Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

true love Archive

Monday

27

November 2017

Hope Reflected | Loving Others, Even When It’s Hard

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"Be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 | See more at hopereflected.com

Loving Others, Even When It’s Hard

Chances are that at some point in your life, you’ve read the “love” chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. We usually hear 1 Corinthians 13 quoted or recited at weddings, anniversaries, or other happy occasions. But what about loving others, even when it’s hard?

This world is filled with difficult people, and if each of us were honest, we’d all have to admit that sometimes in life we are actually the difficult ones. Loving others even when it’s hard or when they’re being difficult can be extremely trying, can’t it? The good news is that it’s possible, because God first loved us. Because God first loved us, we’re equipped with the capacity to love others.

How do we love others, even when it’s hard? Let’s look at some practical instruction from 1 Corinthians 13.

Love others by being patient. “Love suffers long and is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) In most areas of life, when you have patience, you will have peace. Loving others, even when it’s hard, means guarding your reactions. It means exercising patience towards those who have difficult personalities. When you’re being patient, you’re less likely to speak out of turn; you’re less likely to add fuel to the fire; and you’re more likely to act with integrity and kindness, and as a result better understand where the other person is coming from.

Love others by being humble. “Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Comparison is the thief of joy, and the sooner we learn to water the grass in our own yard rather than seeking “greener” pastures, the better off we’ll be. You may be tempted to “win” the argument, you may really want to have the last word, but part of loving others means being humble and taking the high road – even when it’s hard. And man oh man, can it ever be hard sometimes! Through it all however, we’re called to love by being completely humble.

Love others by being kind. “Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) It costs nothing to be kind. And while our initial reaction may be to speak out of turn and return bitter barb with bitter barb, the Lord will bless you for taking the high road. Even when it’s hard, we can each demonstrate love to others by being kind. Sometimes being kind means taking time or stepping away, and it also means taking time to pray for others. You might think it’s impossible, especially when someone else is being everything but kind to you, and when that’s the case, prayer can have a huge impact. With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37), and when you take the time to pray for others, God has a way of making kindness that much easier.

Love others by wanting what’s best for them. “Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6) When you love others, you want what’s best for them and genuinely have their best interest at heart. Especially when someone has been unkind or hurtful, it can be tempting to rejoice when they run into difficulties or when they’re proved wrong, but just like we’re told in Proverbs 25:21-22, the Lord sees when we give to those who only give us grief and He will use it for His glory.

Love others by bearing with them. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) 1 Corinthians 13:7 is a challenge. Love bears all things – not just good things, not just convenient things – love bears all things. That includes difficulties and it includes hard times. We show our love to others by bearing with them. Proverbs 17:17 says that, “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” We are called to love others, not just in happy times, but in sad times. Not just in easy times, but in adverse times.

Ephesians 4:2 sums up the love described in 1 Corinthians 13 like this: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient bearing with one another in love.” When we’re trying to love others even when it’s hard, remember this: We know true love and we can love because Jesus Christ laid down His life so we might have life (1 John 3:16-18).

Originally published as “Loving others, even when it’s hard.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 26, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Friday

17

February 2017

Hope Reflected | Love

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

hope reflected love

Ah, love. February, long touted as “the month of love”, can be a sensitive time of year for some people. You know, you get those who say they don’t care about Valentine’s Day or commercial holidays; there are those who say that they don’t want flowers and they don’t eat chocolate; and there are those who say that they’d rather their significant other demonstrate love randomly on some other day of the year. There’s also the growing popularity of “Galentine’s Day”, (which started thanks to Amy Poehler in an episode of “Parks and Rec”), a day dedicated to celebrating love with your girlfriends.

As a traditional romantic, I love the idea of flowers and love letters and I’m thankful to be married to and in love with a man who also believes that love should be celebrated throughout the entire year.

The interesting thing about human love is that it’s conditional. Notice how the popular dictionaries define love, “arising from” or “based on” certain criteria being met. Human love is conditional because we base our love on our feelings – and we all know that feelings change. Have you ever heard of couples who, “fell out of love” or “lost that feeling”? Marriage requires a more firm foundation than that of one based on “feelings”.

On our wedding day, one of the best pieces of advice that Wes and I received – besides “happy wife, happy life” – was that to maintain a fulfilled and true marriage, we need to remember that our love is an act of our will. Even in the moments when you don’t “feel” like it, you’ve got to will yourself to love the other person. We can’t do it without God. I’m thankful for a husband who shares that foundation.

While I cherish Wes, his love, and his will, I also am thankful for the love of my Heavenly Father, who loves me unconditionally; Who’s love for me isn’t based on feelings or emotions. So how does God’s love differ from our human love?

  1. God’s love is unconditional. “God is love.” 1 John 4:8 God’s love is unconditional because God is love. He doesn’t love us because of how we make Him feel or something we did for Him; God loves us because God is love. Think about it.
  2. God’s love is giving. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Another attribute of God’s love is His generosity. He sent his only Son to die on the cross so that we can have eternal life. There was nothing we did or said that could have influenced this. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” We didn’t do anything to deserve this; He did everything. As it is written in 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
  3. God’s love is ours. “Let us love one another, for love is of God…In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” 1 John 4:7, 9 God’s love is a free gift that’s available to anyone and everyone who believes in Him. All we have to do is acknowledge Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and accept His gift of love. “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:15-16)

If you’re looking for love, the best place to start is a relationship with God. Only He will love you wholly, unconditionally, and no matter what. He will encourage you and uplift you, and provide for you in ways beyond anything you can ask or think. God will love you more in a moment than anyone can in a lifetime. Spoken from experience, you can search the world over and try to fill your life with people, activities, and “stuff”, but nothing can compare to the love that God has for you, and nothing can fill that place in your heart like our Heavenly Father can.

Originally published as “Love.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. February 9, 2017: 7. Print.