“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
The world we live in today is one that teaches to act, love and serve much differently than the way Jesus tells us to. Society tells us to match the amount grace and forgiveness we offer others, to the amount of grace and forgiveness they offer us. And how many times has someone warned you against being “walked all over” or cautioned you to not go out of your way for someone who wouldn’t do that same for you?
We are constantly keeping score between all of the different people in our lives, judging who is worthy of our attention and time. We tell ourselves that respect must be earned, not given, but that couldn’t be farther from the way Jesus treated people.
Have you ever served, tithed or “loved” someone, only to receive something in return or to benefit from the situation in some way? If you are honest with yourself, this happens far more than any of us would like to admit. Even if what we are after isn’t necessarily a returned favor, maybe we are seeking to earn a good reputation or favor with God.
But this isn’t how Jesus loved at all! Jesus loved others without ever expecting anything in return. In fact, He knew that His love would not be reciprocated by most people He encountered. He knew that the grace, acceptance and romance He offered would be dismissed, while His children chased after worldly desires and fleeting satisfactions.
The most remarkable thing about Jesus’ love is that this rejection never kept Him from loving people, and it certainly did not keep Him from sacrificing Himself for us on the cross.
Jesus’ love was unconditional, unceasing and, quite honestly, had nothing to do with us. It didn’t matter if we loved Jesus back, because He was never interested in earning our love. Rather, His time on Earth was spent telling people of the good news and inviting us to have a relationship with Him. This invitation is a gift, and although He wants us to receive that gift, His sovereignty remains, whether or not we accept it.
1 John 4:19 states, “We love because he first loved us.” That is the secret ingredient in replicating Jesus’ love in our own lives. When we realize how much Jesus loves us and what He did to demonstrate that love, we can be consumed by that same love. Jesus’ love is what will fuel our very own hearts.
We can love, because we are loved. We can forgive and be merciful, because we are forgiven and shown mercy every day.
Though this is much easier said than done, allow yourself to be reminded by Jesus’ great love! Be humbled by His sacrifice, and don’t be distracted by the world’s way of keeping score. When you feel like you have been wronged, betrayed or mistreated, remember the grace the Lord shows us. We are not living our lives with the goal of earning the love of others; rather, we have dedicated and devoted ourselves to serving Jesus and rejoicing in the love He has for us!
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.