“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
We live in a very insecure world in which love is very much conditional, i.e. children trying to be successful and perfect so their parents will love them, wives forever trying to lose weight so their husbands will love them, husbands trying to be successful so their wives will love them, friends trying to be whatever their friends want them to be so they will love them … everyone trying to either prove their love, or prove their “worthiness” of being loved. 1
Corinthians 13:8 says, “Charity (love) never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” God calls us to love – to love Him above all else (Matthew 22:37-38); to love our neighbor as ourself (Matthew 22:39); to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).
Matthew 5:44 says, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
In case you did not notice, the people described in the above verse are hurting you and not treating you with love. But what did God say we were supposed to do? Love them anyways. True love is unconditional.
Yahshua was betrayed by a friend – someone who He had helped and taught, as well as someone with whom He had traveled, worked, shared His table, and introduced to His friends. Not only did this friend betray and turn against Him, but he turned Him over to people who mocked Him, shamed Him, hurt Him, and finally crucified Him. One of His closest friends abandoned and denied even knowing Him, not just once, but three times.
Yahshua knew pain. He knew a LOT of pain. But His reaction was not one of hate, anger, bitterness, or even revenge. It was one of love: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Yahshua did not say “These people hurt me so I’m not going to love them any more” or “It is because of your sin that I am enduring so much pain so I don’t love you any more”. His love was unconditional, and it never failed. Some of His very last words before He died, were words of love, interceding to God for us.
In exchange for His love and forgiveness, God asks us to love and forgive others. “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Yahshua saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Luke 23:21-22)
It is a very dangerous thing not to forgive. And although our unforgiveness will hurt others, it will hurt us most of all. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:13-14 )
Even with everything that He went through, Yahshua chose love and forgiveness over hate and bitterness. Will you?
As I was driving home today, a man on the radio said something that really stuck out. He said that sometimes the first person who is willing to love unconditionally, opens the door and makes it easier for the other person to respond in love.
Following are the chorus lyrics to one of my favorite songs, Different by Mollye Rees and Jamie Slocum.
“I want to be different, Yahshua, just like You
I want to be tender with mercy guiding all I do
So when others talk about me
Let it be because I am different
And let the difference be love”
Oh, that this would be our prayer and the description that others use to describe us!