Two Sides of Love
In my walk as a Christian one of the things I’ve come to realize is that there is nothing better than seeing Scripture come alive in my life. It didn’t always used to be like this. I always struggled making the connection with the truths I’d hear on Sunday and what it looked like in my everyday life. One of those such truths is the call to compassion in the life of as Christian. I know we’re called to be compassionate but knowing it and doing it are two different things. When I look at the life of Jesus, I see One who is so full of compassion in everything He does. Compassion to the point of giving His own life. What God began to show me was that this way of life was possible with His life in me but could I actually do this? And If I did, who would look out for my interests? Won’t people just take advantage and walk all over me? That’s when I began to understand the other side of love. I’m what some would call a co-dependent. That means for much of my life, I’ve been dependent on other’s thoughts about me. The things I do are more about pleasing others and getting good responses from them. In Christian terms this means that I’m more concerned with how others view me than how my Heavenly Father sees me. For me, I live the Christian life by showing love through my compassion because to do otherwise would not be very “un-Christian”. Per author Paul Miller, the pattern for those who are co-dependents looks like this: I’m hungry for your approval, I see something wrong in your life or how you treat people, I’m fearful of losing our relationship and I seek your approval/I’m fearful of your anger and your response, I don’t say what you need to hear and I say things to get you to like me, our relationship becomes unhealthy and I get angry and stuff it down. I then gossip behind your back. Sound familiar? For many of us, this is the pattern of our lives. How do you break free? Honesty. When you look at the life of Jesus, you see what pure honesty looks like. Just ask the Pharisees. Jesus was probably more honest with the religious leaders of His day than anyone else. Why? Because Jesus, being Truth Himself saw what they said and what they did and called them out on it. When Jesus was honest with people, He told them because what He saw wasn’t morally right. Jesus always sided with truth because that is who He is. In truth, He told people not what they always wanted to hear and it cost Him His life. That’s what a healthy love looks like. It’s a balance of compassion grounded by honesty in truth. Honesty that errs on the side of God’s truth. True love is telling people the truth that what they’re doing is wrong. To do otherwise is to leave them in their sin. What does that look like? Per Paul Miller, here is the pattern: I’m hungry for God’s approval, I see something wrong in your life and how you treat people, I reflect on what to do and what to say and how I can be honest to build you up, I speak the truth in love, my words either encourage you and we have closeness or you reject me and my words and become angry and gossip about me. That’s how Jesus lived and that ultimately is one of the reasons why Jesus lost His life. When we are honest with people we also run the risk of peoples’ responses and feeling like we’re dying. But that’s the way to true life. Life that only comes from the risen Christ. For you see it’s when we die that we truly live because we need His life to be in us. The full picture of love is compassion and honesty. That’s truth in love. That’s Jesus.