Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Increase our love: "think on these things" and other help from Paul

In the search for ways to increase in love, I think Paul's advice to the Philippians can be pressed into service.
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or worthy of praise -- think about such things. (Phil 4:8)
I think the things we looked at before -- whether photography or a treasury of anecdotes -- is a way of "thinking about such things." It focuses us on the other person, and particularly on the good in them, and so helps strengthen our love and particularly the sense of delight in what is good.

Paul was also very helpful when he assured us of God's love, saying, "Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus." First and foremost that whole passage assures me of the sheer, raw determination behind God's love for us: it is not a flighty thing, easily disrupted. But when I turn to put God's love in action, I need help, and have such a long way to go to reach that level of iron determination to love -- no matter what the circumstances or obstacles. On many days, being determined to love works out to being determined to forgive; that is part of the persistence, as the other person's sin and brokenness will eventually become an obstacle, just like mine will. It also works out to a determination to be there, to be present. God did that for us. And I can see in my own home that the amount of time I spend with my children -- and the level of determination I have to listen to them -- makes a difference. Sometimes, I can't see how to help the shortage of time, like in my heavy overtime season at work this last summer. But sometimes I just find myself doing things that really don't matter so much, and even being annoyed at interruptions. It's a sign of my backwards priorities.

The more I look at the letters in the New Testament through this lens, the more they looks like field guides to how to love each other. (To be continued, most likely.)


Howard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Howard said...

Perhaps part of the problem is being in situations or circumstances which actually de-humanize us by their very nature. I often find this to be true at work, and it's a battle to break out of such demeaning constraints and treat others and myself as something more than a "unit".
When I am working creatively, it's a very different scenario, and the warmth between people flows naturally, encouraging a joy and relish in the good things Paul speaks of. Our scarred world so often alienates us from all things that He has made 'beautiful in their time".

Weekend Fisher said...

Where I work, there is always emphasis on streamlining. But someone up the food chain from me seems to think that streamlining means depersonalizing. I find it interesting that, the more personalized and human a project is, the more people enjoy it, the better results we have, and the more satisfied the customer is.

But it is a struggle to make sure everyone stays human, rather than being reduced to our business relationships.

Good to see you again.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF