This is the forth part of a multi-part series. You can find the first part here, or the entire series here. I hope you enjoy our discussion.
How then can I love others?
The difficulty in loving others often comes from the limitedness of our own love. No matter how much love we try to whip up within ourselves, our love will always be limited and often conditional. Worse than that, for many, much of the love they do have has grown cold. Jesus foretold of these days saying, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12) How can we ever expect to have enough love to love our neighbor as Christ has loved us? I have come to realize that I will never have enough love within myself to attain to such a lofty goal.
Fortunately, we are not left to rely on our own love with which to love others. The secret to loving others is found in having the love of God reside within us. John tells us that, “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) If God, who is love, lives in us, then an unlimited and endless supply of love is already inside us, we just need to let it out. Jesus, speaking of his love for us, said, “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:9) Jesus could love us because the Father loved him. We can love others because Jesus loves us and dwells within us. When we abide in love and love abides in us, then we are free to love others, irrespective of how we love ourselves. In fact, often it is our love for ourselves that gets in the way of loving others.
Jesus reminded us of the greatness of his love, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13) Having the love of God within us give us the capacity to love others, but for this capacity to become active, we must die to ourselves. This includes dying to our own self-love. Loving ourselves limits our love for others. Sure, we don’t mind helping our friends move as long as it’s convenient for us, but what about laying down our lives and loving even when inconvenient or when such love requires a sacrifice of our own self-interests. To love others, we must be willing to die to ourselves. This is how our love turns from cold self-love to ardent God-like love.
More to come...