Being an Example of God’s Love
by Anne Lester
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” - Ephesians 4:32
I was so excited to start middle school, I could not wait for all my friends and I to finally be attending the same school. I thought that our friendships would carry through in school just like in our out of school activities. Well, I was wrong. All three years of my middle school life were much different than what I had envisioned.
I had a hard time figuring out who to call my friends because the friends I had coming into middle school were mostly moving on with a new group of friends. It hurt a lot when those that I held so close to me seemed to become strangers or almost enemies. These girls that I thought were my friends began to gossip about me or other people I knew and that just cut through my heart and made me become bitter towards those who I once considered so close. As the years went on and we moved into high school some of those who had treated me so badly during middle school wanted to be friends again, which was both exciting and hard because I still held on to the hurts from middle school. I did not know if I should accept their apologies or continue to hold the hurt they caused me against them.
Thankfully, we have a wonderful example of loving those who hurt us and His name is Jesus. Jesus forgave those who persecuted him while he was suffering on the cross! The Apostle Paul does a good job of summing up how we as Christians should walk in Ephesians 4: 1-2, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” God calls you to love all of those around you, no matter how bad they may have hurt you. So many people hurt Jesus but he still loved them. Even today we can continue to hurt Jesus when we sin against God but the great news is that God’s love is never ending just as Psalm 100:5 says, “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
So, the next time that you enter into that situation with a friend, parent, or family member where you feel that you cannot forgive or feel that you cannot love someone who hurt you remember Jesus’ example. Here are a few verses from the Bible on why and how we love others:
Why We Love Others: God’s Command
· “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” -Matthew 22:37-39.
· “We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4: 19 (ESV).
· “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34
How We Love Others:
· “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” -Matthew 5:44 (ESV).
· “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” -Leviticus 19:18.
· “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” – 1 John 3: 18
· “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3
· “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” -1 Peter 3: 8-9.
When those that had hurt me in middle school came to me asking for forgiveness I had two choices: (1) forgive and show God’s love to them or (2) hold grudges and lose a chance to show God to someone. I chose to show forgiveness and that is the choice that I continue to make in my adult relationships. It may not always be easy but know that loving someone is what God has called you to do and following God’s command is always the right path. The good news is that you know God’s love and you get to show His love to others. That is some exciting stuff right there!
I think the Apostle Paul says it best in Ephesians 3:17-19 and this is my prayer for each of as you go through middle school and life. I pray that you will make the choice to show God’s love to all those around you.
“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” -Ephesians 3:17-19