by Adam Hofer
What does it mean to love well? If you asked this question to a hundred people, you would get a hundred answers. The problem with the question is “love” is viewed differently by most people. We assume that we are all on the same page on what love is. However, love for one person is seen as hate for another person. Is love an action or a feeling? Is love acceptance and tolerance? If so, what does that mean as we care for people? Does love mean we allow others to learn lessons the hard way, or is there space for accountability in love? Does love mean we turn a blind eye to the sin of others? Is living a life of love a life of self-denial? Is love selfish? We must ask these questions when we speak of love. So I return to the question: What does it mean to love well?
To answer that question, we must return to the basics of Christianity. Saying God is love is not enough because many do not even know what love is, especially outside the Church, and God is so much more than love. He is also holy and just. What love is could be debated all day. However, all our arguments would be lacking and would have no authority outside of Scripture. What we do know is this: “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.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). From the passage, we can glean that love is an action. We ought to choose to love, even when we aren’t feeling particularly “loving” towards others. Love is not rooted in pride but rather in the betterment of others. Love is not rooted in what others can do for you but rather in what you can do for them. Love is not rooted in being popular in the eyes of others but rather in bringing forth the truth. We ought to be patient, kind, respectful, calm, and truthful with the people we interact with daily, even if their worldview is different from our own. How others treat us should not dictate if we love them or not. We are to love regardless. We ought to live a life of love as Jesus did in His ministry. Let us be known as disciples of Jesus by how we love others (John 13:35).
At the Center of Hope, we do our best to love well. There is much discernment and discipline in how we choose to love our guests. Walking the fine line between compassion and accountability is a challenge. We often evaluate the best ways to love our guests regarding the three stages of poverty alleviation (relief, rehabilitation, and development) because we know that each person is at a different stage in their development. Caring for one person in one way may be harmful if done with another person depending on where they are in those stages. Regardless, we will continue to be patient and kind to each person who walks through our doors, speak truth into their lives, open their eyes to their potential so that they can live into their purpose of loving God and others in their unique way, and educate them on what it means to love well. Go and do likewise.