Loving people deeply is hard. Considering someone as better, looking at what they need in a moment when all you want to see, in fluorescent flashing lights is your own need –this can be difficult. Ultimately, loving deeper means being able to see past myself. Ironically, when I’m able to lay down my own needs for the sake of someone else I don’t actually sacrifice my needs at all. Instead, I see that what I was most desperate to hold on to was control.
Rom 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
To honor someone above myself I must willingly acknowledge that they are worth it. On a deeper level, in that split second, I need to decide that whatever I see as my personal needs are not more important than what the other person may need. Sincere love is dictated by the faith that empowers me to do this. The ability to honor others above myself, even in moments when I don’t want to or can’t see why I should can feel like sacrifice but is driven by my faith and trust in God.
1Thes 4:9-10 “Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.”
This passage of scripture convicted me so much because my mind immediately jumped to the image of Christ crucified as the ultimate example of God’s love for me. Yet, when it comes to little everyday decisions, I can easily forget this image as a guide for my own actions and a model which to strive to imitate.
Take for example, a moment where I’m walking down a busy dirty New York street with my boyfriend who suddenly notices a book on the ground and decides to pick it up. In my mind he’s breaking a major rule…that once something hits the dirty, infested streets of NY it at once and unequivocally becomes trash. My boyfriend was not privy to this rule so he was delighted to have found it, even though all I want to do was burn it, as I stared at him in horror. In that situation I had two choices: 1) try and convince him of my thinking and nag him until he abandons his new found treasure, or 2) state my concern, trust that he heard it, and drop the subject, allowing him to enjoy his find. Needless to say, I went with option one and it was not pretty. In that moment I did not stop to think about what honoring him above myself would mean in that situation. I didn’t see Jesus on the cross, I just saw my own need and my desire to impose my own will on the situation. It was trivial but in the moment it was more important to get my way than to allow him to just enjoy his find. When I was able to look back and reflect on this it dawned on me, I love him more than I love being right and having my own way. He’s so much more important. In the same way, Jesus loved me more than his own life, to him, I was more important. This is how he shows me love and in this human relationship he shows me how to love.
It is easier to consider others before myself when I’m more secure in God’s love for me. It is only through His love that I am able to love more deeply, less selfishly, to forgive more quickly and to put someone else before myself. The more I learn to accept God’s love for me the more I am able of accepting people’s love and in turn love them more deeply.