Follow Jesus when it comes to Loving Others
Jesus loves us all the way. And He promises never to stop loving us! He died for us. Lives for us. Forgives us. Heals us! Covers for us. Prays for us. Waits for us! We aren’t used to love like this! It is so over the top!
We usually have to earn the love we get here on earth. And we can lose the love we think is ours. We stop loving people we don’t think are worthy of our time and effort. People disagree and cut each other off. One person is no longer useful to another person so he/she is “defriended”. There are a million reasons we use to justify no longer caring about a friend or a family member. But Scripture says that real love never fails. Never. (1 Corinthians 13:8)
Scripture describes real love this way – Jesus’ kind of love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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, and always keeps on going.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
And Jesus calls us to follow Him in this kind of love! To learn to continually walk in love. Scripture says: “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
We start trying to follow Jesus with this kind of love and almost immediately we hit road blocks. One of the biggest road block that keeps me from loving others is trying to protect my reputation. It’s easy to love people who love me back. But when people make fun of me or attack my reputation, I get mad and quickly give up Jesus’ call to love these ones. I hate having my reputation smeared by criticism so I try to stand up for myself by criticizing the person back who criticized me. And then we all descend into the darkness! What would Jesus have us do when people consistently make fun of us and ruin our good name by critical remarks?
First and foremost we are commanded to forgive. Everywhere in Scripture we are commanded to forgive. It is not optional. God forgave us for the wrong we have done, so we are to forgive others for the wrong they have done to us. And in the Lord’s Prayer we are told to pray: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive the sins of those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:12) Our ability to forgive people when they hurt or wound us is an expression of our love walk.
We must remember that sometimes we are not fighting against the person who we need to forgive. But perhaps there may be a spiritual battle going on behind the scenes. Scripture says: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood (another person) but against the rulers and authorities and powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Sometimes we are afraid as Christians that in order to be loving to everyone we will have to give up some of the truths of our faith. Accept what becomes fashionable to accept. And over look what God’s Word says. But that is not what we are called as followers of Christ to do. We can love the sinner without loving his sin.
Jesus got angry when the money changers were defiling the temple of God, and He overturned their tables and drove them out of the temple with whips, telling them that they were turning God’s house into a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:12) Our God is a God of love and mercy but He is also a God of justice and truth. There will be folks who will get angry with us when we stand up for what we believe is God’s truth. We will just have to take our licks because that is what following Christ is all about.
When a person treats us badly, Scripture tells us to give this critical person to our heavenly Father. We do not have to carry this problem by ourselves. Ask God to help us love this person. And ask God to bless this critical person and help her come closer to Him. The tension and the atmosphere between ourselves and the critical person can change as we pray for her. Instead of resenting her, we are to pray for her. Part of Scripture’s definition of love is that love always perseveres or always keeps on going. (1 Corinthians 13; 7) So sometimes we must keep on praying for a very long time when our prayers aren’t answered immediately. Keep on hoping and keep on enduring! That’s part of following Jesus. And that is part of living the life of love He calls us to live.
God is working behind the scenes as we pray. And we can keep on praying for this enemy and wait until perhaps she is turned into a friend. Instead of letting our enemies make us miserable, we can cover these ones with our prayers day after day and watch and see how God may cause them to grow and change! It can be a fun experiment!
And secondly, part of the act of following Jesus is giving up our selfish ways. And yes, we are called to give up our selfish
egos to Him. When we follow Jesus we are to travel light and our egos are too heavy to make the trip. We give our ego to the Conductor when we get on the gospel train and start out on the journey. Giving up the ego is part of the price of the ticket. Jesus is humble and we are to follow Him and be humble too. Humility is one of the marks of a loving Christian.
God will take care of our reputation. We are not to worry about it. We are to wrap ourselves up in Him. Scripture says: “No weapon that is fashioned against you shall stand and you shall confute every tongue that rises up in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from Me, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:17) Our reputation is safe with God. God has us covered. We can let it go and let God deal with it.
Scripture tells us that without love we are nothing! Nothing! Let’s listen: “If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but I have not love, I am nothing. And if I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2-3)
Scripture tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is not a dogmatic principle or a theological concept. Faith is alive and the Bible says that faith works through love. (Galatians 5:6) Love empowers faith. Faith is like the engine and love the fuel!
I was drawn to Christ through a loving church accepting me and praying for me and loving me. But many others have not had that experience at church. If we don’t care for people and share Christ’s love with them they will never know Jesus as their Savior. We are the body of Christ and we are called to go out and spread the gospel and to aggressively seek opportunities to display the love of Christ.
Scripture says: “And now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Some of the ideas for this blog were taken from Kynan Bridges book, “The Power of Unlimited Faith”.