We do a lot of things everyday from the mundane, day-to-day tasks like going to a store, driving our car, or checking our mail to the bigger and more time consuming things like going to work or spending time with our friends and family. And 1 Corinthians 16:14 offers a bold and somewhat challenging command:
“Do everything in love.”
Every. Little. And. Big. Thing.
Well, I can tell you from personal experience, I don’t always get this one right. Can you relate?
What is something you did out of something other than love—maybe out of anger, sadness, confusion, anxiousness, stress, or selfishness? You don’t have to say it out load, nobody else has to know, but I want you to take a moment and be honest with yourself. Personally, I have an example from just a couple of weeks ago:
I was in a meeting with a few people who had made me feel disrespected and unappreciated in my work. And I sat in that meeting in a puddle of the opposite of love: anger and irritation. Though I didn’t say anything, my body language and facial expressions stated I was clearly unimpressed and uninterested in what these people had to say.
Why was I doing this?
Looking back, it was ineffective and a bit embarrassing, but in the moment, I had a purpose: I wanted them to feel just as disrespected and unappreciated as they had made me feel. Wow. I clearly wasn’t acting in love. Acting in love in that meeting would have looked like me giving my attention and being extra kind so they did feel respected and appreciated even though I didn’t. But that’s not what happened.
So, practically speaking, what does it look like to do everything in love, and is it even realistic?
My answer is, yes. It is realistic, and it is something we need to actively pursue daily as the Word tell us. And though it will vary by situation, I believe this:
Doing everything in love comes down to the motivation behind your actions.
This means we’re going to need to take the “think before you speak” suggestion to a whole new level and really think about our actions and understand our motivations before doing something, anything really. I know this may sound time consuming, but once you start doing it consistently, and consistently start doing things in love, I believe it will start to become second nature—Christlike, even.
To figure out your motivation behind an action, I encourage you to simply ask yourself this: “What is my reason for wanting to do this? What do I want the other person to see, hear, feel, and/or experience?” Is it love? Or something else?
In the case of the meeting, where I acted in anger and irritation, my reason was because I wanted the people in the room to know I was upset. I wanted them to feel like they’d wronged me—I wanted them to feel bad: unappreciated and disrespected. It would have better to not attend the meeting at all than to attend it with the attitude I did.
Because if it can’t be done in love, maybe it shouldn’t be done at all.
If you’re faced with a situation and ask, “based on my actions, what will this person see, hear, feel, and/or experience?” and your answer to these is not God’s love, I encourage you to choose to do something different, or choose to do the same thing in a different way.
This doesn’t mean we should shy away from the hard things because you can still do and say hard, honest things in love. Maybe you have to fire someone from their job or need to breakup with your current boyfriend or girlfriend. These hard things can still be done in love; when your motivation behind them is love, you may need change how you do or say something, but you can still do it.
Lastly, though I wish it did, the verse doesn’t say “do everything in love and everything will work out perfectly and everyone will love you and nothing bad will come of it!” Bummer, right? Regardless, we have this command: do everything in love. That is our responsibility. What comes after, how our words and actions are received, that’s not up to us.
So I encourage you to stay focused on what you can control: your actions. And start doing everything in love and let God take care of the rest.
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