My last couple of posts, about love being a commandment, have been pretty timely for me. When I write my posts, I’m hearing as much or more than I’m sharing, and I had much I needed and still need to hear on this subject.
There are people who are just hard for me to love. It’s easy to sit here, with my laptop on my lap (as the name implies) and write nice little sentences about loving the unlovable and showing the heart of Jesus. But there are people who just plain aggravate me. I don’t like people who think that their opinion is the only one that can possibly be right, and try to make others who don’t think the same way feel somehow less intelligent or less informed. Especially when I’m one of the others. I don’t like people who think that saying “I’m just being honest” justifies their rudeness. I don’t like people who are all about themselves, who talk only about the details of their lives, without even asking how you’re doing. I don’t like people who have a sense of entitlement, who are never satisfied and are always being wronged in any situation, without ever having any responsibility. I don’t like people who are critical and intolerant of other people’s shortcomings.
Wait – I think that last one might be me.
Here’s the thing about what Jesus asked – no, commanded us to do. He didn’t say anything about feelings. He didn’t ask us to like people. He didn’t ask us to be all warm and fuzzy. He asked us to love. Not to feel love, but to do love.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Ephesians 5:1-2
God is talking about giving here. Giving of myself. Doing, pouring out. Not looking at whether a relationship is equal, if I get as much as I give. Not paying attention to how much a person annoys me when I decide how to treat them. And that is SO much easier said than done. I’m just not so good at handing out warm and loving greetings to a person who often irritates me or, even worse, makes me feel invisible.
Just a few days ago I was discussing with a friend a problem I’m having with another person, and I said that I wished that person would just go away. Just leave the situation, so I wouldn’t have to deal with them or the problem. Obviously I have more to learn about really watching and learning about a life of love.
So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11
And that is the main purpose of love – to make Jesus Christ attractive to all. Nothing can show the beauty of a renewed heart more than a kind, loving spirit that treats others with gentle goodness. Very little can make others lose respect for my witness quicker than harsh words, unkind actions and vindictive attitudes. Love will draw those who will never listen to a sermon, read a book or open a Bible.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13:34-35
Jesus is pretty clear here. If I want the world to believe that I really know him, I need to live that life of love. That’s going to take some work, and some prayer.