Better Decisions, Day 5

based on the book Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets by Andy Standly

What does love require of me?

This clarifying, but terrifying question should stand guard over our consciences. It should serve as guide, signpost, and compass as we navigate the unavoidable complexities inherent in every relationship. It should inform how we date, parent, boss, manage, and coach. It should form a perimeter around what we say and do in our roles as spouses, coworkers, and neighbors.

This question gives voice to God’s will for us on issues where the Bible, as well as all other religious literature, is silent. It fills the gaps with disquieting precision. It succeeds where concordances fail. It quashes the insipid justification, “But the Bible doesn’t say there’s anything wrong with ______.” It closes loopholes. It exposes hypocrisy. It stands as judge and jury. It’s so simple. But it’s so inescapably demanding.

Our final question, fueled and informed by Jesus’s “as I have loved you” command, intersects with every imaginable relational scenario. We are all tempted at times to ask or wonder how little we can get by with relationally—the very thing we don’t want the person on the other side of us to consider. This question calls us to account. When presenting this concept publicly, I often ask the audience to commit the following to memory:

When unsure of what to say or do, ask what love requires of you.

We don’t need chapter and verse. We have something better. Namely, Jesus’s new, all-encompassing, inescapably simple command. We are to do unto others as our heavenly Father, through Christ, has done unto us. He did what was best for us. We, in turn, are to do what’s best for others, even when less-than-what’s-best is embraced as acceptable by the others.

Love.

Love fills the gaps. Love reduces the friction created by our limited insight, knowledge, and judgment-inhibiting experiences. There is much I don’t know. There are things I’ll never understand. But my ignorance does not impede my capacity to put others first.

So while I’m not always sure what to believe, and while my views on a variety of things continue to mature and change, I almost always know what love requires of me.

I bet you do, too.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34‭-‬35

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22‭-‬23

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 1-13:13

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