“And she said to him, ‘How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies.'” Judges 16:15 (Context: Judges 16:1-31)
“If you love me…” Where have you heard that before? The phrase stakes a moral claim on a person, obliging him or her to respond according to the claimant’s wishes. It is said by friends, spouses, parents, activists, politicians, and even whole tribes. Sometimes it reminds us of our righteous duty, but in our broken world it’s often just a guilt trap. Why wasn’t Samson more discerning? Because he did not give Yaweh’s claim first place; “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15) Following worldly guilt traps is deadly idolatry.
- From whom do I hear, “If you love/like/support me…”?
- Is that claim on my affections subject to my Father’s claim on my affections?
- Is that claimant’s wish subject to my Father’s commands?