“The entire law is fulfilled in a single decree: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
It really is that simple. If every person on planet Earth did this, there would be no need for laws.
A simple command, but it is certainly not always easy. It’s hard to love someone who is not themselves being loving.
Love is patient, kind, forgiving, enduring, and so on. However, when someone is doing us wrong, we often react in anger, contempt and selfishness. How dare they! How could they do that to us? That’s just our human nature, but it’s not God’s way.
It’s important also to recognize that love and forgiveness doesn’t mean being a door mat. Looking to Jesus as the example of perfect love, he didn’t tolerate whatever abuse was hurled at him. Most often, when people such as the Pharisees were trying to treat him poorly, he removed himself from the situation. He didn’t just stick around to take the abuse.
Genuine love will sometimes leave us, if we’re in such a state of selfishness that we won’t even seek forgiveness. If we’re doing wrong and refuse to change, and we refuse to even admit our faults, sometimes the most loving thing someone could do is to leave us. It might just serve as a wake-up call. Allowing us to continue in sin unopposed is certainly not the loving thing to do, and it does nothing to lead us in the right direction.
When Jesus said to forgive seven times seventy times, we must remember that he was asked a specific question — if a fellow believer does us wrong, and seeks forgiveness, how many times should we forgive them? The key point is that someone is seeking forgiveness.
When Jesus met the adulterous woman at the well, he didn’t say she was forgiven, regardless if she continued to do wrong. He told her to go, and sin no more. She was willing to admit her faults, repent and seek to do better.
Much like a loving parent would not allow a child to simply have whatever the child wants, true love does not just allow us to have whatever we would want. Sometimes our own wants and desires are far from what’s best for us, and for those around us.
So love may be complicated, but real love is always the best way. It may not always be easy, and many times it is not, but if we really love the people around us, as we would want to be loved — including sometimes the tough love of instruction, correction and healthy personal boundaries — we will be living in the will of God.
God is love.
Photo by Ashley Williams from Pexels
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