Over the last few years I have been called to love by The One who loved us with a perfect love. When facing one of the most difficult circumstances of my life and wandering about in great sorrow with a question in my heart begging for an answer “Lord what am I to do?” He spoke an answer to me that was shockingly direct. He told me to love.
Finding my heart in such great turmoil and my hurt deep enough to drown in, I immediately knew what my next request must be. I cried out to God to give me the love for those who had hurt me. I knew that He was calling me to a pure and true love, one that can only come from Him; a love that is not selfish or boastful but giving and flowing from a plentiful well that would never run dry; His love; the love that covers a multitude of sin!
So often others sin against us and we are so wounded by it that if we are not very careful we, in our hurt, will turn right around and sin against them and simultaneously against God because ultimately all sin is against Him.
My, my, my what a complex and challenging world we live in! I literally hate conflict and yet I find myself falling into it far more frequently than I feel is necessary. I can see how it happens and even why, yet when we are in relationships with others struggle seems inevitable unless we are equally yoked, like-minded, and fully committed to the same end. Different values govern our lives thus the conflict is bound to emerge and reemerge from day to day.
I keep hearing in my heart “love one another.” That is what God wants for His children. Why? Because He loves us. When we truly love one another, our words are kind, our hearts are tender toward one another, we are not puffed up or haughty or ready with anger to fire harmful words. Instead, we long to know the other is well, to hear of good things from and about them. Our thoughts toward them are pure and kind and our only desire for them is all that is good.
I realize that in our flesh we are often tempted to shield ourselves with distance and suspicion of others, to plot and manipulate in order to get what we want, but that is not the way of love. Love is open and honest and chooses to think the best unless forced by fact to do otherwise. Love is humble and not proud, kind and not callous, and love forgives.
I love the entire book of 1 John but none more than 1 John 4:7-8 “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
Love is a choice. Love is active, a verb, a chosen way to live. Whether I like what is happening around me or not, I am committed to the act of loving. Love is a governing principle in my life by choice, and much of my choice is an act of obedience. Sometimes I feel angry but Ephesians 4:26 says “be angry and sin not.” So my feeling does not have to determine my behavior, in fact it must not in many cases lest I sin against God who loved me by the greatest act of love ever known. Feelings are far less important than the truth of love and obedience to God and the joy of walking in the spirit and not the flesh. If only people could see that walking in the flesh and being ruled by feelings is bondage and that freedom, through love, is a choice!
1 Peter 3:8-12 gives excellent council that sums up all that I am trying to say here:
“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”
Strife is no way to live. There is great joy to be found in choosing to serve the Lord as Joshua did for himself and for his household. To be servants of Christ, we must walk in love. There is a daily choice to be made for all of us and I fervently pray that the choice for me and my household will always be love independent of circumstance.