by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 13 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Blue Denim and Lace)
On a recent weekday morning I was speaking in a church in the city where I grew up. I had moved there when I was only one year old. There I attended elementary school, junior high school, and high school. I was faithful to my church as a child. I had pastored in the same county for nearly seven years. I had helped to start sixteen churches in the area, and twelve of my preacher boys are now pastoring nearby. In spite of this, there were less than a hundred people in the morning service, and to my knowledge not one from the church where I grew up and only two from the church where I pastored for seven years.
"Don't they love me?" I asked.
"Why, of course, they do," was the answer that came to my mind. It is just the fact that they did not love me as much as I loved them. Perhaps this is just another case of deep love being unreturned.
What causes us to have such little depth of love? Perhaps there are several reasons:
1. Most love is simply the satisfying of an appetite. People normally come to hear a person speak because they want to see him or because they want to hear him. If they have heard him recently, why should they hear him again? We seldom think about the satisfying of the appetites of others. we are basically concerned about the satisfying of our own appetites. This, of course, is not deep love. In some sense, it is lust in that it is to satisfy an appetite.
2. Most love must be generated by an atmosphere. A beautiful moon at night, soft music in the background, the faint smell of perfume, etc. not only are helpful but oftentimes necessary to most love. Real love loves at all times, at noonday as well as midnight, and whether the odor is Chanel No. 5 or "Perspiration No. 6."
As a boy I went with a girl whom I liked very much. One night we were walking together looking at the moon when she said, "Doesn't that moon make you feel romantic?"
I answered, "Yes."
She talked about the moon for thirty minutes. (I think she was in love with the Moon.) I felt like shouting, "How about me?" The moon is only a visual aid.
I have often said that when I love someone I love them as much on the Dan Ryan Expressway in downtown Chicago as I do on a lonely road with a beautiful moon.
3. Most love becomes disinterested when acquired. Here is a tragic truth. It is the acquiring of the relationship that many people want rather than the having of the relationship. Many marriages fail because the acquiring of the relationship is more important than the relationship itself. The same is true with friendships. The acquiring of a relationship is certainly not the ending but just the beginning. It is the commencement. Real character is never satisfied with its depth.
4. Much love know no degree or availability of depth. One should think of the great possibilities of the depth of love. God is love. In Him is perfect love. The difference between the love I have today and the love He has is the potential for the growth and depth of my love. It is not "in love and out of love." It is not simply love or no love. When one learns to love, he enters into a world of possibilities, growth, and depth.
Upon returning from the morning service mentioned in the first paragraph is this chapter someone asked, "Doesn't that make you sad? Isn't it heartbreaking when people do not love you as much as you love them?"
My answer was one emphatic "no" for several reasons as found below:
a. The line between positive and negative should be very low. It should take very little to please us, and it should take much to displease us. We should find our satisfaction in loving, not being loved. Our joys should be wrapped up in the giving, not the receiving.
b. It is good to take a trip; it is better to have a partner. Notice I did not say it is good to take a trip with a partner, but bad to go alone. It is not a matter of good or bad, but good or better. Hence, if a friend's love for your does not increase, it will not keep your love from deepening. Believe me, it is better for you to love alone than not to love at all. If one has to take the trip of depth alone, it is not as good as sharing it with another, but it is infinitely better than not knowing the depth.
c. Sometimes a relationship comes that reciprocates. When this happens, it turns good into better. Bear in mind that it does not turn bad into good. To have love is good; to have love that is reciprocated is better.
d. Such relations let us look into the mind of God. When we love and it is not returned, we know something, of His great heart of love. He so seldom finds reciprocation. When we do find a relationship where love is reciprocated, we know something of how God feels when He finds someone who loves Him with all his heart. Bear in mind that the purpose of God's creating man was that man might love and fellowship with God. Though God is grieved when His love is not returned, He nevertheless does not withdraw His love. How happy He must be, however, when one of His creatures returns His love.
e. The more lonely we become, the less lonely He becomes. The deeper a person grows in his love the more he is separated from the rest of mankind. In that separation, however, he becomes more like Christ and he finds he can offer Christ pure fellowship. When we grow in grace and in love and find ourselves misunderstood and lonely, we look around and find that Christ has been there all of the time. He is happy to see us. Then, and only then, can we offer Him the love for which He yearns. Since His love is so unlike our love, when our love becomes like His love, our love will become less like the love of man. As it becomes less like the love of man, it becomes more like the love of God. As it becomes more like the love of God, it gives us the ability to help satisfy the travail of His soul.
f. This is the kind of love that does not stop when it cannot be reciprocated. This love does not forget the pretty when it becomes ugly. It does not forget the young when it becomes old. It does not forget the rich when it becomes poor. It "never faileth."
1. I want to keep lovable. Since most people know nothing about deep love, but rather tend to seek that which satisfies the appetite, I would then attempt to keep in my personality and character the things for which the appetites crave. For example, if a person is hungry to hear a fresh message, I would want to provide that fresh message. If a person is hungry to be with a friendly soul, I would want to be that friendly soul. Just because another's love is not as deep as mine should not keep me from attempting to satisfy his wholesome and holy appetites. In other words, I want to keep having what they need. No doubt, hundreds of people come to hear us preachers simply because we have what they need. They do not come because they deeply love us; they come because they love to hear us. If this be true, we should have what they need.
2. I can thank God that I am where I am and not where they are. It is infinitely better to be the lover than the loved. It is better to offer love unreciprocated than it is to fail to reciprocate love offered you.
3. May I never be a mental or physical invalid. This is a strange thought, but a true one. How tragic it would be to lose the ability to love. Then how tragic it would be to retain that ability but lose the ability to help those whom you love. Hence, I must keep my mind healthy so I can love my friends. I must keep my body healthy so that I can help my friends.
Perhaps the most underrated word in the English language is "friend." He is "just a friend," we often say. That is like saying that eternity is "just forever" or that the ocean is "just a pond." let us pray God to give us depth of love and depth of relationship even if that depth is unreciprocated. There is little doubt in my mind that in God's mercy He will, in His own time and will, give us a relationship or relationships that do reciprocate.
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“I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion,
warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years.” —Billy SUNDAY