As Jesus was finishing up with dinner on the night He was arrested, He told the disciples around the table:
31 ... “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:31-35 NIV)
We know that GOD loves us tremendously.
We understand the beautiful truth that Jesus loved us so much He willingly died a cruel death so that we didn't have to suffer the punishment we deserve.
As parents, we begin to understand the unique love that parents have for their children, helping us understand how GOD views us as His creatures.
It's just that, when we get down to loving each other with that same agapé love, it can easily seem overwhelming sometimes.
Loving people as Jesus loves us is hard.
We're all "unlovable" at times (for some people it's most of the time, amen?), and it is in those times that we need one another's love the most.
But that's really the beautiful (and challenging) thing about this agapé type of love—it always seeks the loved one's best interest, even when...no, especially when they don't deserve it. Loving people as Jesus loves us is attainable, or else He wouldn't have told us to do so.
I've been thinking a lot about this commandment from Jesus lately.
GOD has shown me that I need to grow in this area of life. Perhaps you're in a similar situation.
If so, I wanted to share three very practical things that I'm trying to do to grow in this regard:
- Pause and put myself in the other person's situation.
Before I allow myself to have negative or judgmental thoughts toward them, I need to try to see the situation (and the world) as they see it.
What do I think I would do if faced with their situation?
- Remind myself that I don't have to perfectly understand or even agree with this individual's choice(s)—assuming the choices aren't sinful in nature—in order to love them like Jesus.
Nor do I have to have all the answers.
- Ask myself, "In this moment, do I genuinely love (agapé) this person?
Are my thoughts and actions right now seeking their best interest?"
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
(Jam. 2:12-13 NIV)
I want mercy from GOD and others; I don't want justice, because I've made a big mess at times in my life. If I want mercy, I must extend it.
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
(Matt. 7:1-3 NIV)
In closing, this topic reminds me of a Casting Crowns song entitled "Love Them Like Jesus." I thought I'd link it here. GOD bless, and let's remember to be merciful.