If it’s really love, it should be easy. If it’s really love, there will not be much fighting, hurt, or bitterness. If it’s really love, you will be happy all the time. These are some ideas about love that culture seems to push in our thoughts often through entertainment or social media. These charming ideas we hold onto about love often leave us feeling like incomplete failures when any relationship we are invested in hits a rough spot. We then feel like giving up on loving others when things get hard. Unfortunately, our culture idealizes putting ourselves first at all times and leaving those who are hard to love by the wayside. However, what if Christ has called us to a higher calling of loving others even when it’s hard? What would it look like if we truly loved others as Christ loved us?
We’ve all had experiences in our lives with people who are hard to love. It could be a friendship that encountered a disagreement then turned sour. Maybe it’s a rebellious child that has broken your heart. Maybe it’s even an angry or depressed spouse that you continuously feel that you are growing further and further apart from. In any of these situations, it can feel easier to throw in the towel and give up. Maybe the situation isn’t as fatalistic either. Maybe you’re struggling to love your toddler well who will not stop throwing tantrums everywhere they go. Maybe it’s the little things in a relationship that drive you crazy then cause you to treat that person unlovingly.
Loving well can be hard work! But what if we loved others as Christ loves us? How would that change how we treat others and maintain relationships?
Let’s take a look at how true love is a commitment and see how Christ would have us fulfill that commitment. Let me begin by saying that if you are suffering any type of abuse in a relationship please reach out to a pastor and/or mental health professional. This blog is intended to address loving through general, unharmful conflicts.
The Steadfast Love of the Lord
Scripture references a lot to the Lord’s “steadfast love”. Every verse in Psalm 136 even closes with “for his steadfast love endures forever”. Merriam-Webster defines steadfast as firmly fixed in a place, not subject to change, and firm in belief, determination, or adherence. One of my favorite promises to cling to in Scripture about God’s faithful love is Lamentations 3:22-23 which says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” I am so thankful to the Lord for His unwavering love to me and as His child, I should be modeling this type of love to others even when it’s hard.
As humans, we make mistakes and unintentionally hurt people that we love the most. However, we have the opportunity to show them the love of Christ by practicing forgiveness and kindness through Christ-like love. Let’s look at some more common examples where we can exercise greater Christ-like love in our daily lives.
Everyday Examples in Loving Well
John 13:34-35 states “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
From Scripture, it seems that the Lord sees that it is very important that we love and live peaceably with others as best we can if we are His followers. This “others” includes those big familial relationships, our good friends, our bosses and co-workers, our neighbors, and even our enemies. To love someone as Christ loves them does not mean we have to agree with and accept everything they do. It does mean that we should view them as a sinner like us, in need of grace, and extend whatever grace we can towards them as we interact with them. Showing more kindness and concern toward others is a first step in loving them well as Christ would have us to and, if they are an unbeliever, hopefully, a first step toward sharing the gospel with them.
A more specific example is parenting; it is hard work!
There are days that I put my little girl down for bed and then go sit on the couch and beat myself up mentally because I lost my patience or my temper with her. Parenting is a great example of how we can love as Christ loves even when it’s hard. It’s important that we continuously preach the gospel to ourselves daily and meditate on God’s Word so that when we feel like we are going to explode, we can turn to those truths to help us react in love.
The gospel paints a perfect picture of the Lord’s sacrificial and committed love to us. When we meditate on that truth, we can aim to translate that sacrificial and enduring love to our children.
Unfortunately, marriage is undoubtedly the prime example of people committing to love each other through any obstacle but then once faced with such obstacles, the individuals deem the relationship too hard and abandon it or ignore it. The reality is that little things can add up over time causing a big rift that was unintended in the relationship. A big decision can put stress on the relationship and cause conflict. Maybe someone makes a big mistake and hurts the other person by that.
Any of these examples can frustrate the human heart and trigger hurt, anger, bitterness, etc. This is why it is of utmost importance for us to keep Christ as the center of our relationship.
A passage I love that beautifully demonstrates the gospel in human relationships is Ephesians 4:31-32: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” When I view my marital relationship through the lens of this verse, I find such freedom and greater joy if I do practice what this verse instructs and love as Christ loves.
Loving well is not always easy, but it is what we are called to do. It is my hope and prayer that you would meditate on the gospel and what God’s Word has to say about the Lord’s perfect, steadfast love and how we can best demonstrate that to others.
Morgan joined the HBC staff in 2017. She loves to be outside (especially at the beach or anywhere on the water). She also loves to write, eat ice cream, snuggle with her polydactyl cat, and take walks with her family.