_People using their cell phone’s default ringtone is #9 on my pet peeve list.  That is actually pretty high.  It’s a very long list.  To me, using the default ringtone represents a lack of ambition, creativity, and fun.  Also, the tune is usually pretty annoying.  It is like having the Windows logo as your computer background, having Yahoo.com as your home page, or choosing an iPhone over an Android phone.  You are setting yourself up to be bored.

This begs the question:  are all default settings bad…by default?  Based on my description above, that definitely seems to be the case with electronics.  But what about other things?  What about people? 

That got me thinking about my own default settings.  When I first see or interact with people, what are my first thoughts?  When somebody disagrees with me, what runs through my mind?  Are my instincts and immediate reactions Christ-like?

I actually starting monitoring this recently and the results were downright embarrassing.  When I first meet somebody, my first instincts are to judge, analyze, and be suspicious.  Sure, I’m smiling and making small talk, but my mind is going crazy trying to figure this person out.  When somebody disagrees with me, I am very quick to accuse, get frustrated, and look for their faults.  I am respectful in any debate, but it seems my pride plays a much larger role than I thought.  Talk about a feel good kind of activity.  I feel like I have the makings of a super villain…and not in a good way.

But you know what?  According to the Apostle Paul, that is everyone’s default setting.  In Romans 7:18, he says:  “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”  Due to our sinful nature, we are all programmed to be sinful.  It is only by God’s grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we are able to overcome that sin and love our neighbors as we are called to do.

What would it be like if love was your default?  What if the first thing that entered your mind every time you interacted with someone was, “This is a child of God.  God loves him/her so much.  So should I.”?  Would your intentions change?  Would you treat them differently?  I certainly hope so.

So let’s give it a shot.  While I cannot stand clichés, practice does indeed make perfect.  The only way to make love your default setting is to love people as much and as often as you can.  Whenever you find yourself judging someone, remember who their Father is.  If you start to get frustrated, remind yourself of the grace and forgiveness you have received that you certainly do not deserve.  Every time you catch yourself having a sinful reaction, correct it and focus on love.  In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus tells us that the two greatest commandments are founded in love.  Loving God and others should always be our focus.  We all need to change our default settings.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Is love your default setting?

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