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Thursday, July 06, 2017

If I ...

If I am a patriot, politically active, working hard to bring up good leadership and policies and bring down bad ones and have not love, I'm just a political activist. If I spend my time fighting for key social issues and campaigning for the marginalized, and if I boldly fight racism and sexism and hate and microaggression and do not have love, I am merely a clanging bell, an irritant for my world.

If I am a diligent parent, working hard to bring my kids up to be responsible adults, to work hard, to be reliable, and have not love, I am a nag and an overlord. If I treat my spouse well, doing the right things, helping out around the house, giving nice gifts on birthdays and anniversaries, and yet do not love, I arrive only at "manipulative" and self-serving rather than "a good spouse".

If I go to church every week and give of my time and money and read my Bible and know all the right doctrines and do not have love, I am a deceived religionist, counting on religion rather than Christ. If I stand up against "gay marriage" and homosexual behavior and other sexual immorality and the seeping of the world into the church and the flesh into Christendom and have not love, I am a Pharisee of the highest order.

Since the command is "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matt 22:37) and "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt 22:39) and the aim of our instruction is love (1 Tim 1:5) and the fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal 5:22), any of the "good" that we do that does not include the underlying motive of love for God and His creatures is a waste ... at best.


Marshal Art said...

It would be hard to imagine how one could not be operating from a position of love if the results of one's actions were positive and beneficial to others, and meant to be. Politically, each side of the divide insists they are acting for the benefit of the people. One side has a better possibility of being able to prove that is true by virtue of the documented consequences of their policies. That would suggest that love plays a role in their policy proposals.

And while I don't particularly feel in a particularly loving mood when dealing with certain people in various scenarios, my intentions are to improve and benefit because that is the loving thing to do; the loving thing generally being the right thing to do. I don't support anything that I think is to the detriment of anyone, but for the benefit of the most people, or the benefit of a specific person in a specific situation.

This is not to say that I'm not guilty of sometimes thinking of how an action might benefit me primarily, but I really don't want to deal with guilt knowing that I unjustly benefited at the expense of others.

I'm trying to think of what doing good things without love might look like. I would imagine that doing good solely for how it enhances one's reputation might be an example. That is, "yeah...people got fed, but think of how it makes me look to have been the one to feed them." That might be an example. Just ruminating here.

Stan said...

"... I don't particularly feel in a particularly loving mood ..."

Yeah, I'm not talking about "romance" or "warm feelings". I'm sure you got that this was a new set of "ifs" that were along the lines of the 1 Corinthians 13 passage. In that "love", there are no "warm feelings", but, rather, a deep and abiding selflessness and a concern for the welfare of others regardless of feelings.

In that, then, it would be hard to imagine how one could not be operating from a position of love if the aim is the benefit of others, since that defines "love". On the other hand, I know patriots that exult in being "American" without concern for the welfare of others, who want to bring down bad leadership because they don't like it, who fight against all that sexism and stuff because they are morally outraged, not because they care. I know parents who teach their kids in order to avoid being embarrassed and spouses who are nice to their spouses to get what they want. I know lots of "good church people" who just like to "be right" or "moral" or viewed well. I know lots of people, some of whom I even agree with, who are more interested in winning the argument than winning a soul. We can do almost anything for selfish reasons.

David said...

It might be hard to put a finger on, but doing good things without love is clearly a biblical warning. Think of those that will come before the Lord in the end and be rejected by Christ even though they performed miracles in His name. They had to have done it without love for them to receive such a rebuke.