Sunday, February 19, 2017

No Conditions For Loving, But Many For Living

David Augsburger, one of my family studies teachers years ago, makes a helpful distinction between 'conditions for loving' and 'conditions for living'. 

As followers of Jesus we are commanded to respect, love and care for everyone unconditionally, even our enemies, but there may be many 'conditions for living' that define our relationships with others, whether in a friendship or in some other partnership as parents or spouses.

We may need to set reasonable and clear limits, for example, as to the amount of time or money we have to give to others. And to make clear what kinds of behaviors we are willing, or unwilling, to tolerate. If these reasonable and clear conditions are not respected, the relationship itself may need to be redefined. Others can then choose whether they value that enough to observe necessary agreements and agreed on boundaries.

As an example, if I am to engage in some business arrangement with another, I can insist that each party operate according to our contract, and not to make up arbitrary rules as we go along. I also have a right to expect that others engage in appropriate and respectful behaviors in the course of conducting business together. If those things don’t happen, I must still consistently demonstrate agape love toward them (perhaps tough love), but am not obligated to continue doing business with them.

Bottom line: While there are no conditions for unselfish loving, there may be many conditions for everyday living.
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