When I was a child, I used to look forward to the evenings when my Aunt Angie would come to have dinner with us while my Uncle Bill was at his Kiwanis meeting. Why? Because she usually brought me a gift! But when I grew up, that changed; I liked visiting with her simply because I enjoyed her personality and her vibrant heart. I think this pictures, in a small way, what Bernard of Clairvaux is getting at in the following excerpt.
The motive for loving God is God Himself… He is such that a love to Him is a natural due… Our love is prepared and rewarded by His. He loves us first, out if His great tenderness; then we are bound to repay Him with love; and we are permitted to cherish exultant hopes in Him…
He has no better gift than Himself. He gives Himself as prize and reward; He is the refreshment of the holy soul, the ransom of those in captivity.
– Bernard of Clairvaux, from On Loving God
(as quoted in 90 Days With The Christian Classics)
Bernard’s comments lead me to ask myself this: do I really love God, or do I just love what He gives me? To put it another way, do I appreciate His gifts merely because of what I get out of them, or because they show me His heart? Gratitude is vital, but a “grown-up” relationship with God also includes loving Him for who He is and valuing Him because He is valuable in and of Himself.
On this Valentine’s Day, may we see God Himself as our prize and reward, as Bernard did!
I said to the Lord, "You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you." ...Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! - Psalm 16:2, 5-6 (NLT)