Make Love Your Aim

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I began leading small group studies in high school.  I hadn’t learned how to study inductively at that time, and was under the false assumption that a book study written by a Christian could be a “Bible study.”  Now I believe differently, but then it was a start, a good way to read good books.

The first study I lead was from Eugenia Price’s book, Make Love You Aim. I had been deeply challenged by her book the year before. Maybe it was the start of letting go of some of my legalistic upbringing. It certainly did hit me where I needed to be struck. Here are a few excerpts:

Love always gives…We cannot keep to ourselves the love we receive from Him; real love is giving love and remains in active motion toward another. Real love gives freedom to the loved one because it concerns itself first of all with the well-being of someone else and never with how that “someone else” is making the lover feel….

Real love frees the loved one, but it also frees the lover. If I love, if you love, we are free. We are free because our reactions to a set of circumstances are never, never dependent upon the circumstances themselves. We are not free if our state of mind is determined by what someone else does to us or leaves undone. Those who love are free because their reactions are determined by what they are. We become hopeless unless we are convinced once and for all that we cannot love, as God would have us love, without His love being operative in us. We are what we come to see about God Himself!…

It is easy to love a stimulating friend, one who brings out the best in us, the most colorful in us. But what about the bores? The dullards whose interest seem so narrow we have to work at making conversation? What about the rigid souls who judge us by their inflexible standards and conditioning? How happy are we in what we call Christian “fellowship” with those whose prohibitions do not match ours? For that matter, how successful are we at loving a tight-lipped, humorless person who not only takes himself too seriously but misses all the sparkle of our great wit? What about the touchy soul around whose personality we must tread softly? The self-righteous one who has yet to admit his first mistake? Are we to love the person who wrongs us? Who cheats us? Who connives to hurt us? Are we to love the neighbor whose life seems motivated by thinking up new ways to torment us? Are we to love the neurotic relative who keeps track of every activity and interprets it according to his or her warped mind? Are we to love the unfaithful friend or husband or wife or child? Are we to love the liar? The gossip? The Communist Politician?…

Yes.
Or Jesus was wrong.

In no way did Jesus describe the kind of neighbor we are to love…He did not locate our neighbors nor confine them to the same street or the same block or the same country…He pinpointed it by telling us to love our enemies outright — those who persecute and mistreat us [Does this include the terrorist?]. Paul was extremely specific to the Romans:

Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  ~Romans 13:8-10

The Christian who gossips about his neighbor can attend church for the rest of his mortal life, support ten missionaries, keep all his group’s prohibitions, read his Bible through twice a year and still not fulfill the law of God. “Love does no wrong to a neighbor.”

Some of this makes me a bit uncomfortable.  What about you?

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24 responses »

  1. “In no way did Jesus describe the kind of neighbor we are to love…”

    I know I am guilty when a face flashed before my eyes as I read that. A friend’s husband who is hurting her (not physically) … I want to protect her sense of self so much that I forget reaching out to him could be part of the solution.

    Way to hit my nail on the head today, Michelle. 🙂

  2. Amen! a little uncomfortable at times and sometimes alot uncomfortable, but HE promised HIS grace is sufficient for me…so I believe it is leaning on HIM, and asking and allowing HIM to continually give us that love that we need for those hard to love. its like sandpaper, abrasive, but the result is a smooth surface. I have many rough edges, no doubt I will be in this phase for a long time…

    Thanks for your honesty, and I am praying to love like never before!

  3. I like your soft heart, Papa. Soft hearts are easily shaped into hearts for God. He took our hearts of stone and gave us hearts of flesh.

    I know your struggle, Sara. We don’t have to love what they do, but we are to show love. Sometimes I think that means calling the police. We had to do that once, for a neighbor. She ended up in the bible study I had in my home and eventually, both she and her husband came to the Lord. Really cool, that.

    Yeah, Darla, a LOT uncomfortable sometimes. I’m going to go through all the virtues of the fruit of the Spirit. Hopefully remembering the first post: He dwells within us to cause us to live as He commands. “Show me how to love this person.” I pray that lots.

    Thank y’all for commenting…love all y’all! 😉

  4. “our reactions to a set of circumstances are never, never dependent upon the circumstances themselves.”

    It is great when I can remember that. 🙂

  5. Wonderful post Sis.

    Yes it is all about love.

    The thought of having to love EVERYone was uncomfortable to me at first. I think God has worked in me and through me since and I don’t feel as uncomfortable. Maybe that comes from coming to a point to be able to forgive and walk in love with people who hurt me the most; my cousin who abused me as a child and the guy who sexually assaulted me in college.

    I’m sure God has more people to place in my path that may be difficult to forgive, walk in love with, but the result of doing so has been rewarding. One that pushes me to choose love over hate, anger, bitterness, resentment, spite etc. in situations where any of those are equally relevant.

    Love you.

  6. Yeah, me too, Heidi. In the moment, or even down the road, realizing what’s been said or done can stop me short of responding in love. I guess, in reality, we aren’t in control of anything except our reactions. I think that’s true. 😕

    Hey, Gch. Choosing to walk in love is certainly the command He’s given. Your point about forgiveness is key. When we realize how much we’ve been forgiven, how do we not extend that forgiveness to others? It seems only when we think we have certain “rights” that we can’t forgive. I’m not talking about being a doormat though. Like I said before, we can stand up against abuse. Some things are illegal.

    Love you two ladies!!! 🙂

  7. Some of this makes me a bit uncomfortable. What about you?

    Some random thoughts…

    The worldly ways are far more comfortable. Far more desirable. Far more pleasurable.

    God is concerned that we comfort others, desire to love him, and find pleasure in his arms…

    Loving the pretty people is easy… Touching the leper who longs to be touched… Look to your Lord for the example there.

    Peace and love sis

  8. Hey, Carl! You know, I’ve never considered myself one of the “pretty people” and have most often felt compassionate toward the needy. But enemies, those who spitefully use you…that one is tough. However, they need to know His love as well, maybe even more. *shrugs*

    Love you, brother. 😉

  9. “We are what we come to see about God Himself!…”

    ouch.

    i dont know what else to say. that one line, to me, says it all.

    how does this make me feel? convicted. and more mindful of what i am displaying.

    kinda speechless right now tho…

  10. this was so good. and so convicting. I feel as though you’ve been reading my thoughts! I’ve had a post brewing in my mind for a couple of weeks about my tendency to pick and choose who I will love, and how I am always trying to remain in check about that. After reading this I’m one step closer to posting it. 😉 Lots to think about here.

    Love you!

  11. This was as if God saw my hurt and spoke right to my heart, thank you Michelle! I have felt really stung and hurt by the actions of another person and this post has been such a boost to go on loving with God’s help no matter what. There was so much wisdom in this. I’ll have to make notes, hee, hee 🙂 lots of love Michelle.

  12. I know, Tam, I get that way too. His work is deep, separating the bone and the marrow…ouch. 😐

    I rescued you, Brandy!! (I did notice that all your info. was written in caps, maybe that’s why you keep going to spam?) I look forward to reading your post when you get it done. It is convicting to realize how radical His love is for us, for the world, and how radical we must be in response. You know?

    Hey, Sam!! “Those who love are free because their reactions are determined by what they are.” Just like you said, the more we understand how secure we are in His love, the more we can extend it to others. Hmmm…so our lack of love for others says lots about how much we understand His love for us…? I know I love you, Sam. Hope all is well. You’ve been on my mind lately.

    Welcome back, Birgit. Did you have a wonderful time in France? I’ll have to click over and see all your amazing pics! Your blog is always a highlight for me.
    “We are not free if our state of mind is determined by what someone else does to us or leaves undone.” That statement spoke loads to me. I want to be “big enough” that others’ words don’t hurt so much, but I’m far from that place. Some people’s words and actions sting so badly, it’s hard to get past. And when we see it’s a pattern that can’t be broken (because they won”t get help), I think it’s best, at times, to stay away. That’s not unloving, it’s good boundaries. I think. Love and blessings to you, Birg.

  13. Sam- “the more I believe I am safe and secure”…you are spot on my brother! That spoke directly to my heart..thank you!

    Good Morning Michelle!

  14. I had a wonderful time away thanks 🙂 It’s one of things I love about being over here in the UK – the closeness to these other beautiful countries. I’ve posted some pics from France, and we also went to Spain, so I’m working on posting photos from our time there too, soon 🙂
    Lots of wisdom in what you’ve said here. Particularly your point about when there is a “pattern” of hurtfulness in a relationship. You always give me lots of good insights to think about. Lots of love, Birg.

  15. Uncomfortable, it is.

    The fleshy mind and spirit find it hard to love even our enemies… that’s one of our greatest struggles really is — how to do exactly as He showed in His examples.

    But still, we have to “make it our aim to love” not just those who love us, those who are easy to love, but also those who pose a difficulty for us to love.

    God bless you, Michelle. Again, hugs from the Philippines. 🙂

  16. Good afternoon, Darla!

    Thanks, Birg. I loved being in England for the same reason. We didn’t have much money, being on student visas, but we were able to go to the continent for a couple of weeks in the month of October. We saw Belgium, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In April we went to Scotland. I do think I enjoyed Austria the most. I wish I’d taken more pics and knew how to frame a shot as well as you. 🙂

    “Those who pose a difficulty for us to love”…yes, Sherma. The flesh gets in the way and would love to bite back. I guess the best example He gave was during the time of complete abuse, even torture, before His death. My gracious, I have so far to go…

    Hugs from Texas — we give the biggest hugs here, everything’s bigger in Texas! Blessings to you, Sherma!

  17. “But what about the bores? The dullards whose interest seem so narrow we have to work at making conversation? What about the rigid souls who judge us by their inflexible standards and conditioning? How happy are we in what we call Christian “fellowship” with those whose prohibitions do not match ours? For that matter, how successful are we at loving a tight-lipped, humorless person who not only takes himself too seriously but misses all the sparkle of our great wit? What about the touchy soul around whose personality we must tread softly?”

    Whao mamma! I always seem to justify not being friendly back with these types, I don’t think your post is going to let me! 🙂

  18. Amen. Have you ever read Mere Christianity? C.S. Lewis has some great thoughts about what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves. Don’t have time to look it up and quote it right now, but it’s good stuff.

  19. I have read it, Annie. Ms. Price quoted Lewis under the topic of confusing like with love:

    . . . our love for ourselves does not mean that we like ourselves. It means we wish our own good. In the same way Christian love for our neighbors is quite a different thing from liking or affection. We ‘like’ or are ‘fond of’ some people, and not of others. It is important to understand that this natural ‘liking’ is neither a sin nor a virtue, any more than your likes and dislikes in food is a sin or a virtue. It is just a fact. But, of course, what we do about it is either sinful or virtuous. . . . Some people are ‘cold’ by temperament; that may be a misfortune for them, but it is no more a sin than having a bad digestion is a sin; and it does not cut them out from the chance, or excuse them from the duty, of learning charity.

    I felt my spirit soar with that quote. I have heard so many people say that they really don’t like people so it’s hard for them to reach out. It saddens me how we can excuse ourselves from His command so easily.

    May not have been the quote you were thinking of, but I was wanting to add it to the post…this way I did. 😉

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