Even though I have just barely started my study of 1 Corinthians 13 I have already become more aware of the way I love (or don't love) others. I found myself in a situation today, where after it was over I knew I hadn't handled it with love. Let me explain:
My husband forgot his phone when he went to work today, so I offered to drive it down to him. When I pulled up in front of his store there was a homeless man sitting out front at one of his outdoor tables. While in general homeless people do not bother me, there was something about this one that didn't sit quite right with me. I called to let my husband know we were there, and we sat in the car (as usual) until he had a chance to come out (he doesn't need 4 small children running around his business, harassing his customers). He wasn't very busy, so it didn't take long. When he came out to the van I asked if he had a minute to sit with the kids so I could borrow his restroom, and he graciously agreed. When I came back out of the store the homeless man asked for a moment of my time (not in those words) and started explaining to me the price of a bowl of beans... I don't know where he was planning on buying a bowl of beans as he didn't explain that part, but apparently they cost a dollar. He was trying to tell me how much something else cost when I cut him off. I simply told him that he wasn't allowed to solicit there, and went back to our van. My husband was oh so proud of me. He said thank you and gave me a big hug. The homeless man left, and I felt absolutely...terrible.
Where was Jesus in my actions? Yes, part of the reason my husband wasn't busy right then was because of this man sitting in front of his store. He was the reason that customers were choosing to go to the other restaurants instead. He was breaking the law by loitering and soliciting where he wasn't suppose to be... but in light of eternity, how did my actions effect him? He certainly didn't walk away seeing the love of Jesus in me. He walked away hurt and hungry. I truly didn't have a dollar to give him, but I didn't even try to be kind to him. I was upset that he was there. I was put out by this man that God loves so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for his sins. I don't know the spiritual state of this man, I wouldn't guess that he knew Jesus by the way he spoke to me, but then again, I'm sure that he wouldn't guess that I knew Jesus by the way that I spoke to him either... What's done is done, all I can do now is pray that somewhere he meets up with a Christian who can love him. Someone who isn't too stuck up to take the time to just love him as Christ calls us to in 1 Corinthians 13. And I pray that through this study God will change me so that in the future I will be able to love others this way.
I started this post with a question about finding the balance on my mind. Where do we balance our love for these people? He was breaking the law and hurting my husbands business, and sitting down with him wouldn't have made my husband too happy. My original question was how do we balance that? How do we balance loving the world with life? But I think somewhere along the way of writing my post I answered my own question. In light of eternity, which is most important? I think that is the real question, and in the answer to that question lies the answer to all other questions.
I found this video, and while I have always loved this song, it has a new meaning to me tonight. It is my prayer, that He will change my heart, hold me close and surround me with His love.