“I don’t love you anymore!”
Whenever I think of these words I hear my daughter’s voice, and it makes me sad. My kids often play very well together. They are 4 and 6 years old, and when my son frustrates my daughter she spouts things like “I don’t love you anymore” and “I don’t forgive you”.
We are working diligently with her on this. She’s saying these things out of an immediate hurt, but she doesn’t really feel that way about him. We can see that in her eyes, but at the moment she doesn’t love or forgive him. Even though these feelings are difficult to process, and she doesn’t mean it permanently, it still hurts my son, and it hurts me too. I don’t want to see them fighting.
“I don’t forgive you.”
We don’t say things like my daughter says now that we are “grown-ups” (at least most of us don’t), but do we often think those very things?
Is there someone you are harboring a grudge against? Are you keeping a record of their wrongs? Do you hold it against them? Do you shun them because of your feelings toward them? Often times we act like my preschool daughter.
“The disciple whom Jesus loved” is how John describes himself in the fourth book of the New Testament. He went on to write three other books ingeniously titled 1, 2, and 3 John. In 1 John he talks about who we are called to be in Christ. He is remembering the words of Jesus from the night he was handed over to trial.
In John 13:35 Jesus tells his disciples that they will be identified in the world around them by their love for one another. This is a selfless love as described in 1 Corinthians 13. It is a defining love – the central characteristic that should describe Christ-followers.
In 1 John 3, he describes how this looks in a bit more detail. He explains that people who don’t do right aren’t children of God, and we get that. I think our world readily accepts the idea that doing right helps your journey to be connected to the Father. But then he adds a caveat that is unexpected. He said that you can’t be a child of God if you don’t love your brother or sister.
Please understand this: he didn’t say you have to say “I love you” to your fellow mankind. He said you have to actually love them. It’s an action, not an emotion. It’s a choice, not a feeling.
He then goes on to explain that if you don’t love your brothers and sisters whom you have seen you cannot love God whom you have not seen. He didn’t say you won’t; he said you can’t. It’s impossible for you.
Loving others isn’t always easy, but it is what we are called to do. If you don’t understand what love looks like then Paul gives a great definition in 1 Corinthians 13:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Now, take your name and place it in wherever you read the word “love”. Can you be described in this way? Would the world look at you and know you are a Christian because of your love?
If you can’t be described in this manner, then today is a day to seek God in prayer and ask His spirit to develop this quality of love in you. The truth is that we can never spread the message of God’s love through Jesus if we aren’t willing to sacrificially love others ourselves.
What say you? Do you find that the vast majority of the Christians professing Christ are truly loving this way, or are they more judgmental and condemning than the Savior they profess to follow? This is a dialogue that truly needs to be shared.
May God show you the areas in your life where you haven’t allowed His love to take over. May you. Be shown love by Christians that you know. And may you fall in love with Jesus who loves you perfectly. God bless you.