Love when it’s easier to hate.
My brother Zach’s birthday was Feb 20th. This year he would have turned 42.
I remember two and half years ago now preparing a eulogy and pondering, “what would Zach want me to say?” “What would Zach want this group of people to hear and know about him and about his life?”
I sat with my computer on my lap, cycling through the thousands of things I could have said about him. I could have talked about his jokes and humor, his heart of compassion for people, his desire to succeed and make our parents proud.
But when it got down to putting words on the page there was only one thing that I knew Zach would want people to know. And that one thing was Jesus. That one thing is Jesus.
Zach went through many highs and lows of his life, like all of us. And like all of us, there were seasons when he was close to God and seasons when he went his own way. When all was said and done, in the final days of his life, it was Jesus he spoke of.
I said in the eulogy and I will say it again, that there is one question in life that matters most. When you are standing on the doorstep between life and death the only question that matters is, “what did you do with Jesus?”
What have you done with Jesus? Have you welcomed him into your life? Have you dethroned yourself and allowed Jesus to take his rightful place as Lord of your life? Have you come to understand that there is no real peace, joy, hope and life without Him?
That’s what Zach would want you to know. He would want you to know that there is no real peace, joy, hope and life without Jesus. But that journey of life, this journey of faith in Jesus is not an easy choice to make and it definitely does not mean that life will be without hardship.
“The life of faith is not for the faint of heart because the life of faith requires us to love when it’s easier to hate.” (excerpt from eulogy)
The life of faith requires us to love when it’s easier to hate. To love instead of hate. To choose loving someone right where they are, instead of hating them for the choices they have made.
Did you know that love is a choice? Hallmark Channel convinces us that it’s about emotions. Love is not based on emotion. Love is based on a person making an intentional, daily choice. People don’t fall out of love. They choose to stop loving.
Emotions come and go like the waves on the ocean shore. Which means that they can’t be the basis for how we live. They can be guide posts for us. Emotions are God’s way of allowing us to feel, to experience love, but they are not the basis on which we love.
Love is a choice.
Are you willing to love a person who has a different political affiliation? Are you willing to love a person who has a different lifestyle choice? Are you willing to choose to love the person who is not kind, considerate or loving toward you.
Choosing to love someone is not the same as agreeing with them. We can love someone and still have drastically different beliefs, values, moral standards, etc. If love were based on emotions we could not love people who are different from us.
In the same way that love is a choice, hate is a choice.
If I hate someone who’s causing me headaches and heartaches I made a choice. Of course, this is where the love being a choice gets hard. Because there are days when it just feels easier to harden our hearts. It feels easier to not care. And days when choosing love feels beyond our capacity.
Loving others well (whether they are unlovable, hard to get along with or lovely people who just have habits that annoy and cause tension) requires an act of God in our lives. Our choice is to be surrendered to God that will allow him to work in us and through us.
As we draw close to God and experience His choosing to love us it’s mind blowing to think about. It’s mind blowing that the God of all creation would send his son Jesus to us, the greatest act of love the world will ever know. We get to spend eternity with him – totally forgiven, totally redeemed, totally made new.
The life of faith requires love over hate. Whether you feel picked on, passed over, ignored, held back or discounted, whatever the reason you have that you could hold on to the hate for someone, let it go. Give it over to God. Don’t allow the hate and anger to take root in your heart.
1 Corinthians 13:4 says, “love is patient, love is kind.” (CSB)
Love is a choice that leads us to patience. Love is a choice that leads us toward kindness.
In the heat of the moment, there’s a choice to love. There’s a choice to extend kindness. There’s a choice to be patient. But it starts with choosing to love. It starts with making the hard choice.
1 Corinthians 13:6 says, “love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth.” (CSB)
Rejoice in the truth. That means that choosing love means choosing honesty. Love celebrates transparency. Love being patient and kind does not mean there is no room for honesty. In fact, as the verse tells us, love holds the truth in high esteem.
This month each week on Cup of Hope videos, podcasts & blogs we will walk together through the topic of love. My hope and prayer for us is that we come out of this month more in awe of the love Jesus has for us, but more willing to make the active choice to love others well, through the strength of Jesus in us.
Zechariah 4:6 reminds us that it is through God working in us that we are able to do all things, “Not by strength nor by might, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of Armies.” It is through His spirit in us that we can love, show patience, kindness and rejoice in truth.
Thank you for loving us.Thank you for demonstrating what love is. Thank you for the extent that you have gone to choose us, and call us your own. I thank you that your love for us is not based on emotion, or even whether or not we choose you. You chose to love us. And you choose to love us every day. God, teach us to love as you do. Help us to love others not based on how we feel, but through the power of your spirit in us. Amen and amen.
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