Love can be a hard word. In conversations, we tend to overuse it or abuse it. Some love everything; others, nothing. We live in a culture that changes the definition of love to fit each new whim or fancy. And how many folks do we know who’ve wasted their lives “looking for love in all the wrong places”?
Sometimes the best way to understand love is to take note of the actions and attitudes that do NOT demonstrate love. Why are the negatives so recognizable? Because it’s easy to focus on ourselves and what we want. So that seems to be the default position from which we approach life.
I often re-read a little book by missionary poet Amy Carmichael that attempts to capture in words what love is not and then encourages us to do the opposite. It’s called If. Here are a few excerpts:
If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love. For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.
If I take offense easily; if I am content to continue in cold unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received?” Then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I cast up a confessed, repented, and forsaken sin against another, and allow my remembrance of that sin to colour my thinking and feed my suspicions, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If the praise of man elates me and his blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
In just about any page of the book, I can see myself and be convicted of an attitude I need to let God transform!
If you’d like some devotional reading by an interesting Christian woman from the past, you can follow this link to download a free version of If by Amy Carmichael.
This next link will take you to free downloads of two of Amy’s lesser known works at the Project Gutenberg site.
Not familiar with Project Gutenberg? According to Wikipedia, it’s a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks. I’ve found all kinds of classic authors at PG: L. M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, C. S. Lewis, Charles Dickens and so many more.
Just another reason to “love” technology! Blessings all!