How to Love

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” - John 15:12  This seems like it is a pretty clear commandment from Jesus, however our current society seems to have a very different definition of what is required to love others well.“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

This seems like it is a pretty clear commandment from Jesus, however our current society seems to have a very different definition of what is required to love others well.

Here’s some statements that perhaps you’ve heard,even in some Christian circles:

“If someone is draining your energy, walk away.”
“Avoid people who repeatedly do and say things that they know upset you.”
“Sometimes you just have to remove people without warning.”
“You don’t owe anyone anything except the same amount of respect they show you.”
“It’s so nice when toxic people stop talking to you, it’s like the trash took itself out.”
“There is nothing wrong with avoiding people who hurt you.”
“The best way to deal with a toxic person is not to deal with them at all.”

Wow.  Pretty clear message.  Anyone who is a wreck, isn’t worth your time and energy.

 

But does this line up with the command of Jesus to love others as he loved us?

I’m going to suggest no.

What is Love?

Love is: the commitment of my will and resources to another person’s best interest regardless of the cost to me.

Does this line up with how Jesus loves you?

If we agree that this definition is an accurate description of Jesus love for us, then we can use basic logic to determine that this is also the instruction and challenge he gives us when he says to love others the same way.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s a pretty tall order.

When people take advantage of me and I feel cheated- I want to say, “NO!” It’s my turn to have my best interests come first!

Listen, if loving others doesn’t feel painful sometimes, you probably aren’t doing it right.
It’s probably more about loving yourself than it is about loving them.

Loving people in such a way that it never stings, feels hard, or causes us any kind of suffering isn’t sacrificial.  Sure, there are many times love is mutual, we equally equally benefit, we both enjoy each other’s company, we each get something out of it.  That’s ok.

But we have only to look at the example of Jesus to know that sometimes love costs everything.  He was tired and went away from the crowds to be alone and rest.  They followed him and he had compassion on them and allowed it.

And of course, he loved us so much that even though he knew he was about to die one of the most brutal deaths on the cross- and it was stressful- we know it was because he was sweating blood! He decided that love was worth the cost, worth the cost of stress, of death, of being misunderstood, the cost of torture, the cost of agony, the cost of being completely alone. It cost him everything to love us.

Are we willing to let love cost everything?  It’s a little different perspective than “there’s nothing wrong with avoiding people who hurt you,” isn’t it?

Now, let’s also address the elephant in the room.

How do we know when to stop?  Is there a time it’s ok to say enough?  How do we determine when that time is?

First, when Jesus was under two year old and people were trying to kill him, he ran away to Egypt.

Second, when he was instructing his disciples to go preach in villages, he indicated that if the people there did not accept him, to leave, shake the dust from their sandals- Matthew 10:13-14; Mark 6:11; Luke 10:11; Acts 13:51

It can’t just be because they were getting insulted, or despised, or unwelcomed because there’s plenty of times when he instructs us to press on in those situations.

If it isn’t about the cost to me, what else can it be about?

Well, what if it’s about the other person’s best interest?

When Jesus fled to Egypt with his parents, it was in the whole world’s best interest for him to stay alive at that time.  When it was time for him to die on the cross, it was in the whole world’s best interest for him to surrender to that calling.

When he pulled away from a crowd, he knew it was in their best interest that  he get some rest.  Have you ever needed rest and knew that it would be good for everyone if that was the priority- even if they weren’t happy about it?

When we attempt to share Jesus with others and they resist, often it IS in their best interest for us to walk away and allow the Holy Spirit to work on them how he will.

And I dare say that to allow others to continue in sin, whether that’s enabling them to remain an alcoholic or a hoarder, or continuing to allow them the opportunity to abuse another person- even if that person is YOU- is not in THEIR best interest.

Listen, you don’t have to take my word for it, but I encourage you to test this definition out.

Their best interest- it’s why I continue to sit in the passenger seat in spite of the certainty of death that I feel when my teenage boys are practicing their driving skills.

Now, you may make a decision and be wrong about it.  You may do the best you can and then discover that perhaps a different choice was in their best interest.  We aren’t God, so we don’t have the added advantage of being 100% right all the time.  But I can say this, that if we are called to love as Jesus loves, then this is a healthy stand to make decisions from on how to love others as Jesus loves us.

Don’t buy into the lie that you will be happier by cutting out everyone who offends you, takes more than they give sometimes, causes you to experience physical stress, or drains your energy.  That kind of life is not going to satisfy, because it’s not who God made us to be.

I hope you’ve found this podcast as thought provoking as I did when I put it together.  I encourage you to take one relationship and consider how you might apply this definition of love to it.  Test it out.

And I hope you are excited about this month focused all on the Fruit of the Holy Spirit: LOVE.
Next week I’m looking forward to sharing some fun stories about how I LOVE my husband, and how he loves me. If you are married, or planning to be- that’ll be an episode you don’t want to miss.  If you are neither, don’t worry- there are ways to apply what we’ll be discussing to even friendships in your life.

If you want more bite size strategies for how to love your people well, I encourage you to apply for our Fruit Pursuit Mastermind where we get specific. You can apply at:  maryaldrichcoaching.com/apply

Until next time, take care and love those people well!

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