How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. Psalm 36:7
I had my first ever dream about Jesus, Yeshua, a few months ago. I have thought of it often. To be quite honest, it was a bit convicting.
In the dream, I saw a hallway with several white doors. The doors opened and a person came out from behind each door. We all then entered a common room where Yeshua was. The group was made up of both men and women, probably in their 20s and 30s. Yeshua looked around the room and said, in an exasperated yet pleading voice, “Just love each other!” I immediately awoke.
Confession time. I have not always been a loving person, and I still struggle with this at times. Even as a Christian.
Isn’t love the trait that sets believers in Jesus apart from others?
By this, all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35
Isn’t that one of the greatest commandments that Jesus spoke of?
Love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27
So how can someone say they are a Christian and not love people?
Well, different reasons, I suppose. We all come to Jesus with baggage. We have all walked through life and picked up scars along the way. Rejection from peers, the painful end of a close friendship, verbal or physical abuse from parents or a spouse, harsh or embarrassing comments from a teacher or supervisor, the heartbreaking end of a relationship or marriage, just to name a few.
None of us are immune.
In my case, there was fear of being hurt by people. It was safer to make my heart a kind of fortress, where only a few select people were allowed in. I didn’t do much outside of time spent with those select few because it was safe there.
What I didn’t understand was that what I thought was a sanctuary was actually a prison.
Thank God, He loves us baggage and all, and He bids us come to Him and leave the baggage at His feet. Letting go is a process, though, because we’re often not even aware of the baggage we’re carrying.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Slowly, as we spend more and more time in God’s presence, praying and reading the Bible, He shows us what we’ve been carrying, and then He enables us to give it to Him. That thing is then no longer a weight to carry, but becomes the very thing the Lord uses to help set someone else free.
I’m so thankful that the Lord doesn’t leave us the way He finds us.
The more time we spend with Him, the more we become like Him, and He is love. He fills us with love for others.
But how do we really love in a practical way, day to day? I’m still learning, but one of the things that has helped me is a question I heard somewhere that really stuck with me: why do we assume a person’s worst intentions when they hurt us, but expect them to assume our best intentions when we hurt them?
Can’t we assume that their actions were never to hurt us? Can’t we believe the best, and look for the best?
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8
Can’t we forgive when necessary and not get offended every time our toes get stepped on?
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
It’s not easy, is it? But it is possible.
We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19
Looking at His love, at His sacrifice, and seeing our own sinfulness…knowing that even when we were in our filthiness, our unloveliness, recognizing how truly wretched we were, how can we, who have been loved and forgiven much, not do the same?
There are so many ways to love others. We can encourage people when we see them struggling. We can pray for them. We can offer physical assistance if needed. We can help them financially. Whatever gifts the Lord has placed in us are to be used in serving each other, and by doing this, God is pleased and honored.
I have found myself crying out to the Lord, more and more, to help me love people with His love. To help me see people the way He sees them. To be filled with his compassion. I believe these are prayers that are dear to His heart, and He is answering. He is transforming me with His love. I know He will do the same for you if you ask Him.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8
Lord, help us to love others the way that you do. So fill us with your love and compassion that it overflows and touches everyone we meet. Give us eyes to really see the people around us, and give us the empathy to want to relieve their pain. Lord, Your Word says that he who waters will himself be watered. You water us continually with your love. Help us to do the same.