Every person is significant to God. He knows every man, woman and child and has formed each one with a uniqueness that is as complex as our very DNA, as individual as our fingerprints or even as intricate as the pattern of a snowflake where no two are alike. We have been made in His glorious image and are dearly loved.
Every person has been created by His magnificent hands, with the capacity to love so richly and deeply that it hurts. It may hurt because of our concern for another's welfare or perhaps it hurts because it feels as though our love has been returned to us un-received or unappreciated.
When you have a love like the love (agape) of Christ, the type of love that knows no bounds, the type that is unmerited and gives even when it is rejected, you learn to journey this narrow path with strength as the pain of rejection that feels at once sharp eventually lessens to a dull ache. Still, to truly love is a risk and it makes you wholly vulnerable. It will leave you with a bullseye target on your head where you are open to being taken advantage of by liars, thieves and anyone who sees you as an easy target for gain. You may be kicked to the kerb, robbed and left to die and still the call upon a man or woman of Christ demands us to give love freely. It's a tall order that can only be fulfilled by walking closely with Him. Without intimacy with Christ, there is no maturity. Without maturity, the depth of His love will never be known, and what is not known cannot be received, and what is not received cannot be given.
I don’t think I have ever experienced such love as I have since I had a real encounter with my saviour, Jesus. To truly love one another as Jesus has commanded, to truly love your neighbour as yourself, means laying down your pride, your own wants and desires, as well as forgoing your sense of justice (receiving the good treatment you think you deserve). It means denying yourself daily and taking up your cross and following Jesus. It calls for sacrificing whatever stands in the way of giving another the full, unrelenting gift of love without any expectation in return. Love is not a boomerang that will instantly return from throwing it out there. It only truly comes back when others in your life have a rich and fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ. Without it, they do not have even the sense or capacity to know this type of abounding love.
I once heard a story about a man and a woman who were about to wed. They set off to the courthouse for a marriage licence when the groom asked the clerk how much it would cost for a fishing licence. It turned out that a marriage licence was $2.50 and a fishing licence was $1.50. He thought about it for a moment, but made the right choice. Many years on, and two children later, every time the couple would argue, the wife reminded her husband that he could have bought the fishing licence and he would have saved money. Although they had their difficult moments, that extra dollar bought him 53 years of wedding bliss.
A marriage licence may only cost a menial amount but the true cost of love comes in the years that follow. It is the same with all of our relationships. Jesus has given us a licence to love. God has poured His love into our hearts so that we can love others. It is a gift, but not without a cost. A test of your faith and the maturity of your walk with Jesus is when you can love another regardless of whether you agree or disagree with them. A test of your love is when you can turn the other cheek and forgive, showing mercy and compassion to the weaker, backsliders in the faith, as well as non-believers.
What is our love truly worth when tested?
Is my love conditional or unconditional?
‘….because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.’
Lord, help us to love just as You would have us do.