One of the things I tend to talk about a lot is that my love for others and my actions towards them, my faith, my relationship with Christ, cannot be driven by my feelings, and this is something I have to remember on a regular basis because I am so naturally driven by my emotions and I tend to think within the scope of my heart, which, of course, isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes it can make humility and kindness, empathy and compassion, objectivity and rationality difficult to grasp.
So, as God has grown me in my relationships, He’s showing me just how important this is, that my loving others isn’t based on whether I feel like loving them. With this, my love for others cannot depend on how they love me, if they love me at all. My encouragement of others can’t be based on how they’re going to respond. My challenging others can’t be based on whether or not they’ll get offended. My listening to and comforting of others can’t be based on how often they’ve listened to and comforted me. By the divine grace of God and His changing work in me, the daily sanctification of my heart by His gentle hands, I am called as a pure and precious daughter of Christ to love others as He has so perfectly and completely loved me. I am to mirror Christ in everything I do.
In John 13, before Christ foretold Peter’s denial, He gives the disciples a new commandment. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (v. 34-35)
This is what I’ve been learning, especially since the last couple of weeks have been difficult concerning emotions and whatnot. It’s so easy, isn’t it, to get lazy when it comes to loving each other, especially those of the faith, spiritual brothers and sisters that we’re called to pray for and encourage and challenge and build up. George Sanchez, in talking about changing our thought patterns as redeemed children of God, describes love as an exercise of the will, and he takes the listener primarily through Romans 6-7 and parts of Philippians to show how God commands us to bend our will to His, to renew our minds, and to depend on Him to help us do so. Whether I feel like it or not, in a moment when it would be easy to be lazy in love, selfish, or impatient, I need to choose to be loving, or any of the characteristics mentioned to describe love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. But of course, I can’t do this by myself. I still can’t love others by myself.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
It seems like everything leads back to Christ 😛 Imagine that. So God has brought me through this thought process of “I really don’t feel like loving this person…but I’m going to choose to love them,” and then depending on Him to help me both know how to love them and also give me the patience and the will and the strength and the energy to love them. Ironically enough, it was one choice today of choosing to love someone, even though I didn’t feel like it, that solidified my thinking on this command to love. Go figure 😛 God works wonderfully with man, and He works patiently with me.
Today I finished my last final of my sophomore year at Pratt. I sat outside the Main Building with Bree and Kat, talking about Christ and about Catholicism, and as the three of us soaked in the sun, I remembered what the beginning of the semester, pssh, what last semester had been like, and I couldn’t believe how much had changed in so little time, couldn’t believe how much God had moved, was overwhelmed by this power and love and ability of His that I feel like is brand new to me, though I know He’s constant and never changes. And the fact that I get to spend the rest of my life, reaching further and further into who He is, never to scrape the surface of the bottom, is absolutely amazing 🙂
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” —Ephesians 3:20,21