Getting Around to Love
The bell rang and I took my seat for one of the biggest moments of my life—the very first day of high school. Surrounded by classmates from middle school, we felt like high school was the next steppingstone to creating “the good life” for ourselves. Our parents and teachers pumped us up with inspirational quotes and a philosophy that we can achieve anything we set our sights on. Until, my teacher, Mr. Cox, walked into the room and decided to burst our idealistic bubble.
Mr. Cox walked down the aisles and handed each student a round wooden coin with one word written on it “TUIT.” Then he proceeded to give this lecture:
Today is the first day of high school and even though four years seems like a long time to become the person you’d like to be; every decision you make right now impacts eternity. The way you choose to love others, the decisions you make towards right or wrong, and the person you become are all built on today. Many people often use the excuse that they will “get around to it.” They will “get around” to becoming a kind person or living a life of faith but, they never do. Well, I have already given you a “round TU-IT” so you can no longer use the excuse. Today you have to decide what kind of person you will be and how you will choose to treat others. Your actions on the people around you will influence eternity.
Then he dismissed us. The class was finished. He didn’t say another word. He walked back to his desk and we all sat with our mouths open. We had never had anyone place such a weight of responsibility on us before. I carried this message with me from that day on.
As believers, we have heard this message from the beginning “that we should love one another” (1 Jn. 4:11) and that God’s love would inspire us to “lay our lives down for our friends” (1 Jn. 3:16). Yet, we often use the excuse, “well, I will get around to it.”
I will get around to saying hi to my co-worker because I don’t have time today.
I will get around to calling that girl in my bible study who looked like she needed a friend.
I will get around to stewarding the lives of those around me when it is convenient for me.
Whether we are aware or not, these small decisions influence our daily discipleship. Will we be agents of complacency or God’s love?
I hope you are giving yourself a little pep talk saying, I am choosing love!
So, how do we practically lay our lives down to love others? There are three areas I’ve noticed are the most difficult for me to submit to God because I am convinced they will provide the good life if I just hold onto them tight enough. Maybe one or two will resonate with you.
My phone pings on a Saturday morning: my friend needs me to come pick her up from the airport. Ah! I am cozy in my bathrobe and about to sit down to watch some cartoons with the kids. Sure, I could help but honestly, I don’t want to. This act of caring for a friend is asking me to give up something, something that makes me uncomfortable. But serving others can often feel that way—uncomfortable.
Serving our neighbors and laying down our lives for others costs us something. Maybe for you it’s being asked to collect your neighbor’s mail while they are out of town or having to have a hard conversation that makes you feel uncomfortable. But we can ask Jesus, who gives us an example that loving people is costly as it cost him his life, to give us the courage to put aside our comforts to reach the hearts of others.
You have to make time to love others by setting aside your agenda. It is so challenging for me to keep sane when the kids upset my plans for the day. My day is organized in a way that serves me best and any unexpected change to it, even good things like my kids wanting to stay longer at the park, can set me off. Instead of lovingly engaging with them on the playground, I am impatient and annoyed. Jesus’ grace is quick to come in and remind me that His agenda is better than mine and being present with people should be my priority.
Laying down my calendar and approaching my day with open hands to serve others, despite interruption, prepares my heart to love people spontaneously.
Contempt is sneaky, as it can go unnoticed by most. You may think you don’t struggle with this nasty approach to loving people but, have you ever decided your annoying co-worker didn't deserve your full attention in that meeting? Or maybe you felt the new woman in your bible study wasn’t going to be a good fit, so you find a way to make her feel unwelcome? Contempt is believing something or maybe someone is beneath you, worthless or deserves scorn. We make ourselves the judge of who receives our care and affection rather than asking God to send us to who needs His love.
We have to lay down our pride and ask God to see everyone as deserving of His love.
We don’t love because we have to, we love because we are compelled by Christ to do so. We no longer live for ourselves but for Christ who died and raised again for us (see 2 Cor. 5: 14-15). We love because He first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19). So, will we continue to use the excuse when it comes to loving others that “we’ll get around to it?” –or today abide in God (1 Jn. 3:24) and say, “Here I am Lord, let me be an agent of your life-changing love!”
And whenever I forget, I just remember I already got “my round TU-IT” now it’s time for me to go and love.