Love Beyond Human Limits
By Maria Fontaine
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“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”—1 John 3:181
Consistently thinking of others and trying to help others, 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 individuals.
Jesus understands that we don’t naturally have enough love to live in the 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 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 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.”3 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.
Many people in the world are dying for the kind of love Jesus talked about and lived and 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 for others and then be willing to put it into action, He will give it to us.
To become the example of God’s love that you desire to be, ask Him for a willing mind and heart and a believing spirit, and then follow through with small deeds of unselfish love. As you begin to do your part, you may likely 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 may even 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 is lonely or comfort someone who is 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—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 unselfishness and giving. 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. “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”4
Human love can only go so far. To be all we can be and accomplish all we can, we need to be filled with the love of God. He can fill our hearts with more love than we’ve ever dreamed possible, if we will only believe, 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, 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 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.5
Adapted from the writings of Maria Fontaine. Published on Anchor November 2015.
Read by Debra Lee.