Confession: Relationships are messy. I’m sure that’s not a news flash to anyone. As we all know, issues arise in our relationships with friends, family, and co-workers that test us and call us to love someone even when it is difficult. In those testing moments when relationships aren’t easy we put our faith into practice and choose to live out what we believe.
I struggle at times to know how Christ would respond to the various temperaments, circumstances, trials, and unhealed wounds that are found in each unique relationship. I’ll be honest, discerning what “love” would do is a case by case, and moment by moment decision to seek Jesus and ask for His heart and mind for each relationship and circumstance.
Love is not always easy but love is the command Jesus gives us concerning our responses and actions towards others. Yet when relationships get tough, it is so tempting to just throw our hands in the air and give up. The world tells us to walk away and give up when a relationship grows difficult. Yet, the Bible repeatedly reminds us that love is the chief characteristic of a person who is in relationship with God. Therefore, in these moments we must ask ourselves …what would love do in this situation?
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Love is the evidence that we know God. When we love one another as God loves us, this displays to the watching world that knowing and following Jesus truly does make a difference. That is why our relationships should be different than those who don’t know God.
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!
1 John 4: 8-12 The Message
The stark difference between a Christ-follower and someone who does not know Jesus is love. As Christians, we no longer need to fight for acceptance, popularity, status, and prestige. We are people who know that God has declared us loved, forgiven and redeemed, and we can now lay down our agendas and choose to love one another as Christ loves us. A simple, yet profound definition for love is seeking the best for others. This is the example that Jesus sets for us as described in Philippians:
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Philippians 2: 1-4 The Message
Bottom line: love forgets itself and seeks the best for the other person. The baggage of jealousy, competition, envy, and pride no longer binds Christ followers. With hearts rooted and grounded in the truth that God lavishly loves us, we can now boldly love those who He places before us.
So…back to my question: what would Jesus do? The answer is simple: Jesus would seek the best for the other person.
- Love listens.
- Love speaks truth to a friend, even when it is difficult.
- Love confronts the eating disorder.
- Love confronts the addiction.
- Love applauds victories.
- Love grieves losses.
- Love does not stand by passively while a friend rebels against God.
- Love defends.
- Love does not turn a blind eye to destructive practices.
- Love changes plans for a friend in need.
- Love desires God’s best for another.
- Love sacrifices to help and to heal.
Knowing the answer to my question, I realize now what I must do. I must love her. Processing this situation, love means I overcome my fear and talk to her about the problem. Love means that I value the well being of my friend more than I do my own comfort. Love means I speak up.
Love has a different face in every situation, but it should always reflect the face of Jesus.
Marian Jordan Ellis, RGM Founder & President