MERIDIAN MINUTE no. 6
“Do everything in love.”
1 Corinthians 16:14
Love is one of those topics that is easy to speak about. Song lyrics, poetry, stories, romance. There is much to say about “love.” Without love life would not be worth living, at least I don’t think so. Love is key to opening the door for another person and key to energizing one’s own personal dynamics. In this case, the concept is a statement from the Scriptures given as a principle for adherence with an expected compliance component for those of the Faith. However, it is not so easy to fulfill if love is constrained or not fully in residence in the person. How can this be? Quite easy in fact. Volume after volume could be written as to why. Let me suffice it to say, love has a lot to do with personal experiences, personal motivation, emotional health, attitude toward negative injurious happenings, spiritual belief and its reality in a life, inner healing, and brokenness. One cannot give what one does not possess.
If we do everything “in love” a spirit must be in us that looks beyond circumstances and situations or personal preferences. Having love as the motivator means that there is not an expectation of something good in return, expecting a positive result, a payback on the “investment” of our time and energy. As I think on it, it comes into focus. Doing everything in love is actually freeing. How so? With love as the guide, all that we say or do will be done in the right spirit. This frees up the person. When a positive response to our actions is no longer the expected outcome, we become less concerned about the result and more concerned with loving the person or loving through the activity in which we are engaged.
There is a man in my church who is in his sixties. As long as I have known him, which is many years, he has worked a very taxing job for a small company in town, one that is physically demanding with long hours. He is employed in the reupholstering business. During some seasons he works extra long hours designing and reupholstering everything from boat seat cushions to easy chair recliners. Diligent, hard-working, self-motivated, uncomplaining. His secret? I know his secret and why I have never heard him complain (and he doesn’t get paid vacations either). During a Sunday School lesson that he was teaching, he said these words, “I pray over every reupholstering project that I do. I ask God to help me, that I will do it well and that it will bring pleasure to the person who is the recipient.” He said this humbly. I believe this man is stacking up reward in heaven because he works in a spirit of love. Each project is prayed for in a business where you wouldn’t expect prayer. He gets it. We can learn from people like him.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid? A year ago I read these words in a Christian psychology book, sadly applicable to me in every way. These days, when I am feeling anxious about something, they return in my thinking as a prompt to not be afraid to act, to not let fear keep me from doing things I have the skill to do. There is so much I would have done with my life if I hadn’t been afraid. Fear is limiting. It affects every interview, it implodes every confrontation, it impedes a healthy self-concept, it ruins what could have been. In my life, a spirit of fear kept me from doing everything in love. Although I loved people and cared deeply for them and I loved my work and cared how well I was accomplishing my teaching objectives, I was kept from loving well by an inner crippling fear of people. It often kept me silent when I wanted to speak, kept me from achieving things I knew I had the talent and capability to do. How did this happen? I think fear has always been a companion of mine that has limited me from full performance. Being timid and shy and feeling “less than” in situation after situation reduced my ability to be confident or act with confidence. I didn’t believe I was smart or had much to offer. Because of my quietness, few encouraged me to be more (which would have helped) or let me in on the truth that I had something of value to offer. I was one of those quiet kids that teachers forget about because they don’t make any noise, are always compliant, not making any splash. What we believe about ourselves has a way of playing out in real life. Realizing my fear and then setting about to conquer it has been a slow and tedious process. However, I am making progress in this.
A key unlocked my prison door of fear. Yes! This key was an unexpected gift to me. An interesting process began unfolding as I began falling deeper in love with my Savior. The more I was experiencing love in my heart, which was given to me as my thinking was dwelling in Him, the more freeing up of my self was being experienced. The more free I felt, and the more healthy and whole I became, the more healing and release from pain that had resided in my closed heart, the more possible it was for me to love without limits or boundaries. The love of Christ began working in me to free my spirit. In the process, love began to change me. Rigid self-righteous thoughts and behaviors began leaving me and love started invading me. I was becoming whole and healthy, less focused on myself, less rigid and judgmental in my attitudes. Love changed me. God’s love. Doing everything in love, is not a formula. It’s not! Love that is hidden in Christ will outwork in everything you do and with everyone you meet. The real key is this, it is to keep close to the love source. Love’s Source is the Triune God, the God of all loves.
Cliff at Lookout Point, Paradise, CA. NLB