Several years ago I heard a story about a psychology professor who believed that parents should not punish or spank their children. His motto: ”Just love your children.
Although he had no children of his own, whenever he saw a neighbor scolding a child for some wrongdoing, he would say, “You should love your boy, not punish him.”
One hot summer afternoon the professor was pouring a concrete driveway leading to his garage. Worn-out after several hours of work, he laid down the towel, wiped the perspiration from his forehead, and started toward the house.
Just then out of the corner of his eye he saw a mischievous little boy putting his foot into the fresh cement. He rushed over, grabbed him, and was about to spank him.
At that moment, a neighbor from across the street hollered, “Watch it, Professor! Don’t you remember? You must ‘love’ the child!”
“I do love him in the abstract,” yelled back the professor. “But not in the concrete!”
Our Bible word of the week is “love.”
Love is difficult to define. But love is epitome in Deity. “God is love” affirms John, the apostle of love (I Jn.4:16). God is the essence of love. The epitome of love.
In fact, the Bible never defines it. But it does describe love. In concrete terms.
The great love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13 describes the action and attitude of love.
This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.
Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.” ( 13:4-8, J. B. Phillips)
There are four things I know about love from this text.
(1) Love is a command. It is not optional. A specific command. Christ calls upon his followers to “love one another.” Other passages command us to “love your enemies.” “Love your neighbor.” “Love your husband” Love your wife.”
(2) Love is a commitment. Love requires resolve. Dedication. A commitment to live on a higher level. To love on a more noble plane.
(3) Love is a choice. It is a decision. A determination of the will. A personal and conscious choice we make to love another person.
(3) Love is a conduct. Love is not an easy command to follow or a casual commitment to make, or a simple choice. Why? Because love is not an impulse. Or an urge. Or a feeling.
Love issues itself in action. In conduct. In behavior. Love is a verb. It is easy to say “I love you,” but difficult to love when the object of our affection acts unlovable. When people become difficult. Derisive. Or demanding. When others become unkind, irritating, or just plain hateful, we are called upon to be kind. To endure. Not to lose patience.
The 15 qualities of love from 1 Corinthians 13 describe the character and true nature of love. They challenge us. They call us to act like our Lord. To be different from the world. To do more that more than “talk the talk,” but “to walk the walk.”
Indeed if we are love, really love others, it must not be in the abstract. But in the concrete!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman