Friday, December 18, 2015

Advent Day 15: Love beyond obligation

Have you ever felt obligated? Obligated means that you are legally or morally constrained to do something. You may be obligated to do your chores or go to school. When you get a job, you will be obligated to show up on time, work hard, and do the tasks you are given. You are obligated to obey your parents and when you get married, you have a whole new set of obligations. Life is filled with obligation. It is just the way it works. It isn’t bad, but sometimes it isn’t much fun either.

Ruth was a Moabite woman. She was not of the family of Israel. But when an Israelite family came to her land, fleeing the famine of theirs, she found herself in love with one of the sons and married him. And remember, with marriage comes obligations. His laws and customs were now her laws and customs.

But when an obligation is released is indeed the true test of love.

The father of the family died, as did the sons. Ruth’s husband died. There were all sorts of legal obligations concerning deaths and the protection of widows, mother-in-laws, etc. But the law in this case was clear: Ruth was free. Free to leave the family of her marriage, her mother in law. Free to marry again and return to her family.

But love said “no. I don’t want to leave you. I want to help you and bless you” And so Ruth returned to Israel with her Mother-in-law, Naomi. She chose to leave everything behind. She went to a place that was not her home, in poverty, in love. She now existed on the outskirts: feeding herself and her mother-in-law by picking up the leftover wheat in the fields. An obligation of the farmers to the poorest.

Love over obligation means doing your work even when your mom says you don’t need to. It means doing a job the best you can because you want to help the other person. Love over obligation is playing with a sibling when you really want to do something else. You could get ‘out” of it, but because you love that person you wouldn’t dream of it.

That woman Ruth, who chose love beyond obligation, miraculously found a husband. A wonderful husband. In fact, he owned the fields of which she begged. They would give birth to children...and would be in the direct plan of another who chose Love over Obligation.

He didn’t have to do it. He didn’t have to send His Son. We didn’t obey, we didn’t listen and we didn’t honor our part in the deal. He could have “gotten out of it” and watched as we all fell to eternal ruin.

But Love.

My child, it is not out of moral or legal duty that we are saved. No promises fulfilled by our merit or work because...we haven’t measured up. We have broken the agreement.

But love.

It is love that saves us, not obligation. Obligation stops as soon as a promise is broken. Love calls to leave behind what our heart wants because of our love for another.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son. That whoever believes should not perish but find everlasting life."

Find life today. Let the Love of God sink into your heart and spread to those who you are obligated to. Follow the Light and go further than obligation. Love beyond obligation.

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