"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous."
1 John 3:10-11
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."
1 John 4:7-12
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
"It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love."
2 John 1:4-6
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."
1 Peter 3:8-9
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
Lately my own walk has been rocky and unstable because I am dealing with issues of loving those whom I feel are "unworthy" of my love. This morning I spent time looking up passages talking about how we are to love and becoming completely overwhelmed by the conviction that it is commanded if we truly love God to love others. There are people in my life who I feel have been cruel and hurtful and it becomes very easy for me to act is if they do not exist. The more I read this morning the more I realized how much of a sin this truly is.
Biblical love is not confined to a primary feeling or sexuality. We are taught in scripture that love is a commitment and does not come from a place of warm, fuzzy feelings but instead of a place of selflessness and obedience. Instead of focusing on what we need and ourselves we choose to extend ourselves for the goodness of those around us. When we choose to love, especially those who have hurt us, then those good feelings will be produced within us. The act of obedience is what will bring us true joy, fulfillment, and goodness. Jesus was that perfect example for us of selflessness when he gave up His life for our benefit.
We are commanded to love one another and that means everyone. Choosing to disobey this command is a sin and our sin in turn leaves us in debt to God requiring His grace. When we sin, do we find ourselves in mourning for what we have done wrong? Do we even recognize that passing a neighbor and deliberately ignoring them is a sin? Every time we choose to disrespect one another, we choose to disobey what God has commanded us to do and in turn are practicing cheap grace. Cheap grace is asking for forgiveness without truly seeking repentance. It is assuming the offense has been paid in advance and continuing to commit the same sin repeatedly with no thought to the cost of the sin, which was the cost of God's only Son upon the cross.
Do we choose cheap grace? Do we choose to deliberately disrespect our brothers and sisters in Christ rather than extending grace and love to one another? Rather than choosing to love our neighbor, we hurt one another. Instead of seeking His will for our life, we seek our own. Instead of forgiving our enemies, we choose to attack. We all are sinful and disobedient and every day we choose to break the heart of God when we choose to mistreat another one of God's children. As a mother of five, I can begin to see what God sees when we behave in this way. If anyone treated my children the way that I have treated some of those who have hurt me, I would be angry, disappointed, and ready to retaliate. Because I am a child of God, I feel that He looks upon my hurts with the same anger and disappointment. Scripture reminds me that only God can justify and condemn the actions of others.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."
In order to be obedient I must choose to love, forgive and encourage as He has called me to do. No matter how hard I try to justify my lack of love or forgiveness towards someone else because of the hurt they have caused me, it will always be an act of disobedience, an act of sin and a practice of cheap grace. I will choose to love others over myself because I want to love God and obey Him for the sacrifice which was His only Son for me.