Doing Things Love's Way
Charles Naylor, 1941
Not everything in this world will please us. Things displease us; people displease us; circumstances are not what we wish they were. There are many things to try and to vex us. How often we need forbearance, patience and self-control! How often the impulse comes, when things do not go to suit us, to speak hastily, to act uncharitably, or to behave ourselves in an inappropriate way! When we are displeased, the mind resents it. The strength of this resentment depends upon the strength of our displeasure and upon the discipline we have used upon ourselves. It depends somewhat, also, upon the natural disposition—for even when the heart has been purified, the natural disposition remains.
People will not always do as we desire them to do or feel that they ought to do. They will not even do as they know they ought to do. Some people will misuse us or even abuse us. Untruths and misrepresentations there will be, going from mouth to mouth, around us. We shall be criticized. We cannot always have our own way.
Seeing this is sure to be true, we must adjust ourselves to conditions and meet circumstances in a way that is consistent with genuine Christian character. We shall have difficulties to meet in the home, in business, in the church—in fact, in every relation of life that brings us into contact with other human beings. Their actions, desires, attitudes, and such like will inevitably irritate and annoy us in some way. We are likely to resent them.
Also, we are so constituted that we naturally desire things to go as we wish them to and as we think they ought to go. We naturally think our way is best. Since it is human nature to feel this way about things, and since if we follow out the natural trend of such feeling we shall act selfishly and without due regard for others—it becomes necessary for us to mark out a way for ourselves and deliberately walk in that way. We must set a standard of conduct for ourselves and deliberately live up to that standard, regardless of feelings, circumstances, or conditions around us.
True charity is love. God is love, and we are told in essence that if we are God's, if we are his true children indeed—then his love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. If this love is shed abroad in our hearts—then it will warm all the cold emotions. It will soften all the harsh asperities of our natures. It will quicken every noble impulse. It will give us a sympathetic generosity. It will write the law of kindness in our hearts.
There is no limit to the blessed working of divine love in the human soul, when that soul is fully surrendered to Him. But divine love in the heart is not necessarily a continuous thing. We may lose that love out of our hearts. Even when it is in our hearts—it does not do away with those natural things, those selfish and sinful tendencies and dispositions that are in us. It has a strong influence upon them, but they are still there. They must be guarded. They are needful to us. Without them we would not be complete, but with them, we must be on our guard.
We must not let impulse rule our lives. We must do what we ought to do—not what we feel disposed to do. Usually we know what we ought to do and could do it if we would, but often, in order to do it, we must take hold upon ourselves and sometimes even put a severe restraint upon some of our selfish impulses and feelings. If we are to dwell in love, which is to dwell in God, we must let love work out through us. We must give it free course in our lives. We must give it full freedom to work. We must restrain those things within us which would hinder the operation of love, in its normal way, to give place to its work.
The will must control these elements and say to love, "I will restrain these hindering things, that you may work as you will." But how many times these things within us are allowed to work—hampering, hindering, and preventing love's operation. It is within our power to give place to whichever we will. We can put love in the background, and act according to impulse and natural desire or inclination; or we can master these, and give love freedom to work. Both elements cannot have full liberty. Imperious SELF would have its way. It must be made to bow to love, and love must be given the right of way in the heart.
But what does it mean to do things in love's way? We have only to look at the things love does, to know this. Love is never harsh. Love will restrain the tongue from many a bitter word. It will put kindness into the soul, and kindness into the words. Love may be firm. It will be firm when it is necessary, but with all its firmness, it will not be harsh. Harsh words on the tongue, mean that we have given way to harsh feelings in the heart. When there is harshness in the heart—it manifests itself in the words, attitude, and general behavior toward others. It is because harshness is given place in the heart, that there are so many "family jars" and so many church troubles.
Love is not self-willed. It rejoices in the prosperity and advancement of others. It is willing to sacrifice its own way. It is willing to compromise the situation and make peace, even at a loss to itself. Genuine Christian love is the cure for all family, neighborhood and church troubles—as well as all national and international troubles. Love to God, means love to man. Love makes always for peace, quietness, and contentment.
Selfishness is the basis of many church troubles. People want their own way. They want to "boss" things. Or if it does not manifest itself in that way, it does in another way which shows the same principle; that is, it refuses to submit. Love is willing to submit, when no moral principle is at stake. What is the trouble then, when members of a congregation cannot submit to the rule of God through their pastor? It is the lack of love. What is the trouble when they cannot submit to each other? A lack of love. What is the trouble when they have disagreements, hard feelings, loss of confidence? A lack of love.
Let us do things love's way. Let us ask ourselves the question, "What would love do?" "What would I do, if I acted as love would act?" What attitude would I hold toward others?" "What disposition would I manifest toward them?" Let us, therefore, seek that love from God which is kind, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good works—and let us manifest it to all around us. It will make others happy and will react in happiness in our own lives. If we do not have this abounding love in our souls—let us seek God until he gives it to us. Let us beware, on the other hand, that we do not allow the natural selfish and sinful tendencies within us, to forbid love to work its own way when love is within the heart.