“When love’s a theory, it’s safe; don’t get stuck thinking about what you’ll do some day.” This is a quote from Bob Goff that has sat inside of me ever since I read it. It’s amazing to think of all that is implied when you read it. Love is not merely a theory; love is doing. I know for me this has become an issue in my life. The pattern I have seen take place is revolved around being inspired to love, but not actually loving. I once heard someone say that we all like the idea of love (or forgiveness) until we actually have to do it ourselves. Love should not be safe. It is dangerous and risky, and a lot of times it feels worst than how you envisioned it in your mind. Love into action is a completely different story when you have to work with that one employee each day who micromanages every move you make and uses her authority to belittle you. How do you love when that person who is so close to you continues to fail you and once again you are left disappointed? Whether it’s being let down time after time, or being the recipient of someone’s injustice, love is almost never my first response.
In order to drive love into action, we must let go of our expectations. Think about it for a second. Are the expectations you set for this person reasonable enough for you to live up to? Most of the time it is not. These expectations come from a selfish or self-righteous desire. We don’t deserve anything or anyone to cater toward our needs and desires. For we too, we were once the same. And not only were we once the same, but we still make the same mistakes every day. The reason why songs like “Lord, I need You” are still being sung by believers today is because we desperately and will always desperately need Jesus. Drop your expectation and love regardless.
Another way we can drive love into action is to reflect on truth. Most of the time we forget what is true in the moments of our anger and insensitivity. What’s true is that we are wretched sinners held by the hands of God’s grace. He is faithful in our faithlessness. We don’t love like we ought. But, God commended His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). We are bad, but God is good. It’s a simple, cliche quote whose truth is unchanging. We are recipients of God’s affections on the basis of Christ’s righteousness. We love for the glory of God because that is where God’s glory is manifested. It’s no longer about what I deserve from this person, but rather that God’s love and mercy will be magnified in these moments of self-denial and humility in loving those who have forgotten God’s love for themselves.
Lastly, just plan to show love. You know a lot of times when this person is going to belittle you, or that he or she will often fail you. Be ready for it. And don’t wait on them as if you’re ready to cast judgment on their sins. You’re not waiting to see them fall. You’re looking to love. Because it is love that changes our hearts. It is love that has forgiven my sins. Love reveals the reality of our sin – that it is not beautiful, it is ugly. When love is shown in the unjust and cruel moments, and you’re on the receiving end of the injustice, love can melt their hearts towards change.
And yes, I need the change, if not more than he or she does.
Love is not meant to be a theory. Love is meant to be poured out. Anyone can love those that are kind and gentle. The beauty and the glory of God is revealed when one sinner forgives the other and says “Yes, I’ve done that too. I am more deserving of wrath than he.”
Let your love be strong, and I don’t care what goes down
Let your love be strong enough to weather through the thunder cloud
Fury and thunder clap like stealing the fire from your eyes
All of my world hanging on your love”
(Let Your Love be Strong by Switchfoot)