The past few months I have been reading a lot about love. Not just because I am newly engaged, although that is part of it, but because sometimes I find it hard to love some people. That’s right, I’ll be the first to say it: Sometimes I don’t want to love certain people. In my human eyes some people don’t deserve it. Some people are mean and I would rather just not interact with them.
Some people are just plain ole hard to love! Can I get an amen?
The irony is that I don’t deserve to be loved. How hypocritical! Thankfully we serve a God full of grace and mercy! We should be extending that grace to others!
In the past few months I have learned a lot about love. I have learned about love in marriage (Proverbs 12:4, Ephesians 5:22-33), love in friendship (John 15:12-13), love in families (1 Timothy 5:8, Exodus 20:12), love to strangers (Leviticus 19:34). I have read and studied ALL types of love and I found a common thread.
God COMMANDS us to love (John 13:34). Now, this wasn’t news to me and probably isn’t to you either but think about that for a minute. Let it seep into your heart. Love. Is. A. COMMAND.
After seeing this word in almost every passage I have read about love it really hit me, “Wait a minute! Why would he command us to love?”
Command literally means “an authoritative order”. So a command is not a suggestion. It’s not a semi-serious rule. It’s an order. God orders us to love one another! (John 15:12)
Why? Because…get this…it’s HARD. Like, really hard.
He wouldn’t have to command us to love if it was easy, right? He didn’t say “So, I’d really like it if you all love each other, okay?” Nope. He made sure to stress the importance of loving others by making it a command. He knew it would be hard!
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
-1 Peter 4:8
I have heard so many times (in regards to agape love) that people think love should be easy. “It shouldn’t be this hard to love someone, it should just be EASY”. So they give up because it’s too hard. They’re relying more on the “feeling” of love. That feeling that everyone thinks is real love. That feeling fades and then what are we left with?
Real love isn’t an emotion at all. Real love is action. It’s work. It takes hard, persistent effort to really love someone in any capacity. This relates to all types of love. A friendship doesn’t just happen. You call that person, pursue time with that person, let them lean on you in times of hurt. It’s a constant effort to keep that friendship open and real. In romantic love there has to be constant growth and vulnerability. Constantly extending grace and encouragement. Always showing your significant other that you love them.
So how do we love others when we don’t feel like it?
ACT like you love them. This may seem strange or even fake but hear me out. When you do something over and over your brain always follows suit. How do you create a habit? Do something everyday for 30 days. It’s essentially the same concept.
God doesn’t command us to “feel love”. It doesn’t say “Love feels patient, love feels kind”. 1 Corinthians 13:4 says “Love IS patient, love IS kind…”
If you are like me and you’re having a hard time extending love to someone let your actions change your heart. SHOW them love and eventually you will notice that you DO love them. Even if it’s just loving them in Christ. We aren’t called to be besties with everyone. And we don’t have to like everyone. We are, however, called and commanded to love them. Sometimes we feel things we shouldn’t: bitterness, hatred, annoyance, etc. What happens when we act on those feelings? Destructive words, hurtful arguments, lost friendships, damaged relationships. Things that could be avoided if we just choose to DO love instead of FEEL love.
Be obedient to Christ’s commands and pray that He will soften your heart towards that person. Eventually you will see that your actions of love will lead to a change of heart. Something incredible happens when we just love instead of relying so much on “feelings”. When we put Christ into action in our lives we begin to love like Christ and to really feel that love!
I encourage you to take this challenge with me. Make this change in your actions and let God change your heart! We are the light of this world. We are the representation of Christ’s love. Let’s start acting like it. Who’s with me?
“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. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”
-1 Corinthians 13:4-8