Devotions

Do All Things in Love

September 19, 2019
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“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NLT)
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Given the fact that I was an incredibly stubborn and argumentative child, my mom and dad weren’t the least bit surprised when I announced, at age 8, that I wanted to become an attorney someday so I could protect families and children. I drew up my first “contract” not long afterward.

I had determined my mother was spending too much time on the phone helping a friend through a crisis and not enough time helping me with my math homework.

Her discussions were important, but goodness, if she expected me to do my math, she had to hold up her end of the bargain! So in exasperation, I found a piece of paper and a pencil and sat down to fix this problem.

Frustrated, I outlined an agreement where she would pledge to spend a specified, limited amount of time on the phone and a required amount of time helping me with math. In exchange, I would complete my lessons.

Then I drew two lines at the bottom, a place for each of us to sign. I brought it to her — and got my point across. In the future, my math lessons were completed in a timely manner, and my parents acquiesced that law was a natural career choice for me.

I was blessed with parents who recognized that stubbornness, properly directed, becomes perseverance and determination.

So rather than attempting to squelch my personality, they taught me to channel it and use it to my advantage. Most importantly, they taught me to check my motivations. Was I fighting for something because I just wanted to win — even if I was technically right — or was I fighting for something because I loved God and other people?

If all I wanted was to be right and win, then ultimately, I would be motivated by arrogance, tempted to compromise, bend or twist facts, manipulate, and maybe even ignore parts of the truth. If I were motivated solely by the desire to triumph, my gifts could become dangerous to others, and eventually, to myself. But the safeguard against this, my parents told me, was to be motivated instead by love.

Love would ensure a willingness to hear and see truth, even if it meant admitting I was wrong. Love would ensure compassion even for those who did wrong, while still enabling a fierce pursuit of truth.

Years later, while teaching a course to help attorneys in the appeals process, I told my students, “The more you love, the harder you fight. Both your ideas and your motivation must be right.”

God’s Word makes this clear. In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, we’re called to “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.”

Sometimes this is easier said than done. I’ve learned that ideas that aren’t based on good facts or right beliefs have the potential to yield destructive consequences and damage people. But even the right ideas, divorced from love for people, could yield arrogance and a lack of compassion, and that wreaks destruction, too.

“Love has to be your motivation,” I explained. “Examine your beliefs and ideas; ensure they are right and good. Then do nothing out of an arrogant desire to win, but act out of love for those who pay the price when we believe the wrong things.”

I don’t always do this perfectly. But more than anything, I pray my actions flow out of love for God — the One who defined goodness and love.

Lord, no matter what happens, help me always respond out of love — not pride, or anger or revenge. Help me follow the example You set when You sent Your Son to the cross for me. And help me always remember that acting out of truth and love is more important than winning at all costs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY

Jeremiah 9:23-24, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.’” (NLT)

John 13:34, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES

Rachael Denhollander’s voice was heard around the world when she spoke out to end the most shocking scandal in U.S. gymnastics history. Now, she tells her story in two brand new books, What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics and a beautifully illustrated edition for younger readers, How Much Is a Little Girl Worth?.

CONNECT

How’d you like to win a copy of What Is a Girl Worth? by Rachael Denhollander? To celebrate this new release, Tyndale is giving away 5 copies! Just share your thoughts by Monday, September 23, and we’ll choose a winner. {We’ll notify winners in the comments section.}

You can find Rachael on Facebook and Twitter.

REFLECT AND RESPOND

Often when we are wronged, it’s tempting to respond out of anger, frustration or revenge. Think of a time you responded to a situation poorly. How might things have turned out differently had you responded out of love? What’s one thing you can do today to prepare yourself to respond with love?

© 2019 by Rachael Denhollander. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Tyndale House Publishers for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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