“‘And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’” The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these”—Mark 12:30-31(NLT).
For over 11 years, I’ve sat down at my computer each week to write this column. It wasn’t part of my retirement plan after leaving education in 2005. But God had other plans.
Although I grew up in the church, I didn’t have a personal relationship with God until my late 40s. I’ve never regretted accepting Jesus as my Savior and Lord. There have been times, however, when I wanted to give up. Trials have left me drained but Jesus has sustained me.
When I grow weary and want to quit writing, His Holy Spirit encourages me through the feedback I receive from readers. Writing for His glory is a labor of love.
We can’t love the unlovable on our own.
Love is the answer to the current discord and hate in this world. If we claim to be Christians, shouldn’t our life reflect the light of His love? If we claim to be Christians, shouldn’t we love everyone, even the unlovable among us?
Love everyone? What about the person next door who disturbs the neighborhood by constantly yelling at his children? What about the neighbor who leaves trash scattered across his lawn, distracting from the beauty of the area? What about the grumpy one who never speaks, even when you try to establish a relationship? I admit it’s not easy and I sometimes fail.
But Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, regardless of race, religion, gender or social status. Our neighbors are everywhere—the ones we pass on the sidewalk, in the grocery store, in our churches and in our workplaces.
Biblical scholar J.J. Bruce once said, “God bestows His blessings without discrimination. The followers of Jesus are children of God, and they should manifest the family likeness by doing good to all, even to those who deserve the opposite.”
We can’t love the unlovable on our own. That’s why we need a personal relationship with our Savior. That’s why we need to be reading, meditating on and studying scripture.
Scripture keeps us grounded in His love. Recently, I came across the following “Ten Ways to Love:”
- Listen without interrupting. (Proverbs 18)
- Speak without accusing. (James 1:19)
- Give without sparing. (Proverbs 21:26)
- Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- Answer without arguing. (Proverbs 17:1)
- Honor others above yourself. (Romans 12:10)
- Enjoy without complaint. (Philippians 2:14)
- Trust without wavering. (1 Corinthians 13:7)
- Forgive without punishing. (Colossians 3:13)
- Live and love as a child of God. (1 John 3:10)
We can rely on the love of God who gave His One and Only Son so that we might have eternal life. What better example of love did our Savior demonstrate than to hang on an old rugged cross where He bled and died for our sins? It was His way of saying, “I love you.”
Shouldn’t we, in return, share that love with others?