“Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” 1 John 2:9-10
I think I love. I try to love. But I’m often reminded at how much I fail at love.
This week the reminder came in an early morning wake up call. If anyone has ever suffered from ongoing insomnia, you know that when you finally, finally get into that deep sleep, usually with only about 3 hours left in the morning, if you’re suddenly waken up, your only precious true hours of sleep, it can be INFURIATING. And if it’s for something that seemed preventable, hell hath no fury.
In the midst of my early morning ferocious stupor, I couldn’t help but feel deep down conviction… if I can feel such indignation at being truly inconvenienced, do I truly love or do I only love if it’s fairly easy and convenient for me?
Amy Carmichael, who is referred to as God’s Missionary, wrote piercing words of such Calvary love.
If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, “You do not understand,” or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying “Peace, peace,” where there is no peace; if I forget the poignant word “Let love be without dissimulation” and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I feel bitter toward those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
That which I know not, teach Thou me, O Lord, my God.
We are not able to conjure up love in ourselves. We can’t force ourselves to feel differently. But love isn’t conjuring up warm, fuzzy, happy feelings. Love is a choice and a commitment. A commitment to Christ and to obey him when he says that the greatest commandment is to love Him and our neighbor as ourselves.
When we continue to see the darkness in ourselves, as I did, we can thank God for revealing it to us and know that in him there is absolutely zero condemnation. We’re human, we’re sinful, people have hurt us, we have characteristics, personality traits, and broken, messed up parts of our lives that, let’s be honest, are worthy of being despised by ourselves and by others.
We confess and repent and ask God to create a new heart within us. A kinder, softer, gentler heart. We choose to press into love and to act love out, even when it’s the most inconvenient and especially when we don’t feel it. We look to his Word, the Word that pierces, dividing the soul and spirit. And in doing so, his true agape love is poured out into our hearts as a gift of grace and it feels like water. Water that quenches a dry and thirsty soul.
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” John 7:37