Wednesday, December 9, 2015

WWOW? (What Would Others Want?)

"Love does not insist on its own way."
1 Corinthians 13:5

Remember the WWJD? bracelets?  While that acronym has become somewhat of a punchline nowadays, back in the day it was an honest attempt to remind ourselves to think like Jesus in all situations. I confess I owned and wore several of those bracelets and I'm still asking myself that question several times a day.

While that is a great question (in fact, one of the best questions we can ask ourselves) there are other important questions as well. One of those questions, too often neglected, is this: "What would others want?"

Imagine a man coming into his pastor's office to vent about his wife. Their annual vacation was coming up and they had gotten into several heated arguments over where to go. She wanted to visit family down South. He wanted to rent a vacation house on the beach, far from any trouble (including in-laws). For 45 minutes he laments how difficult work had been, how he needs to relax, and how his wife is being completely unwilling to reason. She is rebellious and selfish, or at least that is his perspective.

Perhaps she was being selfish (it would be hard to tell from a one-sided conversation). But what we do know was that the husband was failing to love. In fact, they probably both were to some degree. James 4:1 says "what causes fights and quarrels among you? Is it not this, that your passions quarrel within you?" In other words, whenever our personal desires become that which guides our behavior, we are automatically put onto a path towards conflict with other people. We become the god which must be appeased.

Whenever we focus on ourselves we actually practice the opposite of love.  By its very nature, the focus of love is outward, towards others. This means we become chiefly concerned with what those around us desire. Sadly, nearly all marital, relational, and church conflicts come down to one or more parties putting their own desires ahead of everyone else.

Of course, the cure is to do the opposite. Find joy in pleasing others. Let the older congregant sing some more of the hymns, or if you are the older congregant, take pleasure in allowing the younger members of your church to have their contemporary music. Seek to put your spouse, or your peer at work, above yourself.

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