Love “doesn’t force itself on others.” (1 Corinthians 13:5a/ The Message bible copyrighted by Eugene H. Peterson). – Here is yet another interesting variation of how the first phrase of this verse has been translated into English.
What I intend to write today may be interesting for all who at times think of giving some helpful advice to others who are in need. This post may also pertain to attitudes and methods of Christians who seek to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What is your own attitude as you try to direct others? What drives you as you seek to point others into some new direction they may not have thought of themselves?
Human beings have needs. Psychologists have named needs to be esteemed by others and needs of self-actualisation.
Probably you cannot switch off these needs altogether as you seek to relate to others. Actually I don’t think you would have to. However, you are more likely to receive satisfaction in relationships as you are sensitive to others rather than desperately seeking to gain some benefit for yourself.
Speaking to others in a forceful way may lead them to obey you or to reject what you say. Many people don’t like to be pressurised. They feel being driven to do something may not always be safe. In fact a self-declared boss may not even have thought of all the practical implications his instructions would have for those trying to do what he says.
My blog is called “Motivation of Christian Love”. So please bear with me as I am giving you an application that first of all pertains to Christians trying to tell the Christian message to others.
What are people going to learn as you speak to them about Jesus Christ? Will they primarily have to respect you? Will they first of all become aware of some of your feelings?
Of course it is inevitable that listeners will learn something about a speaker. There is a place for conveying who you are and how you feel about things.
However, do you present your feelings in a way as can be helpful to others? Are you really concerned that they should understand the message you are trying to convey?
In the parable of the good shepherd Jesus contrasts a possessive and selfish approach to one of going at length to be helpful to others: “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. …. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 10:10-12+14/NIV).
Being possessive and trying to dominate others may not be helpful to them. According to “The Message”-translation love does not force itself on others!