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When we love
- Jacob Ninan
When people say they love someone, in most cases it means that they like something in the other person that makes them happy. Perhaps the other person's looks and behaviour are pleasing to them, or the other person does something for them. In other words, the others meet their needs. Don't we realise that this kind of 'love' is essentially selfish and self-centred? Yet even among many 'Christians' this is the only kind of love that is going around.
This love has its problems. When the other person doesn't do what we expect, love grows cold. When the other person does something that hurts us, this love turns into hatred!
Then we look at another kind of love that God has for us and which God wants us to have towards the others. Isn't that totally opposite to the love we usually think of? His love loves the 'unlovely' and the 'unlovable.' He loves sinners and even His enemies. He shows mercy and goodness to those who deserve the very opposite. He forgives the worst of sins and accepts people as if they were saints. He puts behind past sins without gloating over them again and again. He gives good things both to the wicked and the righteous. He is patient even when a sinner slips up for the umpteenth time and is always on the lookout to run to someone who turns to Him.
Unbelievable love! If God simply asked us to have this love towards the others it would have been ridiculous because it would be impossible for us to love like that. But God first showed us that love Himself, and then He puts that love in our heart (Ro.5:5). Then we are empowered to love others like He does.
Many of us make the mistake of trying to love others like God does without having gone at first to the source of that love. And we cannot just walk in and ask Him for that love, until we are willing to acknowledge our selfishness and lack of love (repent, in other words) and worship Him (fall at His feet and surrender to Him) in love and thankfulness (Is.30:15). Then He takes away the old heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh (Ez.36:26). That is when we begin to be able to love others in this new way.
Once we taste this love, the old love becomes something to be spat out. We wonder how we could have imagined that we loved others when all we had was selfishness in disguise. Actually we were looking for this new kind of love from the others, while we ourselves were giving them the old kind of love!
When we love with this new love others will know we are His disciples (Jn.13:35), because only such can love like this. What the world needs are people who have this love.
Let us put away the old love whenever it comes up in us, and replace it with love that comes from God (Ep.4:21-24). Then we will be happy ourselves and we can also make others happy.