We say “good morning” when it’s not. People ask us how we’re doing and we say “fine thanks!” when we are anything but… Someone cooks dinner and we say “it’s really good!” when we’re really thinking it’s got too much salt. People say “I love you” and we say “I love you too”….
In Matthew 5:37 Jesus says “Simply let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” He’s talking about people making promises and he says don’t swear on the heavens or on the earth or even on your own head because you can’t control any of those things, all you can control is yourself… so let your word stand on it’s own… if you say “yes” people should know that you mean “yes”… basically say what you mean, and mean what you say.
We’re all guilty of this… mixed messaged, sarcasm, cynicism, patronizing or just being polite.. we say the things we think we should say and not always what we really should say, or what we mean. If a friend makes a huge fool of themselves on a stage we’ll pat them on the back and say something stupid like “I don’t think anyone even noticed”, when really we know everyone noticed. We’ll say “this happened because God has something better planned for you”, when really God had nothing to do with it at all, we’re just reaching for something to make us sound wise or helpful or spiritual or make our friend feel better, true or not.
In the book of James we’re told that the tongue is a small part of your body but it can set your whole life on fire as easy as a spark can light up a forrest. Sometimes we tell a lie on purpose, sometimes it’s just a half-truth to avoid an awkward moment.. but the Bible says we should say what we mean and mean what we say.
“I love you!”
“I love you too…..?”
Some of the half-truths we tell hurt others more than we think. God has said He loves us. He proved himself true when he sent His son to die in our place, when he made a way for us to come home. We say we love Him too, and we prove ourselves liars when we continually spit at the foot of the cross with our ways. God says “be hot or cold, if you’re luke-warm I will vomit you out of my mouth…” He wants us to either be for Him or against Him… if we say we love Him but act differently… we will be rejected like a stomach full of rotten, infested luke-warm water.
The same applies to to our relationships with others. Be hot or cold, not luke warm… say what you mean so everyone knows exactly where you stand. When I say be “cold” I don’t mean you should be rude or mean or unloving, what I mean is the you shouldn’t depend on the half-truths to get you by. Don’t tell someone you love them if you don’t mean it… don’t tell someone you are behind them if you’re not, that you’ll catch them if you won’t, that you’ll stay if you’re going to pack up and leave.
We depend on the people in our lives, especially our friends and family, and the people in your life depend on you. “I love you” is one of the heaviest phrases in our language, even though we often don’t see it that way. Love means that someone else is more important to you than you are to yourself… love is binding.. when someone says they love you, hear the weight behind the words… you don’t have to say “I love you too”, if you don’t mean it, don’t be luke-warm and say it just because you think that’s what they want to hear.. eventually there will come a time when it will become apparent that you weren’t meaning what you said, and the person or people depending on you will be left hanging.
Don’t take this to mean that if someone lets you down or makes a mistake or hurts you that they don’t love you… or that if you have messed up and hurt someone else that I’m saying your love wasn’t genuine.. God has given us the capacity to love, but this side of eternity we will love like humans do, and there will be times we screw up and hurt each other more than we think we could. In the case of love, “I love you” is a commitment.. it’s not a promise to be perfect, it’s a promise to not give up… Just like our claim to love God, it’s a long journey. It will be harder at times, it may seem almost impossible at others, but love means that person is more important to you than you are to yourself. Love is sacrifice and work, not selfishness and ease… it’s a choice, not an emotion.. ask any parent if loving their child is always easy.. ask any family who has seen a loved one struggle through addiction or abuse if love is easy… ask anyone who has been through a divorce or a death or watched their husband or wife sail off to war…
Love hurts sometimes, because it’s supposed to. Love is a big barbed hook in your heart connecting it to another, sometimes it holds you together, sometimes it feels like it’s going to just rip your heart right out of your chest.
God loves you, there’s a big barbed hook in His heart chaining Him to you.. people in your life love you, with hooks in their hearts as well.. are they pulling you close? …or just pulling?