On Saturday I watched the new Cinderella movie with my children. That was a quite a feat for me. I got my jobs done in time to sit down and watch a movie! It was Abi's birthday, and her birthday treat, so, of course, I wanted to enjoy it too.... aherm.
I really enjoyed it, as "fairytales" go. It was well made, and more than anything else, it wasn't all lovey-dovey. I liked that the main theme was "courage and kindness".
Courage to do something different. Not always doing what "has always been done". Realising the right thing can sometimes go against the norm.
Kindness. It's always right to try and show kindness. It's not always EASY, but it's the right thing to do. You can even find someone to be really obnoxious and mean, and still show kindness. Look at how Cinderella turns around and says "I forgive you" to her step mother, whilst still having the courage to walk away from a horrible situation.
That's the obvious and predictable lesson from the movie. It's a good plan in life - courage and kindness.
It's a good plan as a Christian. The courage to do what is right, and to follow after God and His ways, even if no-one else is doing it. The willingness to show kindness, even if a situation or a person seems not to deserve it. "Be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another". It's a spot on, Biblical principle.
That is not what *I* took away from it.
One little thing that Cinderella said got me thinking.
"Love is free"
Why, yes, Cinderella, you are so right. Love IS free!
But, it doesn't always mean there is no cost involved.
That's what got me thinking.
The Biblical pattern we have is to love unconditionally. Our love is given freely, as the powerful verse in Hosea reminds us
"I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely:"
If we are to be followers of Christ, we need to love freely, as He loves us. Despite our backsliding and sinful failings, He loves us freely.
But, there is a cost involved in loving.
It doesn't necessarily cost us financially, in a literal sense, but in many other senses, there is cost.
It will cost us time. We need to be willing to give of our time, to express our love to others.
It will cost us self. We need to be willing to give up our selfish desires, when we extend love to others.
It will cost us emotionally. We need to be willing to give of ourselves - heart and soul - to others, so that we may end up feeling totally spent, in making sure our love is expressed to the ones we love.
It will cost us because love should be sacrificial. It literally means that it costs US.
We give up of ourselves in order to extend love to someone else.
"And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you;"
II Corinthians 12:15
It's NOT about a fuzzy feeling on the inside, however. In fact, sometimes in order to show love to someone else it can break our heart on the inside. We may have to do or say things as we give our love freely, that hurts us and makes us fall apart in ways people will never see. It may not be reciprocated (see the rest of II Corinthians 12:15 for the reality check on THAT one... go on, look it up....)
But, we still love freely.
We need look no further for our example than the Lord. Freely, He loved us. Freely, He GAVE. He have up His very life - His body broken, on the tree. Assaulted, hurt, despised, rejected of men.
"freely ye have received, freely give."
How do I love? Do I love freely enough? Do I extend my love sacrificially and spending all of myself, in order to freely give that love.
Yes, love is free, but we need to be willing to count the cost.