Jun 102013 15 Responses

Love Doesn’t Always Feel Loving (or Why It’s Okay to Leave Your Child in Jail)

Do what is loving.

Nothing defines which action is right as much as those four words.

Always do what is loving. As a pastor, I would define the opposite of love as sin.

Determining the right action in any situation is as simple as finding the action which is most loving.

Our problem is that love doesn’t always feel loving. And what feels like love can sometimes be the opposite.

It feels loving to bail out the drug addict for the 10th time and to use your connections to ensure they face no legal ramifications. It feels unloving to let your firstborn sit in jail over night. But which action is the most loving?

It feels loving to say nothing even though your spouse has hurt your feelings yet again. It feels unloving to say how you feel and risk a fight. But which action is the most loving?

It feels loving to give money to the person with the sad story. It feels unloving to turn them away. But which action is the most loving?

Right is not determined by what feels the most loving but by what actually is the most loving.

Feelings can deceive. We must determine which action is loving, not which one feels loving.

Here are a few questions to assist us in finding the most loving action.

How to determine what is loving:

Is it within my right? Just because something is right doesn’t mean we have the right to do it. Many times we are wrong to say something to someone not because what we say is wrong, but because we do not have the right (or relationship) to say it. No matter how right the parenting advice you give a stranger in Wal-Mart, it is probably not a loving action to give such advice because you have not been asked your opinion. If something isn’t your business and you don’t have the relationship to say something, no matter what you say it is likely wrong.

Is it in the other person’s long-term interest? Probably the greatest distinction between what is loving and what feels loving is the long-term effect of the action. Many things which feel loving do not stand the test of time as a loving act. Many things which feel unloving in the moment are actually in the person’s best interest over a long period of time.

Is it within God’s boundaries? Love will never violate God’s commands. One of the easiest ways to deem an action as unloving is to determine that it violates what God has commanded.

Is it more for them than us? Things which feel loving, but aren’t loving, often feel so because they make us feel good. Love is in the best interest of another, whereas the feeling of love is often in our best interest. Many things disguise themselves as loving because they make us feel good for doing them. It’s the ultimate deceit—we feel good for doing what we think is loving even though it is the opposite of love.

Every action—in parenting, leadership, marriage, and life—should be born from love. Love is right, yet knowing what is actually loving isn’t as easy as we think. Many things feel loving even though they aren’t. Distinguishing between what feels loving and what actually is loving is the first step toward acting wisely.

Name something that is loving despite not feeling like love.

15 Responses to Love Doesn’t Always Feel Loving (or Why It’s Okay to Leave Your Child in Jail)
  1. [...] Love them. No matter what choice a child makes, they are always your child. Clearly communicate to your ... kevinathompson.com/how-to-parent-an-adult-child-who-is-making-bad-decisions
  2. […] Just because someone is mean doesn’t give you the freedom to stop loving them. Remember, Love... kevinathompson.com/how-to-respond-to-mean-people
  3. […] But sometimes we can’t. (See: Love Doesn’t Always Feel Loving) […]... kevinathompson.com/one-hat

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