Love’s Perfect Balance by Rev. Shine.P. Thomas
What is Love’s Perfect Balance
How can I Practice Love when it is Difficult?
In a world physics convention a professor gave a very long lecture. At the lunch break one of the participants congratulated the speaker and said, “Thanks for the lecture. I would have to say that you are smarter than Einstein.” Beaming with pride the speaker said, “Thank you!” Later he began to think about the man’s compliment. The more he thought, the more he became baffled as to why anyone would deem him smarter than Einstein. During dinner, the speaker asked man, “Exactly what did you mean that I am smarter than Einstein?” The man replied, “Well, they say that Einstein was so smart that only 10 people in the world could understand him, but you’re even smarter because no one can understand you!”
People like to associate with others who are similar to them in status, looks, beliefs etc. It is easy to love people that are like us isn’t it? That does not take a lot of effort. But how do we relate to people that are different than us? What if I have difference with a colleague, a friend, or someone in the family? What if I have to say no to someone? How can I practice love when it is difficult?
Today I want to speak to you on how not to be rude but grace our words with love.
is the love chapter of the Bible and one of the characteristics of love is described in
1 Corinthians 13:5
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Present NIV: “Love does not dishonour others.”
The Message: “Love doesn’t force itself on others.”
Apostle Paul is saying that love doesn’t act improperly or dishonourably. Rather than being rude, curt, or blunt, love acts with common courtesy, gentleness, and politeness.
Have you ever heard someone say: “Well, he just says things harshly, but that’s the way he is.” Some say “I’m just straightforward and blunt, that is how I am.” Some make joke of someone and then say, “You know, I’m just kidding.” Yet there are some who selective, they are good to some but curt to others.
You see God’s love is unconditional. It is from everlasting to everlasting. It does not exclude people that are different. Does not differentiate. It does not behave rudely and write people off because they are not what we expect them to be. Unconditional love says, “I am going to love you even if I do not agree with you. I may not agree with you but I know that you are made in the image of God. So I am not called to judge you, I am called to love you.” This should be our attitude. I believe love in action, so no matter how you treat me, I will operate in love.
You see we live in a fallen and wicked world and sometimes we can tend to be unloving and rude unbeknownst to us. We have all experienced rudeness at some point in time and have sometimes passed it on too. So we need to check our lives because rudeness can express itself in several ways.
Areas We Can Be Rude
1. Thoughtless Words
Our words can sometimes seem rude to others.
18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
You see you need not avoid people; you need not burst out in anger. There is a way to talk, there is always room to negotiate, even to the ones who hurt us.
I heard about this elderly man who had a serious hearing problem for years. He went to the doctor and was fitted with the best high-tech hearing aid to where he could hear 100%. A month later he went back for a check up, the doctor said, “Wow, your hearing is perfect. Your family must be so excited that you can hear again.” He said, “No I have not told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to all they talk and I have changed my will 3 times.”
Many times instead of bringing healing, our tongue can destroy people.
2 Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.
6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
Examples of rude conversation
Interrupting abruptly when someone is talking; being the loudest in the group; not being bothered about other’s opinion, insulting people, using words like shut up, using a tone that is disrespectful for the listener, ordering people over whom you have not legitimate authority, bullying, boasting, arguing in public, sarcastic talks etc.
Action plan: Love thinks before it speaks
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
Thoughtful speech is tactful speech. Tactfulness is the lubrication of relationships. Tact is the ability to know what to say and how to say it sincerely. It reduces friction between people.”
11 Like apples[a] of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given.
The new pastor’s family was presented with a cake baked by a well-meaning lady who, frankly, couldn’t cook. The cake was just inedible and so, reluctantly, the pastor’s wife tossed the cake into the garbage. The preacher was then faced with the dilemma of thanking the sister — while at the same time remaining truthful. When he met the sister the next Sunday he said, “Thank you for being so kind and thoughtful. I can assure you that a cake like yours never lasts long around our house!”
Love takes the time to consider its words and choose them carefully, realizing that one can never truly take back the words he/she speaks.
2. Careless Acts
It is said “action speaks louder than words.” Sometimes our actions can seem rude for others. When we simply don’t take the time to think through our actions, when we do whatever we are determined to do, it may be rude and hurt people.
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
The story is told of two polite people who were having dinner together. On the table there was a dish with one big piece of fish and one small piece of fish. They politely said to each other: “You may choose first.” “No, you may choose first.” This went on for a while. Then the first person said, “OK, I’ll take first.” And he took the BIG piece of fish. The second person said, “Why did you take the big piece? That’s rude!” The first person said, “Which piece would you have taken?” The second person replied, “Why, I would have taken the small piece, of course.” The first person said, “Well, that’s what you have now!”
Action plan: Love cares about the feelings and concerns of others.
Love is less concerned that we get our own way.
Examples of Rude action
Not put things back where you found them. Not cleaning up your own mess. Taking things that aren’t yours. Slamming the door, failing to dress appropriately, cutting in line, defying or neglecting the orders or instructions from the authority above you, honking recklessly burping in public and not asking sorry; yawning or sneezing with unclosed mouth, eating with mouth open etc. Let our every action speak the love of God.
3. Graceless Behavior
Sometimes we can be rude how we behave.
William Barclay translates this passage, “Love does not behave gracelessly.”
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[a] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel
You see, our behaviour is directly connected to your spiritual life. Our spiritual life is not only our devotion; it is our whole personality which also includes our talk, our acts, and actions. It is through our behaviour of love that people can see Christ in us.
How is our behaviour in the house, workplace, and marketplace? Have I lost the opportunity to witness for Christ by behaviour, by what I do?
As much as our wrong behaviour can be unloving and rude, on the flip side omission to do things is also considered unloving and rude. Many times we are expected to do things at work, return courtesy but when we do not do what is expected of us is also termed as rude behaviour.
Example for Graceless Behavior
Like failing to say “thank you.’ Or failing to send a thank you note for a gift you received. Not doing the task what your authority over you is asking you to do. Needing constant reminder, constant repetitions all come under graceless behaviour of omission, taking revenge at others, returning hurt for hurt.
Action Plan: Love extends grace, having received grace
When God looks at us, He looks at us through the lens of grace. He does not treat us as we deserve. God loves us and treats us well not matter what. That’s grace. That is why we don’t give people back what they do to us. I will continue to love others. I receive freely and freely I give back.
Finding Love’s Balance
Now we are living in a world that is wicked and I have told you that we out to be polite, gentle, loving, and courteous because love is not rude. Then we come across situations where we have to solve problems, make decisions, we may be in situations were we have to talk which maybe hurtful to some. How do we deal with issues?
Some people really like to avoid a conflict and keep quiet. But conflict is a fact of life, and avoiding confrontation is often a recipe for even greater conflict and pain.
Two men who lived in a small village got into a terrible dispute that they could not resolve. So they decided to talk to the town sage. The first man went to the sage’s home and told his version of what happened. When he finished, the sage said, “You’re absolutely right.” The next night, the second man called on the sage and told his side of the story. The sage responded, “You’re absolutely right.” Afterward, the sage’s wife scolded her husband. “Those men told you two different stories and you told them they were absolutely right. That’s impossible—they can’t both be absolutely right.” The sage turned to his wife and said, “You’re absolutely right.”
This is avoiding confrontation attitude. If you keep piling up conflict, suffer alone it will pile up and one day will burst.
An Indian cricket coach was asked the secret of his success. He said, “We never let an error go unchallenged. Uncorrected errors multiply.” Then the reporter said, “Isn’t it okay to over look a small error a great player?” The coach said, “Small mistakes add up to greater failure?” I observe the players, verify their mistakes again and again and address them with videos later at an appropriate time.
In Galatians 2 one of the best known conflicts in the early church is seen. Peter was the first missionary to the gentiles. He stood before the counsel at Jerusalem and defended the baptism of the gentiles. He was well getting along with the gentile believers but when the Jewish believers came he just a kind of separated himself from the gentiles.
12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
Apostle Paul heard about this and when Cephas came to Antioch he questioned him
11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? 15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles
You see, to be polite does not mean that we do not speak the truth. We ought to address issues in relationship on a regular basis. But uncorrected errors do multiply. You’ve got to face them some day. You might as well face them at the earliest.
At the end of his life, Peter (2 Peter 3:15) looks at Paul not as a rival but as a dear brother. Confrontation with the truth, in a spirit of humility and love does not divide, it unites.
So being loving does not mean that we can allow people to take us for a ride. Sometimes we need to talk to manage conflicts and that is where we need to strike the right balance of love.
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Get out of balance on either side of that equation and you run into trouble. You see you will have conflicts in this world but we need to be willing to solve everything in love because God is love. His love is unconditional and we are to reflect that love.
I heard about a couple who were having breakfast one morning and their little 1-1/2 year old boy sitting in a high chair. As they were eating the little boy started smiling and was excited. The mom turned around to see what was causing all the excitement. There was an elderly man sitting at the table behind her. This man looked to be homeless. His hair was long, dishevelled, unshaved, not clean clothes, did not look good at all. He said to the boy very loudly, “How are you doing my boy?”
Everyone in the restaurant turned around to see what was going on. The parents smiled but were embarrassed and they tried to get the baby’s attention away from that man. The man kept showing actions and making the baby laugh and the baby was so excited and entertained by this man so much so now the baby is laughing all the way loud. The parents quickly finished the breakfast and went to the bill counter. This man finished his breakfast and came and stood behind. The parents were embarrassed and wanted to get out of that place soon.
Soon, the boy saw the man, ran reached out to him. Soon the baby was in a total stranger’s hands. It looked like they were old friends, at one point the baby laid his head on his shoulders. The man padded the boy softly on the back. The mother stood and watched all in amazement. Couple of moments later he handed the baby back to the mother and said, “You take care of this little boy.” The mother said, “I will.” She walked to the door to leave and started weeping. She said, “God, please forgive me.” She had just witnessed unconditional love.
When we see through the Eyes of Love
The baby did not see the shabby man, the baby saw the man through the eyes of love, and the man saw the baby through the eyes of love. The mother in turn saw the man through the eyes of rudeness and judgement. My prayer is let God help us have the same innocence of this little baby
When you show this unconditional love – loving words, actions, and behaviour, speaking the truth in love people may not respond right away. It may not seem like people are changing. But here is the key, when you give love you are sowing a seed. Those seeds never die. Researchers found seeds not long ago that were about 4000 years old. They had been sealed in an air tight box but when they planted that seed much to their amazement; it took roots and grew, still alive thousands of years later.
Every time you Show Love you are Sowing a Seed
Therefore, the seeds of hope, encouragement, mercy, love that you plant in other people, they never die. It may look like they are going but the good news is that the seed is still alive and at the right time God will soften their heart, loosen up that soil and the seed you have sown will take root and bring a harvest. Nothing you have been doing in love will be wasted. Every time you show love you are sowing these seeds.
Cover people with love. Love heals, love forgives, love puts down barriers, and love is not rude. You may not understand someone but that is okay continue to sow seeds of love. In Jesus’ name, Amen!