Real love is always costly, it will always cost us something, our comfort, our own way, what other people will think of us, our time, our money, the list is endless. Following Jesus and following the way of love has a price. What might love look like for you on the frontline at work, at home, at school and what might it cost you? What might be stopping you from ministering love and grace?
Words for the Week
Luke 10:30-37 (NIV)
In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”
‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’
The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’
Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’
In this passage we have a clear example of what it looks like to love well and what is doesn’t. Fruitfulness is loving others well. When we don’t, is often because we are fearful of something. Fearful of how someone might treat us, Fearful that they won’t reciprocate, or fearful that they might reject us. But the Bible says ‘perfect love drives out fear’ (1 John 4:18). When we know we are perfectly loved by God it frees us to love others without fear.
Jesus calls us to love others in a way that require courage. We are called to a higher standard of love than the Mosaic law; the law says ‘an eye for an eye’, but Jesus says ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘bless those who curse you.’ How can we go above and beyond on our frontlines to love like Jesus, to give grace like Jesus? Love is a choice, the kind of agape, unconditional love that Jesus calls us to is a choice, and it is not always an automatic reaction. We must choose it to use it.
“Love has to look like something”
What is stopping you from stopping? We could go into all the possible religious and ceremonial reasons why the Priest and the Levite didn’t stop, but Jesus implies those reasons, even ‘in the name of God’, didn’t cut the mustard. In his last speech before he died Martin Luther King Jr. wisely suggested that the reason why they didn’t stop was that they were afraid. There could have been bandits on the road, it could’ve been a trap, they could’ve been late, become ceremonially unclean. There was a cost and they were afraid of it.
Imagine if King himself had counted the cost to love fearlessly to be too great. What world would we be living in today? King says, “And so the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me? But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”
The good Samaritans love was courageous and he honoured the other above himself. He did not look to himself but to the other, that is a brave thing to do. Love takes courage, grace takes courage, to react in a way that is not natural to us. It costs, real love should and always does cost us something and in this case it was time, safety, money and reputation. What might be the cost to you loving someone on your frontline, to you honouring them above yourself? Fear is often what stops love and grace from flowing, what are you afraid of?
“We can talk about courage and love and compassion until we sound like a greeting card store, but unless we’re willing to have an honest conversation about what gets in the way of putting these into practice in our daily lives, we will never change. Never, ever.” -Brene Brown
As I was meditating on this passage I was asking God ‘How I can be so rooted in your love that I can even love those who are unloving to me without fear?’ That evening my husband and I were having date night, we were just on our way back when a lady walked up to us and asked for money. This is regular occurrence where we live and if I’m honest being surrounded by such, emotional, physical and spiritual need every day, you can become almost immune to it. We told her we would not give her money but we would buy her some food to eat. On our way to the shop she asked us to buy her alcohol and we refused, at this she began to get angry and rude. This was frustrating and we told her strongly that we wanted to help and we didn’t appreciate how she was behaving. We began to make a move to leave but I felt a tug of the Spirit urging me to stay and see this through. Even though I knew it would cost my time, my money and it didn’t even feel like she was grateful! And if I’m honest, it hurt that we had reached out to her in love and we had got rejected. But I knew Jesus needed me to love her courageously no matter what she was throwing at us.
I took her shoulders, looked her in the face and asked her what was going on, she began to weep and tell us about everything that had happened in her life and how she felt like giving up. I had the privilege of pulling her close and holding her in the Father’s embrace as she poured out her heart. We then told her how much Jesus loved her and had hope for her future, we prayed with her and got her some food. It would have been so easy to walk away when the cost presented itself, justifying that she wasn’t grateful, that we couldn’t do anything to help anyway and that we didn’t need this on date night. If I had not listened to the voice of the Spirit saying ‘stop, go deeper I’m not done here’ this lady, who was ready to give up on life, might not have been loved, held and listened to that night.
So I ask again, what is stopping you from stopping? What are you afraid of? Who needs you to love them courageously on your frontline? When we stop and hand whatever fear is stopping us over to Jesus he then has space to do his best work.
Own it personally…
I would encourage you to spend some time with Jesus asking him these questions.
- How can I welcome God’s perfect love into my life, so that I might love without fear?
- What is my Frontline, where am I challenged to choose love?
- What is stopping me from stopping?
- What does loving courageously look like for me?
Speak it Out – Pray and Prophesy
Pray this passage of Scripture out loud over yourself and respond by asking Christ to fill you with his fearless love that you may stop and love others with that same love.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family[a]in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.