Love first

The second Sunday of Advent | Love

Papers flew; children ran, fought, and screamed. I had given up trying to shout over my fourth-grade art class. It was my first week teaching in Peru, and my visions of well-behaved little angels, excited to learn, were already completely shattered. I looked down at my watch, hoping the 45-minute class was almost over. We were only 10 minutes in! Rage began to build inside of me as the class became louder and spun more and more out of control.

As soon as the class was over, I rushed to the teachers’ lounge to find the fourth-grade teacher. “Your students are horrible!” I shouted in Spanish, hands shaking. “I cannot teach your class! What is wrong with them?” She looked up at me. “I’m sorry. It’s a big class and they can be crazy. I will talk to them.” I stormed out of the room. The next day, feeling guilty, I apologized to the teacher for the way I acted. She accepted with a smile.

Afterwards I started thinking about how we tend to think of love as a sort of last resort. After we make fools of ourselves and feel guilty, then we approach the situation with love. We even do this to our families. We yell at each other, and then afterwards, approach the situation with love when we are ready to apologize. What if we could love first?

Wouldn’t life be a little easier if we paused for a moment and thought about a loving approach, instead of letting our emotions overcome us? It’s how we respond to adversity that sets us apart as Christians. Isn’t our whole goal as followers of Christ to be a living example of His love for us? I am challenged to love first, wholly and relentlessly. I bet I’ll find myself apologizing a lot less.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17, ESV).

— Ryan Sommers, EMM worker in Peru

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