The Strength to Love


The Strength to Love

   “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:8

   “And above all these things put on charity [love], which is the bond of perfectness.” Colossians 3:14

“Thank you for giving me the strength to love,” I prayed as I walked along with once fast Esther the dog yet to be adopted walking behind me as I hurried along that warm South Carolina fall day. Wow. I listened to the words I had prayed. The strength to love. That’s what it takes sometimes to love, doesn’t it? Strength. Not ours. His. God’s strength. The strength of His Holy Spirit fueled by the power of His blessed Word founded rock solidly on the Lord Jesus Christ. The strength to love.

    See, I had been considering someone who had hurt me immeasurably through the years. The kind of hurt that no time can heal, the kind of hurt that even when God heals it, it keeps coming up again, fresh hurt, fresh pain, because the cause of it is chronic. Chronic wounding, chronic hurt, the chronic need for continual healing and the ever need to watch out for infection that comes with untreated wounds, the infection of bitterness, resentment, vengeance, pride, condemnation, etc. But none of this infection was in my heart that day. For that day, just like so very many before, God had given me the strength to love. To love the very person who had hurt me. With a pure love. An unconditional love. A love not based on whether that person would ever take responsibility for the damage that had been done, whether that person would ever love me again in return, whether that person would ever even acknowledge me again at all. The kind of love that has only one other name. Christ. Jesus Christ. His love. His love in me, His love through me, and the strength to receive His love, the strength to carry His love in this vessel of His I am, the strength to yield to Him, to deny my flesh, to experience His love instead of my sin pour out at full force through me not just onto people easy and simple to love, but even onto the hard to love, the seemingly impossible to love.

God will give us the strength to forgive and love if we surrender ourselves to Him. If we will die to how our flesh wants to respond to those who hurt us. If we will submit to His Word. If we will throw ourselves at His Spirit’s mercy. If we will receive His blessed love and forsake ourselves and instead live for Him. Oh, to learn to walk in His love. Not perfectly, mind you. We are still fallible humans learning to follow the Lord who is infallible. But if we will repent when we fall, and run after Him, hungry to learn to love like He does, thirsty for His love not just for ourselves but to be vessels of His love loving and serving Him by being willing pitchers of the love of Jesus Christ. Yes, He will give us His strength to love with His love for His glory in Christ’s name. Amen.

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