Rev. Dan Puckett: We must love with a love that mattersPublished 10:16am Friday, August 7, 2009
Love is a warm, fuzzy word that evokes our deepest emotions. The apex of a relationship is to hear someone say, “I love you.” Even in our broken inability to receive love, we are still lifted by someone reaching out to us in love.
Love can be the most selfish thing imaginable. We can express and show love to someone to get what we want, or we can align ourselves to whatever we need to, so someone will love us.
We are told in the Holy Scriptures, “God is love” (1 John 4:16). We want God to love us just like we are and lavish His goodness on us. At the same time that we enjoy God’s love personally, we do something that most characterizes our humanness … we want exclusivity. Deep down we want God to love us more than He loves others, and we want His love displayed in such a way that we benefit at the expense of others. That is why we can glibly pray down the wrath of God on those we class as enemies.
Jesus Christ the Son of God opened a whole new dimension of love. Before Christ came to earth as the God-man, God’s people could take vengeance on those who opposed them-eye for eye, tooth for tooth.
In other words, you had the right to exact pain from those who hurt you. Jesus turned everything upside down with His teaching.
In the New Testament book of Luke, chapter 6, verses 27-36, Jesus said, “Love your enemies … bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” This is a love that matters, a love that gives without any thought of getting back.
Jesus said, in Luke 6:30, “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”
Jesus continues in verse 32: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.”
Jesus raised the bar. Love went from a reciprocal relationship to one-way giving. The one-way giving is God’s way of loving. Jesus taught us to love like God loves.
Any time the Scriptures tell us to do something the way God would do it, we are also told that we need to have God’s power through His Holy Spirit to accomplish it. We can only be like God with God’s help.
Jesus closes the teaching on this matter by repeating, in verse 35, “love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” Everything in us screams against this … “No return! What kind of investment is that?” But Jesus goes on, “Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.” We can never be more like God than when we are giving like God gives.
As we examine God’s love, we must be honest with ourselves, realizing how much mercy He had to extend to love us. Jesus said, in Luke 6:35b, that “he [God] is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” That includes us; we are ungrateful and wicked. Jesus says, in verse 36, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
The love that matters is loving others like we have been and are being loved by God. It can only happen when we humble ourselves and recognize how low God had to bow down to love us.
Rev. Dan Puckett is a minister with Life Action Ministries.