Are you the “conditional” type?

So this morning I dropped my kiddo’s off at school and then I went over to a friends for a massage.  After the massage I returned home and decided that with the thanksgiving holiday coming up and visions of pumpkin pie dancing in my head, it was probably a good idea to try and get a run before I headed off to work. Not a very easy decision to make after just receiving a relaxing fully body massage.

It had been a rather stormy night and the wind was still blowing rather briskly but at least it wasn’t raining.  So I proceeded out the door with my trusty running partner Sadie (my dog) into the elements for an exhilarating run.

As I was about a fourth of the way into my run I felt the first drop.  I couldn’t help but smile and think, “How did I plan on doing this anyways without thinking I just “might” get wet?”  Well there I was and the rain started coming down, and not just a little mist,  it turned into a nice steady pour.

Now I’ve been running for some time now but my no means consider myself a die-hard runner.  The fall and winters here can be unusually wet and my outdoor running will usually slow down to only once or twice a week.  So I guess you can call me a “fair weather” runner.

The reason I share this story is because It makes me think that sometimes this is how we can be in our walk with God and our love for others.  Do we only love others when the “conditions” are right?  In my journey with God this is something I so oftentimes struggle with myself.

We are told the first and greatest commandment is this . . . To love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27).

Now its pretty easy to love those who love us.  But how about those we find that are not quite as easy to love.  Those who treat us wrong or don’t act the way we think they should in any given circumstance.  How about those who intentionally do things to hurt or spite us? How does our “loving” measure up then?  Do we love them unconditionally?  Or does our love suddenly run cold?

To me “conditional love” is not quite God’s standard is for “loving” others.  He is our perfect example.  You might say, “How can God expect me to love as he loves when I’m not perfect like he is?”  Well truth being, we can’t.  It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us that we can  even come close to loving as God loves.

One way God has shown me that we can begin to love as he does is to pray and ask him to change the way we view people and to see them as he does.  We are all sinners in need of forgiveness and grace.  I know for myself that I do not deserve God’s unmerited forgiveness and grace, but he gives it to me just the same.  I have done nothing to earn or deserve it, it’s free.  And I know by the same measure that I’ve been forgiven, God wants me to forgive others and to show this same love towards them that he has given me (unconditional).

I’m not writing this saying I’ve got this mastered at all, because I haven’t.  But I continually pray for God to help me in this area and he faithfully presents me with plenty of people to practice loving on, lol. It says in 1 John 3:18 . . . Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our action.  Love is a verb and we must act lovingly towards others even when they act unloving towards us. This is how we demonstrate Christ’s love  in us. Easy no, possible yes.

This is an amazing challenge and I know that’s what God desires for me and for you.  It says in John 13:35 . . . By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  We are to be salt and light to a watching world and how can we do that if we who call ourselves Christians are continually being unloving towards those who we are called to love.

Here is God’s standard for loving.  In Romans 5:8 is says . . . But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  It didn’t say that we were good, or acted right, or were totally lovable. No we were quite the opposite of all these and God still chose to die for us in all our “ugliness” so that we could be made right in him.

God acted loving towards us and didn’t place conditions on his love towards us.  You know the saying, “Hurt people, hurt people?” It’s true, we are all broken and hurting and in need of a Savior.  God wants to use us to share his love to a broken and dying people and that is only possible when we submit fully to him and willingly choose to die to self.  Because it is in dying to self that Christ is made alive in us and he then gives us the power to accomplish his will for us.

I believe loving as God does will never be easy.  It don’t think it’s meant to be.  Jesus came to earth and was despised and rejected by man. And yet in his great love and mercy towards us, He willingly choose to die for us in our sinful state.  And by this was the most beautiful and pure act of love demonstrated. By one man sin came upon us and by one man we were made the righteousness of God.  This is pure Love demonstrated and God commands us to the same.

Father God thank you for your amazing love towards us.  Help us in turn to love others as you have love us.  Help us to see with your eyes and to love others as you do.  We know we are undeserving of your great love, so help us to extend that same kind of unconditional love towards others.  We cannot do this in and of ourselves but only though your spirit working in and through us.  Help us to yield to you and to be the people who help carry out your mission here on earth.  You are an amazing God. All glory be to you, King Jesus! AMEN

If speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.  1 Corinthians 13:1-8

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