Love – feeling or choice?

Love your neighbour as yourselfcommandment from Jesus

Love is such a powerful word.  Yet what does it mean?  The most universal meaning refers to a feeling – desire, gratitude, admiration, affection. Supposedly, we can’t control or chose our feelings and as such we can’t choose to love or not love someone. But yet we are commanded to love.  Even though I agree that in loving someone, feelings can arise, I don’t think we would have been commanded to “have affectionate feelings for your neighbour”.  In addition to a feeling, I think love is also a choice.  I think our commandment is to make a choice about how we engage with others and what attitude we maintain.  Whether it’s our neighbour or our romantic interest, love should also mean commitment, respect and kindness.

Advertisements

Hold Your Cheeks and Get Away

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. – Matthew 5:38-40

 

Sometimes you find that you have a person in your life who causes you anguish. A person who seems to feed on your pain. Just seeing their name in an email, or their phone number come up on your phone, causes your stomach to knot up.  You fleetingly think “maybe this conversation will be different”, but it isn’t, every encounter leaves you worse off.

So you’ve turned the other cheek and now you’ve been repeatedly slapped on both cheeks.  You can’t tolerate them. You can’t change them. You can’t bargain with them. Jesus says don’t resist them.  What to do?  Get away from them! As fast as possible! Run, don’t walk!

 

Exodus – from bondage to the promised land

The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.

Like the Israelites, we can find ourselves in bondage – impoverished and abused.  It can be a relationship, a job or some other situation that causes us pain, depression, anxiety or other illness.  We cry out to God for rescue, to bring us comfort and peace.  And like the Israelites we are rescued from bondage, set free from our situation.  But the Israelites did not simply take two steps out of Egypt and into the promised land.  The journey was long and arduous, taking decades.  And likewise for us, our journey to healing and peace can be long and arduous.

They were terrified and cried out to the LordThey said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, “Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians”? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’

When the Israelites were faced with obstacles – thirst, hunger, danger – they grumbled and cried out against God.  They looked back at their life in bondage wistfully, wishing they were back in Egypt.  So too when faced with obstacles – uncertainty, loneliness, sadness – we turn our minds back with doubt, gloss over our suffering of the past and even wish we could resurrect our life of bondage.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him

But as he did for the Israelites, God has a plan for us and is working for our good. After decades of wandering in the wilderness, learning to follow and trust God, the Israelites finally entered the promised land. So too must we persevere in our journey of healing (however short or long), following and trusting God and therein fully receive his promise of peace, abundance and life.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

If you want an ex-spouse, buy a red sports car

A long time ago, I was young, stupid and sick of driving my beat up car.  So I got a bank loan for more that it would have cost me to buy a house plot and bought a flashy red sports car. Two months later I caught the eye of a beautiful woman, one year later we were married but before I knew it, we were divorced.
A while later, after selling my successful business, I once again bought a red sports car.  This time, there was no bank loan, but it did have a really cool automatic folding roof.   Two months later I caught the eye of a beautiful woman, one year later we were married but before I knew it, we were divorced.  No, there’s no echo in here.
The problem was neither of these women met and married the real me.  Though I fooled even myself, the sports car driving, designer clothes wearing, champagne drinking, ambition fuelled, successful businessman wasn’t the real me.  The real me, unintentionally hidden at those critical moments of my life, craved (and still craves) simplicity, spiritual growth, financial independence and a life with purpose.
On the surface it’s easy to see that if you’re pretending (perhaps even subconsciously) that you’re someone you’re not, then anyone attracted to you is not really attracted to you but to the person you’re pretending to be.  If the real you ever emerges, then chances are, that person isn’t going to be attracted to you anymore, especially if the real you is very different from the pretend you.  If you want someone to be attracted to the real you, then you have to be courageous and honest enough (especially to yourself) to reveal the real you.  And herein lies the challenge.  Knowing and revealing the real you may sound very simple, but I think it can be one of the most difficult things for a person to do.
So, for now, that is part of my journey, to discover and reveal the real me.  The me who is defined not by my car but by my faith,  judged not but the cut of my clothes but by the cut of my character.  As I don’t even own a car now, I can’t imagine anyone being attracted to me for my ride.  But then again I do own a really nice pair of minimalist running shoes.

Words of Life

Daily devotional today from The Upper Room

http://devotional.upperroom.org/devotionals/2011-12-27

———————-

What damage we can do with our words! One day I was all ready to “have it out” with my husband on an issue that was burning within me. But God stopped me. The Bible verse at the top of the page of the devotional I was reading for that day told me in no uncertain terms to watch what I said and to refrain from speaking rashly.

Who knows what harm I would have caused had I blundered on without heeding that warning? James tells us that our tongue is “a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (3:8, NIV). But the tongue can also soothe, encourage or instruct. With our words we can bless or curse, build people up or belittle them, praise God or spread discontent.

In Proverbs we read, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life” (10:11). Therein lies the key. The righteous—those who are in right relationship with God—surrender to God, asking the Holy Spirit to guide them in what they say, to accomplish God’s purposes. As we let the Spirit direct us, self-control—part of the fruit of the Spirit—will grow in us. Then the words we use under the Spirit’s direction will truly offer life to those who hear them.