Am I loving my brothers and sisters and desiring their good.
34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
INSIGHT: God’s purpose for our loving others is that they might come to know and glorify Him. So naturally, if you love God, you want good things to happen to others so they will also glorify Him. God showed us sacrificial love through the life and death of Jesus. We return sacrificial love when it costs us something to put others first. It doesn’t always feel like a sacrifice, because of the empowering grace of Christ and the resulting joy. The way we show love may differ according to our unique gifts, calling, and resources, but Jesus did say that we are to love each other the way He loved the disciples and us. Here are some of the ways Jesus loved:
He intentionally pursued them – John 15:6
He spent quality time with them- Mark 6:31
He provided for them- Matthew 17:27
He comforted them- Matthew 8:25-26
He taught them- Matthew 5:1-2
He prayed for them- John 17:9
He warned them of danger-John 16:1-2
He corrected them – Luke 10:41-42
He rebuked them- Matthew 8:26, Luke 9:55
He humbly served them- John 13:5
He gave Himself up for them-Matthew 20:28
My expression of love, to others, may be different than yours, and yours different than mine. I used to get so intimidated when I compared how others served and loved compared to me, until I really understood 1 Pet 4:10. I now see that God provides great desire and energy to love others in the unique way we are to love them. God has given me great energy to help strengthen people in their suffering, and to move carnal or immature believers into a real relationship with God, through discipleship. I have great desire and energy for this work, because it is what God has called me to do. I have had days where I will make lengthy voice recordings of encouragement and prayer for up to five people in the throes of suicide or divorce pain, who reached out for help in a single day. But because of my gifting and the grace of Christ, I am left energized by the work, rather than drained.
However, some people are easier to love than others. I have a more difficult time loving people who stay stuck feeling sorry for themselves or who are extremely needy and never seem to make progress. Not all are savable, and some are even sent by the devil himself, simply to distract me, or stifle the work of God in my life. This calls for much patience and discernment. When I see it’s time to cut someone loose and move on, I do so because sometimes that’s the most loving thing I can do. I’m more gifted with exhortation than mercy. I had one person that was so difficult, that when they would contact me over and over, I would look up to the Father and start chuckling because He knew how hard it was for me. I would say, “Lord, I need more grace for this one…please send it!” Incredibly, many of the contacts with this person turned out to be even enjoyable after praying for more grace.
Note: Sometimes love for others is not what you do for someone, but what you don’t do, that you certainly could do. (1 Sam 24:10, Rom 13:10).