I encourage you to avoid the many faces of being loveless
Just as love has a myriad of ways in which to express itself; so it is with the opposite, a loveless heart cannot hide for long. It may be able to masquerade for a while, but sooner or later it’ll show its true nature.
The heart is an extraordinary complex arena for battles between affections. However, in between love and hate exists many layers of affections which can easily become distorted? Sadly, with the heart’s deceptive nature (Jer 17:9) comes the ability for lovelessness to infiltrate emotions, values, actions and responses with such subtlety that it can be difficult to distinguish.
Measure the heart
A good measuring stick is to monitor the default reactions you have to things. That initial and spontaneous response within when anything happens, or news of another is heard, that’s the tell-tale of what truly lives within. Jesus rightly pulled the Pharisees up; “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). The tongue always betrays the heart.
It’s just as Jesus taught the disciples; “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:20-23). Our behaviour will always portray love, neutrality, or lovelessness. Indeed, our responses tell the world what lives within us.
The greatest of all
The apostle Paul explained the significance of ‘agape’ love this way; “So now faith, hope, and love abide, …but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). For the Christian, love cannot be over stated; it is the most accurate expression of God “because God is love” (1 John 4:8). By nature, faith and hope exist within and benefit their possessor, but love always benefits others. Love requires an “other” as its target; it can’t exist within itself, therefore love is the greatest gift given to us by God.
Often the world legitimizes loveless behaviour; society’s norm has shifted to a self-oriented affection that accommodates others as long as it suits self. Sooner or later, if left unchecked, self will demand the place of first priority, and others must oblige. From minor skirmishes to major upheavals, self will portray itself as the all-important one, with all else to be sacrificed in the pursuit of personal happiness.
So, if a God gifted love which is self-sacrificing is not present, if it’s not welling up from within, then the void will be accommodated by lovelessness which is neither neutral nor dormant.
The simplicity of faith
Scripture’s remedy is simple enough. First, ensure you have the love of God within you by the indwelling of God’s Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour (2Co 13:5; Rom 5:5; Eph 1:13). Secondly; “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Today, I encourage you to make your mind active with the loving thoughts Paul speaks of in Philippians 4:8; your face will show it, the tone of your voice will resonate it, your body language will move with it, and your responses will echo it. Lovelessness will progressively be squeezed out as you increasingly die to self and live Christ, putting “on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10).
Together for Christ: Lincoln Forlong www.bbf.net.nz