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In 1 John 3:11-18 we find John reminding us that we need to love one another, and I agree. Think of it another way, we should take care of one another and build each other up and not tear each other down. I believe that church ought to be a place where we can get some love – especially when we don’t feel loved. I’m not talking about that superficial type of love that can only make us feel good at the surface level. That’s why we hear about people looking for love in all the wrong places.
John is emphasizing that we need to love one another because this shows that you have the love of God inside of you which enables you to do something that you otherwise could not do by yourself – which is to love – even the unlovable. God enables you and me to love even when there are folk that we don’t feel like loving. Come on, I know that everybody knows somebody that isn’t the most loveable person that you would want to know. These are the type of people who rub you the wrong way and if they are saying anything, it’s always the wrong thing. They may also do things to where you don’t feel good being around them let alone letting anybody know that you know them or are even related to them.
So what do you do when you deal with people you really don’t care for? You don’t want to be around them, don’t want to talk to them and don’t even want to look at them. Especially when they tell you, “You got to love me; you’re supposed to be a Christian – right?” While the bible says that we ought to be meek or have a spirit of meekness about us, you must understand that meekness is not weakness. You don’t have to be anybody’s doormat or subject yourself to another person’s insults or pain that they may cause you either verbally or physically. So how can you love someone like that? There is something that you need to be aware of when we talk about Godly love. There are all types of love out there, but what we are talking about here is love for your fellowman/woman – or defined to show concern for the well-being of someone else. You don’t want to see someone else suffer.
What God is saying to us is that you should to show love or concern for one another because He loves us even with all our faults. For instance, as you look back over your life you will realize that there are some things that you have done against the will of God, that God isn’t too pleased with. And if we were to lift the covers we would find that there were some things in our lives that we have said or done that was hurtful toward God or grieved God’s heart. Yet, God still loves you in spite of yourself. Even though some of you continue to lie, steal, cheat, and do things against His will, God still loves you no matter how many times we let him down or continue to do things that grieve His heart. He still loves you. You see God loves you, but He hates the sin that you do. He keeps the two separate. So no one should ever feel that because you messed up in life or made some bad choices that God does not love you. God loves you even more than you could ever know. And if God can love us in spite of how we are and let alone what we’ve done to each other, we should love one another.
But what if it is a challenge to love someone with whom did you wrong, took advantage of you, hurt you or abused you, defamed your name, embarrassed you, etc. How can you love someone like that? So what do you do? You must first realize that you don’t have to be in someone’s face or their space to show or prove that you have Godly love toward them. Remember, one of the definitions of love is showing concern for the well-being of someone. So what does that look like? If I have God in my life, I can still show forth love – but understand this, I will not be asking you to dinner, we don’t need to do lunch, we don’t need to hang out, you don’t need to be in my inner circle of friends and/or family, and we don’t need to do things together. You do not have to be in my space. I don’t have to do any of these things with you to prove that I am showing a Godly love for you. But I will show loving concern. For instance, if you are broken down on a lonely road, I will help you out if I’m passing by. If you are hungry and need some food, I will ensure that you get something to eat, I will either give you the help you need or get someone to help if I can’t handle it, but once I know you are all set, I will be on my way, I don’t need to spend time with you. Godly love says that I’m not going to allow how you treat me or what you’ve done to me dictate how I treat you or someone else, I choose to let it go and let God deal with you.
On this Christian journey, you realize that holding in resentment, anger, and unforgiveness toward people doesn’t get you anywhere. Life is too short to harbor unforgiveness. And if I trust God more than I trust man I can and will let it go. That’s why I say that I love everybody. I will not allow somebody else to steal my blessings by my holding in anger or unforgiveness. God has brought me too far to allow anybody to bring me down and know this, whatever anyone has done to me, God knows, and God will repay them for what they’ve done. So you keep living your best life, hold your head up, because you are going somewhere, and you’ve got things to accomplish and don’t have time allow what someone has done to you to interrupt your flow or bring you down.
I thank God that he loves me so much that He gave his only begotten son so that I may have life. No matter how messed I am, He loves me. No matter how many mistakes I made, He loves me. No matter how many times I’ve fallen, He still loves me. That’s why I love Jesus, because he first loved me. He didn’t have to love me or care for me, but he did. Know that God loves you and wants the best for you. Don’t allow what anyone has done to rob you of your blessings. Love them from afar but carry on with your life – your best life lies ahead not behind!
Rev. Clyde D. Talley is the senior pastor of Belmont A.M.E. Zion Church.
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Keep the Faith: What’s love got to do with it?