DO ALL THINGS IN LOVE
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
– 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
The other day I mishandled a situation where I could have shown the love of Christ, and although I had good intentions, things quickly spiraled out of control, and an opportunity was not only missed, but completely thrown away.
At the store a man had entered, and instead of moving to the back of the line where several people had been waiting, he decided to step next to me, and create a new line, in front of all those frustrated customers. Now naturally I can’t go very long without interjecting a not very well thought out statement, and this time was no different. There is something in me that can’t stand to be silent and just move on.
“Excuse me sir, the line is back there.” I spoke, trying to be polite, but really just purposefully pointing out his error in hopes he would correct himself in embarrassment.
“I’m making a new line,” he replied without shifting his gaze.
“Yeah that’s not how this works, you’ll have to get in the back of the line behind everyone else.”
“Well, you’ll just have to mind your own (insert expletive here) business,” he stated firmly.
Who does he think he’s talking to? Does he not realize the danger he’s in even thinking about disrespecting me like that? I just wanted to see justice done, and now I wanted him to apologize to everyone in the store that he also disrespected. The looks on the faces of the people in the line validated what was about to happen next in my mind. This guy was about to learn a lesson that you can’t just bully people around.
I was justified. We proceeded to get very heated in the front of the store, and I could feel myself boil with rage, ready to drop some country justice on him.
The crazy thing about justifying our actions like this, standing firm, being strong, acting like a REAL man, is that it’s easy to disregard what the whole of what scripture teaches us, and only use the parts that justify our irrational behavior. Take a look at this verse:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Ignoring the part of our LifePoint Men verse that says “Let all that you do be done in love,” you could come to the conclusion that I was acting like a man. But God teaches us there, and in the verses above, that none of it, not your good intentions, your manliness, strength, etc., means anything if not done with love. You might as well just be making noise.
After the situation (in which I did restrain myself), I didn’t feel like anything was really accomplished. We both almost got ejected from the store by the manager, and were both red hot mad. Nothing really good came from it. In fact, you could even say I missed a great opportunity to share the love of Christ with someone who probably had a lot going on that I didn’t know about.
There was only one thing I took away from that situation: shame. I felt ashamed of myself for misrepresenting Jesus. Actually if he had known I was a Christian (which he probably would have never guessed by my behavior), I might have even done damage to His name. Could you imagine? Knowing someone would potentially reject Jesus because of your actions?
The best way to represent Christ to the fullest, is to love others. Really, truly, love them, without condition. And love them first, not just because they love you. This is the TRUE mark of a man in Christ.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
– Luke 6:32-35