Many perceive love as being flowery and easy, almost fairytale-like. What we fail to realize is that fairytales always end at “And they lived happily ever after.” leaving us to imagine what happens during the “happily ever after” love.
As Christians we are taught three cardinal rules of love:
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind (St. Matthew 22:37-38)
- Love yourself (unspoken rule) (St. Matthew 22:39)
- Love your neighbor as yourself (St. Matthew 22:39)
I recently posited to a friend that a lot of the issues faced in our world today can be traced back to our failure to keep one or all of these cardinal rules. You heard me right! The world’s issues, at their core, are the result of failures to love (we can argue this point another day but check St. Matthew 22:40).
But, can I be honest for a second? I struggle with consistently heeding all three cardinal rules. In reflecting, I acknowledged that this was a topic worth diving into and so, I dove into each of the cardinal rules of love in a 3-part series. If you missed the first two posts, check out Cardinal Rules of Love – Part 1 – Do you love God? and Cardinal Rules of Love – Part 2 – Do you love you?
The cardinal rules work hand-in-hand, even loving others…
“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” – St. John 15:12
“If you love me, keep my commandments.” – St. John 14:15
I recently watched a sermon which posited that when it comes to forgiveness, we should extend the same measure of love, mercy and forgiveness that we need from God. Through His love for us, God, our Father is able to forgive us and extend mercy to us and so, I put forward that we should extend the same measure and quality of love to others that God gives to us and we give to ourselves. This is how we show that we love God; by keeping His commandments.
When you think they least deserve it…
A few months ago, my friend got mad at me without leaving the door open for us to discuss what he was mad about. After trying to reach out a couple times to be met by his complete shutdown and annoying dickwadness, I too got mad and decided that lightening would have to strike me before I made any further attempts to make amends. He didn’t deserve me trying to make amends. He was mad. I was now madder and ready to club him. It’s never a good sign when pride, unforgiveness and anger gets all up in the building on both sides.
A few hours later, I came across the below image.
Feeling self-righteous, I plugged my friend’s name in and quickly tagged all the qualities that he was failing to display. He wasn’t being patient. He wasn’t being kind. He was being proud…and a dick. He was easily angered and keeping a record of my wrong. He didn’t always trust and hope or persevere. From where I sat on my high horse, he came out with less that 20%!
Y’all see the rocky road I was going down…? It gets worse….
Pride leads to a nasty fall…
I fell asleep and woke to step into my time with God where I proceeded to complain more about my friend. God cut me off with two hard truths:
- If I plugged my name into the scripture, I too would come up short. He wasn’t showing love but neither was I.
- Because I loved my friend, I was also a good candidate to take the first step required to mend our relationship.
My complaining died in my throat as I acknowledged the truth of God’s words. I was being as unlovable as my friend and yet still I expected him to make amends.
When it is hardest to do, check God for the answer of “How?”…
Given that I had already done all I could think of to reach my friend, I was at a loss as to how to get him to communicate with me much less reconcile with him. I found myself asking God to show me how to mend the fence. He gave me the words and, whilst I thought the solution crazy, I decided to be obedient and execute on in.
This resulted in one of the most amazing moments of my life! My friend and I (two prideful, unforgiving and stubborn persons) reconciled, without a harsh word spoken and with him even acknowledging that he had been a dick. That one definitely had to be God!
From this experience, I realized a couple things.
- Putting God in the middle of a reconciliation is critical. He will give the words to say to reconcile and check you when your actions are wrong.
- Your ability to love your neighbor should not be defined by how nice and lovable they are. We love ourselves even when we are total beasts.
- Loving someone doesn’t mean putting up with their foolishness. It means extending grace when it is least deserved.
- When dealing with love and conflict, getting on a self-righteous horse is never a good idea. When you point a finger at someone, there are generally 3 fingers pointing back at you.
- A combination of anger, unforgiveness and pride is a recipe for disaster. They cause destruction and encourages separation. The bible says we shouldn’t go to bed angry and tells us that pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Love and constant anger, unforgiveness and pride cannot coexist.
- Loving someone doesn’t mean throwing in the towel at the first moment things get hard. It means trying to reconcile and putting the matter before God.
- When there are no alternatives for reconciliation, don’t walk away in anger and chain yourself to unforgiveness. Forgive the person and forgive yourself.
The Point? I assure you there is one… 🙂
The cardinal rules of love work hand-in-hand. Therefore, if we don’t love God or know how to recognize His love for us, we can never love ourselves or others properly.
And what does this love looks like, you wonder? God loves us when we are unlovable and undeserving. We love ourselves when we are unlovable and undeserving. Therefore we should love others when they are unlovable and undeserving. This is the essence of loving others as you love yourself and loving others as Christ loves you.
Thank you for stopping by and reading. I would love to hear your testimony, tell me about a time you struggled to love others. How did you overcome this struggle? Share your story in the comments section, below. 🙂 If this is a struggle you are currently fighting, I would love to pray with you. Drop me an email here.
“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favour and give you peace” – Numbers 6: 23-26
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I am a dynamic young lady who loves the Lord and seek to have a joy that no one can take away. My all-time favourite thing to do is gaining discoveries by design from My Father during our time each day. Reading, learning and trying new things falls behind in a close second place. My dream is to use my God-given talents to positively impact as many people as possible. As a proud Wolmerian, with a zest for life, I adhere to the “Age Quod Agis” motto in that whatsoever I do, I always do it to the best of my ability.