I saw a shirt recently that read, “Love like Jesus.”
I thought it was the most awesome shirt because it’s a great reminder of the second greatest commandment.
In Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) one of the the Pharisees asks, “‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”
As I thought about the shirt more, I thought about how hard it is to really love like Jesus.
Pride keeps all of us at times in our lives from loving others the way Jesus loved. It’s amazing what pride can destroy.
Take a moment and think about the following questions:
When was the last time…
1. Someone hurt you to the point that you said, “I’m done with you”?
2. Someone else’s own selfish desires made you decide to cut them from your life entirely?
3. You let the intense hurt from past scars and the actions someone took against you cause you to stop loving them entirely?
4. You caught someone in a lie and decided you would never trust them again?
5. You felt treated poorly by someone else, so you stopped caring about them?
6. You recognized someone put on a front for the outside world to see, but you quit loving them because you saw the real person and didn’t like what you saw?
Now, take a moment and ponder these thoughts:
1. Despite how much I have hurt Jesus with my sins, I am thankful He will never say, “I’m done with you”?
2. Despite my own selfish desires, I am thankful Jesus has not decided to cut me entirely off from His love and His Kingdom.
3. Despite the intense hurt from past scars and the sins I have made against Jesus, I am thankful He has never stopped loving me entirely.
4. Despite the fact that Jesus has caught me more than once in a lie, I am thankful He has never decided He would never trust me again.
5. Despite the fact that I have treated Jesus poorly at times, I am thankful He has never stopped caring about me.
6. Despite the fact that I can sometimes hide my flaws, transgressions, and sins to the outside world, I know that Jesus knows the real me. I am thankful that He loves me despite the two-faced life I sometimes live.
LOVE LIKE JESUS.
That’s tough to do. It is so much easier to hate like Satan. It is so much easier to hold onto resentment. It is so much easier to hold onto grudges. It is so much easier to write people off entirely. It is so much easier to live with a victim mentality.
Until it isn’t.
When we harbor hate and hard feelings from past hurts, our heart hardens. And the more we dwell on our own selfish needs to feel right, to feel victimized, to fell hurt, the more we allow Satan to destroy our opportunity to love those who need to be loved the way Jesus loves us the most.
Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) reminds us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
It’s hard to love like Jesus because it is hard to forgive like Jesus. We expect Jesus to love us and forgive us unconditionally, but we don’t hold ourselves to the same standards in our relationships with those around us.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV), reminds us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
The fruits of the Holy Spirit living inside of us are not pride, anger, resentment, self-pity, hate, jealously, fervor, and the likes.
Yet so many of us live and love those around us in the flesh.
Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV) warns us, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The lack of my ability to forgive those who have sinned against me causing hatred in my heart could keep me from the kingdom of God?
John 10:10 (NIV) reminds us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
As cliche as it may sound, the reality is, broken people will always hurt broken people. And we are all broken. When we stop loving people because we are hurt, we allow Satan to use that hurt to destroy what God designed for good. Instead of judging others for their sins against us, we need to figure out how to love them where they are at, the way Jesus loves us where we are at.
1 John 4:12 (NIV) reminds us, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
Hatred, anger, bitterness, the need to constantly justify why we were right and the other person doesn’t deserve to be in our lives anymore keeps us from mirroring God’s love to them.
John 13:34 (NIV), echoes Matthew 22:36-40. John writes about Jesus telling the disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Love like Jesus. It’s tough.
The next time you find yourself in a conversation with others about the injustice you’ve suffered at the hands of another broken person, ponder if you’d use the same justification with Jesus sitting in the chair across from you. What advice do you think He would give you about the relationship you’ve let hurt and hate steal the love it needed to flourish and allow you to be the example of His love?
Love like Jesus.