“But love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; for your reward will be great (rich, abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High; because He Himself is kind and gracious and good to the ungrateful and the wicked.” Luke 6.35
Real love is unselfish. Real love is outward-focused. Love is seeking the best for or choosing someone’s highest good. Love is meant to be shared and given away. And it’s impossible to do that living selfishly.
It’s no wonder that we can’t love people properly when we are so consumed with self, how we feel, and what we want. Real love requires us not to ignore our own need for love, but to go beyond ourselves. Real love is selfless. It has no agenda for personal gain.
Self-love and self-care have become a defining marker in our culture today. Thus, it’s important that we understand the difference between a prideful, selfish, “all about me” love, and a healthy affirmation of who God’s created us to be, valuing our gift of life.
Proverbs tells us that to have wisdom and good sense is to love ourselves. Jesus Himself says that the second greatest commandment of all is to love your neighbor as yourself.
If we don’t love ourselves well, how can we love someone else well?
How can we love properly and give something that we don’t have or know how to give? Some of my greatest hurts made a lot more sense when I learned that the offender couldn’t give me what they didn’t have. Thankfully, God is our perfect model of love. And we can love others because He first loved us. It’s possible for all of us to love well when we take our cues from the Author of love Himself.
Look at how God handles our enemies, the ungrateful and wicked (Luke 6.35). He doesn’t just destroy them — though He has all right to and would be justified in doing so. And while He is very much a God of justice, the hyperbole of this text is to imply His radical love and grace, as we would expect a God of second chances to be.
It’s a reminder to us to even treat our enemies how we would want to be treated if we were the ones offending.
When we sin, God is the most offended of all because, ultimately, all sin is against Him. And if God can be gracious to the ungrateful and wicked, it must become our nature as His image-bearers just as well.
What if… What if we loved people, not because of how we feel or whether they deserve it, but what if we loved people simply because of how good God is?
When God tells us to love (from the Greek word, agapē) it is a love expression not confined to emotion, but one of unselfish concern for another. Agapē love is shown by what it does, a choice to seek the best for and choose their highest good.