We are told to have love above all, and that seems like it should be easy. It should flow from us, but it only does with help from Jesus. Why is it so hard?
Jesus tells us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
Whew. Well, that is not what I want to hear. I want to love those who love me and agree with me. I want to judge those who disagree with me or avoid those who are mean to me. But love them? Pray for them? That is not on my list of appropriate ways to handle tough people.
If we only love people who treat us right, that says nothing of our Christianity. Anyone can do that on their own!
We need Jesus to pour out His abundant grace on us and give us His strength to love the unlovable. It is up to us to take these people to Him and allow Him to show us how to love. He created them and sees potential that we would never see.
When we start to pray for someone who has hurt us, love from God will seep into our hearts for them. Any unforgiveness we have been harboring will begin to melt away. This definitely doesn’t come from us!
1 John 4:18 points out the second reason love doesn’t always happen naturally. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
I don’t know about you, but I have fear. Sometimes my fears have a reason and sometimes they are more general worries. I think about the “what-ifs” in life and wonder how situations are going to turn out.
It is definitely true that where fear exists, love cannot be. We simply can’t do both! Letting fear into our hearts instead of love makes us numb. When we let it have control, fear will eventually stop us from responding to warmth and light.
There won’t be anything left of what we used to be, as fear erodes it over time. We need to grab onto love so fear doesn’t get a permanent hold on us.
I think the other aspect of love that is hard is that it isn’t always easy to love God. We may respect Him. We may have a positive feeling toward Him deep down, but sometimes that feeling gets buried by life.
Circumstances happen and we may not understand why they have happened to us. Anger rises up and can seem to take over any warm feelings we had toward God. That is why we have to constantly work at it. Our relationship with God is similar to ones with people in that they don’t happen overnight and there will be ups and downs.
But we never give up.
He never gives up on us, and we should always remember that God has our best interest at heart. He works all things together for good and for His glory. We don’t have to understand it, but we have to accept it.
And we have to keep loving.
The act of love is the most important and the most elusive.
Whatever area you are struggling with today, whether it be unforgiveness, fear, or being angry with God, know that love is the solution. It is often the hardest to get to, but it is definitely worth it. Keep reaching and pushing and you will get there.
What are ways you can think of to show love to others that might not deserve your love? Please share in the comments below.
Sarah Donegan is a wife, mom, and lover of Jesus. She grew up a tea drinker but switched to coffee once kids came along. Now that her girls are in school, she is embracing the plans God has for her instead of trying to force her own that just don’t fit right. When she isn’t singing or reading, she is probably writing. You can find her at her Blog and Facebook.