Did you know it’s possible to pick out just one truth—one statement—that encompasses all of what we find in the Bible? In fact, Jesus Himself did it. So if you’re looking for one truth that can help you take back your life, recapture life as it was meant to be, read Matthew 22:
Jesus sums it up for us, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (verses 37-39).
Simply put, the key to living the way God intended for us to live is to 1) love God with all your heart, and 2) to love others. If you want to learn a better approach to life, learn a new way to love. Learn to love like Jesus.
What’s unfortunate is that the world has attached a lot of baggage to the word love. We usually think of love in conditional terms—that is, we feel love and return love to those who love, who are lovely, or who love us first. Or if we lead out with love, we do so to get love in return. I call it bartering with love. In a nutshell, our culture teaches us to use love as a wage or a bribe.
The secret to life as God intends it to be is learning to love not as a wage or a bribe, but as a gift – offered freely with no strings attached. Let’s examine this radical new way of loving more closely.
Love Is A Gift, Not A Wage Or A Bribe, So Give It Freely.
Love is a gift. It is to be given away freely, without expectation of anything in return. Don’t use love as a wage, paying back those who first loved you. Jesus said in Luke 6:32, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.”
Jesus then added, “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount” (verse 34). Some people use love as a bribe—even in their marriages. They’ll do something nice for someone else in the hopes of getting something nice in return. That’s love bribery. It’s not God’s idea of real love.
But What If I Don’t Feel Like It?
The apostle John encourages us with the admonishment, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). So often we hear the sentiment that love is a feeling. As such, it is out of our control. It’s either there or missing. We even speak of “falling in or out of love” or “being captured by love” or being “bitten by the love bug”.
Now we must acknowledge that the emotions of love are real and powerful. But as long as your loving is controlled and lead by your emotions, you will never be able to love in the way God intends. Love must become a choice you make, even if you don’t feel like it.
Feelings are great. God created them and possesses them Himself. But always remember:
Feelings make great followers, but lousy leaders!
I’m not denying the reality of the negative feelings that we all experience. At times we all feel hurt, angry, disappointed, frustrated, irritated, disrespected, overworked and under-appreciated. And on the heels of such mistreatment it is natural to not feel a lot of love for someone. So what should we do?
The key is to remember the different expressions of love in scripture. One form of love is “speaking the truth in love”. If you don’t tell the truth, express how you feel, bitterness will take root in your relationship, grow into anger, and choke out any feelings of love.
So as you are choosing to give kindness, gentleness, compassion, forgiveness or any of the other positive actions of love… don’t forget that love tells the hard truth when it feels angry. Tell that associate, spouse, child or friend… “I care about our relationship, so you need to know that when you (describe their hurtful act) , I feel (describe your negative feelings).” Then forgive them and choose to show love, in spite of the way you feel!
Is there a broken relationship that needs to be healed with forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love? If so, take the first step, call or write, and give grace to someone today.