Off the Shelf and By the Book

by Rhonda Rhea

My favorite part of dusting the bookshelves in my office is the part where I never really do it. At all. And actually, it’s my personal belief that if there’s dust on a bookshelf, that means there aren’t enough books on it.

Incidentally, I’m always on the lookout for more books. And for more reasons to buy more books. Okay yes, I may have a bit of a book problem. Some may think me “shelf-ish” (I know, I can’t believe I said it either). I think I’d rather call it a dust problem, but whatever.

My favorite way to dust the bookshelves? Turn on the ceiling fan. After a few swirls of the fan I figure the dusting is done and I can sit down and read a book.

I won’t deny that I do have a lot of shelves—with a lot of books protecting all those shelves from dust. I was standing in the doorway staring into my office the other day and suddenly found myself thinking it’s a little embarrassing that though I have so many shelves and so many books, there’s not a book in there anywhere that I can pull to open up a secret passage. What an unfortunate oversight.

Neglected secret passages aside though, there are oversights along this life journey that are so much more unfortunate. I wish I could tell you that I’ve never overlooked a person. I would love to tell you I’ve never neglected giving needed attention to the people I’m called to love. But I have.

Does it ever happen to you? You see someone across the room and avoid eye contact so the person doesn’t mistakenly feel welcomed into a conversation. Or you’re at the grocery store and quickly jerk your cart onto an aisle you don’t need to visit, all to dodge getting trapped into a dialogue with that guy from down the street.

I so regularly need to dust off my compassion and grace and to become intentional in the way I love. Active love doesn’t avoid. As a matter of fact, it purposefully searches out opportunities to love—even to love the unlovely. To love the annoying. The foolish. The depressing. The smelly. The inconvenient people. An active love, dusted off and in use, is a love that goes yet beyond that. A God kind of love runs to meet those people.

It’s no secret that we can love like that as we allow the God of love to do it in us. “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love,” (1 John 4:7-8, HCSB).

To love unselfishly is to allow the God who is love to work in us. Anytime we’re not loving others, we’re testifying to the world that the Gospel hasn’t changed us on the inside as we claim. It’s like shelving our Gospel effectiveness.

Our love for others is our testimony. We’re the book others read, as it were. “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35, HCSB).

O Lord, may we be quick to love the unloveliest. As you work your love in and through our lives, may we ever love like You.

Here’s hoping we’re on the same page. Me? I’m mostly an open book.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.    Mark 12:30-31 HCSB

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What has helped you to maintain a loving attitude?


Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash




2 thoughts on “Off the Shelf and By the Book

  1. For me, love was a deliberate journey out of roundedness into light. After going through a huge battle to save my husband’s life, God said, “Sheri, now you need to learn AGAPE. You have friendship love and married love down very well. But you need to learn MY love for others.” Love was a choice I made to follow God. Sheri


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