If you’re like me, you could be described as a good Christian who loves others. Of course, you sometimes do unloving things but never without a good reason. If this describes you, you don’t love others nearly enough.
Our only opportunities to show love come when we have a good excuse to stop loving. Love is something we do when we have valid reasons to do otherwise. According to Jesus, the most loving act you can do is lay down your life for someone else (John 15:13). The greatest love comes at the greatest cost. Christ made that choice (Matt 26:53-56), and we are called to do the same (1 John 3:16). The only times that we actually show love to people are when they are unlovable. Every other time is just a coincidence (Luke 6:32). Read this description of love:
1 Corinthians 13:4–8a (ESV)
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
Did you read the passage? I know it’s a familiar text, but its more important than anything I have to say. If you skipped over it, go back and read it carefully. It’s ok; I’ll wait.
Love does not consist of vague sentiment, warm feelings, or happy thoughts. Love is a choice. Love chooses what is best for another despite good reasons to do otherwise. Consider the only situations in which the 1 Corinthians 13 characteristics can be shown.
You do not need to be patient unless you suffer offense. You do not need to be kind unless you may suffer loss. You do not need love without envy unless you suffer inequality. You do not need love without boasting unless you could claim superiority. You do not need to have love without arrogance unless conflict arises. You do not need to have love without rudeness unless someone imposes on you. You do not need love that doesn’t insist on its own way unless a disagreement arises. You do not need love that is not irritable unless someone annoys you. You do not need love that is not resentful unless you have been wronged. You do not need love that chooses right over wrong unless you are tempted to sin. You do not need to bear all things unless you suffer disappointment. You do not need to believe all things unless you have been deceived. You do not need to hope all things unless change seems impossible. You do not need to endure all things unless you are hurting. You do not need love that never ends unless you have a desire to quit.
Opportunities to love come in situations that could give rise to hatred. Our excuses for not loving are also our only occasions to truly love. You can’t show love unless you have good reasons why you shouldn’t.