LOOKING UP: Examining a different dimension of love
Monday, 25 February 2013 by Joe Baisden
Happy Valentine's Day!
The day has its roots in antiquity. It is even observed in some religious liturgies. I suspect that most of us, however, connect Valentine's Day to sending beautifully decorated greeting cards (lots of red hearts on them), or giving heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, bags of little candy hearts with brief messages of love stamped on them, flowers (especially red roses) or orchestrating carefully planned lunches or dinners with loved ones or persons of interest. It is supposedly an occasion in which lovers express their love for each other by employing some of the above means.
I remember cutting out hearts (mostly in varying shapes) in red construction paper, making homemade Valentines, to share with schoolmates in elementary school. Now in my 70s, it has become for me a time to send cards and gifts to my six granddaughters. Mimi takes the initiative stuffing Christmas stockings, and I asked for the privilege of being the provider of something special for Valentine's.
These kinds of expressions of love are fairly easy. There is another way of expressing love that is not so easy. James, in his book in the New Testament, commends those who bring back to truth those who have wandered from it. The text reads: "Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20). It is my opinion that discovering and acting upon the need for interventions and confrontations is the hardest kind of love to express.
There are a number of reasons why the task of confronting is so difficult. First of all, we live in an age of relativism, where truth is whatever an individual decides that it is. Less and less folks believe in such a thing as absolute truth. We have been caught up in a culture that enthrones individual desire above all else. "I want what I want when I want it, and I will believe whatever will enable me to have and do what I want."
Also, in spite of how clearly we may see another individual's heading for destruction, or how cautiously and lovingly we may attempt to point this out, our warning will more than likely be met with some form of a protest. "You're mistaken." "Ain't nobody gonna tell me what to do!"
Have you tried to talk to someone you care about who is flirting with drugs or abusing alcohol? Have you tried to talk some sense into someone who is involved in illicit sexual activity or marital infidelity? What kind of response did you get when you have approached someone about irresponsible behavior? Were they grateful for your intervention?
It is amazing how many times folks who have ignored loving warnings come after disaster strikes to ask, "Why didn't you tell me?"
"We did. You just would not listen."
If we are committed to the Word of Truth, we cannot ignore the responsibility to look "not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Phil. 2:4). We are called to care about community—to love our neighbors as ourselves. Love demands that we call each other to responsibility and accountability.
Recognizing our to sin, why don't we seek to give each other permission to hold each other accountable? Why don't we insist that those who see our blind spots enlighten us for our own good? Could we love each other enough to tell each other what we need to hear, and not necessarily what we want to hear? Do you suppose we could love and trust each other enough to heed another word of James: "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16)?
The slogan, "Friends don't let friends drive drunk," should be expanded to some other areas as well.
"If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." – Gal., 6:1