On this blog, we tackle the many aspects of love by talking about how to love ourselves and how we can love others, mostly in difficult situations. The others we want to ignore, dismiss and pretend that they do not exist. But they do and most times we must deal with it.
In the midst of many teachings that self-love is all that matters, there rings teachings from someone who loved friends and foe to the point of accepting a punishment for which he was not guilty. I am talking about Jesus. There is no way around it. There is no greater example of love.
A few weeks ago, I was reading in Romans 15, where it is advised.
We who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak and not please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself. But as it is written, “The insults of those who insulted You fell on Me.”[a] 4 For whatever was previously written was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now may the God of perseverance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
How counter-cultural! In an age and culture where we are learning to always choose to please ourselves first, where we are deciding to “forget them”, blaming people for their struggles, and choosing to stay away so as to secure our “destiny” because we can’t let “them” bring us down…This author is saying if you are strong and secure, be strong enough to bear with your neighbors’ weaknesses. Be secure enough to get low and choose to “accommodate ourselves to the opinions, desires, and interest of another”. In other words, please your neighbor.
Yes, it can be dangerous to please someone who is abusing us and it can feel futile to be patient with someone who is unwilling to grow. I believe this is where the self-love first rhetoric stems from and it makes sense. Certainly we should avoid abuse. But it says, we who are strong.. Maybe the reason we are unable to love one another is because we are not secure …in God’s love for us. It’s all connected.
Self love only can produce arrogance and isolation. There is a glory in being “strong enough” to please someone else. It changes us from the inside….it produces perseverance in us, it builds hope in others and it makes room for harmony–the coming together of differences to make one beautiful and glorious sound. Just think NSync, Boys II Men or Destiny’s Child. My favorite picture of this kind of harmony is a marriage where the couple couldn’t be any different in personality from each other, but they are united. Frustrated sometimes, yes, but they benefit from the value of each others’ strengths.
This new year, our challenge is first to be strong and secure in God’s love and when we are strong, to practice patience with those who are not yet persuaded, who are operating in their insecurities, and who are developing and growing so that we might encourage them. May we be examples of God’s love on earth.
Happy New Year!! Glad you made it. 🙂