Although he had no children of his own, whenever he saw a neighbor scolding a child for some wrongdoing, he would say, “YOU SHOULD LOVE YOUR BOY, NOT PUNISH HIM.” One hot summer afternoon the professor was doing some repair work on the concrete driveway leading to his garage. Tired out after several hours or work, he laid down the trowel, wiped the perspiration from his forehead, and started toward the house. Just then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a mischievous little boy putting his foot into the fresh cement. He rushed over, grabbed him, and was about to spank him severely, when a neighbor leaned from the window and said, “WATCH IT, PROFESSOR! DON’T YOU REMEMBER? YOU MUST ‘LOVE’ THE CHILD”! At this, the professor yelled back furiously, “I DO LOVE HIM IN THE ABSTRACT, BUT NOT IN THE CONCRETE!”
Is this not true? It is so easy to love people “in the abstract.” It is so easy to talk about love and the importance of love. What is much more difficult is to love people in “CONCRETE” ways, especially when we are dealing with people who are very unlovable, who have been unkind and irritating to us.
So love is not something for us to just talk about — it is something for us to DEMONSTRATE in ways that are demanding on us. We need to ask ourselves penetrating question like: Why do I think the other person is unkind? Why does his or her behavior irritate me? What is in me to make me have this response? Do we (I) really understand what “love” is all about? In 1 John 3:16-18 we find an indication: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his bother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words of tongue but with actions and in truth.”
Beyond the need for material things, there are needs in the emotional, mental and spiritual realm where a brother is “needy”. Where he needs help, where questions need to be asked and in a prayerful setting problems are addressed and godly solutions are found. To “lay down one’s life”, esp. in this setting, is not an easy task, neither is it a superficial activity. It is a difficult and, very often, a soul-saving task that requires selflessness, true dedication and deep spiritual commitment. May we all strife to reach that level of maturity. — BULLETIN DIGEST