For decades Andrea Mosconi followed the same routine six mornings a week. The Italian maestro donned a coat and tie, went to the city hall in Cremona, Italy, and entered the violin museum. There he stood before the elaborate, multilocked cases and admired some of the most valuable musical instruments on the planet. They are to music what the Declaration of Independence is to American history: relics of inestimable value.
The museum contained two violins and a viola built by the Amati family, two violins by the Guarneris, and most precious of all a violin crafted by the hands of the master himself, Antonio Stradivari.
With most of them being more than three hundred years old, they deserve attention. Left untouched, untuned, and unstroked, the instruments begin to lose their vibrancy. Hence, Mr. Mosconi. His job description consisted of one sentence: play music. Every morning but Sunday and every month but August, he brought the best out of the best.
He gingerly and reverently removed each instrument from its glass case, played it for six or seven minutes, and then returned it before moving on to the next one. By the time he finished a day’s work, the museum had heard the sweetest music, and the most valuable instruments had felt the tenderest care.1
You, me, and Mr. Mosconi have something in common. You don’t step into a museum in Italy every day. I don’t cradle a Stradivarius. We aren’t conservators for musical instruments. No, our assignments are far more important. We have a chance to bring the best out of people. What could produce more joy than that?
Some of the treasures live in your house; they share your name. You tend to think of them as the ones who forget to clean the dishes or pick up their laundry. But the truth? They are finely tuned instruments crafted by the hand of God. You seldom regard them as such. After all, they have bad breath and bad attitudes and are prone to practice bad habits. But handled with care, they can make some music.
Your museum includes a host of functional folk as well. They check out your groceries, grade your quizzes, or take your blood pressure. They wear police uniforms and drive carpools and check your computer when the office internet goes down. They compose a collage of humanity, blending in more than standing out. They’d blush at the thought of being called a Stradivarius, yet that is what they are. Uniquely shaped and destined to bring one-of-a-kind music into the world.
All they need is a Mosconi, a skilled curator committed to bringing the best out of them. All they need is someone who is willing to take on the greatest of the “one another” commands: “Love one another” (1 John 4:11).
Remember, God invites us to find happiness through the back door. Most people seek joy through the front door. Buy it, wear it, marry it, or win it. The lesser-used back door embraces God’s wisdom: happiness happens as we give it away. It’s less about getting, more about giving, less about being loved, and more about loving others.
I find at least eleven appearances of the “love one another” admonition. Three by Christ (John 13:34; 15:12, 17). Three by Paul (Rom. 13:8; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:9). One by Peter (1 Peter 1:22) and four by the apostle John (1 John 3:11; 4:7, 11; 2 John v. 5).
The Greek word used for love (agape) in these passages denotes an unselfish affection.2 Agape love writes the check when the balance is low, forgives the mistake when the offense is high, offers patience when stress is abundant, and extends kindness when kindness is rare. “For God so loved [agapaó] the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16 NIV). Agape love gives. The agape tree is rooted in the soil of devotion. But don’t think for a moment that its fruit is sour. A sweet happiness awaits those who are willing to care for the orchard.
Do you find such love difficult to muster? Scarce? If so, you may be missing a step. Love for others begins, not by giving love but by receiving the love of Christ. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
Max Lucado, How Happiness Happens: Finding Lasting Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2019).
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