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There are many ways of showing our love for our friends. Love is inventive. Love always finds a way. Some people love by doing what their friends like them to do. Some express love by giving their friends their favorite things. Part of loving is knowing the favorite food, the favorite perfume, the favorite flick, the favorite shirt, the favorite color, and the favorite places of your loved one. We take so much time getting these favorite things into our minds and hearts because we love our friends. My best friend does not enjoy Japanese food very much. I like Japanese food. Because of my liking Japanese food, my friend has come to like it too. That is love. I know it is love.
Another way of showing our love for our friends is by way of avoiding the things they do not like or the things that make them angry. Some time ago, I found myself in front of a young married couple arguing against each other. The wife started feeling that she was not loved and cared for. The husband kept repeating: “I work myself to death so that I can get you the things you like. All that you like, all your favorite things, I am able to buy for you. That is my love for you.” He said with an air of frustration, feeling that his wife did not appreciate his sacrifice.
The wife asked him back, “You just do the things I like to do and get me the things I enjoy. But do you know what hurts me?”
The man could not answer. The wife dropped a statement that caught me awestruck too: “If you do not know the things that hurt me, how can you say you love me?” Part of loving indeed, is knowing what hurts the loved one and avoiding them so that the one we love may be spared from hurt.
Repeatedly in the Bible, God has told us what makes Him happy. He is happy when we serve. He is happy when we love one another. He is happy when we forgive seventy times seven times. But if we truly love God, we must also know what hurts Him. We must avoid the things that make Him sad, hurt, and pained.
Jesus was at His angriest state when He visited the temple and saw what the people had done to the Father’s House. What was it that made Jesus angry at the temple as to lead Him to make a whip of cords and drive the money-chang-ers and vendors away from the holy place? Was it the number of people crowding the area? Was it the animals being brought for sacrifice? Was it the incense and the money being brought into the temple? These are all external things. What made the Lord angry was the fact that although there were many people in the temple area, they were not treating each other as brothers and sisters but as merchants and customers. This was disgusting. What made the Lord angry was not the money being brought into the place of worship but the absence of love and the forgetfulness of the poor who had no money to buy the basic things in life. What made the Lord fuming mad was not the incense in the temple rising in the air. It was rather the reality that the rising incense was not accompanied by hearts rising to God in prayers. In other words, there was no spirit in what the people were doing. It was the lack of heart. The absence of the spirit in the external acts made the Lord very mad. If we truly love the Lord, we must avoid these. “If you do not know what hurts me, how can you say you love me?”
Another matter that always hurts the Lord is the hardness of the heart and insensitivity to His call to change of heart. He wept over Jerusalem because of the stubbornness of His countrymen. Complacency hurts our beloved Lord.
Complacency is self-satisfaction. It is the kind of self-satisfaction that makes us blind to the deficiencies and dangers on the road of life. Complacent people take things for granted. They are happy with their present situation and have no desire for progress. The Lord certainly does not want us to be complacent, to take things for granted, or to be self-satisfied. How does the Lord deliver us from complacency? How does the Lord deliver us from the blindness of self-satisfaction? He does it in at least two ways. Paul said to the Thessalonians, “You were called to holiness. You belong to God. So live up to your dignity as God’s children.” God was using St. Paul to put the Thessalonian community in the right place. God was using human beings to remind people not to become too self-satisfied.
When we are complacent, when we take things for granted, when we become negligent, sometimes the Lord sends a friend to remind us of our priorities. He may send a mother, a father, or somebody else to remind us what we should and should not do. But sometimes, He does not send friends to remind us. Sometimes the Lord does not send parents or relatives who will counsel us. Sometimes, the Lord sends crises into our lives to prevent us from becoming complacent.
The Lord uses crises to prevent us from becoming self-satisfied. The Lord uses it to jolt and shock us so we will recover our senses and return to our priorities. We can all be victims of complacency. Sometimes, the Lord reminds us with a gentle tap on the shoulder from a friend. Sometimes, the Lord encourages us and delivers us from negligence with the kind words of a relative or an officemate. But sometimes, the Lord shocks us and jolts us out of our complacency by sending an illness, a difficulty, or a problem.
Whatever it may be, let us ask the Lord to keep us from falling into complacency. Complacency is the feeling of self-satisfaction that blinds us to dangers or makes us so happy that we can no longer see our deficiencies, faults, and weaknesses. Complacency is perhaps the most common sin in Christian communities, where we take things for granted or become too satisfied with what we do and are. Let us ask the Lord to protect us from taking important things for granted. Let us set our hearts in the right place.
Do you really love the Lord? Do not be satisfied with doing the things He likes. Avoid, too, the things He dislikes.
WHAT’S HURTING YOU?
Jesus Our Light