Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

The Wizard of Oz ranks at the top of the list of some of the most beloved films in American cinema. In case you forgot how the story goes, each of the main characters wanted the Wizard to help them by giving them something they felt they lacked. The person I want to focus on, the Tin Man, wanted a heart.

The Wizard informs the Tin Man, much to his surprise, that he already had a heart. His good deeds were evidence of his heart. In fact, the Wizard says that the Tin Man’s good deeds were just as good, if not better than the good deeds of the “good-deed doers” of the world (that would be humanitarians for our tongue-tied friend). What the Tin Man really needs is a Testimonial. That’s when the Wizard presents the Tin Man with the heart shaped watch and fob. Now comes the Wizard’s error. Upon presenting the testimonial the Wizard says, “A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”

On its face, this sounds pretty good because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to be loved? But when you really think about it, you realize that the Wizard’s statement is one of the biggest loads of hooey ever pronounced. Even Hitler and Osama bin Laden had people who loved them, and they were two of the most vicious and malevolent men who ever lived. They brought violence and death to anyone who didn’t fit their mold and vision of humanity. They were, and are, beloved by millions. Others might say they got the due and just results of their hatred.

The question remains, should a heart be judged by how much it is loved by others, or by how much it loves others?

Jesus put it this way in the Gospel of Luke:

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:35-36 (NIV)

The Bible also says that we know what love is because God has first loved us and that we are supposed to share that love with others (1 John 4:19-20). In Romans 5:8, the point of God’s love for even the wicked is reiterated when it says:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV)

So then, real love is about giving, not receiving. We must take that first step to reach out to that person who is our enemy, who does not love us, and show them genuine concern and compassion without expecting anything in return. Stop waiting to be loved and go out and love someone. Indeed, as the Wizard said himself, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” He has no idea what he is talking about.

Copyright © 2012 John P. King. Used by permission.

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