So last night, I did a little study over love…… went through the majority of every Bible verse that ever mentions love and I realized a few things.
Jesus/disciples are always, always reminding us what love really is. They are constantly putting the definition of what it is to act in love before us. And, I had to wonder why is love repeatedly defined, why are we shown what love looks like again and again, and why are we urged so heavily to LOVE.
I found it’s because we’re so eager to leave. To give up. To put ourselves above the other person. To put our comfort before the relationship.
Jesus tells us that love does no harm to his neighbor….. Read that as his brother, sister, coworker, friend, spouse, random person in the grocery store. We are to love. And, when we love we are fulfilling the law (do not covet, commit adultry, steal, kill, etc) – remember, when we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are no longer bound by the law but live by faith. So by faith, when we love our neighbors as ourselves, we are doing what we could not do under the law. We live out love by considering the other person as more important than ourselves – their perspectives, feelings, etc. as greater than ours.
The (self involved, btw) question becomes….. Well, what about me? What about my feelings? Who puts me ahead?
The perfect answer is displayed in the way God perfectly planned His love to be shown to the world. It’s in how Christians are to treat each other so that they will know we are His children – brothers and sisters in Christ loving each other. Considering each other as more important.
It’s a beautiful circle of God’s people showing God’s love to the world.
It’s easy to love those who love us….. Jesus tells us that. While we’re high-fiving each other because we’re so great at loving others (who love us), he tells us that there’s so no gain in that. Although loving people who love us is a great act of worship – it doesn’t give God as much glory and it doesn’t show who God is as magnificently as loving those who spitefuly use you, who persecute you unjustly, and who lie on you. Loving those people is the true test of whether or not we are loving others the way God loves us.
And, to be honest, loving others the way we want to be loved and forgiven when we are the ones who are lying, using, and acting selfishly. None of us are perfect and we all have the ability to sin. How do you want to be treated when you are in the wrong?
… I’d have to say with a grace that remembers that you are a sinner and sometimes (read always) needs saving. With a love/forgivness that won’t keep count of how many times you _____, that will toss your sins in the sea of forgiveness never to be brought up again, and with a forgiveness that treats you as if nothing ever happened. (Isn’t that what’s implied when Jesus says if someone slaps you on the right cheek (if they hurt/offend you), give them your left? You’d only do that if you acted as if they never slapped you in the first place. FORGIVE/FORGET. The true essence of forgiveness.
And, more than all of that, you’d want to be loved with a love that endures your bad behavior, that hopes & believes you will one day not _____ again, that will protect you even when you are wrong (GRACE!!!!!!)… you’d want the love that perseveres your mood swings, impatience, and ugliness… the love that bears all.
Because. Love. Never. Fails.
(at bearing… persevering… hoping… believing. It cannot NOT do these things.)
We don’t have a reason not to do everything we can, everything in our power, to maintain relationships. We can’t control another person, we can’t make them do their part in maintaining – but we can absolutely do what we can until they choose to walk away. And, when they do, because we love them… we forgive, we persevere, we bear, we are patient, and kind when they are in our presence or decide to come back to us. As far as it depends on us, we will be at peace with all men. PERIOD. Regardless of the circumstances and situations. WHY? Because by this we will show that we are followers of the true and living God. The one who loves us the exact same way He expects us to love each other.
How in the world can you love this way?
We have to first understand that we are sinners, that you actually don’t mean the best when you are nice/nasty to the coworker you don’t like. When you act in selfish motives, when you tell “little, white” lies. When you put yourself above others. We sin. That’s what we do, and we’re good at sinning and we’re even better at covering it up. We have to truly accept and believe that there is a God who loves us inspite of the sinful people we are. Inspite of our mistakes, our “good” intentions that were perceived erroneously, and our feelings of justified nastiness. That’s tough because we can’t do it. We don’t do. We have the hardest time getting back on good terms with someone who ACCIDENTLY (in the truest sense of the world) offended us. We can’t fathom someone still loving us and forgiving our intentional, regular sin. After we grasp that (and, sometimes it takes a minute), it’s difficult to not talk about, nevermind find an opportunity to treat others the way God treats us.
It’s contagious. It’s beautiful. It glorifies God.
This is the love that maintains relationships. It’s the love that doesn’t require a person to STOP offending/lying/hurting/____ in order for you to have a relationship with them. Because, you know that you could very easily be in the same boat. If you aren’t already in a boat of a different color with another person or just gotten out of one that’s much larger. Be real. You hurt, too. You cause people grief, as well. You are no better than another person and in no less of a position to need forgiveness and love.
Trust God when he says that love covers a multitude of sin. Trust God’s love, live that out. Nothing we do will ever cause God to separate Himself from us. Nothing should ever cause you to separate yourself from your neighbor. In love.
…. here’s to embracing the freedom in loving, realizing how it puts us on an equal playing field, and keeps us humble. And, (happily) bound to our neighbor.