It’s funny how for some things, things which are meant to be taken as an absolute which applies everywhere and in everything, can easily partitioned in our minds into different sectors of life. Something meant to go across the board gets cut up like a pie chart- or a pie- and the amount of effort we put into it will adjust accordingly by the type of person we are.
It seems that in one area, I do ok at loving others. And in the other, the one that is found most in everyday life, I earn a D+ at best.
You see, nothing gets me more excited than “volunteering,” “non-profits,” and “mission trips.” Seriously. I love to go out and spend time doing biggish things to help others. I’d travel anywhere and do basically anything if it meant helping someone AND it had some title attached to it like Big Brothers Big Sisters or Tornado Recovery or TWR or Kids’ Ministry. Those all have names that represent the work that falls under it, and so, to my weird psyche anyway, it’s kind of a big deal.
I’m praying that I do not come across as arrogant, but rather as a Christ follower admitting where I’m struggling and needing God’s mercy and strength… If anything I do is any good at all, it is not me working but Him graciously allowing me to be the vessel through which HE works.
Now here is where I struggle. I forget about daily love. Do the people around me know that I love them? Do I show them?
Do my coworkers know that I appreciate their advice and that they answer my infinite amount of questions?
Am I sending love home to my family by sending mail or facebook messages? Do they contain encouragement?
Am I maintaining enough contact with friends that I don’t see anymore so that they know that they are still in my prayers?
Am I surprising people with notes of encouragement or gifts or positive words?
Do the people on the subway see that though I am the sole white person on the train, I’m still smiling because I’m happy and care about my surroundings–the culture, people, etc. (Maybe this one is a stretch, but joyful looking people just seem to care more about everything…if I need help with something, I’ll go to Mr. Smiley before Mr. Frowney, right?)
Am I doing enough?
Sometimes I get really hooked up on something with a big name. Right now, God has really put on my heart to help Samaritan’s Purse in Shichigahama. This is one of the main communities devastated by the tsunami last March. They are still tearing down homes and rebuilding them, and God wants me there. I’m so stoked to do whatever I can and am praying for opportunities beyond manual labor to love others. This mission has a name for it-Tsunami Recovery. And if I am helpful, then, ok, right on.
But I cannot neglect all of the love that I can give during each and every day of routine living. Sometimes I forget to work hard in those times. But God’s second greatest commandment doesn’t come with stipulations for the right circumstances to love nor encourage that one should just be good at love in one area of life. Love is for all things (minus one–“hate what is evil…”, Rom. 12:9) at all times.
Romans 13: 9-10
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.