Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Opposite of Love

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Opposites help us understand the world.

  • The opposite of hot is cold.
  • The opposite of fast is slow.
  • The opposite of big is little.
  • The opposite of spicy food is bland, tasteless food that is hardly worth eating.

But what is the opposite of love?

photo by The U.S. Army (creative commons)

The Opposite of Love

Some might say that the opposite of love is hate. But this is only partially true.

In his timeless work on the battle for the creative life, The War of Art (affiliate link), Steven Pressfield tells us more about the antithesis to love.

The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference.

Pressfield’s context is the creative pursuit. When we actually love our work, we feel a Resistance to doing it. The reason is because it matters to us. The more it matters, the more the Resistance.

The scariest thing that can happen to an artist, or anyone for that matter, is not caring. Indifference. Aloofness. Apathy.

We tell ourselves that not hating is just as good as loving, but it isn’t. We swallow the lie because it is easier to live a life of indifference than it is to love.

Even hatred leads to action. But apathy leads to absolutely nothing.

Pressfield’s words apply not only to how we view our lives, but also to how we view people.

What was So Good About the Good Samaritan?

I’m reminded of the story of the Good Samaritan.

In the story, a man was beaten and robbed and left for dead. Two other men, a priest and a rabbi, holy men of God, walked by him. They both saw him, but chose to pass by on the other side.

Maybe they felt sorry for him.  Maybe they didn’t. The story doesn’t focus on what they felt, but what they did. Which was nothing.

Then a third man, the good Samaritan, came by. He stopped. He bound up the man’s wounds. He took him to an inn. He fed him. He paid his bill. He met the beaten man’s needs.

This is how we love, by stopping and caring and doing. (Tweet that.)

Do You Love?

All too often we claim we love people, but we don’t do anything for them. They have a need, but we don’t stop and help.

We are too busy. We can’t afford the money. We can’t afford the time. We already helped someone else the other day.

Or we don’t approve of the mess they find themselves in. We call it sin. And since they chose it, it is really their fault they find themselves in such a mess. We fear getting their filth on us.

We tell them that judgment is coming. We demand repentance. And then we pass them on the other side of the road, claiming we don’t hate them.

But that is not enough.

Loving is stopping and helping. It is putting our arms around them, caring for their wounds. It is entering the mess of their lives, side by side, and helping them on their journey. Even if we get dirty. Even if it costs us something.

In fact, true love will always cost us something.

We can’t give ourselves credit for caring if we don’t hate someone. As my friend Bob Goff reminds us in his book, Love Does (affiliate link).

Have you ever experienced this kind of love? Have you loved someone like this?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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14 Replies

  1. lhoenigsberg

    Jeremy, I was just emailing a friend in another state this morning. I was relating how I had just come out of a period of apathy in my work. It scared me. My clients deserve better…they deserve everything I can give them. Then I prayed. Now, I am renewed, inspired, and filled with love again. Sometimes it’s a choice to love others, and sometimes, it’s a miracle. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts…and it’s agape. Great post and I tweeted you link. :o)

  2. I agree that apathy or indifference is the anthisesis is love. Our pastor stated it this way one time, he said, ” a hero is someone who sees a need and meets it.” When I think of the opposite of love, I think of 1 Corinthians 13. In fact, in that passage is says was love is NOT. Love: is not rude, is not self-seeking, does not dishonor, is not proud is not easily angered, does not keep a record of wrongs, does not delight in evil. In addition to this the opposite of love would be all the opposites of what 1 Cor 13 says love IS. Since God’s love is agape love or sacrificial love, whenever we have the opportunity to sacrifice, like you mentioned in your blog and we don’t, THAT would be the opposite of love.

  3. Angela Meyer

    It’s safer not to care. But God didn’t mean for us to live life safe! He called us to change our world – and that takes courage to love. Thanks for your encouragement!

    Angela D. Meyer

  4. Mike Zserdin

    Stepping into messy stories…

    It’s not easy. But, it is fulfilling. Thanks Jeremy.

  5. Love costs time. I’ve found the way we spend our time reflects what or who we love.

    I am easily distracted by things that peak my short-term interest. If I’m not intentional with my time with my family or self-development, I can ignore my family and responsibilities.

    This reminds me to pray for my lovable buddies who are going thru hard times.
    Thanks for your encouraging words.

  6. Sabine Jung

    Apathy is made with excuses not to act. Loving someone in big need costs to share the mess and the despair, but the rewards are great!

  7. Ouch! Posts like this hurt every time. But thanks. :)

  8. It’s not meant to hurt.

  9. I think you are right. The hard part is seeing past the despair to the rewards.

  10. Real love does cost time, doesn’t it. But it doesn’t always have to be time heavy. If time is limited, their are other ways to sacrifice as well.

  11. It took me 600 words to say the same as you did in 7.

  12. I agree. Not just change it, but be a part of his redemption in how we interact with the world.

  13. Thanks for the words, Tom. Sacrifice is so good, but so hard.

  14. That’s great. I think life and work can be more fulfilling when it isn’t done in apathy. Thanks for the tweets.

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