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*By “Top,” I mean things that just came to me off the top of my head in the past 10 minutes.

With the release of my new book Love Matters More, I have been told that the title begs the question: more than what? Well, the obvious answer is: everything. But since I like to be specific, here is my List of Things Love Matters More Than. I am guessing there is a grammar mistake in that title but you know what? Love matters more than that too. 

10. Sin

I mean, the Bible says “love covers a multitude of sins.” It doesn’t say that “love artificially separates people from their behaviors so that I can say I care about you but still get approval from my peers by vocally disapproving of your life choices.” Love matters more than sin so I think it’s time we stop pretending that we can compartmentalize our love for people and throw that phrase, “love the sinner but hate the sin” in the garbage where it belongs.

9. Giving People My Opinion

I’m not sure where we picked up this bad habit but I grew up thinking that giving people my opinion about whether they are sinning or not was like the most important bullet point on the Christian’s job description. How else will they learn from inimitable knowledge of right and wrong? Eventually, I learned the only person not at risk of mistaking their opinion for The Truth™ is God. So, now, I still think giving my opinion can be loving but only in the context of previous relationship and only when it’s asked for.

8. The Time I Wrecked My Parent’s Car

Even though it was their new car. And we were on vacation at the time. And then fled the scene. I am putting this here in case they still harbor hard feelings. Love Matters More – right mom? 

7. Needing to Please Everyone

The idea that love matters more doesn’t only apply to jerks like me who like to be right and be in control. It also applies to the “keep the peace at all costs” and “people-pleasers” among us. Remember Jesus’ famous saying: “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-4). Love is this life of wisdom that tries to keep in balance my love for myself with my love for my neighbor. If we love our neighbors but it’s out of obligation or a fear of rejection, that’s not loving ourselves in balance. True love is found in the balance of serving others and the self-respect it takes to ask for others to serve us reciprocally. Let’s not mistake love for co-dependency.

6. Who You Voted For 

This seemed important to add given where we are in the election cycle. We can stand up for our convictions, vote our consciences, and work for social causes while staying in loving relationships with people who disagree with us fundamentally. Of course, some of us cannot. So rather than being in unloving and unhealthy relationships, we might consider boundaries. And boundaries aren’t unloving when done well and done out of, well, love. This fabulous Prentis Hemphill quote comes to mind, “Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.”

5. Teaching Grown Adults a Lesson

I have seen the phrase “speaking the truth in love” used as a weapon, usually as a tool to try and teach grown adults a lesson like they are children. Love matters more than our need to teach people lessons. Life comes with its own consequences – love respects people’s autonomy to make their own life choices. 

4. Your Interest in Modern Country Music

This one has taken me the longest to work through but I can honestly say that I’ve come to a place where love does matter more. 

3. My Ego

It’s taken me a long time to realize how self-deluded I’ve been. I convinced myself that my “tough love” was about the other person when in fact, it was about me being right. Or being unwilling to admit when I was wrong.

2. My kid’s inability to go to bed on time even though we’ve been going through the same routine for over a decade and we’ve begged and pleaded and DEAR GOD JUST LET US HAVE SOME ALONE TIME PLEASE.

This might be higher on the list than normal due to recent experiences.

1. My Interpretation of the Bible

If you read something in the Bible that feels unloving, trust the Spirit of God that has been cultivated in your life, and do some digging. It probably is. In a lot of cases, there is a much more charitable reading than the one you’ve learned. Remember, even if you think the Bible is without error, your interpretation isn’t. And there is no way to get to the Bible except through your interpretation.  I’ll leave you with one of my favorite St. Augustine quotes (yes he did say some good stuff): “Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbor, does not yet understand them as he ought.”

love matters more book

Pre-order Love Matters More and learn more here.

Jared Byas, M.A.

As a former teaching pastor and professor of philosophy and biblical studies, he speaks regularly on the Bible, truth, creativity, wisdom, and the Christian faith. Tweets at @jbyas