“Jeremy, would you please not get so loud.”
“Sorry, mom, I was just playing with Caitlyn.”
“Well, you can play quietly, and be considerate of others like the Bible says.”
“But, mom, you told me I need to play with Caitlyn more, and we were having fun.”
“Jeremy, don’t argue with me and make this my fault.”
“Jeremy, that’s enough! You always do this. You just can’t accept direction. You did the same thing this morning. I am tired and I need you to be quiet, like I told you. Do you understand!!”
At this point three-year-old Caitlyn starts to cry.
“Now you have made Caitlyn cry! Can’t I ever get any time to think? I hope you’re happy now. Bring Caitlyn to me! I have to do everything myself.”
“But mom, I was just trying to help…”
Fast forward to half an hour later.
“Jeremy, I am sorry I was angry. I am tired from work. I have this cold and a headache. I was trying figure out the menu so I could go shopping. I just needed things to be quiet. Do you understand?”
“i’ll bring you something nice from the store, okay?”
“Jeremy, are you upset?”
“No mom, I’m fine.”
“Okay. And I really am sorry. I love you.”
Later that night, mom is talking to her husband and telling him that she is worried about Jeremy. She said he is not as affectionate as he used to be and she can’t figure out why. As she finishes the conversation she says, “Oh, by the way, please remember to keep praying for me so I won’t get angry quickly. I just love Jeremy so much!.”
Note that even in the conversation with her husband, mom still is missing the point. She is not seeing the connection. She thinks her desire to love is the same as actually being loving.
The most important point in this scenario is that Jeremy’s mom needs to understand that love is much more than a state of mind or an emotional feeling. There is no question in her mind that she deeply loves Jeremy. The problem is that what love really consists of is determined by much more than what she thinks. For that matter what love is, is determined by much more than any person’s or group of person’s thinking. Love is determined by God and God alone.
The Bible is bold and clear on this question:
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. I John 3:16
This means that while there is an emotional and relational side to love, such as what Jeremy’s mom is experiencing, these things, by themselves fail to come close to what true love actually is. Jesus Christ determins is how we know what love is.
I Corinthians 13:4-7 uses fifteen statements to help us see what biblical love looks like. Jeremy’s mom is not connecting the biblical dots. She thinks she really loves her son because she has strong feelings for him. Jesus had more than strong feelings. He also acted according the will of his Father.
Paul teaches us that love is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. As we examine the dialogue with Jeremy’s mom it is easy to see that her primary concern was for herself, that she was easily angered, that she has an active and ongoing record of her son’s wrongs. Thinking about ourselves and our needs will help us be efficient compliers of the wrongs done to us. If this is our practice a quick temper will not be far behind. If we meditate on how we have been wronged we will have little time to consider the abundant mercies of God that he continually showers upon us.
Let’s revisit the scenario with Jeremy, Caitlyn and their mom. This time Jeremy’s mom is conscious of the love of Christ. She has been using 1 Corinthians 13 to help her rethink what love really is.
Jeremy says in a loud voice, “Wow, Caitlyn! That was a great catch!”
Caitlyn giggles with delight.
Mom puts her shopping list down. She walks over to Jeremy and Caitlyn and hugs them both and says, “I love you both soooo much!”
She goes back to her list. She takes a couple of Advil for her headache and praises God for the blessing of her children.