger called fear. Worry looks a whole lot more like fear than it does love, and fear and love simply cannot co-exist.
They are oil and water—fear and love. They don’t mix well. In fact, they don’t mix at all. Whichever source it is I draw from, whether fear or love, determines my response. If I walk in worry (with said concern or care for an outcome), I’m not actually walking in love—I’m walking in fear. So to better identify my drawn source, I must ask myself:
Do I trust God’s goodness or do I question whether He will take care of my needs?
Do I rely on His strength or do I resort back to my own means in the end?
The Bible talks about this issue of worry in Matthew 6:25-34, addressing His promise to tend to our essential needs; He also speaks to our destiny, our future. Somehow this passage always seemed like a suggestion in the past (or maaaybe I just avoided it), yet now as I read, over and over it undeniably and explicitly commands us not to worry:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
He values us so much more than birds of the air and lilies of the fields. He made us in His image because He wants heirs to walk in authority and have dominion upon the earth.
He says to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. What does that look like?
I think it means living out how Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:10, when He says “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” To seek first His kingdom means setting my expectation towards the reality that whatever happens in heaven was made accessible here on the earth because of the cross, like blind eyes being opened, deaf ears hearing the first beautiful chord of music, and cancerous tumors falling off, seeing freedom from addictions and bondage, the healing of hearts, bodies, souls. He did not just pay for a one-way ticket to Heaven, but to bring that freedom from death and the grave to the earth of which He paid the highest price, to restore man today, now.
And then when Matthew 6 instructs us to seek His righteousness? I see that righteousness imputed to us also by His death on the cross, a pardon for our sin: “For our sake He made him Jesus to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The posture of taking on the righteousness of One without sin actually brings us into a place of rest because no longer will we be judged. Jesus paid that debt we could never repay as He traded our sin for His righteousness so that when God views us as He views Christ, He sees us in right standing, holy, without spot or blemish.
“…and then all these things will be given to you as well.”
He cares for us deeply and loves us fully, and He isn’t the slightest bit worried about what lies ahead—He just wants us to seek Him and rest in Him, and He will meet our every need. When we walk in the revelation of His kingdom authority on the earth and rest in His righteousness because of the cross, then all these things will be given to us.
So what should my love look like if it is not like what I am already doing?
Does choosing not to harbor worry diminish my capacity to care deeply about the desired outcome of a situation?
I went to 1 John 4:16-19 in search of what a healthy Love response looks like, and what I found was this:
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.“
There is so much to unpack in that scripture, and I’m not even convinced I’ve fully grasped it all yet. What I do know is that when I fully accept God’s love, I am made whole, complete; I am perfected into His likeness. His perfect love makes it’s home within me, and it drives out all fear and worry because there is simply no room for both fear and love.
Oil and water. Choose one, you cannot have both.
Spoiler alert: love is the better option of the two.