A story is told about a boy who lived near a wood. One day he went into the wood and thought he could hear somebody else moving about. He called out ‘Who are you?’ and the reply came back ‘Who are you?’ He then shouted, ‘You’re a stinker!’ and back came the response ‘You’re a stinker!’ He continued to shout out insults and each time the same insult came back to him.
He went home to his mother and told her that there was rude boy in the wood. She quickly realised that he was hearing an echo and suggested that he go back and shout something nice to the ‘rude boy’.
He went back and called out ‘Hello’; back came ‘Hello’. ‘You’re a good boy’ was met with ‘You’re a good boy’; ‘I love you’ elicited the response ‘I love you’.
It’s a simple story but it reveals a secret about human relationships. If we find that other people are disagreeable or cold towards us it may be that they are merely reflecting what they receive from us. People who show love towards others are often met with love in return.
In a recent blog I wrote about 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and the idea that without charity we are nothing. I suppose it may be possible for a doctor to be a capable doctor without love, for a lawyer to be a persuasive advocate without love or for a shopkeeper to run a successful business without love. However, I do not believe that we can be effective Primary teachers, Bishops, visiting teachers, missionaries or youth leaders without love. We cannot authentically represent the Saviour we serve without reflecting His pure love.