“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. (1 Peter 1:22 NIV) “
A pastor had a conversation with a young man in his church, who had a history of being mean to his peers.
Pastor: Isaac, do you love God?
Issac: Yeah, of course, I do.
Pastor: Why do you love God?
Issac: Because He created me, created everything, gave His life to save me. He blessed me with a beautiful family and provides all my needs. I mean the list goes on.
That’s a great answer, the pastor said. Now let me ask you another question, does God love you?
Issac: Yeah, he does
Pastor: Why does God love you?
Isaac thought for a while; I guess because I’m his child? Once again, perfect answer, the pastor responded.
As humans, when we love others, we sometimes fall into the trap of basing that love on what they can do for us. When the pastor asked Isaac why he loved God, he listed all the things God had done for him. When God loves, however, He loves, because of who He is and also because of who we are. Which is why God’s love, described as unconditional, is the kind of love I invite you to show to others. When we view love as a kind of transaction; you were kind to me, so now I’ll be helpful to you too. We set ourselves up for disappointment because as humans, we make mistakes, we hurt each other from time to time. So when we have this transactional understanding of love, it can often lead to a perpetuation of hurt. You hurt my feelings, so now I’m going to destroy yours. This transactional view of love means constantly counting what I am getting because and that will determine how much and how often I will give. Unconditional love, however, is based on relationship. One spouse loves another not based on how much love he receives, but simply because that’s his wife. Now, what about situations where one person is being taken advantage of or abused? Shouldn’t that affect whether or not we continue to love? The actions of others should have an impact on the way we express love to them, but it shouldn’t change the fact that it is love that is shown. Remember true love is capable of making difficult decisions for the best interest of others. So a person who is giving love and yet constantly receiving abuse should take action to change that situation. But a transactional vs unconditional understanding of love will determine whether the actions taken are carried out in a manner that is vengeful or ultimately helpful. So be encouraged today. Don’t let your love for others be contingent upon what they have or have not done for you. Love them instead merely because of who they are. Remember the words found in 1 Peter 1:22. Love one another earnestly from a pure heart.
Prayer: Father, thank you for loving us simply because we are your children. Help us to love each other the way you love us. Amen