Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth… (1 John 3:18-19)
[Hosea’s Reconciliation With His Wife] The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” (Hosea 3:1)
Occasionally, I have to remind people that I am a work in progress, just like them. Though I continue to strive, I have not reached the mark (Philippians 3:12-14), just like you. When I first read God’s instruction to Hosea, I was taken aback. I felt sorry for him. Goodness, to be explicitly instructed to take an adulterous spouse back! That couldn’t be me!
But it is all of us, isn’t it? We have all violated the trust, love, loyalty, and faithfulness of someone near and dear to us. Mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, friend. And our sentiments have also been violated by someone. We have all fallen short of perfection in our relationships. If we were all perfect, what would be the purpose of this life? Everything we go through in life is for our perfecting, for our improvement, for our growth. I’ve come to see God’s instruction to Hosea as God’s instruction to me in working through the hurts received during my interactions with people. LaShawnda, go, show your love to _________, though they set you aside for someone else (betrayed, neglected, ignored or disregarded you). Love __________ as the LORD loves you. That’s the gist of this whole love thing – reaching an ACTIVE state of loving others as God loves us.
Much of the Bible is about tell and show, hear and go, and believe and do. Like our faith and belief, our love is activated and strengthened by what we hear and see. We follow through on what we have faith for, what we believe in and what we love by doing something. My favorite verse to this effect is Jeremiah 1:12, Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.” Are you performing God’s word? Are you carrying out His instructions? We’re told to love one another. To pray for one another. To submit to one another. To share each other’s burdens. To share our possessions so none of us are lacking. We are instructed to have the same mind. Yet somehow, those of us in Christ, invariably go wrong.
Use things, not people
We love Himbecause He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
Love can be operated by one person, however love is most effective and powerful when it’s reciprocated. We are able to love because we have first been loved. We are called to go out and love on people so that everyone will experience the love of Christ. We are to use our gifts and talents in the execution of our commission. We are made to be useful (be of service; serve some purpose;) but not to be used in a consumptive way (destructive; wasteful).
If you take/receive from someone (love, friendship, tenderness, kindness, housing, transportation, support, you name the resource) without giving anything back, then you’re a user. You’re consuming and depleting a resource.
When you give you shouldn’t expect anything in return. However, when you share (participate in, enjoy, take part jointly, receive equally), there is a definite expectation to receive something in return. When you share yourself with someone, there’s an expectation for that person to share themselves with you.
Think of an exchange with you and your best friend. You first bonded over a secret or shared experience. Had your friend not reciprocated either with their secrets or experiences, how close do you think you’d be? Probably not very. You’re close because you recognized a likeness in each other. That recognition came from sharing something meaningful to each of you.
Users are selfish and are not looking for shared experiences. They’re looking for opportunities to get over on someone in order to improve their situation. However, sharing life experiences will get you much further than using someone for what life has given them.
What have you done for me lately?
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21)
Love does. It gives and shares. Love is active. It shows up. Love cannot co-habit with fear and it doesn’t hide itself.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4:17-18)
I take issue with people who try to censor me or hide me away. To me it expresses a lack of appreciation for who I am. Appreciation is an expression of love (recognition of the quality, value, significance, or magnitude of people and things; an expression of gratitude).
When you start to examine people based on their actions, you see a lot more of how they really feel about you. That’s not to say you’re comparing yourself to others. You’re comparing one person to themselves – you’re reviewing their action record. For example, if a male friend holds the door open for every female in his radius, but as you approach he walks through first and the door slams in your face, you would doubt his care and respect for you. Or if a female friend set a beautiful table and served an elegant plate to all her guests but when she got to you, she dumps the food on in a pile, you would doubt her consideration and love for you. These are simple illustrations but it’s indicative of people who are not trying to show love. They’re not trying to give it. They’re not trying to share it.
In our flesh we want to pull away from such people – the ones who react harshly to the gentleness we try to live our lives with. That’s the struggle. Hosea left. He was told to go back. I find that I always go back to try one more time to reach out in kindness and gentleness. To be self-controlled and patient. To offer all of my joy and none of my sadness. That’s what I do to show my love.
Love is not a game of Hide n’Seek
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:12-13)
People in the world will mess you up. It took a great deal of time, effort and concentration for me to focus on God’s character defining love. I had to let go of and forget the treatment I received from people who claimed to love me but never showed me love. Because of their way of expressing “love”, it was hard for me to trust and surrender to God when I first acknowledged this journey. I had to get rid of what I knew and act in faith according to what I believed. Then I had to become open to the full cycle of giving and receiving.
Years ago I heard a quote: “Everything is love; hurt and anger only tries to mask it.” It’s not possible to hide love. That quote got me through a lot of hurt and many stages of anger. I eventually became willing to express myself more fully, which in turn made me more receptive to other peoples’ self-expression. I stopped running from other people’s anger, and stayed around to try to resolve the issue. I stopped avoiding hurt and faced it in an attempt to soothe it.
Don’t you want to show yourself clearly and be known fully by someone? With no fear of recrimination, rejection or judgment? The best way is to boldly reveal yourself and accept others in their true state as well. When you remove the reason for hiding, fear has no opportunity to root itself in you.
When you channel God’s love into your life, most grievances will be covered – set aside, forgiven, forgotten, become a non-issue (1Peter 4:8). God’s love makes it easier to forgive and continue to build. It makes it easier to love and continue to support your loved ones and strangers alike. It’s easier for two people to submit (defer to another’s judgment, opinion, decision) to one another in various matters. God’s love is a unifier and makes it easier for us to share the same mind. How fortunate for us that the love of God does all this and more for us so we can in turn do the same for others – pull them from their dark hiding places (when they’re ready) and cover them in love (when we’re able). Protect them, nourish them, build them up. This process is made possible through your openness, through knowing someone and making yourself known to them.
Share yourself and spread the Love!
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)
God is selfless in all He has done and continues to do for mankind. His intent is that we would be just as selfless with one another. So get to work! Come out of hiding. Approach boldly and reveal yourself. Put the truth of action behind your words. Go, show your love! Prove it! You are made perfect in love, for God is your designer and your example. He loved you first so you can shower others with the love you have for Him.