One Tool, Many Uses
This commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 4:21, esv).
When you’re having a problem in any relationship, you can grab a number of tools from your toolbox in an attempt to fix it. Perhaps one of the tools you’ve been in the habit of picking up is the hammer, when you’re determined to put things back in place by whatever show of strength you feel is necessary. Another is the drill, intended to go sharply and directly to the heart of the matter. A less angry, more subtle tool is the chisel. By using it, you can slowly start chipping away at things, making small bits of progress, sometimes without the other person even realizing what you’re doing.
Each of these tools has its proper place, function, and time. But there’s only one tool that’s suitable for every application.
And though it may not have a hammer/drill/chisel equivalent in the workshop—a familiar shape for you to pick up, feel, and immediately know how to use—love is no less a tool than any of the others. In fact, love is the most powerful tool for advancing God’s purposes in any situation.
Love is the way forward. It’s the way to gain traction, and the way to preserve any hope of having opportunity to work on the problem again tomorrow if it can’t be fixed today. Anything substituted for love puts the whole thing at risk.
The multi-purpose possibilities of love make it the most important tool at your disposal. With love in hand, you’re able to:
- Listen. Instead of demanding to be heard, making your case, and forming your comebacks mid-sentence, you can wait on the other person to say everything they need to say. “This is what I’m hearing you say . . . .” “Am I understanding you?” Love helps you listen.
- Give grace. If any difficult news or revelation comes out in conversation, grace can already be preloaded into your response. “I’m going to help you.” “We’re going to trust that God has a new season for you.” Love helps you give grace.
- Believe. “I believe that God isn’t finished with you yet” is one of the most life-giving things you can say to another person. “This may not be our best chapter, but it’s sure not the last.” Love helps you believe the best.
- Place limits. Love is not the same thing as being nice and sweet. It makes you strong enough to set boundaries, stay in reality, say the hard thing, and even run the risk of being misunderstood if what you’re doing is truly in the other’s best interest. Love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). It helps you set healthy boundaries and limits.
- Sacrifice. Even when the road ahead is sure to be hard, costly, and not in the budget, you’ll find the resources somehow to help. You’ll make sure they’re taken care of at whatever expense to your own plans and agenda. Love helps you make sacrifices.
“Love never fails”(1 Corinthians 13:8a, nasb).
If you’re ready to take a step forward with a relational problem that seems to be going backward, put love to work and leave all the other tools in the box. You just might be amazed at what God builds.
- Which relational tools do you use the most, and what’s the typical result of using them?
- Who in your life has shown the most unconditional love to you? How has it impacted your relationship with them, and with the Lord?
Lord, thank You for loving me like no other. Your faithfulness never fails. You are the master of knowing how to love in strong ways, tender ways, and in whatever ways are able to reawaken me to what’s truly important. I confess that I fail in loving others like this, and I’m convicted by Your Spirit today to be less selfish in my relationships. Help me to “follow the way of love” (1 Corinthians 14:1, niv) and demonstrate Christ to those you bring into my life. I admit that I can only do this through Your strength. Help me build hope and reassurance back into my relationships by always aiming to love others unconditionally. I pray this in Jesus’ name, by His power, and for His glory. Amen.
For more from Dr. James MacDonald please visit Walk in the Word on OnePlace.com.