“I love you.” Three little words! But which is the most important: “I,” “love,” or “you”? In a Daily Devotional I am using, the author, a mother, says that if her baby “was not being held she was crying.” She goes on to say that she decided that “aching arms were a decent trade-off for my aching nerves.” She then points out that she can hear: “you grandmothers ‘tsk-tsking’.” Just why they are “tsk-tsking” she didn’t say. I suspect they feel she is spoiling her child. Perhaps the grandmothers are right.

            The author-mother also states that, “having her in my arms is one of my favorite memories.” Perhaps her favorite memory stems from the knowledge that her arms provided comfort and security for her daughter. I would believe that if it wasn’t for the fact that she tells us the reason she held her daughter was that, “it didn’t take me long to decide that aching arms were a decent trade-off for my aching nerves.” Taking the mother at her word we find that her motive for holding her daughter was perfectly selfish – to ease her aching nerves and not for the benefit of her baby. In this case the most important word in “I love you” is “I.”

            Perhaps this mother never considered “tough love.” “Tough love” is tough on the one doing the loving as well as the one loved. Now I don’t have enough information to make a firm judgement in this situation as all I know is the little the mother tells us. But based on that limited information the mother in effect chose to spoil her child to ease her aching nerves. It is nice to feel loved and comforted but it is never too early to learn that comforting arms will not always be there as we travel this road of live. The sooner we learn that the better.

            But the real issue is how easy it is for us to deceive ourselves about our motives. We like a clear conscience so we tell ourselves that we are taking our actions for the benefit for others when in fact our motives are quite selfish. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Constant soul searching about our motives is the order of the day. What was it that the prophet Jeremiah said? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” But God tells us, “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins...” Keep the searchlight of the Holy Spirit turned inward that your heart may be pure and that you may “see God.”