Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Debt of Love

I've finally finished 'When People are Big and God is Small', by Edward T Welch.  Since my last blog post about this book I've come across another concept that really stood out to me:

In regard to loving others, Welch writes: 'we are in debt to our enemies, neighbours, and friends. No matter what they have done, and no matter how lopsided our giving to them is in contrast with theirs to us, we are in their debt.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. The commandments... are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Rom. 13:8-9)'

I certainly don't normally think in terms of having a Debt of Love to those around me.  My normal thinking goes like this: If someone has done something kind for me, I feel that I owe them a favour in return.  And if I've helped someone else with something, I feel better about asking them for help. 

I think some of our expectations in these areas are cultural.  In Papua New Guinea, reciprocity (a word I can neither spell nor pronounce!) is a vital part of relationships.  Gifts go back and forth, with each gift affecting the balance of the relationship.

Although I know really that God calls me to love everyone, I find myself taking on a new perspective when I consider the idea of a Debt of Love.

It's vital to remember that love does not mean saying "yes" to everyone.  As Welch puts it, 'People-pleasers can mistake “niceness” for love. When they do, they will be prone to being manipulated by others, and burn-out is sure to follow.'

It didn't take long before the opportunity came along to put the above into practice.  I was recently asked to do a small task that I'm not enthusiastic about.  It's not that I don't have the time, or that the request is unreasonable.  It's not something that someone else could do instead either.  I know that instead of carrying out the job resentfully, I need to see this as an opportunity to love people who haven't done anything for me, but who I have an opportunity to bless.
 

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