I am writing this on Valentine’s Day as we celebrate love.
We focus mostly on just the fuzzy, warm feelings of love. Valentine’s Day cards reflect this in warming our hearts with sentimental messages. Nothing wrong with this – we need to feel the emotion of love at times.
But we find a clearer picture of love presented a few weeks from now, during the Easter season, when its expression was anything but warm and fuzzy.
I can think of few things that would feel worse – both emotionally and physically – than being rejected by the people you love, being brutally beaten, and then crucified. The ultimate expression of love felt awful for the person giving it.
And just before going through it, Jesus said:
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”John 13:34-35, NLT
You find the authors of the New Testament often referring back to this type of love for others being visible in our lives as the evidence of our love for God.
In fact, if you carefully study the context of most every instance where it talks about loving God and keeping His commandments, it’s referring to this one as an extension of “love your neighbor as yourself” (see Luke 10:25-37). Which is a summary of the last six of the 10 Commandments.
This is also the one thing Jesus tied to salvation. In Matthew 25:31-46 – the Parable of the Sheep and Goats – Jesus said those who loved like this were safe to save. Those who looked outside of themselves to the needs of others and did what was needed to care for them were invited to spend eternity with Him.
Those who were too focused on themselves to not notice or care about those around them were not invited to Heaven and were lost. They were not necessarily bad or evil people, just self absorbed and didn’t follow Jesus’ example of loving others.
We all know we cannot just turn on a switch to start loving others. We’re not capable of doing that. We are who we are. But, God has provided a way for you to get from self-focused to loving others. We find this solution in Ephesians 2:
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT
When you give yourself to Jesus, He gives you salvation. This, of course, means eternal life. But, it also means a new life right now.
He calls us His masterpiece! He re-creates us in Jesus – to be more like Him. This means we will begin doing the things we were designed to do from the beginning, the sort of things Jesus did when He was here.
We will begin to love like Jesus did! Not because we are trying harder, but because Jesus is living in us through His Spirit and His love is shining out through our actions.
Will this always feel good?
No! It will often feel inconvenient. Other times it will feel difficult. It may even be painful at times. And yes, sometimes it will even feel wonderful – but that usually comes after we have done it!
Then, people will start seeing Jesus in us. And just like in His time, some will be drawn to Him and others will be repelled.
Until this happens, we will continue on like we have always done – not much growth or change.
My prayer and my plea to you is make every effort to get connected to Jesus. If you don’t know how, contact me and I will help you get started (402-517-5333). For your sake, and for the eternal consequence of those you rub shoulders with, don’t put this off.
Say yes to Jesus today!