Devotions this week based on Sunday’s Message: The Difficulty of Love! (LISTEN HERE)
“It depends on the person.”
When we say this phrase we are identifying that some people in our lives are easier to love than others. It depends on the person. If the person is loving back, easy to love. If they don’t, it’s difficult to love, or we just stop trying to love.
It does depend on the person, but what person? Does the person we are trying to love determine whether it is easy or hard to love?
Yesterday we were encouraged to look at YOU. Often the condition of OUR heart is what makes it easy or hard to love.
Another person we want to look to is Jesus. How did he love the difficult people? If it is true that “we love because he first loved us” (and it is), then we must look at the right person and learn from him…our Savior Jesus.
If we are to love as we have been loved, we must turn to the right person and see how he not only loved other difficult people, how he loved me.
First, he loved others more than himself.
Sure he was the Son of God, but was tempted in every way as we are, yet did not sin. So, like us, he was tempted to love himself more than others. He could have stayed in heaven instead of coming to this earth, yet he didn’t because he loved the world more than himself.
When he was in the Garden and prayed for the cup of suffering to be taken from him, he could have walked away and deserted his Father’s plan. Yet he loved people more than himself and for the joy set before him was willing to endure the cross.
He simply focused on loving others more than himself…including you.
Second, Jesus loved those that didn’t love him.
If I would project my emotions on Jesus, this had to be hard. I can love others when they love me back, but when others don’t love me, it is so easy to be mean back at worst or simply walk away from the relationship at best. But Jesus leaned in and loved those who didn’t love him back. Want some examples?
The whole people of Israel who didn’t receive him? His heart ached for them:
Matthew 23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.
The soldiers who nailed him to the cross. He didn’t curse. He forgave:
Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Third, Jesus loved those that were not perfect like him.
There was no one “beneath” Jesus’ love. We may have our stereotypes or “groups” of people we struggle to love because of challenges with the behavior or beliefs of that group of people. Jesus reaches across those cultural and personal barriers to love people perhaps others wouldn’t. A woman caught in adultery, he forgives and encourages a change in life style.
John 8:11 “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Tax collectors who still are despised today, Jesus sat down and shared a meal with them: Matthew 9:11-12 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
Jesus loved the difficult because he chose to focus on loving them regardless of the person. Love originated in his heart and it exhibited itself to all…regardless of the person.
It’s a good thing because that’s the reason we have experienced Jesus’ love too!
Apply: What aspect of Jesus’ love impacts you the most?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me, the difficult one. Empower me with that love to love everyone around me, even the ones that are difficult to love. AMEN.