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How do we love?
- Jacob Ninan
One of the marks of true Christians is that others can see how we love (Jn.13:34,35). We are the ones God has chosen to demonstrate His love by loving even our enemies (Mt.5:44,45). Then people get to see something of the love of God to them.
Our first challenge is that it is difficult to love some people! If everyone was lovable, we wouldn't face this difficulty so much. Especially if people are causing us problems, we wonder how on earth we can love them. If we pose this question to God, we will get to understand that love is not a matter of how we feel, but more in terms of our intentions. An intention to do good, even when people are our enemies, is the essence of agape love. God will also teach us that He didn't love us because we were lovable! We were dead in our sins and enemies to God when He picked us up to show His love (Ro.5:10). The more we recognise how God's love to us is totally out of His grace, something we don't deserve, the more we are inclined to show love to everyone around us.
A second challenge is that even when we show our love to others, even sacrificially, many people don't recognise it. Some of them even accuse us that we don't have any love for them although we call ourselves Christians! This can make us discouraged, until we realise how God doesn't give up on us even though many times we are sure that our behaviour has not been the best, to put it mildly!
God loves everyone in the world with the best kind of love all the time without fail (Jn.3:16). He has demonstrated it powerfully by giving His only Son for everyone's sins (1Jn.2:2). This is agape love which has no match. Yet we know that very few among all these people recognise this love or accept it. Can we see that people even reject the highest and purest form of love there is? It is no wonder some of them reject our imperfect love.
Sometimes the reason why people reject our love is because they are insecure in themselves. They expect a kind of love that will make them feel good -- if we keep doing whatever they want, saying nice things to them, even flattery, never disagreeing with them, never pointing out their errors, etc. When they don't get this kind of love, they get upset and then they can turn abusive towards us. There are also those who try to take advantage of our Christian name to make us do what they want.
But that kind of love is not godly. For those who have been transplanted from the darkness of living for ourselves and for the pleasures of this world to an eternal world of righteousness, peace and joy, blessing people for their eternal good is more important than making them feel happy. Of course, we ought to show our love to needier people we come across (Ga.6:1,2), not to please them but to help them with eternity in view. This includes meeting their earthly needs according to our ability, but we cannot end up displeasing God trying to make them happy.
Let's ask God for strength to continue to love (2Th.3:13).