You Have No Excuse Not To Love
Do you ever find yourself asking God, “Do you really call me to love them?”
I know I’ve asked the Lord that question before.
In all honesty, there are just some people who are really difficult to love—both Christians and non-Christians alike. And we try to convince ourselves that they’re somehow the exception to the rule; that God doesn’t call us to love them.
The reality is, as a Christian, you have no excuse not to love someone. And neither do I.
R.C. Sproul retells an anecdote from Jay Adams in his book, The Hunger for Significance. As I read it, I was cut to the heart. Please prayerfully consider this story:
A man deeply burdened by a failing marriage visited his minister for pastoral counsel. He explained his predicament by telling the clergyman that love had exited from his marriage and he was considering divorce.
He looked to to the pastor for any small portent of hope that the marriage might still be salvaged. The pastor gave his advice in simple terms. “Sir, the Bible says that husbands must love their wives. Therefore, it is your Christian duty to go home and start loving your wife.”
The man was incredulous. “How can I do that? That is precisely the problem. That’s why I came to you in the first place. The fact is I don’t love my wife any more. That’s why I want out. Can’t you give me any better advice?”
The pastor was undeterred by the man’s rejection of this counsel, but took a different tact. He suggested an alternate plan: “Why don’t you try a trial separation? Try moving next door for a few weeks and see if that helps.”
The man was growing impatient and shot back, “What good will that do? How can living next door help?”
The pastor replied, “Doesn’t God command us to love our neighbors? Maybe if you lived as a next-door neighbor for a while, you would learn to love her again.”
The man groaned, “Sir, you don’t understand what I am saying. It’s not that a romantic fire has gone out and I need a little space to get it ignited again. The fact is I can’t stand the woman. I can’t bear the thought of even living in the same neighborhood with her.”
“Ahh,” sighed the minister. “Now I understand. What you’re saying is that your estrangement is so deep you are feeling hostile towards her.”
“Bingo! Reverend, now you’re catching on.”
The minister remained undaunted as he pursued his original course. “May I interpret your remarks to mean that you feel a deep-rooted enmity towards your wife?”
The man allowed the inference.
“Then,” said the minister, “let me remind you that God commands us to love our enemies!”
Exasperated, the man walked away sorrowfully, shaking his head. How can one argue with a minister like him?
Sproul goes on to explain that biblically speaking, contrary to the world’s thinking, “love functions more as a verb than as a noun.”
Love isn’t simply a nice warm feeling. It is something we’re called to as Christians, regardless of our feelings.
So when you’re struck by the unloveliness of another, consider afresh the supreme act of love done for the supremely unlovable. While you and I were enemies of a holy God, His Son stooped down low, unjustly dying a criminals death. All the while He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
If God didn’t love His enemies, none of us would know the gift of salvation.
It’s as we meditate upon this glorious and shocking truth, that by God’s grace our hearts are softened once again to love our neighbours and our enemies.
“…this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” — 1 John 4:10