HOW CAN I LOVE WHEN MY OWN LOVE TANK IS EMPTY?

 

Generally, there are three kinds of love that we see and maybe even experience every day – unidirectional, transactional and unconditional.

Unidirectional is the kind where I will stay in the relationship and keep the friendship as long as I am receiving from the person I am with.

Transactional is more like a 50/50 proposition. As s/he gives, I, too, will give. As long as s/he is giving something and I have something to give, then we’re fine. But when we’re all out, we bail from the relationship.

Then there’s the unconditional kind of love. I will keep giving even if there is no expectation of being reciprocated. That kind of love is sacrificial and selfless.

But how can I keep giving when my own love tank is already empty? Fair question.

In John 13:34, Jesus said, “…love one another just as I have loved you.”

He gives not only a new standard – to love people but also a new source – His love for us. Self-love is not a bad thing as long as we understand that it is totally insufficient. Sometimes, we don’t even know how to fully love ourselves.

But Jesus gave and demonstrated the full extent of His love for us in Calvary (see Romans 5:8). As a result, we can draw from that unconditional, unending and unlimited supply of His love for us.

How did He love us, then? And how can we love others with the kind of love He loved us with?

1. SERVE

Matthew 20:28 says that “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus loved us by serving. He served by giving His life as a ransom. A ransom is to pay off to purchase someone’s freedom. We were enslaved to sin and through His death and resurrection, by faith in Him, we have been set free.

Application question: Who has God called me to serve even if that person has offended me? Remember, our sin is an offense towards God and yet He still served us.

2. SACRIFICE

Part of sacrifice is suffering for the benefit of others. 1 Peter 3:17-18 says, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.”

Because Jesus sacrificed for us by not repaying our offense with punishment but with grace, we are called to do the same.

1 Peter 3:7 (NIV) says, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Application question: Who has God called me to not repay evil with evil or insult with insult but instead go the opposite spirit by blessing and doing good to them?

3. SEEK THE GOOD

God had every right to bring punishment. But instead of justice, He showed mercy and grace. He sought to do good for us through Christ. His desire is not just for us to have life eternal but also life abundant (see John 10:10).

Application Question: How can I seek the good of those I don’t necessarily agree with or even those that offended me?

We are told by Jesus, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) Our love for people makes God visible to people. 1 John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

May God grant us grace this week to draw from His supply of unending, unlimited and unconditional love so that we can love others the way Jesus loved us.

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