The L Word
Many are afraid of it, it would seem. However, Scripture absolutely demands we LOVE each other. And not only those we deem worthy of love; we are commanded to show love towards all those with which we come in contact.
So, what do we do with those believers who refuse to show love to others? Do we call them unbelievers? Do we wonder about their salvation? Yikes! I'm not sure I'm willing to go that far, but I have to ask myself why is it so difficult for some to show love to others. By the grace of HaShem, I don't seem to struggle in this area; loving others has always come naturally to me. However, I am most certainly struggling with accepting the fact that others have an aversion to loving others. In my feeble way of looking at things, we should be able to ask the LORD to show us how to love and since He desires us to love one another, I am convinced He will make it very clear how we are to do that. Is that too simple? I have heard it said that if we ask Him for bread He will not give us a stone.
No, love is not just reserved for your spouse or family.
No, love is not just to be directed at those you like or want to like you.
No, love is not just intended for the popular, smart or beautiful.
And, don't tell me, once again, about the differences between marital love, parental love, the love between friends and brotherly love. Frankly, I'm pretty tired of some using this as an excuse for their lack of compassion. Which brings up another point - love is compassion and compassion towards others is showing love. Period.
The inability to love must somehow reflect a lack of training or modeling, or perhaps some don't realize the significance that the Scriptures, let alone Yeshua, puts on loving one another. So, what is the solution? The LORD does not say to love only if you do it well, I'm sorry to say. Maybe, just like everything else, you have to practice to get better.
So, what exactly does Scripture say about love?
Hatred stirs up strife,
but LOVE covers all offenses.
Proverbs 10:12 and Proverbs 17:9
Whoever covers an offense seeks LOVE,
but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
Proverbs 17:9 and Proverbs 25:21-22
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
for you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.
Proverbs 25:21-22 and Luke 6:27-35
“But I say to you who hear, LOVE your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you LOVE those who LOVE you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners LOVE those who LOVE them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But LOVE your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil."
Luke 6:27-35 and John 13:34-35
"A new commandment I give to you, that you LOVE one another: just as I have LOVED you, you also are to LOVE one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have LOVE for one another.”
John 13:34-35 and Romans 12:9-10
Let LOVE be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. LOVE one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:9-10 and Galatians 5:6
For in Messiah Yeshua neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through LOVE.
Galatians 5:6 and Philippians 1:9-11
And it is my prayer that your LOVE may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Messiah, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Messiah Yeshua, to the glory and praise of G-d.
Philippians 1:9-11 and 1 Peter 4:8
Above all, keep LOVING one another earnestly, since LOVE covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8 and 1 John 3:14
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we LOVE the brothers. Whoever does not LOVE abides in death.
1 John 3:14 and 1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us LOVE one another, for LOVE is from G-d, and whoever LOVES has been born of G-d and knows G-d. Anyone who does not LOVE does not know G-d, because G-d is LOVE. In this the LOVE of G-d was made manifest among us, that G-d sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is LOVE, not that we have LOVED G-d but that he LOVED us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if G-d so LOVED us, we also ought to LOVE one another. No one has ever seen G-d; if we LOVE one another, G-d abides in us and his LOVE is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Yeshua is the Son of G-d, G-d abides in him, and he in G-d. So we have come to know and to believe the LOVE that G-d has for us. G-d is LOVE, and whoever abides in LOVE abides in G-d, and G-d abides in him. By this is LOVE perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in LOVE, but perfect LOVE casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in LOVE. We LOVE because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I LOVE G-d,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not LOVE his brother whom he has seen cannot LOVE G-d whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves G-d must also LOVE his brother.
1 John 4:7-21
So, what's the big deal? Well, let me tell you. Loving is paramount. It is the one thing that denotes a believer; love G-d and love your neighbor. That's right...if you don't show love to others, Scripture says that you "abide in death" - simply, the one who does not love is not a believer. Startling, isn't it? I don't really need to elaborate what happens when love is withheld, do I? Hurt, pain, sadness, betrayal, broken relationships...yeah.
The LORD says that He will take out our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). I'm going to go ahead and make the leap that the heart of flesh is one that has the Torah written on it, and that it is fully capable of loving others in the way He intends.
Show love and compassion towards those that the LORD brings into your life. Go out of your way, give of yourself and just do it. It's that important.
If I speak in the tongues of men and angels,
but have not love,
I have become sounding brass or a tinkling symbol.
And if I have prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.
And if I dole out all my goods, and
if I deliver my body that I may boast
but have not love, nothing I am profited.
Love is long suffering,
love is kind,
it is not jealous,
love does not boast,
it is not inflated.
It is not discourteous,
it is not selfish,
it is not irritable,
it does not enumerate the evil.
It does not rejoice over the wrong, but rejoices in the truth
It covers all things,
it has faith for all things,
it hopes in all things,
it endures in all things.
Love never falls in ruins;
but whether prophecies, they will be abolished
or tongues, they will cease;
or knowledge, it will be superseded.
For we know in part and we prophecy in part.
But when the perfect comes, the imperfect will be superseded.
When I was an infant,
I spoke as an infant,
I reckoned as an infant;
when I became [an adult],
I abolished the things of the infant.
For now we see through a mirror in an enigma, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know as also I was fully known.
But now remains
faith, hope, love,
but the greatest of these is love.