Careful Love

We’re all careful about what we love. If we love a movie, we’ll read the reviews, track the showings, and buy tickets in advance. If we love an author, we’ll follow their writing, pre-order their books, and dive into their biography. If we love our spouse, we’ll think about them and tell them what we appreciate about them.

But if our true love is the sound of our own voice, then tracking what God loves will be unappealing, distasteful. Service to others, prayer for the kids, prayer in general, Sunday gatherings, community groups, discipleship, and evangelism will all become negotiable. Why? Those words have to contend with the voice of the Inner Me.

If the weather is bad, if there’s traffic, if we just don’t feel like it, we won’t expend the energy necessary to join the church in worship and be shaped by God’s word. Instead, we’re shaped by our own inner words, our rationalizations.

If its been a long day, and the kids have been trying, then we won’t make the extra effort to join our community group and encourage others. We won’t lay our head down, reviewing God’s grace from the day, and thank him before we sleep. Instead of listening to his words to find rest, we’ll invite digital words in to soothe us from a narrative that excises God. We’ll be carelessly shaped by other voices.

Joshua urges the people of God, “Be careful to love the Lord your God” (23:11). Be careful, pay attention, slow down, reflect on what you love. If we don’t, we will be blinded by our own idolatry, snag our eye on a thorn, pop an eardrum. We’ll be maimed and disfigured.

But if we love God, we’ll read his words, listen to his voice, and invite them in to shape us more than anything else. His voice will speak the loudest. As a result, we’ll stand tall, even in hard times. Our eyesight will be clear. We’ll even have words for others. So let’s be careful with our love, and trust the words that never fail, “not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed” (23:14).