It’s no secret.
The recently ended presidential campaign, followed by the inauguration, followed by marches and tweets, has our country feeling stung and divided from sharp words spoken carelessly from all sides of the ideological spectrum. The result, also no secret, is that we’re living in a climate where most people feel complete freedom to express their thoughts with raw, unchecked abandon.
Considering how words and actions might affect others or might influence others to do the same doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar. Those who should be role models for excellence have become role models for raw self-expression. Adults have been hurt. Our children have been hurt. America has been hurt.
How should we respond to all of the confusion? How should we face the united animosity?
Heading into a month where culturally we focus on love, let’s start there. Let’s hone in on the idea that love is not arrogant or rude, as defined in 1 Corinthians.
Since love is not arrogant or rude…
Love shows honor and respect to others. It’s easy to show love to people who believe like you, vote like you, look like you, or dislike the same values you dislike. Real love, God’s genuine love that we are commanded to bestow on our hurting world, treats every person with honor and respect. Love says age doesn’t matter, gender doesn’t matter, status doesn’t matter, race doesn’t matter, theological differences don’t matter. Real love treats every person with dignity based on every individual’s innate worth as an image bearer of God.
Look at Jesus. He showed consideration and compassion especially to those who didn’t deserve it. Remember how He treated a greedy, hated, thieving tax collector named Zaccheus? Jesus ate dinner with him. In his own house. As his friend! And we know Jesus didn’t agree with Zaccheus’ life choices. He still showed honor and respect– love–to this person.
Love doesn’t think, I’m better than you. Not bragging outwardly with your words or actions only makes you appear loving. If you scroll through your Facebook feed and pat yourself on the back for not sharing rude and controversial posts like so and so did … well, that is actually arrogance. Unlike our natural tendency to measure everyone against our own standards of intelligence, beauty, ability, wealth or dozens of other rulers, God’s love never ranks one person as better than another.
Love knows everyone’s story is important. We want to be heard. We want to spread our bright ideas around the world, across the web, into the faces of those we think need to be righted. Love listens instead. Love seeks to understand another’s point of view. Love sets aside our personal plots to understand pain in someone else’s eyes.
Love is humble. G.K. Chesterton was once asked, “What’s wrong with the world?” His reply was both profound and true. He said simply, “I am.” This is genuine love.
Love looks to one’s own fault, one’s own cause, one’s own wrong first, instead of pointing the finger in blame at someone else. Love apologizes first; never blames. Love assumes responsibility for our own part of the problem. Love seeks first to remove the log in our own eye before going to the one we believe has offended us.
Love comes from within. Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart, for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” What comes out of our mouths reveals what is truly in our hearts. And if this is true, then based on the rhetoric that is being spoken publicly in government, universities, on the air waves, on screens, and on social media, it is safe to say our country has a serious heart problem.
Love came to us. It was sent to us. Jesus left the throne of heaven, grew in a virgin’s womb, and slept His first earthly night on a bed of hay. Love told us He was the way, the truth, the life.
Love didn’t stay far off, heckling us with truth from the sideline. Love came near. He came to be known. Love was willingly mocked and beaten, crucified wrongly in innocence, then gave up His life on the cross.
You see? Love is not arrogant, nor is it rude. Love is pursuing. Love is forgiving. Love is initiating. And equally important love shows self-control which means not saying all that we feel when we feel it without regard to the impact our words have on others.
Jesus is the example of love because He is pure Love. To love well is to be like Jesus, to become humble as He did, and to refuse an arrogant attitude every time you feel tempted to think you are better than another person. Only Jesus can help you do this. Ask Him to help you today.
Prayer: God help me recognize that my heart is incapable of loving as I want to love, as Jesus wants me to love. I cannot love others if I think I am better than they. Being good only on the outside will never fix the problem in my heart. Amen.