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Our love for others
- Jacob Ninan
When young men and women 'fall in love', they have strong feelings for the other. But most of them are looking for getting something from the other person, perhaps some pleasure or affection. This kind of love is almost like loving icecream or chocolate. If we get them we can enjoy eating them. But this is not godly love, far from it.
When God loved us we were sinners and there was nothing lovable in us. But in order to save us from death and to give us an eternal relationship with Him He sent His Son to go through the suffering of death (Jn.3:16). He suffered so that we could be blessed. He looked for our eternal welfare and He expressed His love for us by suffering in order to bless us. The mark of our true love for others is how much we are willing to deny ourselves in order to bless the others.
When we want to bless others, it is not by giving in to their wishes. What they wish for may be bad for them, and it would not be love on our part to give them something that will hurt them. The way many parents give in to their children thinking that they are making them happy they end up spoiling them and hurting them in the long term. If we love the others sometimes we may have to do things that may appear to hurt them in the short term. A typical case is when parents have to discipline the children. This kind of love may face ridicule and opposition from ignorant people, but we can face them because we really care for the welfare of the people we love more than we care for the opinion of people.
There is much we can learn here from the example of Jesus. Think of how He once refused to meet people who were waiting for His healing because there were others who had to hear the gospel (Mk.1:37,38)! Once He walked quite a long distance and back just to heal the daughter of a Canaanite woman (Mt.15:21,29). Many times He found no time to eat because of the large numbers He had to deal with, even when His relatives felt He had gone out of His mind (Mk.3:21). He was willing to be interrupted in the midst of His busy schedule but He was also willing to go away from the crowd in order to recoup physically and spiritually--all for the sake of being useful for the others.
God's love is connected strongly to His intention to bless us, and so it is to be with our intention towards others. Our love is not to be wishy washy or going up or down with our feelings. Jesus described true love by saying that there was no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for the others (Jn.15:13). What this tells us is not just about physically laying down our life, but denying ourselves comfort, pleasure, personal gain, etc., in order to do good to the others. This is the kind of love that has driven missionaries of old to leave their countries in order to take the gospel to those who had never heard. And this is the kind of love that seems to be fading away from the general population of Christians these days, just as Jesus expected (Mt.24:12).