Get the “exclamation point,” not the “question mark"
The question marked heart is asking this question: Am I loved? There’s a void, an emptiness in the heart. Some of us have the question marked heart because of our upbringing or because of failure. So, we develop all these strategies to answer that question. Am I loved. At the end of the day, the people around us feel used. Why? Because we were using them to answer that question.
The exclamation pointed heart is making a statement: I am loved! There’s a fullness, a satisfaction in the heart. Some of us have the exclamation pointed heart because we’ve met Christ Jesus. We know He loves us. So, we develop strategies, too. But we are wanting others to know this same love. I am loved! At the end of the day, the people around us feel served, feel loved. Why? Because we were serving them – sacrificing ourselves, laying down our lives – to help them find an answer to their question.
What are you? The question-marked heart or the exclamation-pointed heart?
God wants you to know you are loved.
May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:18-19 (NLT)
Knowing how loved you are will fill you up and give you a way to love others.
I remember a conversation I had last year with a teenager who was really, really struggling at home. It wasn’t good; not at all. His relationships with his dad and mom were very, very stressed. On top of that, his girlfriend had just broken up with him. She said, "I can't handle all this stress." And he wanted to restore that relationship. He was heartbroken. I encouraged him to consider that it might not be the best time to pursue a girlfriend relationship. I said, "You might be seeking a relationship with a girl because of a void in your heart that can only be filled by your relationship with Jesus." I went on, "You might have a question mark at the core of your being. You might be asking, 'Am I loved? Am I worthy?' at the core of your being. So, you are using strategies and tactics to answer that question. And the people around you know intuitively that they are being used to fill a void in your life. That might be why your girlfriend is running the other way." He seemed like he was listening so I kept going, "Perhaps now is the time for you to focus on your relationship with Jesus - to really lock in on your union with Christ, your identity in Christ - to know who you are in Jesus. Then you can relate to others with an exclamation point at the core of your being. You'll be saying, 'I am loved! I am worthy!'
“When that happens, you will live with strategies and tactics that are coming from a full and healthy place, not from a void. And the people around you will know that they aren't being used. Instead they feel they are being loved."
… give it. vv. 16
Notice how verse 16 ends. If you know you’ve been loved by Jesus – the One who laid down His life for you, then you can give it away. You can lay down your life, too.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. I John 3:16 (ESV)