January 22, 2013

If You Loved Me You Would


"If you loved me you would," were words I heard frequently growing up from the mouth of that little baby spoken to his big sister.

Usually the statement followed some request for service he wanted her to do; bringing him something when he was already comfortably tucked into bed, one of his blankies, a glass of water, or the pinnacle of all brotherly requests, a 'prepared' toothbrush. Yes, he managed to sweet talk that little girl into bringing him a toothbrush pre-coated with toothpaste and a cup to spit into so he could brush his teeth in bed.  It was downright comical what he could get away with where his sister was concerned.

In high school he got her to agree to trade him her black, V6 Chevrolet Beretta with red-interior for his boring, white V4 Chevrolet Cavalier with sagging roof liner. I wonder if the phrase, "If you loved me you would," was uttered during that negotiation. I suspect so.

He had her wrapped around his finger in a way only a little brother could. She loved to spoil him. She still loves to spoil him and "If you loved me you would," always does the trick.  His plea works like a charm because at the bottom of things, it is an absolutely true statement.  When someone loves you, it is reasonable to expect certain behaviors from them.

Words can be honest or dishonest, misinterpreted or misunderstood, but actions never lie. They reveal true motives and uncover priorities.  It is dreadfully painful to face the truth of another person's feelings for you through what their actions testify.  Talk all you want, apologize, beg, or flatter, but nothing said can carry the weight of a single act of betrayal.  Actions preach.

Try to persuade away revelations like these:

"If you loved me, you would not leave me alone, defenseless.  If I were as valuable as you say, then you would keep close to protect me."

"If you loved us, you would not have chosen a new man over staying home with daddy and us."

"If you loved me, you would reciprocate my expressions of love for you."

"If you loved me, you would honor our marriage commitment."

All true statements!

How can we help but entertain these haunting one-sided conversations in the sanctuary of our inner thoughts?  The most damaging aspect of it all is that these conclusions do not stop at defining the terms of the two-person relationship, but penetrate deeper to define the self-worth of the wounded; "If he/she doesn't love me, then I must not be worth loving." 

And it's all downhill from there. 

I say, "I Love You," frequently because I realize that I may not get another opportunity. I realize that the significance of the moment may be lost if I don't ping the ear of my friend that he or she is a treasure to me.  Because I say it often does not mean I say it flippantly.  It always means one consistent thing which is,

"I will sacrifice for you." 

How can love mean anything else?  This is why the heart-wrenching realization of love denied pelts self-esteem like a hailstorm.  There is suffocating pain in recognizing that someone you love refuses to sacrifice for you.

John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends."

Sacrificing your life for another person is the greatest display of love possible, as was accomplished by Jesus our Lord.  But all variations of love, each stage, and gradation is paralleled by a twin degree of sacrifice. 

Do you think you love and yet you withhold sacrifice, putting yourself first?  Does someone tell you they love you but no evidence of sacrifice can be found?  Where there is no love there is no sacrifice and where there is no sacrifice there is no love.  Love and sacrifice can not be separated. I caution you not to misinterpret anything devoid of sacrifice as love.  It is a lie.

Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15)

  • Keeping Jesus' commandments requires costly sacrifice.  He measures our love for Him by the payments we make.

And to Simon Peter, Jesus said, "He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”  Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep."  (John 21:17)

  • Having knowledge of Peter's love for Jesus was not enough; He required that sacrifice confirm Peter's profession. 

And to us, His disciples, Jesus departed this world saying, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)
  • Loving one another as Jesus loved us is the epitome of sacrifice.  The requirement to love sacrificially rests on our shoulders.

Can you hear His sweet voice?  The soft, gentle request saying simply,  

"If you loved me you would."

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