Love. February is the month of love. Ooey, gooey, chocolate and roses kind of love.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate going out to dinner and getting a present. I like feeling special. But true love isn’t about romance and fluttery feelings.
Love is a choice. It is a choice when husband and wife are in disagreement over everything and can’t find common ground. It is a choice when a child tells you they hate you and spits on all you do for them. It is a choice when a friend betrays you. It was a choice when Jesus gave His life for you and me.
Love is so much more than romance. Love is forgiveness. It is letting go of offenses whether someone deserves it or not. It is going the extra mile when you know your actions will not be appreciated or even acknowledged. Why would we do this?
The answer is simple. And oh so hard. We give love because we have been given love. The greatest example of love we will ever see is Jesus Christ. And He said, “‘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.’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV) And Jesus taught us by word and deed how to love our neighbor. Give our cloak. Be a good Samaritan. Spend time with tax collectors. Love the unlovely. Forgive not 7 times a day, but 70 times 7.
The last part of the second commandment talks about loving ourselves. That too sounds easy. But how am I loving myself when I am full of resentment? Of unforgiveness? Hatred? If I love myself that way, am I not loving others with the same venom?
The only way I know to be free of the boiling cauldron of resentment and unforgiveness is to just forgive. Turn it over to Jesus. Lay it at the cross. And I would like to tell you this is a one and done. But all too often this is a process that needs to be repeated. Because the enemy does not want us to be free. Even when we truly want to forgive others and live a life that is free, the enemy will remind us of the offense. But God is so much bigger than all that. He helps us to turn away (repent) from our bitterness and forgive even when it is not deserved or asked for.
I didn’t deserve the mercy and grace of the cross. It was given to me because of love.