Love that Makes a Difference
Some days, I make a conscious effort to practice positivity. I tell myself that it’s going to be a good day, plaster on a smile, and use encouraging words. In the small restaurant where I work, I say things like, “I love the way you’re chopping the chicken!” to the guy who does most of the prep work. When customers ask what we have for dessert, I politely list off the dozen options we have instead of just pointing out the list on our menu. And if the new guy does something wrong and I have to go behind him to redo it (meaning that we get done fifteen minutes late), I do it with a forced smile rather than an obvious grimace. This can make those around me feel more comfortable (except the guy in the kitchen — he just laughs and says that I’m awkward), but is it really a worthy cause?
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. -1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)
If I’m honest with myself, I have a tendency to be a resounding gong or clanging cymbal. I try to say nice things and be a good person…but the niceties are coming from my feeble attempts at love. As a human, my nature causes me to fail at love. I don’t handle failure very well, so I have a few options:
- Continue to be a gong or cymbal.
- Throw my hands up in exasperation and decide to become a hermit.
- Seek love.
Sometimes, options 1 and 2 look really nice. It’s comforting to stay with what we know…or to just hide away from human interactions. But God does not want either of those things for us. He wants us to experience a love that makes a difference. This isn’t a situation that we set up for ourselves or that we create. Instead, it is a situation that we discover only once we’ve experienced it.
When I allow God’s love to fill my heart, He has a way of showing up.
He shows up when I’m waiting on the new guy at work to pull a shot of espresso…a dozen times. And instead of sighing each time the shot comes out poorly, I am filled with love and talk through what needs to be done differently.
And when I’m in the middle of cleaning my bathroom and my friend calls because she feels lonely, God fills me with love. So with my phone in one hand, a toilet brush in the other, and God’s peace in my heart, I listen.
And when someone asks me to babysit, but all I want to do is sit at home and watch Netflix while doing a jigsaw puzzle, I am overwhelmed by love. I grab a pile of picture books from my shelf and go hang out with some amazing kids.
That’s the difference between trying to cultivate a sense of positivity on my own and letting God fill me with his love. So I have these moments where I can look back and say, “I let God’s love fill me.”
But how do I do that on a daily basis?
This is where I am going to turn to prayer…but not a prayer of my own, one of Apostle Paul’s prayers. I am going to take these words and pray them over my life and over yours. I invite you to do the same.
I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measures of all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. -Ephesians 3:16-21