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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Love on a One-Way Street

“We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours.” ~2 Corinthians 6:11-12 (NRSV).

I had an interaction with a fellow worker once. As it came about, I was in a position to help him. But either I failed to communicate properly, or he was proudly staunch—probably both. In the end, the more willing I was to help, the more he dug in against me. It didn’t upset me as much as it confused me; why would he not want this assistance?

The truth may very well be, sometimes, for reasons beyond us, people will not be helped—they will not be loved.

Perhaps this is because they are beyond their own self-love, as they fail for humble logic. Maybe they detect something incongruent in us.

If we’re committed to love, we’ll often find ourselves hamstrung by those who refuse to surrender to good sense for their own benefit. But, if we are to have any chance of making love work in such difficult circumstances we need to realise the importance of trust. Such people find surrender particularly difficult; better is the chance if there is a recent history of trust between them and us.

The Apostle Paul’s Context

Because we have quoted from Second Corinthians it’s necessary to explain the sort of situation that was dogging Paul. He had carried the gospel to the Corinthians and he had served them. He was undoubtedly faithful, loving them as a father would his children.

Paul’s problem, however, was their ambivalence to the gospel way and toward him, personally. They clearly weren’t living the life of ‘saved’ people. Morally, their love was too inconsistent. Paul found himself on love’s one-way street. He was extending all the effort; they were giving little back.

Accepting ‘Traffic’ Doesn’t Always Return

We spend our time trying to understand why our offers of kindness are rejected, but it’s better first to accept it will happen.

Only when we accept that, from a logical standpoint, will we then enquire from an appreciative motivation.

Understanding has been granted us because the hurt-barrier is removed, or at least acknowledged.

Gaining God’s Blessing

God wants us to love the unlovable soul who wantonly rejects the help we might genuinely wish to offer. And God knows how hard it is to do this, and how tempting it is to give back what we’ve got—rejection.

For these reasons, because we mimic our Lord in our responses to unreturned kindnesses, God blesses us.

He does this, here, by helping us mature in acceptance; he will do it in eternity, also, where we’ll receive our crowns (James 1:12).


The gentleman in question was only getting exasperated by my efforts. The best way to love him was to desist my overtures at kindness.

Love has a moment’s signature. It is to be discerned. Love is what the other person considers it to be, not us. This is why love never fails. It always has the right answer; for every single person and situation.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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