A number of recent events have disrupted me and my understanding of love. Recently, the company I worked for abruptly sold the business and I watched approximately half of my co-workers lose their jobs that day. The way these events unfolded left a great deal of pain and confusion in the wake. I asked myself “How does love act in this situation?”
A recent transaction at a large retail store went sour after the person finalizing our order asked us seven times if we would sign up for a credit card. Yes, I said seven! I politely declined the first six times and finally on the seventh I was matter-of-fact and replied “We have repeatedly said no and if you ask one more time we will question whether we will come back to this store.” I again asked myself “How does love act in this situation?”
Some other events have also taken place with job and ministry changes that have been necessary. Each time these transitions were made, Shannon and I have been paying attention to how our hearts are processing everything We have analyzed what we handled well and where we could show improvement. We have asked ourselves “How does love act in this situation?”
There is no stock answer to such a loaded question. Looking at a definition of love in the dictionary would be helpful, but there is no absolute for love in every situation. Looking in the Bible is the best place to start and end the discussion. Sometimes love is giving time to someone that could use help. Other times it is giving financially to help a struggling person get a meal or pay a bill. And certainly love gives affection to someone that feels lonely or abandoned.
When discussions about the vulnerable and those that cannot help themselves arise, love absolutely would best be expressed through protection. It must also be noted that this is a very deep subject and is potentially the least consistent way in which love can be described as a list of actions.
Love in this situation is fierce and determined to protect against the unwelcome harm that would come about if nothing is done. If you ask the person that is causing the harm after they are attacked and the innocent are removed from the scene how they would describe the person that removed them, you would certainly never hear it described as a loving act.
But love protects nonetheless.
If you are faced with a situation that calls for tenderness, offer a soft word. If you see a need that can be helped by offering yourself, give without a thought of receiving in return. If you see an injustice, call upon your passionate heart and stand up for and with them.
Many of us are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13 where it says love is patient, kind and many other qualities. I prefer to read it in a different version to give a fresh context. Here is from The Message:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
I must remind myself often that we can have love for each other because love comes from God.
Love must always start with God and encompass those people in your life that are part of your Kingdom. It includes your spouse, children, friends, co-workers and even occasionally total strangers. Loving them includes protecting them from outside influences that are or could bring them harm.