The Absent Are Safe Here

Categories: Devotional,1 Corinthians

Love always protects. That’s what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:7.

Love does protect, doesn’t it? That is one of the wonderful things about people who love you. They do not deliberately expose you to things that might hurt you. Instead, they do their best to protect you.

We do that with children. We protect their bodies, what their eyes see, and what their ears hear. We protect even “big kids.” If we have something to say about anyone that might cause unnecessary pain, we don’t like that person to hear it. We are inclined to not say it in their presence.

Robertson McQuilken took that inclination even further, he did not like to speak ill of anyone even outside of that person’s presence. McQuilken was a missionary to Japan. For many years he also served as president of Columbia International University in South Carolina.

Dr McQuilken had a plaque that hung in his living room. It read:


Sometimes when people would be visiting the McQuilken’s home the conversation would turn painful and negative about someone not there in the room. When that happened, Mr. McQuilken would gently turn his eyes to look at the plaque. He didn’t say anything, he just looked at the words and with his gaze directed everyone’s eyes to that pledge: “The absent are safe here.” And, like magic, the conversation changed. Wonderful!

Imagine your being in a circle of friends who, even when you are not there, will keep your reputation safe.
Have you ever experienced that—the close intimacy, the healing that comes in being with a group of people with whom you are completely safe?

I experienced it living with a bunch of guys in seminary. We all lived on the same floor at Gordon-Conwell on Boston’s North Shore. There were 3 of us who would get together after dinner. We would grab cups of coffee from the cafeteria and go up to one of our dorm rooms, shut the door, and talk. Great fellowship. We spoke about everything, and we laughed with real laughter.

Karl Barth, the Swiss theologian, was right when he said that laughter, good laughter, is the closest thing to the grace of God. Barth wasn’t talking about laughter from corse jokes or the kind that comes from putting someone down. He was talking about the kind I enjoyed with my friends at grad school.

Well, in that dorm room we could really talk about anything, really, even things that were bothering us. We knew that everyone would listen. And, we were all absolutely sure that no one would ever quote us in a wrong way. If anyone ever would speak about what we shared in that room, we all knew it would be put it in the best light.

Real love is like that. Love always protects. That’s part of why it even feels so good to love, and to be loved.

Now, that’s something to Celebrate!

Author: Toby Larson

Toby Larson leads Celebration International. He is a husband and father of 5. Whether he's teaching, hitting tennis balls, sailing a Hobie, serving in Asia, skiing on water or snow, Toby is passionate about the love of God and the love of life. Read more ...