If there’s one thing I’ve learned from long-distance running, it’s the importance of food. Until last year, I lived by an “I’m hungry, therefore I eat” philosophy. But half-marathon training forced me to switch over to an “I need energy, therefore I eat” mindset. Before each long run, I have to calculate my intake and purposely feed myself enough calories to sustain me for that amount of activity.
Our bodies are amazing machines that are constantly functioning. All this living we do requires energy and we get that energy from food. We open our mouths, put it in, chew and swallow, and then our digestive system takes over – breaking our food down into smaller pieces so the fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins can be absorbed and converted into energy.
God’s love is the most rich and powerful substance in the universe. Not only does He love, 1 John 4:8 says “God is love”. His every move in our lives is defined by His affection toward and preference for us.* Created with purpose, cared for every moment, and fully accepted with no condemnation for our weaknesses or sin (1 John 3:20), we are “lavished” with this love (1 John 3:1).
With God’s Spirit alive and at work in me, His love is always readily available for me to consume. Just thinking about it allows me to take it in and begin the process of absorbing it into the depths of my being. It’s a satisfying and fulfilling kind of love that sustains us and even gives us our identity.
Or at least it should.
A couple weeks ago at Mom’s Bible study, we were discussing “The Comparison Trap”.** As moms – and as humans in general – it’s so easy to look around and use what our eyes see in others as a measuring tool for our own value. We see someone’s clothing size, well-kept house, well-behaved children, creative talent, or dynamic personality and then turn those strengths around to magnify the weaknesses we see in ourselves.
The antidote for this, Andy & Sandra Stanley explain, is understanding God’s great love for us. As adopted sons and daughters, our value is decided by Him and when we take that truth to heart, we can stop looking around for other measurements.**
I’ve known about God’s love for as long as I can remember. It may have been mere “head knowledge” when I was a kid, but it has become “heart knowledge” as an adult. I’m fully convinced that God loves me and and yet I still catch myself looking around for my value. I spend regular time ingesting the truth about His love into my system, but that hasn’t prevented me from getting caught in the comparison trap.
In those seasons of discouragement and self-doubt, I’ve found this to be true: God’s love was never meant to just be absorbed, it was meant to be converted into useful energy. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us” or in other words, because He loves us, we love. Sitting around and absorbing God’s love isn’t going to do me much good until I complete the cycle and use it to love others.
When my focus is on loving other people, I don’t have time to think about comparison. Instead of being worried about where I’m lacking, I’m worried about the needs of others and how much I do have that can help them. As my hands and feet serve, my purpose becomes greater than my “self”. And when my heart is engaged in loving people who don’t deserve it, I can’t help but understand how much I’m loved and how little all the things on that comparison list matter.
The more I run, the more hungry I am. On those long run days, I can’t stop eating! Because I used up everything I took in, my body needs more and it definitely lets me know!
(And in case you’re comparing yourself to my healthy-ish (?) looking lunch, you can stop there because you know I end my day with a ‘healthy’ serving of this:)
When we’re using up the love we’ve been filled with, we’ll be hungry for more and the more He becomes our desire, the more “the world and its desires pass away” (1 John 2:17). His rich, satisfying, value-giving love becomes even more rich, satisfying, and value-giving when we give it away!
**https://www.comparisontrap.org/ by Andy & Sandra Stanley