One of the things God is teaching me everyday is love. You may say, “This is simple. Its just an overwhelming feeling of affection for someone.” Yeah, I thought that too. In life, I thought you didn’t have to love everyone the same, because you don’t know everyone the same. Some relationships are deeper than others. And I cant just walk up to strangers and start hugging and whispering nice things to them…that’s weird right?? Its illegal! So, the Holy Spirit had to transform my definition of love to fit what God means.
Jesus says in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” This is simple enough. No! I have to love like Jesus?! I’m overwhelmed by that thought already! He went to the cross for me. I couldn’t possibly live up to that. By going to the cross for total and complete strangers, like you and I, he demonstrated that love is not selfish. It is sacrifice. It is sometimes painful. It is honest. It is persistent. Oh, how I wish I could give up on some people who keep hurting my feelings, or keep pushing me away, or even slandering my name. I wish I could. But that’s not how Jesus wanted me to love. Jesus had tunnel vision for us. He came to do the will of the Father. He was given several ways out through temptation, and could’ve given up through persecution, but he was driven by His love for us.
When Jesus taught the people, He didn’t try to “sugar coat” His words. They were hard hitting and full of truth. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” And He didn’t care if it made people upset, because it was the truth. He knows in order for them to inherit the kingdom of Heaven, they needed the truth. He loved them enough to give it to them straight. My favorite versus is when He counsels the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22. The young man comes to Jesus asking what shall he do to have eternal life. Jesus tells him to keep the commandments. Verse 20 says, “The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”. Jesus knew that wasn’t truthful. If he kept all 613 commandments, he was good! But the young man had bigger problems. Matthew 19: 21-22 says, “Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
I grew up a people pleaser. I would dodge all those weird questions that makes you be dreadfully honest. It’s one of those things that makes me cringe on the inside. I didn’t want to make anyone feel bad even if they should have. My response to the young rich man in the bible would’ve been a lot different. Telling him that he valued his worldly treasures more that God would’ve caused me more pain than him. How many times in life do we have to tell others the truth? All the time of course! If she has a ugly dress on and asks me if its cute, I have to say, “NO!” Well, maybe not like that. I could say, “Friend, you are so much cuter than that dress. Lets try another?” This is an easy one but what about if you have a friend that has an addiction? A friend that keeps isolating themselves? A friend that has an eating disorder? A family member that is a compulsive spender and complains about their debt? A parent that always has a bad attitude and is bitter? A friend that always has bad relationships and blames the other person? A friend that is constantly cheating on their spouse? What do you say when that inevitable question occurs?
God commands us to love. Love is not an emotion, like I thought. Love is an action. If I am suppose to love like Jesus loves me, that means I have to do things and say things that may be uncomfortable. But if God leads me to do it, it will be motivated by love. We have to tell the truth even when it hurts us because if we don’t, it hurts the other person more. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” I love how Paul uses the word gently. Gentle means not severe, rough, or violent, mild. A person will accept a kind word faster than a harsh one. But, just as those rejected the kind teachings and corrections of Jesus, you will have those who will despise your words of love. Paul tells us that those that live by the Spirit should restore that person, because even though we might encounter rejection, the Holy Spirit will help us accept the rejection. If a person doesn’t want correction, or to take heed to wisdom, then don’t force it on them. The Holy Spirit leads me on how to handle the situation, so, I walk away knowing I said the right thing the right way and my flesh was not my motivation to say it.
Several times in the Bible Jesus is almost killed for speaking the truth to others and eventually he was killed, but love was His motivation. Some people listen and receive His teachings and others are righteous in their own minds. Jesus had our best interest at heart. If I am called to love others like Jesus loves me, I am called to be honest even when it may hurt. Love must be the motive behind honesty and gentleness must be its companion.
Proverbs 27:6 reminds us, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” In our walk with Jesus, we need to grow in honesty to have healthy relationships with our brothers and sisters. And most importantly be honest with ourselves to stay in tune with God.
I pray that Jesus will keep revealing to my heart His unconditional love for me and He may do the same for you. Be blessed God’s people.