What Love Does

"God's life in a place of rest becomes our default. We no longer struggle to get there, but we live from there."

GIVE ME A PENNY for every time one person tries to control another person, however small, and I’d be worth billions. We waste far too much of our lives “fixing” someone else’s choices, as we think they ought to be. It’s called criticism, and it’s found far too much in the one place where “love one another” is a continual anthem. The church. Even there, we become offended by what people eat, what they wear, how they preach, what they might’ve meant in-between-the-lines. We’re always looking for a reason to pick on someone else.

Romans 14 in the Message Bible speaks to this clearly. We are to welcome fellow believers with open arms, not to jump all over them every time we don’t agree with them. We are to forget about deciding what’s right for others, and my personal favorite – tend to your own knitting. At the heart of these instructions (in any translation), Paul wanted us to never do what will condemn someone else.

“It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other.” (Romans 14:6-9 MSG)

He uses the example of food. One person eats meat. One person is a vegetarian. Neither person is to condemn the other over it, for as the Message Bible puts it, “God, after all, invited them both to the table.” That sits me upright. Who am I seated beside? Jesus lived and died to “free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.” We are to encourage one other, to give hope and joy, and point people toward Jesus. Though you may disagree with the way I comb my hair, and I may think your need to tie your shoes is weird, neither his ripped blue jeans, nor her high heels are arguing points. There ARE NO arguing points, and that is the point.

Job had friends, and well, Job was in a bad place in life. He’d lost a lot, and his friends thought they’d go through it with him. But then, they started to talk, and after a while, Job and them weren’t getting along at all. “What a bunch of miserable comforters! Is there no end to your windbag speeches?” he asked. (Job 16:1 MSG) Though his friends meant well, neither they nor Job sought forgiveness until God required it. God asked Job to pray for his friends because His desire was reconciliation. He wanted restoration of friendship, and all that Job had lost.

My pastor, years ago, used to say if you can’t say anything nice, say they have nice teeth. I think we need to do even better, learn to lay aside our negative thoughts and emotions so much, lean into the love of God for people so much that we no longer think critically anymore. Ask God to show you the size of His love for mankind, and you will never be the same. He longs for each of us to know just how great He is. When you see God’s heart for individuals, you move from criticism into compliments. Even when there is something a person does that you disagree with, you’d rather cover it up instead of exposing it. This is what love does. This is what Jesus did. What the Holy Spirit does. He knows the minds of all men, what they are about to say before they say it, yet His instruction, His correction, fits our need. He is never heavy-handed, but teaches with love.

“Above all, continue to love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 ISV)

Even the apostle Paul, after his Damascus experience, although that was startling to him at the time, but afterward, he was not stood before the church and forced to make a confession. He rested in one man’s house until another man, a single believer, came and laid hands on him. Then he spent three years studying before he spoke to anyone about his conversion. In this manner, God turned him from an arrogant Pharisee into a man who was willing to lay everything he was down, as so much dung.

Renewing of the mind is for our benefit, but it is also for others. It is a change of thinking, leading to a change of behavior beneficial to everyone we come into contact with. No longer caught up in the noise of our human mind and varied emotions, we walk in the Spirit, led of the Spirit in our words and actions. We walk in godly wisdom and thus, at peace. Inwardly and outwardly. God’s life in a place of rest becomes our default. We no longer struggle to get there, but we live from there, and in that position, we learn more and sometimes from those we were busy criticizing before.

Minister Priscilla Shirer tells of the salvation of her son. How one woman encouraged him, despite his appearance, and complimented his talent as a tattoo artist, and that simple act of love helped him choose Jesus. Minister Mario Murillo tells similar stories of youths saved in the Jesus People movement. They’d come in looking like they’d come off the street and accept Christ, and he said, the Holy Spirit, over the next few weeks, would make the change in them. They’d stop smoking and drinking on their own, without anyone saying anything.

God does His job, and He does it well. And though I called it that, it isn’t a job to Him at all but a love so great He cannot help but continue to give and give and give again. Everything He is. As He did when He sent His only Son to die a death He did not deserve for people who could not save themselves. You. Me. And that one we spoke against for something that doesn’t matter. Not to God. With Him all things are possible. We’d do well to resemble it.

“My one and only goal is to be intimately connected with Christ in heart, mind, motive, character and sympathy, to genuinely know him and be known as his friend, to experience the eradication of selfishness and the growth of the life-giving power of his love within me, to die completely to self—" (Philippians 3:10)

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Suzanne D. Williams, Author