There’s never a dull moment raising sons. What their mouths lack in volume their bodies make up for with wrestling and ninja moves.
Sometimes I let them play. Other times, I step in. “Boys, that’s enough. It’s too much love.”
I understand their goofing around stems not only from the fact that boys are hard-wired this way, but also that they are brothers and best friends. Rolling around on the floor is one way they show affection for one another. However, too much of this kind of comaraderie can turn into an unexpected trip to the emergency room.
There’s a fine line between brotherly love and a swollen lip.
My sons’ intentions are good, but sometimes the way they express their love can be hazardous to their health. This behavior isn’t just reserved for active little boys. Sadly, this “too much love” concept has crept from our unstable world into our pews.
The ideology popping up in various Christian enclaves and backlogging social media news feeds include this “too much love” notion. For instance, when one Christian takes a stand against immoral living, another chimes in “Jesus said to love them.” When another expresses concern over someone’s flirtation with the world, all discussion is squelched with the words, “Don’t judge.” When someone’s fruit of spirit is rotting on the vine, another will shout “You don’t know her heart!” While these principles certainly are Biblical, they are incomplete.
Jesus was absolutely a “come as you are” Savior, but he loved people too much to stop there. He told Zacchaeus to come down from the tree. He told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more. He kicked over the tables in the temple and reclaimed his Father’s House as holy. When a rich man approached Jesus and asked what he could do to be a follower, Jesus told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor. And when he couldn’t make that sacrifice, Jesus let him go.
Loving others as Christ loved them does not simply mean throwing good vibes one’s way or turning a blind eye to sinful behavior. That warped definition of love hinders God from working in people’s lives and hurts them in the long-run. Instead, Christ-like love is specific, as outlined in Galatians 6:1-10. The wisdom found in those verses help me distinguish between this new pseudo-theology and God’s holy love.
- Lend a hand (verses 1-2). Acknowledging and confessing the sin in our own lives can help us more effectively rescue fellow Christians when they’re stuck. We may use synonyms like mess, brokenness, and nuanced, but sin by any other name would still smell like death. God requires we eliminate all sin from our lives, but it’s impossible to do that without divine help. Asking God for guidance, as well as seeking help from trusted friends who clearly understand the Word, are wise ways to share our burdens until they don’t weigh us down anymore.
- Simmer down (verse 3). There is a fine line between humility and haughtiness. It is acceptable to celebrate the talents, discernment, progress God has granted you without making others who are walking their own path with Christ feel like they’re failing. God is working on them, just like He’s working on you.
- Carry your load (verse 5). The comparison game isn’t fun to play. God has given everyone talents and opportunities that fit with each heart and His plan. It’s not your job to be somebody else. They’ve got their load and you’ve got yours. You’re not required to lug more than your portion.
- Hold leaders accountable (verse 6). Pray for discernment and that God would open your eyes and ears to anyone not in step with his teachings. Who are you seeking for wisdom? What kind of books are you reading? Whose music bends your ear? Who do you follow on Twitter? Whose podcasts do you download? Sadly, some well-known Christian teachers are espousing a watered-down version of Christ’s love these days. It’s trendier than a “repent of your sins” gospel. False teachings swirl all around us, whether it’s in the form of a radio program, a conference stage, or a devotional book.
- Keep going (verse 9). Twenty years ago I didn’t keep a tight lid on all my thoughts. It was unpleasant for everyone. Over the years, God fine-tuned my mouth and performed marvelous (spiritual) heart surgery. The trade off? The exhaustion that comes from continually watching my words and biting my tongue. Sometimes those old habits sneak out. Rather than beat myself up for those missteps, I ask God for forgiveness, make amends, and move forward.
- Do good (verse 10). The Apostle Paul is clear: be salt and light to everyone, but give special care to those in the Body of Christ. There are sinful behaviors which should be dealt with Biblically; anything beyond that can be considered a preference. Let us not allow our preferences to become a stumbling block among us, tarnishing the good works God wants to do within the body of believers.
Love touted by the world will never satisfy. So why would Christ followers want to promote this cheap imitation? Instead, let us love as Christ loved – with great sacrifice, compassion, and clarity.