Love is a nice word. It can bring up warm-fuzzy feelings, maternal/paternal instincts, romantic memories, or amazement that someone — even God — loves us. But dig beneath the emotions and we see that love is actually a difficult, demanding word.
Here’s how the Bible says we are expected to behave as we live out love day to day:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
If we want to be carriers of God’s love, we should expect it to cost us something — quite a lot, in fact! We should have bruises on our cheeks. We should give more than our contracts or laws require of us. We should be tired from that second mile. We should care for those we don’t like and pray for those who upset us the most. And we should do that for people who are very different from us — ethnically, culturally, economically, by life-stage, health, temperament, doctrine, gender, or any other distinction.
Here’s another scripture:
But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
“Joyfully accept seizure of your property…” – now that would make us stand out in our culture.
I don’t want to be giving out cheap, bargain-basement love. Authentic love is worth its high sacrificial price.