I enjoy listening to people’s stories of life and adventure. I am heartened, like most of us, by tales of others overcoming the trials of life. For it is through other people we can learn much about the pitfalls and successes that litter our human journeys.
In reading works produced by people spanning thousands of years, it becomes obvious that although our human circumstances have changed much, by industrial and technological advances, how we think has not changed at all. We know more, that’s for sure, but who we are at our core is the same now as it always has been.
The recent popular culture of fly-on-the-wall documentaries, reality television and social media is captivating and at the same time distracting. There is a discussion to be had about these encouraging our tendency to be observers rather than participators in ‘real relationships’. I read somewhere that psychologists are concerned that our dependence on living online is harming our ability to communicate face to face.
That said, now and then I will sit to watch programmes that follow the emergency services. In accident and emergency departments we observe people having the worst day of their lives, facing their own mortality in unexpected circumstances. Often, initially, apart from family and friends, but surrounded by the dedicated staff that are working hard to save them. It is in these moments that we see God at work through people, in words of comfort, kindness and their dedication to saving lives independent of any of the things we often believe separate us. “For he makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45 ESV. God does not discriminate. It serves to remind us that we are all vulnerable mortal beings who experience good times as well as the trials of suffering.
Consider then when a person lays in a hospital bed facing death, does it matter what they own? Does it matter what car they drive, or how big their wardrobe is?
It is the time we spend in relationship with others, the things we do together that build memories which last and have real meaning within our hearts and minds. When this reality falls on your heart you realise the futility of pursuing goals independent of relationship.
It might be cliché to say that it is not the goals we have in life that matter as much the people we spend our time with on the journey there. But, attaining a goal is empty if you arrive alone, no-one to share it with. The beauty of creation is wasted if there is no observer to appreciate it.
Material possessions and the pursuit of individual pleasure are all things that fade away after a time, but the love we have for each other stays with us, and is passed from generation to generation. “Love is eternal.” 1 Corinthians 13:8 GNT.
Love however is often confused with desire. Love is not fulfilled when we possess something we didn’t have before. Also we can confuse love by measuring it in the value or quantity of gifts we give or receive from each other. But true love is fully valuing a person, a soul, for who they are and not who you think they should be. True love enables you to live in the freedom to be yourself.
Being valued is at the heart of giving and receiving love. Are you looking for someone to fill a gap in your life or a companion you can love for who they are? It is often said that we meet the people who matter most to us when we are freed from our expectations.
“Immature love says I love you because I need you. Mature love says I need you because I love you.” Erich Fromm.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no account of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 BSB.
When we make a conscious choice to love others in all our relationships, we find that we are changed in the process. Love is listed as the first fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22 because every other good thing flows from it in to our lives. Love is at the root of all that is good. The other fruits “joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” Galatians 5:22-23 ESV, are manifest when we are loving. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 ESV. It is not what happens to us that matters as much as how we respond to it.
To love others is to be inspired to be the best version of ourselves. Life is a gift and we are to enjoy what we have, and pursuing what we don’t is futile unless we also focus on building relationships along the way. It is in loving relationships that we experience God. Someone today could be waiting to experience God through you. What will you do today to love someone else? What you are hoping for today, you can bet someone else is hoping for that too.
Loving Father thank You for the gift of Your love. Thank You for teaching us what it means to walk in love. Help us to develop loving relationships with others, even with those who are hard to love! In Jesus name we pray. Amen.