Let’s be honest. Love, the radical type that Jesus described in 1 Corinthians 13 is risky. Review verses 4-7:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Cor 13 v 4-7).
What jumps out to me (and what I struggle with the most) is “Love is not self-seeking” i.e. I cannot think of how it affects me when I choose to love. Basically, to love the way Christs calls us to, we need to replace our needs with the needs of others. Wow! I don’t know about you but this sounds pretty risky to me. Many times we think of love as an investment which is pretty accurate but all investments carry with them a certain amount of risk as well as an expectation of a return. With love, Jesus is asking that we not think about the risk rating of our portfolio as well as whether or not we will get any returns. Jesus is not saying there will be no return on the investment but that should not be the goal.
Anyone who is into Risk Management like I am would tell you there are four ways of managing risk: Avoid, Control, Transfer or Accept.
To avoid risk, you eliminate, withdraw from or not become involved. Personally, until a few years ago, this is how I approached love. I chose not to engage. I built a thick wall around me and would not let anyone get too close. A dear childhood friend of mine who basically fought and clawed his way to get close to me used to call me Margaret Thatcher- I used to laugh back then. He recently conjured up that nickname out of old habit and I did not find it so funny. It stung a little bit to think of who I used to be. You see, I chose to avoid love because to me the risk that came with it was too great.
To control risk, you reduce or mitigate it. I visited a friend recently and asked her a personal question. Her response was to ask me if I would be willing to share something personal as well and it wasn’t until I had convinced her and answered the personal question she had posed to me was she willing to divulge and be open. For her, she needed to have controls in place. She had a “you have to give to receive” approach. Again, Jesus says “Love is not self-seeking”. If we choose to always think about what we are getting before we give love, that’s not love.
With the transfer of risk, you share or outsource the risk. In the business world, an example getting an insurance policy against the risk of fire, flood or death. When it comes to insuring against the risk of love, I think of the pre-nuptial agreement which has now become prevalent in marriages even amongst those that claim to be “soul-mates”. However, even amidst those who have no material things to insure against, you see people who choose not to commit to marriage. For them, the insurance here is to hold on to that marriage card and dangle it like a carrot out of reach of the rabbit they claim to love.
Finally, we come to risk acceptance. To accept risk in the business world is to pretty much say: yes, I know this risk exists but I choose to move forward anyway without avoiding, controlling or transferring it. I accept it as a risk of doing business. It’s hard to believe but this exists within organizations every day.
Here’s the secret though; within these organizations the risks they choose to accept have a low to zero probability of actually occurring but with love, the probability of being hurt, abused, not being loved in return is anything but minimal. Yet, Jesus asks us to not to avoid or control or transfer it. He’s saying, just accept it. Accept that you may be hurt, abused, wronged and you may lose it all but protect, trust and persevere anyway; why? Because that’s love.