It is easy to love those just like us. I get along with people who look like me, think like me, have the same interests and beliefs as me. It’s easy to love people who love me back. I can help a friend up because I know when I fall, she’ll do the same. It’s easy to sit with a friend during her pain and suffering, because I know she’d do the same for me.
You know when it’s hard to love?
When people don’t love you back.
Or even worse, when people reject your love and push you away.
When people hate you or aren’t like you, and take from you, and oppose you.
The hardest place to love is on enemy territory.
Remember just a few verses before in the Sermon on the Mount, we’re getting slapped in the face and our coats stolen, and Jesus tells us turn the other cheek and give up your stuff willingly? Now he’s telling us not only to walk the extra mile, but also to do it in love.
Lean into that for moment.
You’ve been slapped in the face, robbed, and forced to walk a mile with that person. Jesus doesn’t say at the end of this, good you’ve done the right thing you can now return. He takes it to the next level and says: “Now, love them.”
There was a season of such difficulty in one of my relationships; I just didn’t know what to do anymore. I felt so broken, and at times so hardened, over how to make it right and had no answers. I sought the LORD, and His response was simple: “Love her”. I thought, “I do! I am loving her!” Again, He whispers to my heart “Love her”.
I realized God’s definition of love, and my definition of love was different.
Love is patient
Love is kind
And is not jealous;
Love does not brag
And is not arrogant,
Does not act unbecomingly;
It does not seek its own,
Is not provoked,
Does not take into account a wrong suffered,
Does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
But rejoices with the truth;
Bears all things,
Believes all things,
Hopes all things,
Endures all things.
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7
My definition of love is conditional. God’s definition of love is unconditional.
Love is long suffering, and it doesn’t just “love” those that love you back. It loves those that have slapped you in the face and stolen from you. It loves those that have hurt you, gossiped about you, utter false things about you, broken trust, even declared you an enemy. Love, even looks it’s betrayer in the eyes, bends down, and washes his feet.
I don’t love like that. Apart from Christ and His kind of love, I will never love my enemies. At best, I barely love the lovable. It is only through the perfect love of God, that I can attempt to love my enemies. That is an other worldly kind of love.
- How does God’s definition of love in Matthew 5:43-48 compare to your definition of love?
- List some of the ways God defines love according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
- Who in your life is not easy to love? In what ways this week can you grow in your love for them?