Jesus commands us to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). That’s even harder than it appears on the surface because loving ourselves is something almost everyone does automatically. We feed ourselves, bathe ourselves, and even work to provide a little money for ourselves. But when it comes to loving our neighbors, well, that love is a decision.
We don’t do it automatically and it doesn’t come easy or cheap. It will cost us something. To love another means sacrificing your time, your desires, and your agenda. We abandon none of these with ease. Selfishness is something we can put on autopilot. Selflessness requires an active and repeated discipline of our will.
You can’t be a follower of Jesus and ignore His instruction to love. The apostle John tells us we love because Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19). The love of Jesus is so great it obligates the recipients of that love to respond in kind. God’s love for us cost Him His Son. Our love for Him can cost no less than all of heart, mind, and strength. Jesus didn’t die to buy our love. Love is a decision we make because of the overwhelming grace given to us through the death and resurrection of our Lord.
Paul exhorted the Church to pursue love (I Corinthians 14:1). Before you can pursue something or someone, you must first decide to go after it. Love is no different. It’s a choice, and one we must make over and over again throughout our day. We choose to walk by the sullen teenager sitting on the curb or to sit down and start a conversation. It is our decision whether we will stop and help the elderly woman struggling to load the groceries into her car. And love is a decision we must make every time we are tempted to serve anyone or anything other than Jesus.
If we pursue love, our life will undergo a radical transformation. The pursuit of love instead of the pursuit of self leads to a life not just well-lived, but one that makes an eternal difference. No pursuit will satisfy except the pursuit of Jesus, and pursuing Jesus necessitates you live and walk in love. God is love. How can you express anything else and draw closer to Him? Decide today to drench every interaction in love. Show love to your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Show love to your enemies and those with different political and social values from yours (yes, that one is harder than ever these days!).
Love is a decision you make because of your devotion to Jesus. Love for Jesus requires love for others. You cannot separate the two. Paul tells us we can have all the things that are desirable in this world, but if we don’t have love, we have nothing (I Corinthians 13:1-3). Love is not just the most important thing; it is the only thing. If we don’t love others, no one will ever see the love of Jesus through us. To be clear, if we don’t love, we cannot be loved. And if we cannot be loved, we cannot know Jesus.
Love is not an option, but it is a decision. Don’t squander Christ’s love for you. Absorb His love. Rejoice in it. Let it fill you so full it cannot help but flow out of you and all around you. Choose to love. Decide you will love against all reason, and all hope. Decide to love others as Christ loves you.