by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 34 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Blue Denim and Lace)
I rushed out of my Wednesday evening service and out to the airport in time to catch a 10:00 plane for Atlanta, Georgia, and on to Greenville, South Carolina, where I was to speak for a few days at the Bob Jones University. I got to the airport just in time to get the last seat on the plane. I sat down beside a little lady whose hair was in rollers. She was obviously not dressed for traveling. I could tell, however, that she was of some means, for she had a beautiful diamond ring as well as a diamond pin. Courteously I spoke to her and sat down. The next thing I knew we were landing in Cincinnati, Ohio, for a brief layover. I was awakened by the touch of the wheels on the runway. As I roused, the little lady beside me shocked me by saying, "How could you do what you did?"
Not realizing what I had done, I inquired as to what she meant.
She said, "We have been through a terrible storm. We have been afraid and nervous, and all the time you just snored away. How could you do that during a storm?"
I replied that I did not know the circumstances but perhaps there were at least two reasons why I could sleep through a storm on an airplane: The first reason was that I fly tens of thousands of miles a year on commercial airliners. The second reason I told her was, "My Father owns the airplane."
She looked at me with a puzzled look on her face and said, "Do I understand you correctly? Your father owns this plane?'
"Yes," I said, "He owns the entire Delta Airlines system." This really aroused her curiosity until I continued. "He not only owns the Delta Airlines, but He also owns the American Airlines."
`Do I understand you correctly?" she asked. "You are the heir to the Delta and the American Airlines."
"That is right," I replied. "That is not all. He owns the Eastern Airlines, the Braniff Airlines, Ozark, United, Continental, and others."
By this time she was completely beside herself in ecstasy. "What an honor," she said, "to ride with such a person whose father is so wealthy." Then she asked the name of my father.
I replied that He was the Heavenly Father. When I said these words, she broke out weeping so that folks all around us could hear her. Her body shook as tears poured from her eyes.
"You must be a minister," she said.
"Yes, I am," I replied, "but I am also a Christian."
Then she told me an unusual story. She had worked her husband's way through college, sacrificing her own college education so that he might attain one. He had become very successful and was the manager of a large firm. With the passing of years, he had become ashamed of his wife because she was less educated than he, and now he was suing her for a divorce. When she heard of this, she attempted suicide. (This was just a few minutes before she got on the plane.) Some friends had brought her to the airport, and put her on the airplane to send her to Atlanta, Georgia, where her sister lived.
She looked at me and continued talking, "Oh sir, how unusual that a minister would sit beside me. Just a few minutes ago I tried to kill myself." Then shoe looked at me with a look of horror, fright, and anguish and asked, "Sir, . . .does your . . .God . . .love . . .me?"
I will never forget how she looked as she asked me if my God loved her. I was happy to tell her that not only did my God love her, but that I loved her too because Jesus loved her. At twenty-eight thousand feet in the air I told her the wonderful story of Christ and that God did love her. As I went to my hotel room in Atlanta, where I was to sleep for two or three hours before catching a plane to South Carolina, I knelt and prayed, "Dear God, let me love more. The only way people can see Thy love is to see it in me."
In order that our love might be more like His, let us examine a few ways to increase our love.
1. Remember it is better to love than to be loved. One can only guarantee fulfillment by loving, not by being loved. If one's happiness is built upon loving, then it can be controlled, but if his happiness is built upon being loved, it is built upon something over which he has no control. One who loves you can withdraw that love, and there is nothing that you can do about it. The happiest people and the people whose happiness is most secure are those who find their joy in loving rather than being loved.
2. Love is often unrecognized and unreturned. As one grows in love he finds himself the possessor of something that the flesh cannot recognize. The carnal mind is at enmity with God, and the flesh cannot determine spiritual traits. Hence, it is entirely possible that the people who love the least will receive credit for loving the most and that the world's greatest lovers will have their love unrecognized by the world. There are many preachers who are described as prophets of love because they never preach against sin, never rebuke their people, etc. On the other hand there are many preachers who are described as prophets of doom and hate who are really full of love for their people. Remember, love is of God, and this old carnal world knows nothing about God and His love. Because of this, the more true love that one has, the less recognition he will get for it. He may find himself being considered unloving by those who have little love but receive praise for being great lovers. Hence, when a person finds his joy and satisfaction in loving, he may have to become accustomed to having that love unrecognized by those about him.
3. Love gives the object its needs, not its wants. The love that the world knows is that which fulfills only the wants of its object. The love which God gives is that which oftentimes forfeits its own recognition in an effort to help. Many people who know true love find that oftentimes words of caution and even abruptness must be used to those you love in an effort to help them. The parent who loves his children enough to discipline them may be called an unloving parent. The pastor who loves his people enough to warn them may be called an unloving pastor. Though his love may go unrecognized on earth, it is certainly accepted and recognized as true love by Him Who is Love.
4. Love is often heartbroken. Remember that the higher one goes the lonelier he gets, and the more one loves the more he will feel unloved. He then compares his love for others with that which others have for him, finding that their love for him falls short of his love for them. The consequence is often heartbreak. The compensation for this is great, however, for the more we learn to love on earth, the higher will be our level of spiritual maturity and love in Heaven, and the more love we can offer to the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. We are not to love because of the object. "I love her because she is so sweet." "I just love him; he is so nice." These are immature statements that can lead to disappointments.
In the first place, if one's love is determined by the object, it can be also lost when the object changes. If you love her because she is sweet, you will quit loving her when she is sour. If you love him because he is nice, you will quit loving him when he is not nice. However, if you love him because God is love and has given you of His love, his changing will not change your love. Hence, our love should not be because of condition of the loved but because of the condition of the lover.
Another reason why this is important is that if we love because of the object, we will not love those who need loving the most. Jesus loved the unlovable, the unloving, and the unloved. To be like Him, we must do likewise.
6. Do not let the object stop your love. If one does not love because of the object, then also he should not stop loving if the object becomes unlovable. I have often said this to the people whom I pastor: "I cannot make you love me, but you cannot keep me from loving you." If one loves because the object is lovable, his love cannot increase unless the object becomes more lovable. In other words, he has no power to increase his love. If, however, one loves because of the love that Christ has placed in his heart, then he can increase his own love by increasing the size of his heart."
7. Keep all love within its proper bounds. If disciplined properly, every relationship can be developed to its fullest. There is love for mother, love for father, love for brother, love for sister, love for husband, love for wife, love for sweetheart, love for friend, etc. Each love should be kept within its own boundaries allowing each relationship to develop to its highest and fullest. It is wise for a person to list his relationships in life. Life is a series of human relationships, and one's happiness is largely determined by the development of each relationship. A list can be made such as the following:
I am a husband to Beverly Hyles.
I am a father to Becky Hyles, David Hyles, Linda Hyles, and Cindy Hyles.
I am a son to Mrs. C. M. Hyles.
I am a brother to Mrs. Earlyne Stephens
I am a pastor to the members of my church.
Now I must develop each of these relationships to its fullest thereby guaranteeing the happiness of each object as well as my own happiness. One does not have to choose between being a good husband and a good father, between a good father and a good friend, or a good son and a good boss. The late Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. used to say, "Duties never conflict." I can be a good whatever I am. God will give me no relationships that I cannot develop to the fullest.
8. The lover must make all reconciliations. When there is a strained relationship, it is up to the lover to lead in efforts of reconciliation. Remember the weak is usually too weak to make amends. It is up to the stronger to do so.
9. By all means, do not work on being loved. Seeking to be loved makes love impossible, for such actions are selfish, and love cannot be selfish. Selfishness cannot love. Most of the so-called love in our generation is selfish and possessive. It is nothing more than a desire to be with someone who satisfies one of the senses.
Several years ago I notices in the Fort Worth, Texas, newspaper a picture of a lady bending over the dead form of her husband whom she had just killed. As she picked his head up and put it in her lap she said, "Oh, how I loved you." (I told my wife that I didn't want her to love me that much.)
The average so-called love of today is nothing more than a desire to be around someone who is pretty or someone whose personality makes us feel good. It is basically wanting to be with someone who likes us. It is selfish and possessive if this is all that is involved. Hence, one should work on his loving and not on being loved. God will take care of giving to us those who loves us if we will take care of developing through Him and in Him the right kind of love flowing out of our own hearts.
10. Express your love. It is a wonderful thing to be able to express your love. This would simply mean being affectionate. Do you love him? Tell him. Do you love her? Tell her. Has she been a blessing to you? Let her know it. There is far too little tenderness and affection exchanged between friends in our generation. Words of love and affection are always in order if they are set within the proper bounds. Notes and letters to friends we love certainly should be written often. This is a very vital part of friendship and love.
Married people reveal their relationship by the wearing of the wedding band. Athletes wear letter sweaters. Soldiers wear uniforms. Our Lord wanted to give His people something as an insignia of their standing, something by which they could be identified. He did not choose rings for our fingers or a certain piece of clothing to cover our bodies. He simply choose love, for He said, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35)
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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