Sep 17

The Hardest Thing

It can be difficult to follow a lot of the commands in the Bible sometimes. For me, there are different things that I struggle with at different times in my life, but what is consistently the hardest thing to follow is to love others as I am called to do.

In John 13:34-35, when He knew He was just about to die, Jesus said to His disciples:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

And perhaps the disciples couldn’t have known what the full meaning of Jesus saying ‘as I have loved you’ meant at the time, but we now do: we know that Jesus, in His love, sacrificed Himself on the cross. He suffered the agonising pain of the flesh, and the pain of the Heavenly Father turning His face from Him. He went through all this to bring an unworthy people to God. He lowered Himself from His heavenly place to be among us, teach us, and show us how to live. He shows us that the way He has loved us, and continues to love us, is not an easy road, but something that requires sacrifice from beginning to end. And yet He loves us unceasingly.

So when Jesus tells me to love others in the way He has loved me, my immediate reaction is to draw back. That’s not how I want to live my life, facing difficulties every day. I read my Bible, I go to church, I talk to my friends and help them out when they need it. Surely I do more than enough. But Jesus convicts me in my complacency:

Luke 6:32-36
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

In these verses we realise that God didn’t command us to love and leave it at that. He shows us how to first. God doesn’t love me because I am loveable, he loves me, despite my sins and imperfections, because of who He is. That is how we are called to love – not because everyone else is loveable, but because the God of love has showed us how to first. God continues to show us His love, and that’s why we should continue to look to Him, and not to ourselves, for examples on how to love. So He is who I look to when I speak to someone who I disagree with, when I am taken out of my comfort zone to relate to someone I don’t have much in common with, when I feel frustrated by the words and actions of people around me. I love them, not because I am good, but because God is, and because He showed me how to first.

— Lynn Lai