HOW DO I LOVE THEE?
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
If I sat down and made a list of the ways and times I love people, might it look something like this?
I love you when you make me feel good. I love you when you give me my way. I love you only when you live your life within my values and standards. I love you when you take time to listen to me. I love you when you make me proud to be your friend. I love you when you make the most of the God-given talents you have. I love you when you keep your temper in check. I love you when you resist temptations and sins. I love you when you smell fresh and your face is clean. I love you when you wipe your feet before walking across the clean floor. I love you when you don't argue with me. I love you when you have the same political agenda as I do. I love you when you thank me for the food I have cooked and served when you are in my home. I love you when you make me feel important to you. I love you when you call or email to see how things are going. I love you when you treat me as an equal.
But is this REALLY what it means to love people? Can I love you when you insist you are right and I am wrong and make me feel miserable? Can I love you when you won't embrace the values I so strongly cherish? Can I love you when you do things that make me embarrassed to be seen with you? Can I love you when I see you ignoring and wasting the many talents you have? Can I love you when you scream and yell? Can I love you when you give your flesh control over your mind? Can I love you when you are homeless and dirty and smelly? Can I love you when you treat my home as if it were a hunting camp in the middle of the woods? Can I love you when you insist that I am politically incorrect? Can I love you when you take the gifts I have painstakingly made for you and trample them under your feet? Can I love you when you make me feel as if you could care less if you never saw me again? Can I love you when you ignore me? Can I love you when you look down on me as being inferior to yourself? Jesus comments on this kind of love in Matthew 5:46, "For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?"
Just this past week I had a rude awakening to how I view people and just how self-righteous I can be. Because a certain person I know has had many people praying for him and God has answered prayers concerning him, I had him on my mind. I was thinking to myself that because God had been so good to him, he owed it to these people to live the rest of his life in a manner pleasing to God….and thus honoring their prayers at the same time. That was a good thought and partly true I suppose. Then my thoughts turned inward and I looked at myself…..my self-righteous self….and I thought , Oh How much more do I need to live the rest of MY life in a manner pleasing to God because I owe it to Him for saving my sin-sick soul. God didn't wait until I cleaned up my life before He loved me…He loved me as I was. ("We love him, because he first loved us." I John 4:19)
I want to be able to look at myself first and see how gracious our Lord is to love me in the sad condition I am in, even at my very best, and then I want to love my family and friends with just a part of that Godly love He has given to me. ("And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3: 19)
May we let God fill us with His love so that we can love others!
(P.S. Deb also has this post running on the KJV Blog Directory today at http://kjvblogs.blogspot.com/ )