And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself,” Matthew 22: 37-39
The basics of Christianity is: Love God, Love people and Love ourselves, so why do we find it so hard?
Love is a choice. For some people, love is conditional as long as they like the way you behave, what you say and the way you treat them they can choose to “love you” but as soon as you say or do the wrong thing than the love they’re supposed to extend to you goes out the window. “And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself,” Matthew 22:39. You cannot and will not love people if you do not love yourself first, so love you and invest in you!!!
When we receive the unconditional love of God first it then allows us to be able to love ourselves and others. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that,” Luke 6: 31-33. This scripture does not say anything about “liking” the person to love them.
The prodigal son in Luke 15 was not ‘likable’ in any way but his father still loved him unconditionally. He demanded his inheritance and left his father’s home, went to another country and spent it all on partying, alcohol and prostitutes. When he spent all his money and there was nothing left to buy food there was a famine and he was hungry but no one gave him food. He finally came to his senses, humbled himself and went back to his fathers house. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed, him,” Luke 15:20. Despite his son’s immoral and selfish behavior the father still loved his son and had a party to celebrate that he was back safely.
There are times when we say and do the wrong thing and we’re “a long way off“ [Luke 15: 20] from where we should be but God still loves us unconditionally. If I’m being honest, if I was in that situation I’d be more like the other brother who stayed behind and worked faithfully for his father. When his brother returned he had an attitude and refused to go into the party because he was annoyed that his father was celebrating the brother when he’d blatantly done wrong. I’m writing this blog as a reminder to myself as well as others. We are supposed to extend that same agape love to other people despite their behaviour.
“Dear Children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth,” 1 John 3:18. It’s easy to say: “I love you with the love of the Lord” in a church service. But I’ve never understood what that means in practice. How do you love the people in your life? I’m not talking about your husband, wife, children and your family/friends. I’m talking about the people who come into your everyday life. Being a Christian is more than weekly trips to church and quoting Bible scriptures. We’re supposed to represent Christ and show the love of God through our words and actions. The one thing that is supposed to distinguish Christians from non-Christians is the way we love the unlovable.
We are told how to love God’s way in 1 Corinthians 13. Even if we do “good works” and give everything we have to the poor, speak in tongues and have so much faith that we can move mountains, if we do not have love it means NOTHING. That’s DEEP!!
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres,” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 [NIV]
We ALL need to be reminded that we should love each another with our actions and not with empty words. The truth is we can be selfish and have ourselves on our mind far too much.
Loving people that we don’t like for whatever reason is a lot easier said than done and very hard to do in practice (see the blog I wrote The Love Test). “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love,” I John 4:8. Loving the unlovable is a serious challenge for us ALL but LOVE is a command not an option for those who call themselves Christians.
We need the Grace of God to help us love God, ourselves and others.
God loves you!!!