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Pointers along the way #642

A wrong way to love

- Jacob Ninan

Many people think that when they love, their duty is to make the other person happy. People who are 'in love' try to do this, sacrificing their own interests, but they realise, especially after they are married, that this is not practical! People who are married expect that it is the duty of their spouse to love them like this, and get disappointed. Some foolishly love their spouses like this, and make themselves slaves to their spouses. Parents think they love their children when they do whatever the children ask, not wanting them to cry, and end up spoiling them. Love is not about happiness, of the others or ours, but it all about being good to the others. If we think of it, we can also understand that we can't really be good to the others without being 'right' too! We can't be doing anything unrighteous or wrong, and expect anything really good, especially anything eternally good, to come to the others.

When we love someone like this, sometimes we may not be able to avoid 'sparks' or 'heat' coming up with our interaction. When iron sharpens iron (Pr.27:17), as two people who are different from each other in many ways interact, there are bound to be differences of opinion, arguments, misunderstandings and times of impasse! That is when both can get their rough edges smoothed out, become better people individually, and also (truly) become more close to each other.

Take a look at marriages. Many people think that a marriage should be without arguments or quarrels, and therefore they compromise on truth and what is right in order to maintain 'peace'! But the challenge is to learn to 'fight fair' without attacking each other, and trying to learn from each other. Remember, sometimes 'peace' cannot be achieved without a war! If we have a wrong idea that all 'war' is 'wrong', we will be giving in all the time to the others in order to keep peace. Then we will neither be able to be who we ought to be and do what we ought to do, nor be able to bless the other by filling up what they lack.

Love is not a virtue standing all by itself. It has to be 'righteous' and also 'wise'. "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ" (Php.1:9,10). We are not to remain in 'baby love', and not even at the level of love where our goal is to avoid conflict and to keep the other happy. We may think that we are 'denying ourselves and following Jesus' when we come to this latter stage, but we must realise that Jesus has given us a much greater example. When He rebuked His beloved disciple Peter strongly (Mt.16:22,23), openly criticised the Pharisees many times, or drove out the money changers from the Temple, did He come out of love? No. He loved them so much that He wanted them to come out of their error. He was willing to take the risk of being misunderstood (Mt.19:21,22).


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