Love is impossible, on our own.
If you had not realized already, to love is no small task. Discussing the sacrificial nature of love certainly convicted me! My fumbling attempts at mirroring His sacrifice are inherently tainted by my sinful nature. Maybe I’ve even convinced myself that I would die for a loved one under the right circumstances, but sacrifice more of my time and energy when I feel I’ve earned some respite?!? Not without a good chunk of bitterness. Read the following verses:
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
So there it is. If you loved perfectly, you would consequently keep the law perfectly- and there is no question that none of us have done that. If you need evidence of this read James 2:10 and Romans 3:23 which explain that anyone who stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it, or flat out that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God!
So now we wonder, what’s the point? I haven’t done it. I can’t do it. Why should I aim to love perfectly? Why should I aim to keep the commandments? This wouldn’t be the first time that type of question has been discussed. Read again in Romans:
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase.* But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
6- What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means!
We cannot love, not perfectly anyway. It is impossible. It is impossible to shake our sinful nature, to sacrifice absolutely and unselfishly, and to do exactly that which is commanded of us- to “Love our neighbors as ourselves” which would be evidenced in flawless obedience to the 10 commandments. So what shall we say then? Shall we stop even trying to love, because we have already fallen short and just keep stumbling? (Never mind just one point!) By no means!
Consider parenting. It is impossible to parent perfectly. It was not too long ago that I let my daughter, who I was holding, climb right out of my arms and fall face first into the changing table before catching her because I was distracted looking at my phone. Imperfect parenting. Does this mean that I have ceased to attempt to catch her whenever she falls? Are love and encouragement absent in my time with her since I won’t be able to convey them perfectly? By no means! I am far, far, far from a perfect parent, but you better believe I am going to keep trying! Sometimes I wish I put the same amount of time, effort, and importance into my faith as I do raising my daughter.
If we were to look at our hopeless situation in our inability to love perfectly and stop there, we would be discounting Christ’s perfect life and death on our behalf. He came to seek and to save the lost, that’s us! We are justified by grace through Christ’s death and made perfect in God’s sight so that we can live holy and pleasing lives to God’s glory in obedient gratitude rather than obeying the law to earn our way to heaven! "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8)
We know that we have nothing to do with our salvation! It is a perfect gift from Him who created us! What, then, should our hearts cry in the knowledge that the price is paid in full?
Hebrews 10:22-24 Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
1 Peter 1: 18-22 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.
It may be impossible to do perfectly, but because of Christ we can and should love, “deeply and from the heart”.
So - love, because he first loved us.
*Romans 5:20 confused me a bit when I first read it, but the footnote cleared it up, so I thought I would include it for any readers who happen to be just like me! : (law was added. Not to bring about redemption, but to point up the need for it. The law made sin even more sinful by revealing what sin is in stark contrast to God’s holiness.)
So often, we read God's Word, feel convicted and challenged and yet we walk away and don't take any action about it! God's word isn't meant to be read and then left on the side as we get to back to our normal life. It is intended to be walked out in our every day life. That is where I'd like to challenge you with this post. So now what? What do we do about this amazing undeserved love we have been given by our Savior?
Think of your own life. Are there people that circumstances, encounters or an unpleasant history have led you to write off as unlovable or even undeserving of love? Without Christ's love flowing out of us, real love is impossible. So, the first step towards loving them is to get into the Word of God so that He can fill us up. After that, what specific steps can you take to start walking out a life of loving that specific person? Is it apologizing for years holding a grudge? Is it choosing to forgive your spouse, despite their unfaithfulness? Is it bringing cookies to your neighbor who has been nothing but rude to you since the day you moved in?
If you feel comfortable, please, share your personal challenge for the week so we can pray for you!