Are you also inspired by stories of heroism, of love in the face of tragedy and by selflessness? I really enjoy movies and accounts of people who made a difference by choosing to walk the more challenging path.
Difficult people or circumstances can cause us to choose to be angry, bitter, feeling rejected or even to hate, yet none of these reactions change us or the situation for the better.
Love unlocks the potential for restoration. No amount of anger or stomping of feet has ever resulted in peace and harmony. Love inspires people, it strengthens, it encourages creativity and brings joy into our lives.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he makes it clear that even if we should have a bunch of Christian qualities in our lives, but we do not love – we have missed the mark completely and we are nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2)
In 1 John 4:8 we learn that the source of love is knowing God. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:16 says: “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
We often fail to understand that loving others is a choice. Some of us believe the lie that you can fall out of love, or that when someone treats you in a manner which you find unacceptable, you are justified in not loving. The classic excuse for not loving is that people are doing things which you do not condone. That seems to be the perfect excuse for being unkind and even hateful towards others. I am not advocating abuse in any form and you can certainly set boundaries, but nobody’s bad behavior can justify yours.
Fact is, we choose to love or not to love. If love was involuntary or unintentional, we wouldn’t find so many different clear instructions to love each other in God’s Word.
“Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” Ephesians 4:2
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8
Loving others has very little to do with the recipients’ merit, it has everything to do with our choice. Of course it is much easier if the recipient is deserving and reciprocates our love, but in most difficult situations it takes one person who chooses to love, to bring about a difference.
Mark 12:29-31 “Jesus answered…’and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The commandment to love God and your neighbor did not fall away in the New Testament, instead, it was fulfilled by Jesus and in Him we are able to fulfill it in our lives. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Living in relationship with God enables us to forgive and to love. If you have ever attended a Christian wedding ceremony, chances are good that you have heard the verses in 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Cor.13:4-7
This is not a fictional, fairy-tale, unattainable picture of love. This is God’s Word, showing us clearly what love in our lives should look like in a very practical manner. It is entirely achievable and possible once we have tasted God’s love for us in a personal and intimate way.
Jesus also made it clear that there is no merit in only loving those who love you. When everything goes your way, it is easy to love. The challenge is to love the unlovable, to love when you don’t feel like it or when you think the other person doesn’t deserve your love. Luke states quite plainly: “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” Luke 6:35
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13:13
Choose to bring about change, choose to influence, choose to love!