I, OF ALL PEOPLE, should recognise the truth in this following quote from Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the famed Welsh preacher and medical doctor:
“I would say that people who emphasise love for others in their teaching are those who of all others must watch that they are not bitter in their spirit. They may be more bitter in their spirit than those who are not pacifists, because that is the central thing on which they concentrate.”
I say I should recognise the truth in Dr Lloyd-Jones’ more than most, and I did. It hit me square in the heart as I read his commentary on the Letters of John.
It’s true. My pacifist heart is quickly enraged in unhelpful ways and I’m quickly bitter for the injustices of love-gone-wrong. So very quickly I’m found judging those who may actually be very well intended, but whose results may waver by looking not so loving. Recently, a mentor of mine — a pastoral supervisor — enquired what others’ perceptions of me could be when I play the indignant ‘advocate’ role.
Our loving intent to set a wrong right can so easily backfire.
I was challenged by Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ quote because it struck me as true. I bang on about the importance of Jesus’ last command: “love one another as I have loved you…” Yet, if in my spruiking love I fail love, what benefit has my spruiking for love been? I’ve just been a hypocrite — the worst kind of pacifist.
Lloyd-Jones makes the point that those that advocate so virulently for love make of themselves special targets of Satan. The more righteous we present, the more self-righteous Satan wants to present us as.
If we’re special targets of the enemy we have to expect that our intended love will be shown for what it is; not without some form of selfish intent.
Some of my advocacy is motivated out of the bad things that have happened to me where I vowed I wouldn’t want anyone else to suffer the indignities I have. The trouble is I can become my own worst enemy. Love for others may easily become something more about me. It’s something I have to be ever on guard about.
Love is action, finely balanced as to never miss the mark, nor offend.
Love is something that means more in deed than word, action than promise, and doing than saying. Love is truth in action.
Love is tuned to the instrument of mutual respect.
Love is as Jesus was; he didn’t demand he be treated like God, becoming nothing, worse than that; death on a cross.
Love is the giving up of our own needs for the needs of someone who is giving up.
Love is even being prepared to like someone again even though they’ve hurt us in the past. That’s forgiveness.
Most of all, if we proclaim love, we probably do so because we’ve been so hurt in the past.
Love holds everything lightly. If we love the concept of love too much, we may find we’re quickly embittered when others fail love.
Love never gets bitter when people fail love. Love forgives as love knows how hard people work to get love right.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.