Why do we love? We love because He first loved us. (1John 4:19)
Why do we love those who don’t love us? We love them because we are commanded to do so by Jesus himself when he answer this question,
“36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
Why do we love those who don’t want our love? Because that is the new covenant that Jesus established when he said, “44 but I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”… “46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
We are, therefore, commanded to do the seemingly impossible task of loving those who hate us, those who reject us, those who have hurt us. But what is love? By now we can guess that Biblical love, the love we are to have for our brothers, is not an emotion. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit, and it is what differentiates us from the world. It is what makes us children of God. Love involves commitment and sacrifice: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God so loved us, that He became flesh in the person of Jesus the Christ, to die on the cross for us, His beloved, His undeserving chosen ones. He didn’t die for us because we love Him. He died for us because He loves us. (1John 4:10)
He did His part. He did what He was commanded to do according to the divine plan of salvation put together by our Triune God, in its perfect fellowship with one another, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in their eternal state. Jesus, therefore, did His part, even though we didn’t even know Him. He did His part even though the world rejected Him. He did His part even though we yelled “crucify Him.” Now, it is up to us. We who profess our faith in Christ the Savior are commanded to do our part and love, even if the one our love is intended to does not want it. Regardless of what he does or does not do, we are commanded to not shut him out of our hearts, but keep him there, and love him even to the point of death.
They may hate us, but then we remember that they hated Him first. (John 15:18) We must then consider it all gain if we are hated for His namesake. (James 1:2) This truth, however, doesn’t make it that much easier for us. It is still a humanly impossible task. Loving those who reject us is not an action that comes naturally. That is because Biblical love is supernatural. It only comes from Him who is love Himself. Alone we cannot even begin to understand how to love. By ourselves we can’t even think of how to act in love toward those who don’t love us. By our own power and strength, our spirit shivers and shudders in fear at the thought of acting in love toward those whom we know will spit on our face the vile of their hate in return. But the good news is that we are not alone. We have the All Powerful within us. The Holy Spirit is the One who gives us that love that is action and moves us to our acts of love, for we need to realize that love is action, not just good intentions. (1John 3: 11-24) Love cannot be passive. To obey and do our part we must DO what we must, even if we feel overcome by fear. “There is no fear in love,” (1John 4:18). His Holy Spirit dwells in us and love is a product of that truth. There are no excuses for passive love. Love is something we do, not something we feel. Therefore, whatever it is that the Lord calls us to do as actions of love toward whoever He has placed in our lives as our “brother,” we must do by the empowerment of Him who calls us.
What is He callings us to do today? What actions of love is He urging us to do now? No matter how much we may want to deny it, we know that He is speaking to us all the time. That we may choose to ignore His voice is a different matter. We know that He is always speaking. There is always someone in our lives whom we need to love with Biblical love, with love in action. Who is it today? We must figure that out first. Then, we must pray for discernment so the Holy Spirit can show us how to love that person. What actions of love are we supposed to do in order to truly love him or her. It could be something as simple as a smile or a kind word in an e-mail. Maybe, it could be a phone call, or an old fashion letter. Maybe it is something that requires putting ourselves out there, bear our heart, and in humility, walk up to that person’s door, and be willing to stand outside, perhaps in the rainy and cold night, with our guard down, facing a shut door that won’t open no matter how many times we knock. Maybe it requires waiting in pain with our hearts in pieces. Maybe it requires us to expose our vulnerabilities, dying a little, no matter how undeserving the other person may seem.
This kind of love only comes, however, after we have surrendered our all to The Most High God. It is only in our surrendering where our eyes are open to forgiveness, the kind of forgiveness that accepts that He has forgiven us our debts as we are to forgive our debtors. This kind of love doesn’t turn us into wimpy door mats. On the contrary, this kind of love instills in us the courage that allows us to overcome our pride and our fears. This kind of love brings light into the darkness of this world and demonstrates our sonship. This kind of love shows that we belong to Him and that we don’t have a condemning heart. This kind of love makes us a little bit more like Christ. For we love because He first loved us. For He loved us so much that He died on the cross for us so we could live forever. There is no fear in love.