Posted by: forfreedomalone | 08/06/2017

What is this thing called love? 4

As we have seen from the previous sections, what love is and what love is not, frequently, can be grouped together.

In the next section, still in the negative, we could do the same thing, with the following three.

LOVE DOES NOT BEHAVE BADLY.
LOVE IS NOT SELF-CENTRED.
LOVE IS NOT PROVOKED.

LOVE DOES NOT BEHAVE BADLY.
Immediately we see that love is an action, not a feeling. The behaviour exhibited by love is not bad behaviour.

Today, in the name of love, we see more and more parents refusing to discipline their children. They are allowed to be the centre of attention in every setting. They scream, yell, run about and demand constantly.
They are not taught about boundaries of behaviour or respect for others.
Parents indulge them in every way and then, when the child is throwing a fit, look on helplessly. Those who did not raise their children to be utterly undisciplined distance themselves from those families.

In marriages, we see that ‘love’ demands that one spouse puts up with outrageous behaviour from the other. Drinking to excess, neglect, spending beyond their means, and a host of other behaviours are tolerated because to challenge them is not ‘love’.

Conversely, many Christians, in an attempt to further the Kingdom, will preach AT people rather than quietly live out their faith.

Bad behaviour is not a fruit of love and it is not something we will ever see for God. This forces us to realise that God WILL challenge our behaviour if it is bad, he will not let us get away with tantrums or rudeness or self-centredness. He WILL take us to task over our behaviour, but he will do it in love; with kindness and gentleness.

Much of the permissive parenting we see today is actually very self-centred. It is not for the benefit of the child, but for the benefit of the parent. The parents want to be seen as giving their child everything they did not have, freer expression, more treats, more ‘fun’, whatever it is they feel they were deprived of in their childhood.
If they were smacked, they won’t smack their child, if they were made to do chores, they won’t make their child do them, if they were restricted in pocket money, their child won’t be. None of this is for the benefit of the child, it is all to make the parent feel like they are the best parent any child ever had.

In marriages, it is self-centredness which causes a person to spend hours per evening ignoring their spouse in one distraction or another, which they can justify as promoting their business or furthering their education. It is self-centredness which justifies working longer hours to have more money and it is self-centredness which refused to confront bad behaviour. ‘Keep the peace’ at all costs, is not a loving attitude.

Even the very godly sounding, ‘love thyself’, is a totally self-centered concept.
Nowhere are we told to love ourselves, we are told to love others in the manner in which we would love ourselves.
Self-love is an oxymoron when we consider that the Greek word, translated as ‘love’ is ‘agape’, which means, ‘self-sacrificing’.
How do we put ourselves first, when we are to put ourselves last?

Now, having said all that, we come to LOVE IS NOT PROVOKED.

Due to lack of discipline, we become a people who cannot prevent situations, we have to react to them, we cannot deal quietly and in a controlled manner with events, we have to ‘react’.

Interestingly, the word translated as ‘provoked’ doesn’t necessarily mean provoked in a bad way.
It means ‘stimulated to action’ and that could, in certain circumstances, be to good action. We may feel that feeding a beggar is a ‘good’ action and on seeing someone who is down and out we are ‘provoked’ to action. However, God says that the man who will not work should not eat, so our ‘provoked’ action is not love, but self-centred.

Often we will come across someone who his suffering in their lives and we will desire to pray for them. Being so ‘provoked’ we will pray for healing, or whatever we feel it is they need and in many cases, we will command it NOW. But while it is easy to see that this could be interpreted as love, it is not.
Love would pause, it would consult God on how he wants you to pray and it would pray according to direction no matter how disappointed the receiver may be.

Love wants the best for others and the best is not a destruction of their faith when your prayer is not answered as you had commanded.

When we see how love does not operate it is easier to see why God does not give us everything we pray for, he does not rescue us at every turn, he allows us to go through things to strengthen us, he does not respond to us, always, at the first call.
We start to see that love does not want to create people who are dependent on it to function, but who are desirous of being in such a close relationship with it that it naturally flows out of them. It does not want a family of children but wants adults who can understand the ways of love and harmonise with it.

All that Paul has to say on love is about love perfected. We grow into this love, we don’t start manifesting it, so don’t beat yourself up if you fall short. We all do.

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