I Don’t Love Her – Matthew 22:34-40

One of life’s sweetest blessings is when my grandchildren holler “GRAN – MAAAAA!” and come running to greet me. They haven’t knocked me down yet, but their exuberance is certainly felt. One Sunday after church, however, I wasn’t too happy about my grandson’s behavior.

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He’d been playing near the bleachers at the back of the gym, and I caught him making a mean, ugly face to a little girl. Appalled, I drew him aside. “Jackson, why did you do that?”

With his innocent dark eyes peering deep into mine he simply explained, “I do not love her.”

While I appreciated his openness, in my mind I pulled out my grandma to-do list and added, Teach grandchildren what Jesus said about love.

What Jesus said

My grandchildren’s greetings prove they know I love them and find me easy to love back. But what if loving isn’t always so easy?

Jesus said,“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:34-40 NIV).

The fact that we were commanded to love God inherently shows that it doesn’t come naturally, we get to choose to love him. Thirty-nine years ago my husband pursued a relationship with me, and I chose to respond. Love grew from our choices.

Doing love

I used to think it sounded arrogant for God to say, “You must love me,” and yet, because he is the Creator and Love itself, it’s perfectly reasonable. Without love, we’re nothing (see 1 John 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 13).

My grandson has gained more experience in practicing love—not only as a brother to his siblings, but now as an older foster brother to a rambunctious little guy. Like all of us, he’s learning that love involves challenges, and that’s OK. Without having to work at it, our love would only be an expression of feelings that come and go like the wind.

We need to remember demonstrating love doesn’t always bring immediate happiness, but its rewards are worth the investment. And ultimately, loving others helps us understand God’s enduring love for us. We can all be a little challenging sometimes, don’t you think?

Don’t ask my husband.

by Kathy Davis

Stranger in the Parking Lot – 1 Corinthians 13:2

I left the ladies meeting early, carrying my newborn across the empty church parking lot. Someone called my name, but I didn’t recognize her. Feeling protective of my son and hoping she might be addressing someone else, I ignored her.

The stranger approached anyway, carrying a paper bag. “This is for you.” She shoved it toward me, her eyes sparkling. “I heard you say you didn’t have a new blanket for your second child, and I thought every baby should have his own new blanket.”

Aaron. Joshua. Imthelittle brother 5-1980

I thanked her because it was the right thing to do, though I disagreed. I reasoned that a baby doesn’t know how old a blanket is, he just needs to feel loved. Buckling myself into the car, we headed home.

Was that love? 

The woman had annoyed me. She gave me a gift I didn’t want in a way I didn’t appreciate. Does that mean she was unloving? No.

Were my actions unloving? Yes.

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV).

When I pulled the blanket out of the bag and saw its light denim blues and beige stripes, I realized it was a wonderful gift. Like Sam, I Am and his Green Eggs and Ham, I liked it!

After my attitude adjustment I asked God for a second chance to express kindness to the woman, and a few weeks later I had the opportunity to do just that.

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Love means letting others love you “their way”

A couple years ago, that same son and his wife added a baby girl to the family, and my daughter and I conspired to make a blanket for her. We followed the pattern of the stranger’s gift with the long, coordinating flannel strips, using bolder, more contemporary colors this time.

And this year, another daughter joined their family. This newest sweetheart needs a blanket of her own (my way of saying, “I know they don’t need more baby blankets, but I need to love her this way for now”).

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As I stitched the binding around it, I knew my efforts would not win any prizes. Sewing isn’t one of my favorite things to do, though loving others certainly is.

Let me know if you would feel loved if I gave you my bag of left over flannel scraps.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Judging Others – Luke 6:37

Do you size people up when you walk into a room? I do. It’s important to be aware of our surroundings, but sometimes I take it too far.

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A few years ago, I took in a scene at a pizza restaurant and passed judgment on a woman I’d never met.

Our three boys marched between the tables, their pace accelerating to the point I thought they might trip over themselves as they approached the play area. As Jerry led me toward an empty table, I took a glance at a woman seated nearby.

Here’s what I saw

  1. She was large.
  2. She was alone. There was no sign of someone else’s belongings on the seat to indicate anyone accompanied her.
  3. She was eating a piece from a huge, family size pizza.
  4. She didn’t appear to be happy.

I concluded the woman must be a person who was out of control with her eating and her life, that she worships food and thinks only of herself. And I went so far as to judge her as someone I wouldn’t want for a friend.

Why do we judge?

Jesus said, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24 ESV).

He also said, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37 ESV).

The truth might actually be

  1. She was enjoying pizza in celebration of an 80-pound weight loss.
  2. She had been fasting, or this was her first meal in a long time.
  3. She would eat one piece and save the rest for later.
  4. She needed a kind word from a friend.

The scriptures tell me if I judge I must be careful how I do it. One definition I found says judging is forming an opinion after careful thought. I hadn’t given much thought to the woman’s reality. And I certainly wasn’t looking at her with God’s love and compassion.

It’s possible she may be far ahead of me in her walk with God. She may be withstanding trials and hardships and remaining true to her faith far better than I am at the moment. There was probably much I could learn from her.

Since it was decades ago, and I don’t remember what she looked like, she could be one of my dear friends today. If that is true, I’m sure if she passed judgment on me that day, she is forgiving. How could we be friends if she wasn’t?

by Kathy Sheldon Davis