Straining to Love
1Pet. 1:22 Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart.
Followers of Jesus Christ are to live in obedience to the truth. This requires a life lived in the grace of God, along with self-discipline as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Love of God and love of neighbor flows from our relationship with God, but it also takes effort. Not everyone is easy to love and therefore the language of this author is that we are to “love one another deeply,” and this can be translated as straining to love. We must be intentional about reaching out and loving one another. This is to come from our heart, and some manuscripts say “a pure heart.” The challenge of living as God’s holy people is to reach out to one another with the love of God. There are no exceptions listed — simply that we are to be obedient, reaching out, straining, in love.
There are people within the community of faith that probably drive you crazy. They may have hurt you, frustrated you or made you feel like leaving the church. We can talk ourselves into being justified in our desire to cut these people off from our lives. This, however, is not God’s plan.
We must walk in obedience to God’s leading in our lives. Listening and being obedient to God is sometimes not an easy thing to do and yet, if we are to live the lives that he desires for us, we must be obedient. Jesus is truth and we are to walk in obedience to his leading, which leads us to participation in his holy nature. God’s nature is holy love and that is why this reflection of God’s love is so important. If we do not love one another, then we are not reflecting God’s love. God’s love never gives up on us. His love, reflected in you and me, never gives up on anyone.
We are challenged to strain to love those who may be unlovely. Push ahead. Reach out. Love those within the family of God and beyond. This is the challenge for those who carry the banner of holiness.
Lord, may your love shine through me. Amen.
Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.