The Laws of Love
I am a teacher and therefore, a rule creator.
- Do not talk during the lesson.
- Don't write on the desks or anything other than paper, for that matter.
- Don't text during class and actually, it's better not to bring your cell phone to class at all.
- Be on time.
- Follow directions.
- No food or drinks in class.
- Don't EVER, EVER put gum under your desk!
- And the list goes on and on.
Rules, and laws and expectations are all very good tools to give us direction in our lives and to show us the way to live, but they lack the power to change hearts. If I follow all the rules, but have not love, I miss the mark.
But, I like rules. I like to make rules for myself, rules to govern our behavior at home and rules about what to eat and how much TV to watch and when to exercise. Inevitably this leads to disappointment since I can't possibly keep all the rules...not the ones God created and not even the ones I made up.
Jesus said that all the laws could be summarized as LOVE: love for God and love for the people in our lives.
If I know that (and I do!), then why is it so easy to fall into patterns of living by laws instead of by love? At the end of my life, I won't be judged by how clean my house was or how many ministry events I coordinated or how organized my school binders were, but by how I loved.
And when I dig deeper into the reason rules appeal to me more than this nebulous idea of living by love, I realize my problem is selfishness. Following the rules is sometimes easier to do because it serves my self interest of looking like a good person who has it all together. Love is messier and it requires me to die to my interests and put someone else's interests first.
The law of love demands that I stop thinking about what I want to do and how I want to appear, because all of my attention is on someone else and their needs. It shames me to realize how many of my prayers are about my self-improvement projects and how few are about the concerns of others. This self-centered attitude runs deep and I will not get rid of it by following some new set of rules, but only by taking the time and effort to give my love to another.
All of my laws about life will not make me a better person, but if I focused on someone else for a little while, that just might be life changing.
Something to think about:
*What is one practical way you can show love to someone this week?