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If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much,~Matthew 5:46.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”~John 13:34-35.
We love because he first loved us,~1 John 4:19.
Love is the highest calling for a believer. I talk about love quite a bit because God reveals the desperate need the world has for love. Addiction is a cry for comfort. Sexual promiscuity for attention and affection. Abuse for healing. Everywhere you look, people are trying to fill a God sized void with something. Drugs, food, tv, alcohol, sex, relationships, social media, and even church activities are often used to fill the void of love.
You and I are empowered to love. How? By the Holy Spirit. He is love. Sounds easy right? God in us loving people.
In order to love like God, we must first receive love from God. We cannot give away what we do not possess. That person who fails to love you mostly likely either doesn’t know how you perceive love, or they haven’t fully received God’s love.
Even after we receive God’s love, we can choose not to love other people. It’s a process of submitting to God, not relying on feelings, and dying to self.
I don’t always feel like loving people. Nope. Some days I grow tired of being kind to rude people. Some days I have to go straight to God with unpleasant feelings towards people. He reminds me of this, “Feelings are not an indication of truth. You can love this person because I love them.”
How do we love like God?
We let God love us. Christianity is about relationship with God. Jesus paid for us to have full access to the Father.
Take time to just be with God. It can be journaling, reading, praying & listening, time in His Word, worship, etc…asking God to reveal His love on the heart level. It will then pour out on to others. God fills to overflowing. Part of it is faith as well; believing what God says about His love for us is true.
We forgive. Gosh, I don’t mind forgiving (surrendering a person to God and refusing to avenge). It’s far more difficult to reconcile and restore a relationship when someone has betrayed your trust, treated your heart like a punching bag, or just failed to be good to you. In those moments I’m reminded of these things…
1. What is God’s purpose for the relationship? Is it covenant? Will restoring the relationship be safe?
If someone is stealing from your bank account, love sets boundaries (change the info, block the person). If a person is not trustworthy, don’t confide in them. If someone is controlling and manipulative, limit the access they have to you. If someone is abusing you in any way, seek help. Forgiving does not mean you must remain in the same condition or immediately give someone your trust. We are responsible for who and what we allow into our lives.
If it’s a covenant relationship or one God is calling us to, we are to do our best to work it out (we will discuss more in a different post on covenant).
2. How does God treat me when I fail?
We are humans. We will blow it. God is so merciful and kind to me when I mess up. I am called to be merciful.
Unlike God, we can be severely damaged by others. Mercy doesn’t mean let someone continually, purposefully hurt or abuse you. Our role is to point people to Christ. It’s unloving to allow someone to continue to sin against us and not offer loving correction. We want people right with God. It does mean we offer grace, compassion, and mercy. Mercy may be refraining from gossip (which is so damaging). The person did you wrong, protect their name. Treat them better than they did you.
Lastly I will say love will cost you greatly. God has blessed me with years of experience loving people who did not in any way love, honor, or respect me. He gave me someone similar to Saul (4 years-40 hours a week. Not sure how I didn’t lose my mind), a few who behaved like Judas, and allowed people in my life who at times made me want to never love again. I’ve had to love people who have tried to take my life. I can say love doesn’t always feel good. I’m certain the experiences Jesus endured were not pleasant. They were excruciating. He suffered greatly. Yet, He did it for love.
Whatever love costs you, please know genuine love glorifies God. The world needs to see genuine, agape love through us. We may not know until heaven the impact we made in someone’s life. Though it may be painful at times, choose love!
You’re in my thoughts and prayers!
Father reduce us to love. Help us to love like You. Remove worldly views of love and replace them with Yours. Help us to see people as You do, and love them as You do. In Jesus name, Amen.
Love in Christ,