As we sit in 1 Corinthians 13, it occurs to me how many facets this little word ‘LOVE’ has. It’s easy to think of love as being kind and patient; it’s easy to think of it as being something like a hug. It is truly that. But there’s another side, and it’s this:
If we love someone, we will put their spiritual health above our own popularity. That is, we'll speak truth when needed.
Now that is hard.
I love to embrace people’s life stories and if someone’s battling dysfunction in their lives I find it easy to be nice to them. That's important, but sometimes we have to speak truth to stop them going around the same mountain any longer.
So, on that happy note, my friends, let me tell you about one of my hardest faith moments, a time when God asked me to do something very unpopular indeed.
Before I go further, this story involves a particular toy in my house, which you may also have. If that’s the case, ask the Holy Spirit about it for yourself. For now, I'm sharing it as a testimony of love.
It was when my boys were about age 11 and 12. They're gentle little souls and don’t often need a firm hand, so I'm not usually 'strict Mum'. But sometimes we have to change our approach, and I was about to find that out.
The boys had become obsessed by pokemon cards. They had invested their money, hearts and souls into this game. Their social world revolved around it with their friends. They would spend hours with the cards spread out on the floor, enacting battles, and they talked about little else. I thought nothing of it, but one day I began to have a strange conviction: Those cards need to be removed from my house.
I wasn’t sure if this was really God, or my imagination. I went upstairs several times to sit and pore over the cards to figure out what it was. “Is this you, Lord?” I asked.
Honestly, sometimes God doesn’t tell us why, he just asks us to obey. So 'why' was perhaps not the most important question. Anyway, looking at the cards they seemed to be encouraging my children to play-act elements of witchcraft. And the conviction only became stronger and stronger.
One day, I heard a clear phrase in my spirit: “Playing with pokemon is like your children handling poo.” Yikes. Really, Lord? A few hours later I went upstairs to find a hand-drawn picture of poo on one of the cards. “Why did you draw that?” I asked the boys. They didn’t know.
Another word came: “Ann, it’s like them being upstairs with prostitution. That’s how important it is that you remove it.” In my mind, this thing was becoming crystal clear and it was uncomfortable. I knew how much the boys would hate having these cards taken from them. “Ok, Lord,” I said. “I’ll do it. But they’ll dislike me for it.” To be disliked by my children was -- still is -- the worst thing possible. But who was I going to idolize - My children or God?
I fasted for three days, saying to God, “Show me if this not you. And if it is, help me do it.”
The fast cemented my conviction. And so the day came: I gathered Bryce (whom I had forewarned) and the boys, and we sat on the floor with the Bible. I explained it as far as I could, and said, “I’m really sorry, boys.” Bryce supported me, though he did wonder if I was nuts. On this count he decided to let me take the lead as he didn't know what to think.
It went down like a sack of cold potatoes. The boys were very unhappy. They still talk about it sometimes: “Mum made us chuck out those cards.” Grr. Eye roll. Mum. Grr.
What else could I do? Sometimes love means being unpopular. I love my children fiercely. What else could I do?
So that is what it means to me to 'not be self-seeking' as per 1 Corinthians 13:5. In my mind, 'Love doesn't mind being unpopular'. The comforting thing is, the Holy Spirit guides us as to when it is right for us to step out and speak truth; and if we do that we know that it's a good thing.
Friends, have you ever taken an unpopular step for love? I'd love to hear about it.