I don't love others well. My tendencies going as far back as I can remember lean heavily towards guarding myself from disappointment by keeping a safe distance. My natural inclination is to run from those who disappoint me and I have become versed at this tactic. When problems arise it is always easier for me to run than to actually address this issue. I would venture to say that I am not only one I have just described. In our sinful nature a lot of us have this mindset because its ultimately rooted in pride and selfishness. The natural man is all about himself with little care in how it affects others. Herein lies the problem. I am no longer a natural man. I have been born again by the Spirit of God. Jesus said in John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”.
I have been working my way through 1 Thessalonians and I was struck by what Paul tells the Thessalonians.
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”
The one thing that stuck out to me right away was the “Labor of love”. Thinking of the church and the gathering of God’s people it is often hard to love one another. We are sinful people who get on one another’s nerves and often hurt one another by our words or actions. With that being said we must labor to love one another.
John Calvin in his commentary said:
“And, assuredly, it is known by experience, how laborious love is. That age, however, more especially afforded to believers a manifold sphere of labor, if they were desirous to discharge the offices of love. The Church was marvelously pressed down by a great multitude of afflictions: many were stripped of their wealth, many were fugitives from their country, many were thrown destitute of counsel, many were tender and weak. The condition of almost all was involved. So many cases of distress did not allow love to be inactive.”
Obviously the afflictions we face today in America pale in comparison to the church of Thessaloniki, yet they labored to love! Do we labor to love? I for one fail often at this. The beauty of the Christian life however and the gospel of Jesus Christ specifically is that Jesus loved perfectly on my behalf. I can love others because of Jesus perfect love for me. In Him, I am adopted into the Kingdom of God and I stand justified before a holy God. The only One who’s opinion counts looks down and says “ I love you.” I no longer have to worry about being loved in return because I have first been loved. I can love others with reckless abandoned knowing that my Father in heaven has given me ALL things! May we put to death the sin of pride and selfishness and put ourself out there for others knowing that any pain or disappointment we receive from doing so will be rewarded in the Celestial City! Loving others this way will look weird to the world but Jesus said it would. May God’s glory be forever magnified as we seek to love one another in a culture that directly opposes such love.