Love is a beautiful thing. God, in His nature of love, continues to author the greatest love stories through friendships, families, romance, love for God and self-love. When God created us, in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), He wired us to love and to be loved.
Should Loving Others be Hard?
If we are commanded to love, then why do we find it difficult to love others? However, the truth of the matter is that on our own, loving people unconditionally is hard especially when we consider the shortcomings of the other person (and conveniently forget our own faults). Many times we’ve loved others only when it suited us and whenever it stops being convenient for us we stop “loving” or we base our ‘love’ on feelings, or on someone’s attitude towards us.
However, love in Matthew 22:36 is summed up in into two categories: Love for God (the greatest commandment) and Love for man. We are commanded to first love God with all our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Guess what we HAVE to love, as children of God we do not have any other option.
The reason we struggle to love each other is because we rely on our own strength to love instead of surrendering to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to teach us how to love. When we allow Him to take over and teach us how to love others unconditionally and to fill us with love for others it stops loving becomes easier.
Biblical Description of Love
The Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT has a simple but powerful teaching that I call perfect love. He says that:
Love is patient and kind, it’s not jealous or boastful, proud or rude, It does not demand its own way and it is not irritable.
Love keeps no record of being wronged and does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful (by remaining steadfast during difficult times) and it endures through every circumstance (without weakening).
- Love must be unconditional. There will be times when it’s going to be difficult to love those around us and we will get hurt, but we must love nonetheless. We shouldn’t allow bitterness to take root in our lives because it eats one up from within (Proverbs 10:12). If we want to travel light, choose to love those that hurt you and love your enemies because it frees you (1 John 2:9-10).
- Loving our neighbors as we love ourselves means that there is no room for selfishness in our lives. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
- We can no longer continue to allow our feelings to dictate whether we choose to love or not. Allowing our feelings dictate our love is carnality (Galatians 5:13-14). We have to ask the Holy Spirit to fill us up so that we can stop relying on our emotions and allow Him to lead us. Only through the Holy Spirit filling us with love (one of His fruits) can we experience true love.
- God loves us so much (1 John 3:1)! He teaches us that true love must be willing to sacrifice everything just like He did when He gave His only begotten Son to die in order to redeem us from sin (John 3:16).
- Lastly, we must also love God! If at any time you find yourself anything more than you love God, check yourself for where your treasure is, so is your heart (Matthew 6:21). God must be our first love before anything or any other person.1