By David Hegg
It doesn’t happen often but recently I ran into someone who reads this column regularly. After thanking her for some encouraging comments, I asked, “What would like to read about in my column?”
She replied, “Tell us what makes life good for you.” So here it is. But I’m going even further and suggesting these three loves as the essential components of any healthy, satisfying and significant life.
1. Love God. Of course, you knew I would start there, for those who understand and are humbled by the fact that they are loved and created for a purpose by Almighty God will have the best chance to live selflessly and sacrificially. To love God is to realize that life is about much more than self. It is a privilege to be lived out in partnership with the One who has all time and history in his hands and is working all things according to the counsel of his own will. To love God is to submit to that will and find freedom from the brokenness of this world through his Son, whose birth the world is celebrating.
Ironically, love for God is actually the response of the one who comes to understand just how much God loves all he has created. It was this love that moved him to send Jesus, and through him to offer forgiveness to all who would humble themselves, turn from their own sinful ways, and entrust their very lives to him.
To understand God’s love and love him in return is to lay a unique foundation for the two other essential loves necessary for a purposeful, satisfying life.
2. Love Family. I have been privileged to travel abroad many times, eat at some of the world’s finest restaurants, marvel at many of our greatest architectural and historical sites, and sit with some of the smartest people around. But all these pale in comparison to the joy I will feel when my children bring their spouses to our home to celebrate Christmas. Being together with those I love grants me a sense of gladness and fulfillment nothing else on Earth can match. My greatest accomplishment has always been my family, and the way we truly love one another.
Sometimes love for family is eclipsed by our desire for success, or wealth, or personal convenience. In these cases, our lives erode in significant, though imperceptible ways. Someone has said “the best things in life are not things.” If this is true, it only magnifies the importance of relationships. Sadly, too many end up regretting the words and ways they have chosen to defend their pride rather than pursue peace through patience and sacrificial love. Don’t be one of those people. Use what time and energy you have to strengthen and enjoy those closest to you.
3. Love Neighbors. Jesus told a famous story to answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” His answer was simple. Everyone who can be benefited by your love and care is your neighbor. To love our neighbors is simply to see them, and treat them as those deserving of our best, regardless of their race or social standing.
Over the past months this “love” has been severely tested in our nation. Neighbors have hurt one another, defamed one another, and even inflicted harm on one another. To carelessly chalk it all up to racial tension is both simplistic and dangerous. Right and wrong don’t come in colors. The command to love one another is given to everyone, and it is to be exercised toward everyone. The problem isn’t race, it’s hatred, and those who allow themselves to become instruments of hate ultimately are ripping apart any chance they have for a meaningful, satisfying life.
So, to all my readers, thanks for being good neighbors. Our community is a great place to live, work and raise children. Let’s keep it that way by making love our aim and refusing to allow legitimate differences to erode meaningful conversation and dialogue into hate-filled diatribes and worse.
May the joys of Christmas be yours in fullest measure. Merry Christmas!
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.