I marvel when I see my daughters work with their children. Once, when Sherisa instructed her son to do a certain task, he balked and told her he didn’t want to. She didn’t get upset like I probably would have. She just calmly and sweetly replied, "That’s too bad. Life is full of things you will have to do that you don’t want to do, but you will have to do them anyway." What a wonderful way to weave a life lesson into an everyday occurrence!
Do it anyway! What a concept! The Bible is full of instructions that I would rather not do. I struggle with all those "love one another" scriptures. I struggle with loving my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:31), loving my enemies (Matthew 5:43, 44), and even sometimes loving those closest to me (Ephesians 5:25).
It’s hard to love people who are self-centered, unappreciative and unreasonable. It’s hard to love people who don’t love you back. It’s hard to love someone who is irrational, illogical or selfish. It’s hard to love those who verbally attack you, put you down or spread unfounded rumors about you. However, the biblical instruction seems clear — love them anyway.
The "love chapter," 1 Corinthians 13, describes love as patient, kind, not envious, believing the best, enduring, not resentful, and so on. It doesn’t say that love condones and accepts everything others do. Nor does it say that love lets people run roughshod over it, nor that it gives them everything they want. Love is not gullible.
At times, in other words, love is more of a choice than it is an emotion.
Nowhere is this more evident than with the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us. God so loved the world that he gave his Son for us (John 3:16-17). Jesus so loved the world that he gave himself for us (John 10:18). His motive was love. But those he loved rejected him and killed him.
Was it easy for him? He said, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me …" (Luke 22:42). It was an agonizing choice. Luke 22:44 says, "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." It was agonizing, but he did it anyway. He loved us in spite of our selfishess, our lack of appreciation and our rejection.
We’re unworthy of such love. But Jesus did it anyway — for you and for me. I’m so glad he did.
But he didn’t just die for us; he rose for us, ascended for us, and through the Holy Spirit, he lives in us. And that makes all the difference.
It’s still hard for us to love people who don’t love us back, who are hurtful, unkind or cruel. But because Jesus in us does it anyway, we can, with him, do it anyway, too.
By Barbara Dahlgren