Matthew 22:36-40 – 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.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
We are the church. We know right from wrong. And, regrettably, we like to prove right from wrong more often than not. That is unfortunately the way we live our lives, like we are on a mission with something to prove to a world that is dying in sin….that they are sinners.
When Jesus went around teaching, did he spend the majority of His time punishing people for their sins? No, He simply loved them until they saw their sins. The ultimate expression of that is shown in 1 John 3:16 – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
There are people in our lives who are simply difficult to love. And there are people in our lives that we have no desire to be near.
You want to be an evangelist? You want to go on a mission trip? Take a trip to your own back yard and look at the people we come in contact with daily. The boss who spends her free time thinking up ways to make your life at work difficult, your ex-wife, your kids, the people in your church. This is where the command to love becomes so clearly evident because these are the people we are called to disciple.
If the way you love others does not have you asking yourself, “why does this love thing require so much work and time?” then you are doing it wrong. It should hurt to love someone. We are opening ourselves up to being taken advantage of. And when we truly love someone, then we get less in the deal physically than the person receiving the love.
Kids are a great test to this. A few days ago I was out with my kids and my son started in with a poor attitude. He was simply done enjoying the night out and wanted to go home and go home at that moment. He got a chip on his shoulder. I immediately defused him by basically getting done what needed to get done (even if that included untying his shoes, which it did) and then got him on the road quickly back home.
The entire time I was simply showing love to him, I was thinking to myself that I was being taken advantage of. And I was. I started to get angry. But then I realized something. The story continues….
We were in the car and needed to stop and get some bottles of water. As we pulled over, I noticed that he opened the door for his sister, he insisted on carrying the waters so we didn’t have to, and he even shared the choice of the music in the car with everyone even though it was his turn to choose.
Could it be that my simple acts of kindness, of not getting alarmed when he pulled his attitude, defused him enough to show him what it means to love?
There are entire parenting books out there that would say I am wrong. But I believe that is just it. The world is trying to give us answers on how it should operate in love. For the world, love is quick, easy, and flamboyant. For years in the church it has been long-suffering, painful, and quiet.
This is not to say that we should simply tolerate improper behavior. My son and I had a discussion about what he did that I was disappointed in. And God has those discussions with us all the time. I love God dearly, but that doesn’t mean I am going to be perfect in the way that I behave day in and day out. I am human, I am going to sin. But God gently brings me back by expressing His disappointment in me at my sin, not calling me out in front of everyone. It is because I disappoint my Father in heaven that I want to change my behavior. I love God! If I make Him sad, I want to change that.
It is no different with those who love us. If it makes us sad, those who truly love us will change their behaviors and they will become better people for it. You may feel like a doormat, but you aren’t. You are a discipler. You are changing someone else’s life by showing your love to them.