By Sylvia Schroeder
I’m not a good lover.
Let me pause before you think I just handed you more information than you care to receive, like a bad Facebook post. Here is what I mean: I don’t know how to love like Christ loved. I simply can’t reach it.
I know this because a pile of dirty laundry left on the floor today brought out a negative attitude from within me. A friend needed my time, and I felt as though it was an inconvenience. Every minute my husband was late for dinner rankled, ticking inside like an angry bomb.
A group of religious leaders asked Jesus which commandment was most important. He said the second of the two most important commandments is this: “‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mark 12:30–31 NASB).
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” sticks like a burr in my conscience.
Despite times I don’t like myself, I’m pretty sure no one loves me as much as I do. I acknowledge this because of the “buts,” “ands,” and “ifs” that surface in my brain when I don’t love well.
“But they don’t have my life.”
“And they don’t know what it’s like.”
“If they had my situation…”
I fall short of “love your neighbor as yourself.”
The first commandment, by Jesus’s claim, however, begins with the deepest foundation. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30 NASB).
Loving like Christ is a product of loving Christ.
This is what I forget. As much as I try, I can’t work it up from some good place inside myself, but oh how I try, and oh how I fail. I cannot love him without knowing him, and I cannot know him fully apart from his Word.
My husband laid concrete around the back of our house last week. That smooth layer adds no beauty, and no one sees it, but it increased the intrinsic value of our home. It forces water away from the foundation, making it secure and waterproof. It saves the basement from seepage and internal issues.
When I recognize a lack of loving others in my life, I need to check my loving-Jesus foundation. Its upkeep is vital, its nurturing is essential. From me, Jesus asks the little word all. Partial love is so subtle I fool myself. But it leaks out when the baby is crying or my shoes stick to the kitchen floor. It slaps me in the face when I’m stressed or hurried, and I am uncovered when I must take second fiddle.
Like a pebble thrown into water, love is birthed from a relationship with its Author. It spills over onto my neighbor, whose dog does a number on our lawn, or the one with the boat illegally blocking our view, and even the kid down the street who sells coupons for restaurants where I never eat.
God is love. To bask in that knowledge, to sit at its feet and fill my soul with its truth, brings new perspective. I see others through his eyes, and the me doesn’t shout with a demanding capital M.
Every nook and cranny is his, no “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts.”
I’m not a good lover, but I am united with One who is. He emptied himself. He laid down royalty in exchange for flesh and infinite for finite. Beyond comprehension is his forgiveness and grace, mercy and truth. His sacrificial love is abundant for me today.
Sylvia Schroeder and her husband care for missionaries world-wide with Avant Ministries. Captivated by God’s Word she writes with the perspective of someone who lived and raised four children overseas. Twelve grandchildren in her heart often wiggle onto her pages. She blogs at When the House is Quiet.
Photograph © Cathal Mac an Bheatha, used with permission