Sometimes loving others is hard. Our own sinfulness means that we’re naturally inclined to be selfish, and our fallen bodies and minds are prone to weariness. When we persevere with those who are harder to love we often find ourselves getting tired, losing patience, or sometimes simply walking away and assigning him or her to the ‘too hard’ basket.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for us because it reminds us that it is because of God’s unconditional love for us that we can offer unconditional love for others. In his book Being There, Dave Furman writes
I read a story of an artist who once submitted a painting of Niagara Falls to an art show but forgot to give it a title. The gallery came up with its own title, “More to Follow”. Niagara Falls has been flooding the areas below for thousands of years with life-giving water. This is a beautiful picture of the grace of God – there is always more grace he is pouring out. God is a never-ending conduit of grace for his people.
Left to our own devices, we want nothing to do with God. Our minds don’t think about him, our hearts don’t desire him. We certainly don’t love him even though he is infinitely worthy of it. But the gospel isn’t about us or what we can do. The gospel is about the reality that while we didn’t love God he first loved us; and out of pure, infinite grace he acted in Jesus Christ to make the way for us to love him and be loved by him.
In 1 Timothy 1:14 Paul writes “and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” Paul understood that God is the fountainhead from which the water of life flows. Without God, efforts in our own strength can only go on for so long. We’re like a dry sponge that doesn’t have an ounce of hope to squeeze out for another. If we abide in Christ, we’re planted by a flowing stream from which we constantly draw life-giving nutrients, and we can minister that grace to those around us, because the water never stops flowing.
As Christians, we can draw strength to love others daily through remembering God’s gracious response to our own unloveliness. In difficult times when loving is hard and people seem unlovely, our response can be less than gracious. But the gospel shapes our reactions and enables us to get up every day and keep loving. Furman writes
The good news of God’s saving grace in the gospel never gets old. It is balm for our weary souls every day. Just like when I get home and my kids run and give me the same hugs they did the day before. And I see my wife, and I tell her that I love her. She knows I love her, but I still tell her again and again. It’s old news – she knows it – but it’s sweet to hear over again.
Never lose sight of what God has done for you in the gospel; his infinite grace conquered our infinite unloveliness, and there’s more to follow.