What is the opposite of Love? Hate? No. It’s self-righteousness. I’ll illustrate with a short story.
Jessica has just gotten divorced and is suffering badly. Patricia, her friend, feels that she needs to “be a good Christian” as her top priority. She gets this news from another friend and thinks, “Oh gosh. I know to God it is SO IMPORTANT that we are to Love others. I’ll need to go visit and maybe bring her a flowering plant or something and tell her that I’m sorry for her suffering and the loss of her marriage. Maybe a card in the mail, too. I’ll put that on my list for today or tomorrow. This is happening at a very bad time for me because of all the other stuff going on for me. But, I think I can get it all done.”
Amy, on the other hand, gets teary eyes when she hears the news. Her heart breaks for Jessica, knowing that she (Jessica) has just had one misfortune after another. She visits and brings a flowering plant and later sends a card in the mail. And in the days that follow, she just can’t get Jessica off her mind much of the time.
THE POINT OF THIS
Patricia reacts to this news wanting to be diligent to be very kind and Christian in situations where someone is hurting. So, for Patricia, (unknown to her) it’s ALL ABOUT HER, or at least largely, or at least significantly. She’s trying very hard to be the very, very best person she can be. She “knows” this is her job. Just read the Bible! She’s very disciplined to be a good Christian.
Amy, on the other hand, is already a perfect Christian. This was imputed to her by God Himself the day/moment she believed in Jesus. And, unlike most Christians, she already knows this – that God has declared her perfectly and permanently righteousness. So, as she received and began to live with Jessica’s bad news, she gave no thought to God’s requirement of her that she be a loving Christian to other people. This is because she is already PERFECTLY LOVING. The work to make her so perfect is already entirely done because of the ransom paid by Jesus at his execution. So, Amy doesn’t need to worry about and work on how SHE’S being in this difficulty. Her needs are all met. She doesn’t feel a need to get the good feelings of knowing she had been a good Christian in her handling of this. That work was already done 2000 years ago. So, while Patricia (unintentionally because she hasn’t had a revelation of God’s radical Grace in her life yet) makes this situation quite-a-bit about herself, Amy was free to truly love Jessica without giving thought or priority to “being a good Christian”. She didn’t need to use this situation as a way to get a boost or a sense of a-job-well-done from herself or from God. She is already as perfect as Jesus himself. She believes that.
How do you become an Amy? Not by trying. Love is a Fruit of the Spirit that can’t be gained by human effort. But, you can become like Amy by BELIEVING. Believing what? By believing The True Gospel of God’s radical grace. Then and only then can you be truly (but perhaps not perfectly because of our human-ness) loving. As it turns out, the opposite of Love is self – righteousness, an attempt to establish your own goodness by your own efforts.
Depending what your beliefs about the Gospel are, this may seem confusing or way-wrong to you. I understand. I didn’t get this until my 30th year with God. Read the rest of my blog. Or read www.escapetoreality.com for a more detailed explanation on these matters of the Grace of God.