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You Give Love A Bad Name

June 5, 2020
Flashback Friday: You Give Love a Bad Name by Bon Jovi - Music ...

You’ve got to be old, or listen to Classic Rock radio, to recognize this title of a Bon Jovi hit. Ah, the pathos of love gone wrong…

Almost every time I hear this song played on my car radio, it makes me wonder how many times I’ve given the One Who is Love Itself a bad name by how poorly I’ve loved. I suppose in one sense, one time is too often. Unfortunately, I’ve done poorly at this far more than once. But, hey, so have you.

The heartbeat of the New Testament and the drumbeat of the New Testament church was Love. Jesus said His followers would be identified not by how often they were right or how well they obeyed, but by their love (John 13:35). It’s supposed to be the defining mark of a Christian. Often it is. But there are too many times when Christians give Love a bad name. Sometimes (OK, often) we fail to live up to our name (which means “little Christs) not because we don’t preach love enough, but because we don’t practice it well.

The Apostle Peter (you remember him. The guy who hacked off the ear of Malcus, the servant of the High Priest, in the Garden the night Jesus was betrayed…) wrote in what we have as 1 Peter 3:8-9, Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

I’m thinking, after days and nights of riots, looting, hateful speech and tweets, these two verses would be a good thing for Christians all over the country, regardless of their race, color, political persuasion, gender or denomination to revisit and make a serious attempt to embed them into our lives. There’s no instant or magic solution to the division and anger that are being expressed and then transmitted in real time into our homes, phones, laptops. But if we began practicing these ideas seriously, even if we do it imperfectly, don’t you think the bonfire of hatred could be doused?

More close to home for most of us is the fact that virtually every problem in a marriage or family life can be addressed toward effectively being solved by the ideas in these verses. When husbands treat wives and wives treat husbands in these ways, deep hurts can heal and affection can flourish. When moms and dads treat kids in these ways, wounds and roadblocks to healthy family life can be healed and pushed aside.

Because I don’t believe more knowledge will fix the brokenness in my life or yours, I’m suggesting a very concrete application here. Go back through the list in these two verses and see the individual behaviors and attitudes, one at a time:

be like-minded, This is about tuning in to the other instead of expecting them to get what you’re saying, because you know what you mean by it. Refer to Dr. Chapman’s The Five Love Languages for some good help on what this is about. And practice Stephen Covey’s Habit Five: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

be sympathetic, You have to slow down and observe the other to be sympathetic. There’s no such thing as drive-by sympathy. Notice the sorrow and difficulty in the other’s life. You’ll have to take the focus off yourself to do this.

love one another, There it is. The defining mark of actual Christians. No relationship can be healthy without love as the primary motivation. One of the best questions to ask yourself and then answer with your behavior is, “What would someone who loved them do?” Just a thought.

be compassionate Compassion is more messy than judgmentalism. The word literally means to come along the side of the passion (the emotion, the feelings) of another. You’ll rarely see compassion without sympathy.

and humble. Humility is the means by which we access God’s grace. It’s what makes it possible for us to experience it. And it’s what makes it possible for us to pour it out on others. Pride (the direct opposite of humility) will always demand to get it just the way you want it. Humility doesn’t have to have it just the way you want it.

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing How many families and marriages are working off of the insult script? LOTS! We give ’em and we get ’em. Sometimes they’re uproariously funny. But unless you’ve got uncharacteristically thick skin, even a funny insult hurts. And hurts widen the gap between hearts. Learning how to return insults and injuries with blessing is a very difficult skill to acquire, but it can make a haven of grace and peace out of a war zone in your home.

And it just might do the same in a riot-torn, anger-filled neighborhood that’s smoldering from violence.

But until you and I internalize this truth, it’s just another wonderful short passage from the Bible that would be nice to see in other people’s lives. So I’ll expand my challenge to this: DO THE THINGS THESE TWO VERSES TELL YOU TO DO.

I don’t expect these things to be the general rule for all people’s behavior. As much as I might wish it would be, that’s an unrealistic wish. But I’m convinced God expects His children to rule their lives and behavior with them. These aren’t just a handful of nice human relations concepts that Peter dreamed up on his own. These are from The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. They are God’s word to us. We can’t afford to ever blow off God’s word to us. So back to my challenge: DO THE THINGS THESE TWO VERSES TELL YOU TO DO.

I’ve got great news on this. Nobody wants this to happen more than God, Himself. He wants to partner with you and me. He wants to give us all we need to be able to make our lives demonstrate these divine words and live them out in our relationships. Not just theoretically or philosophically, but in the actual behavior of our lives. So in humility (I think we just thought a little about that…) reach out to the One Who can and will transform your heart and mind. And then join Him in the partnership for changing your world.

From → Marriage, Parenting

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