We are called to love. It’s our number one commandment and top calling as children of God. I mean, when asked what was the greatest commandment Jesus put it out there pretty straightforward and plain. We’re to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and then we’re to love our neighbor like ourselves. I take this pretty seriously so when I contemplate loving someone as much as I love myself I want to take it even deeper. What if I loved people more than I love myself? What if I loved them kinda like how I love my children?
Although it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface I like to think that our Heavenly Father loves us in a manner similar to how I love my children. It’s this deep, unconditional love. It’s that love that perseveres through hurt, betrayal, or even indifference. It’s the kind of love that loves you even if you don’t love back. It’s what I like to call a “no matter what” kind of love, and it’s perfect.
So when you begin to envision love in a parent to child manner aside from the deep commitment it entails you’ll also see that it comes with discipline. It comes with correction. It comes with a guidance born of the desire for the child’s best interest at heart. For example, if my four year old tried to pick up a poisonous snake I would yell harshly and quickly, “stop!” I wouldn’t allow my seven year old to cross the street without looking both ways, and I wouldn’t give my toddler free reign of the content locked beneath the kitchen sink.
I betcha no logical human being would question why I parent this way. It just makes sense that because I love them so deeply I want to protect them from harm, teach them what is correct, and prevent them from making a deadly mistake that could cost them their life. That’s true love.
True love is based in truth, so when you love someone you approach them in love and truth. You don’t hold back the knowledge you have anymore than you hold back your feelings, and by pouring out live-giving truth on that person you extend their life. It makes you wonder, though, why it isn’t logically accepted or expected to freely give the truth to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Especially when it’s a truth that can give eternal life. Now that’s true love!
There seems to have slowly evolved over time a belief that to love is to tolerate sin. This commonly held belief in society today says that if you love someone you will show tolerance for decisions that go against the truth as it is instructed in God’s word. Even many churches have fallen for the lie that to love is to show tolerance, but in doing so have shown their brothers and sisters an injustice. They’re withholding truth and knowledge that leads to an abundant life on earth and also a wonderful eternity in the presence of the Lord. By withholding truth in the name of “love” we aren’t really loving at all. We are hampering love. We are excusing sin that in essence creates a divide between God and His children. So you see, tolerance isn’t love.
You could almost say tolerance is a love that hurts you. It’s that abusive spouse who emotionally and physically harms you. They say it’s because they love you, but true love doesn’t do anything that causes pain. And that goes for visible pain, or even the pain that’s not so easy to see. Sin is like the bruises in your psyche from years of demeaning words. This comparison isn’t to downplay domestic violence of any kind, but rather to point out that a separation from the Lord is as painful, and even more so in my personal opinion, to the deep pain that is caused by man at times. It’s certainly not true love.
So if true love speaks the truth as given in God’s word, and as believers we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, then isn’t it a given that to love is to share what we have been given openly and honesty? Wouldn’t holding that back be the opposite of love?
If I let my child steal from a store then I am also guilty. And if I allow a friend to live a sinful life according to scripture, never sharing my knowledge with them, or pretending that I didn’t believe their decisions to be wrong according to God’s word, am I not also guilty? Gosh, that’s something to think about.
So, is love a harsh condemnation of a stranger on the street, or perhaps a sermon directed coldly and condescendingly in a Facebook comment? Not at all. Love is relationship. Love is friendship. Love is caring. Love is built upon mutual trust and acceptance of the fact that we all carry flaws. Humans sin. That’s humanity. To love someone isn’t to call out their sin like you don’t have a bagful of your own. Love is to share the knowledge of God’s truth as He directs you, and in a manner that shows His heart, not just the desire to be correct. You share the truth out of love, but you also remember to share the truth in a loving way. This is one of the most difficult aspects of showing love; to do so in truth, but gentleness, meekness, and with a servant heart. That’s a spoonful, right?
We gotta work on this, guys. Myself included. We must stand in truth to show love, but we also have to remember to show love when we share the truth. I pray that we all may hear the Lord’s voice on how to do this best, and I am reminded that by diving into the scriptures we can get the best example of all on how this is done well; Jesus.