Tally Taker: Love When it’s Easier to Hate
“Why should I let Cora play with my soccer ball? She NEVER lets me use her stuff!” said Lydia.
“That’s so not true Lydia! I DO let you use my stuff BUT then you break it! At least I NEVER break your stuff”
Let’s dig into another “tally taking” day in the life of the Winslow’s shall we. Here we have a self-proclaimed giving, sharing ten year old, putting her foot down because she’s convinced herself that her older, “more protective of her stuff” sister NEVER shares any of her possessions.
And we have the older sister proclaiming her version that she “ALWAYS” shares – above and beyond of course- her possessions and they are returned broken.
This is just another day in the life of siblings tallying up who shared what, and when, who broke what and who has had enough of the sharing!
I don’t for a moment believe that my girls don’t love each other. But I also don’t for a moment question that they are needing some divine intervention in the way they are self-seeking and tally taking.
This little scuff over a soccer ball between my girls is just a micro example of the root of self-centeredness that infiltrates our fallen world.
I know my kids are not alone in their plight to give a little and take a lot, to make sure they get what they believe is “rightly” theirs and then some. This behavior isn’t isolated to siblings and it’s not even isolated to kids, preteens and teenagers. Nope. It spans the whole human race.
In 1 Corinthians 13:5 we are told, “love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not irritable and love does not keep record of wrongs.”
This week on Cup of Hope we took a look at each of these descriptors that give us insight into what love is not. Knowing the descriptor is never enough for me. I want to know “why?”. Why do we as humans tend to be self-seeking and keep a tally or record of wrongs? Why do we dishonor instead of honoring and become irritable instead of gentle?
As I thought about each of these descriptors, and took a look at my own life, how I respond to people & situations I understood my own why and came to the realization that it takes great awareness, intentionality, prayer and desire to move away from these behaviors into more selfless, gentle, honoring, continually giving and serving kind of behavior.
I believe that we inherently put ourselves in a competition with others. We look out over the world and we see ourselves at the center, we want and believe everyone and everything should revolve around us. As Christ works in us this changes and we go from being in the center to being on the sidelines.
In college, I used to joke with Marshall (who is the most selfless person I know) that the world doesn’t revolve around him. I used to hold up my right fist and say, “here’s the world”. And then hold up the left pointer finger in the air and say, “And here’s Marshall”. With a playful tone, I would take my fist and circle it around my left finger while joking “The world revolves around Marshall”
I don’t believe that Marshall has ever believed the world revolves around him. He’s just that way. He is always looking out for the good of all, looking for the win-win, looking for the solution that will be of help to everyone involved. My poking fun at him was really my awkward way of telling him how much I wanted to be like him, to be like the Jesus I saw in him.
Fast-forward twenty years later, marriage, kids, jobs, sports, activities, vacations he has had many opportunities to keep a record of wrongs done to him. He’s had many opportunities to be irritable. He’s had many chances to choose dishonor and be self-seeking. Despite the many opportunities and chances to choose not to be loving, Jesus working in him has prevailed.
In fact, I have gotten irritated at him before for not being irritated, for not being more self-centered. There’ve been times when I wanted him to be as hard on me as I am on myself. But he didn’t.
How “bassackwards” (as my Granny would say) is that!
Love does not dishonor and love doesn’t seek its own benefit. That means love (God’s love working in us) does not seek fairness. The AMPC version says that “love does not insist on it’s own rights or its own way.”
How often do we get caught up in making sure we get our share, get paid our dues, or complain about those who have more than we do – making, “it’s just not fair” statements? How often in these pity-party moments do we neglect to see God at work, God’s provision, God’s protection, God’s peace or God’s favor?
We can get so consumed about us versus them and comparing and competing that we can not even see God’s blessings in our midst.
How often do we quickly jump to conclusions, and fly off the handle all in the name of having the last word, or proving that we were right, and “I told ya so”?
We can allow little irritations to take hold of us, waste time and brain power and space that distract us from loving the person we were annoyed at instead of breeding hatred toward them. That’s what irritation and easily provoked anger produce – hatred.
And how often do we make our list and check it twice just like Santa Claus, except our list isolates the wrongs done to us, which tend to outweigh the rights done to us? At least it seems we have a harder time keeping track of the rights done to us and can focus heavily on the wrongs.
I say it’s time we take the tally sheet, the list of the wrongs done to us, and the lists of comparisons and throw them in the proverbial fire! We don’t need these lists! We don’t need the tally sheets! We don’t need the record of wrongs!
This week let’s choose to exchange our tally sheets for acts of kindness that have no strings attached. Let’s choose to focus on loving others well regardless of how it is received and how we are treated in response.
This week let’s pray for a work of God in our hearts and lives that will help us to not be easily angered and that we would be a people who demonstrate honor.
Heavenly Father, God you are so worthy! I thank you that you are not a God of competition but a God of love. I pray that you do not record our transgressions but that you “cast them as far as the east is from the west, never to be remembered again.” (Psalm 103:12)
Lord, may we be encouraged by this and pass this kind of grace on to those in our lives that you have called us to love. May you love at work in us honor others, may your work in us not anger easily, and may we be a people who do not keep track and seek fairness and put self above the good of others. God, these are not easy prayers. These are not light topics and we know that it is on;y through your spirit at work in us that we can love others the way that you have called us to. May we never grow weary of doing good (Galatians 6:9), in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.
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