Christian Living

Loving by Leaving Rather than Staying (Prov 25:17)

As Christians, we always are trying to get better at loving other people. To love one another is, according to Christ, the tell tale sign of being a believer (John 13:35). In contrast to viewing love as a mere feeling, Christians understand there is a deeper definition of love (1 Cor 13:4-7). Love meets the needs of others. Love exalts others. Love seeks the betterment of others. Through everything, biblical love is the supreme element in healthy, God-honoring relationships.

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As I was reading through Proverbs the other day, I was struck by one of the practical ways to show love.

“Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.”

Prov 25:17

One’s home has always been viewed as a sanctuary, a place of security and comfort. To invade that security and comfort too often can cause a stress on any relationship. Let me give two examples that I have experienced.

One the one hand, I know a few amazing individuals who seem to have perfected this principle. These individuals never are an inconvenience or a bother. They will end conversations before they become a nuisance. They will leave your home before they become a burden. They are very considerate, always looking to be a blessing instead of an inconvenience. These men and women constantly remind me of the practicality of love. They are showing deference by how they interact with others in relation to time and space. They are fulfilling the theology of loving by not being a burden or inconvenience.

On the other hand, I have also known individuals who are not good at being considerate. In fact, they seem to fear that they will be forgotten if they are not always interacting in some way with others! Often they do not even consider the fact that there are other things others want to be doing. In contrast to the former group, these kinds of individuals are often a burden rather than a blessing to those around them.

Lest someone get the wrong idea, I am not writing about this to convict any particular individuals (although if you are convicted, maybe there is a reason!). Rather than targeting someone specific, I am simply sharing my thoughts in relation to Proverbs 25:17. I am personally convicted in my own life of the necessity of thinking of other people first.

It struck me recently that this proverb is a great application of love in that one should be willing to end their own fun a little early rather than risk staying a little too late and ruining someone else’s time. In other words, better to leave too early than to stay too late. It is practical, and biblical! I want to be someone who is always considerate of other people’s time and space. As I have observed this principle in play, I will admit that it is often those people who leave early, who are trying to be most considerate of others and their time—those are often the people who I want to spend most time with! Their love and kindness is infectious.

photo credit: Commit No Nuisance via photopin (license)

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He is a husband, father, and sports enthusiast.