Genuine Love in Difficult Times
We often hear how we should love people. It’s the “right thing to do.” However, it’s definitely not the easy thing to do. Depending on the amount you’ve been hurt, the level of betrayal, or your overall relationship with a person, you may find it impossible to genuinely love people from the heart. You may go through the external motions, yet despise them in your heart. I’ve been here many times before. It’s a very tough journey to love well in the midst of strife and discomfort. Nonetheless, Jesus calls us to do it. I’ve often heard people say, “But you don’t know what they did to me.” If we are honest, people can do some downright disgusting things! Yet still, God says “love your enemies”?? I’ve often been amazed at the stories you hear of people who experience tragedy. Despite the circumstance, yet display a spirit of forgiveness and love. I’ve seen countless stories of parents of murder victims standing in court and saying, “I forgive you.” There’s even been cases where the victim’s family begged the judge for the least harsh punishment for the perpetrator. In my natural mind, I ask how? How can one forgive and show such compassion? Yet, in almost every case I’ve seen these individuals are ones who are Christian. I love the verses that really expounds on this idea. Luke 6:27-35- But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “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. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High. These verses make it very clear. Jesus himself tells us that even people who don’t know Him can love those who love them. Most humans are born with a level of empathy and the ability to be kind, especially “when it’s easy.” However, a follower of Christ must hold themselves to an even higher standard. Christians are called to be patient, kind, forgiving, merciful, and always a reflection of God’s love. We must be doers of the word not just hearers. God is commanding us to move past the “surfacy love” that only regards people when it benefits us Instead, He’s looking for those who can display genuine selfless love even in the midst of the toughest scenarios. Does this mean we allow people to trample over us or not be wise? Of course not! There are times God may even cause you to have a time of separation from a person for the health of the relationship. In my own life, the Lord has had me love some people “from a distance.” Although the relationship has changed, I pray for them, celebrate their victories, mourn in the tragedy, and would drop anything to help them in need. You can be wise and operate in love simultaneously.
Friends, I encourage you to love well in the midst of the difficulty. Let your default setting be love. Even more so, strive to love like He loves. The God kind-of-love is relentlessly kind, forgiving, genuine, and can overcome every obstacle.
Learning to love like this doesn’t come overnight. It takes years of trial and error and a purposeful connection with the Creator of Love. The more we are connected in relationship with Christ, the easier it will be to love like He loves. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:7 We invite you to continue to dig into our “Love Well” series. May you be empowered to love others in the same way Christ has loved you. Remember how you love reflects the God you serve!