I think love is a greater sign of Christian maturity than is knowledge. Don’t be too impressed by these weighty things I talk about in my letters. If you saw me showing love and kindness toward those around me, you could take that as a much bigger sign of the depth of my dedication than if you read an exposition by me explaining Daniel’s seventy weeks, or something. Besides, a person’s true walk with God is something that is only the responsibility of two people…as Christians, we often try to make others into “better Christians,” but the fact is we are just trying to do something which is impossible. We might make others into better people, but only God can help someone in his relationship with Himself.

Of those whom we might designate as “good Christians,” too often I find missing a depth of real commitment to God. Not that they aren’t good people, but I find that their “Christian life” more has to do with something in their church, and not with God. Maybe they have a lot of dear friends at church. Or maybe they find a place where they feel as if they belong. Or maybe they satisfy a desire to be busy doing something. Those are all good things, but too often I see them in people’s lives without a deep affection and love for God being the driving force behind them. It just isn’t there. I don’t know why not, or what I could do about it. Most of them would probably consider themselves to be good Christians, and would be offended if any suggested otherwise. And as I said, a person’s walk with God is really between only himself and God anyway.

Not that I don’t think these people know God…just that there is something missing, and that is the crowning fact that God and God alone is at the center of their lives affecting everything else that they say or do…One who does give God that central place might say and do the very same things that these people do, but the difference is that they are missing the heart…I guess that’s what I’ve been trying to say all along, that far too many Christians that I meet are simply lacking in the true heart of what a walk with God is all about, and that is a complete and total commitment to Him. Many say they’ve committed their lives to God, but I wonder, have they? It is not my place to judge.

When looking at others, one has to learn to look deeper than the surface. Men like to look at the facts, which is an outward thing. That’s why they often can’t understand women, I think…because things go on inside a woman which just can’t be recorded by looking at the outside, but which have to be more sensed than anything. And Heaven knows that men can often be far from sensitive. As for women, they often look at their emotions and how they feel about a thing. Perhaps this is a more sensitive way to look at things than merely looking at the facts, but the problem with this is that (as you know) emotions are rapidly changing things, and often can be disjointed from reality. A guy might know as a fact that a woman loves him, and that would be enough for him. But women need to keep being reminded of it over and over in order for them to feel emotionally that they are loved, something which can be kind of hard for guys to understand sometimes. But really to get to know and love someone takes more than facts gathered from the surface or emotions stirred up concerning him or her. It takes a reading of what lies inside of that person, the kind of thing that can only be grasped by noting hints which he may give in word or action, and which must be based on speculation. It’s hard to define. I guess maybe I’ve lost you. What I’m trying to say is that getting to truly know a person almost takes an empathy. You have to mentally and emotionally place yourself in that person’s position and imagine as best you can what it would be like to be that person. The reason for many arguments is the fact that most people cannot do this very well, or do not know how to do it, or simply do not care to try. Often it is the most selfish people who understand others the least, and I believe that that is because they simply do not care about others enough to imagine what it would be like to be them.

The better you get to know a person, the more you have to work with to tell you where that person is coming from. This trying to place yourself in the other person’s position and “be” him or her in your mind is something which I am constantly trying to do with others (especially those I care about) to learn more about them, and so know better how to act toward them in love. This is something that I’ve done so long that it is almost automatic with me, and maybe that’s why I find it hard to explain. Of course, the danger is that you might be wrong, as it is only your own imagination placing you in the other person’s shoes, and you can only do so based upon what you know of that person, which is often very limited. But I think that I am always getting better at it, and I think that when I have a pretty good “read” on where someone is coming from, I am rarely ever wrong anymore. The problem that I most struggle with is that if I do really sense a problem that someone is having, what in the world can I do about it?

How I got into that, I don’t know. I guess I’m hopeless when it comes to getting sidetracked. The point is that love is something that seeks to understand the other person. I think this is something that is sadly lacking in the lives of many Christians today. The fact is that if we love God, then our primary purpose must be to try to get to know Him! This is what Paul says all else pales in comparison to. “Yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:8, 10-11, NKJV) If we really want to know God…if we really want to understand Him…then we need to gather all the facts we can about Him so that we can understand (as much as mere man can understand) how it is that He thinks, what it is that causes Him to act, why He does the things He does. This, as a person who loves God, must ever be our primary motivation. That is why I cannot understand those who are believers and yet who spend no time in the Word. If I love someone and yet spend no time with her can I expect our relationship to grow? The same is true of our relationship with our God. If we are to get to know and love Him as we ought, then time spent with Him is a must! Let us all learn to spend this necessary time with the One Whom we love.

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