Love Beyond Human Limits
By Maria Fontaine
Consistently thinking of others and trying to help meet their needs, especially when that involves personal sacrifice, is a tall order! It's so easy to be lazy, selfish, and self-centered. Most of us are that way naturally. Our first reactions are usually about ourselves--what we want and what will make us happy. But if we ask Jesus to help us and put forth a genuine effort, we can develop new habits and reactions, which, with time, will help us become more loving, caring, sacrificial individuals.
Jesus understands that we don't naturally have enough love to live in the loving manner He has said we should, but that's really no excuse. Just because we can't do it doesn't mean He doesn't expect it of us, because He will do it for us and through us if we want it badly enough and ask for His help. He is happy to give us all the outgoing, sacrificial love we need, because that's what He wants for us too.
It's human nature to be self-preserving, self-seeking, self-satisfying. It's human nature to put our own needs and survival above others. But here's where those who have received God's love in Jesus have a great advantage, because the Bible promises, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus helps us break those natural circuits. He rewires our minds and hearts to do His bidding, which is to love others.
What a marvelous thing that is! Jesus told His original disciples, "By this all will know that you are My disciples"--followers of His teachings--"if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). In that day, the love Jesus' disciples had for each other, their friends, and even strangers drew much attention and was a powerful example to others of the Lord's love, and it spread.
How much more is this kind of love a miracle in this day and age, when most people are so caught up in meeting their own needs and fulfilling their own desires that the thought of sacrificially loving someone else hardly enters their minds. Today there is an even greater need to see love in action, because people are no longer sensitive to the reflection of the Lord's love in the many blessings He gives them, even when they don't deserve those blessings (Matthew 5:45).
The world is dying for the kind of love Jesus talked about and lived and now offers us. This is why He challenges us to manifest deep, sacrificial, impartial love for others, even though He knows such love is far beyond our human capabilities. It's impossible for us to show such love on our own, and if we try to do this ourselves, we'll be disappointed, frustrated, and wear ourselves out trying. But if we will simply ask Jesus for that love and then be willing to put it into action, He will give it to us. In fact, He will give us His love in such tremendous volume and power that we and everyone else will know it's a miracle!
To become the new creation He wants to make you, all it takes is a willing mind and heart, a believing spirit, prayer, and following through with many small deeds of unselfish love. As you begin to do your part, you will find that you think more of others, feel their needs more readily, and have more genuine concern for their happiness and well-being. More wonderful still, you will find yourself gladly giving up some of your own plans or things you once held dear for the sake of others.
When you give of yourself, when you go out of your way to be a friend, when you take time to talk to someone who's lonely or comfort someone who's sick, when you sympathize and help someone with their problems, when you make someone feel needed, and when you point someone to the source of this extraordinary love you share--Jesus--you will find that it brings you a special kind of satisfaction and reward of spirit. Through performing these little acts of love and unselfishness you will be blessed personally with happiness that can't be gotten any other away--the happiness of knowing that you have been a blessing to someone in need.
In loving and giving unselfishly, you not only allow God to use you to help others, but you allow Him to pour His blessings upon you, for He blesses the unselfish and the sacrificial. He blesses those who are giving, and He withdraws some of His blessings from those who selfishly always think of themselves first and insist on having their own way (Proverbs 11:24-25; 13:7).
Human love can only go so far. To be all you can be and accomplish all you can, you need to be filled with the love of God, which you find in Jesus. He has more love to give you than you've ever dreamed possible! He is waiting with a flood of love to pour upon you, if you will only believe that such love is possible, ask, receive, and then be willing to put it into action.
So let's let Jesus' love for others shine through us. Let's love one another more. Let's do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let's let the Lord's love be manifested in more forgiveness, understanding, communication, sharing, support, sympathy, and practical, loving, caring action. Let's give of our time, be a listening ear, and open our hearts and lives to others. Let's be swift to forgive and forget. Let's do our best to be our brother's keeper. Let's not hold back the simple affection that so wonderfully communicates the Lord's love. Let's be a strong shoulder to lean on or cry on. Let's not jump to conclusions or judge unfairly, but instead give others the benefit of the doubt. Let's try with all our hearts to set a good example of the Lord's unconditional love. Let's bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill God's supreme law: love.
If we ask Jesus to help us and put forth a genuine effort, we can develop new habits and reactions, which, with time, will help us become more loving, caring, sacrificial individuals.