Goals and resolutions: Love - 2 February 2022

By Charlea Sieberhagen-Grey

Love. Songs are constantly sung about it. Poems are dedicated to it and books are written about the complexities of love. Everybody strives towards it, the whole world yearns for it and most feel that despite the world’s obsession with love, there is still not enough love in this world of ours.

How ironic.

Yet, it is also love and particularly “love for your neighbour” that is emphasised in the Bible time after time.

It is also the first “fruit of the Spirit”, the first characteristic that is emphasised in Galatians 5:22. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Thus, with reasonable certainty, we can state that it is God’s will that we love other people. Moreover, we need to love them as ourselves. It is truly a wonderful and noble idea. But let us be honest, to love strangers or people who are completely different to who we are, is not an easy task.

It is considerably easier to love friends and family – people who are like us and who we can relate to in one way or another, people who mean something to us and enrich our lives. Then we are easily able to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. (And, people truly love themselves these days, just have a look on social media …)

It is difficult to love people who differ from us, people who are strangers and people whom we feel are out to harm us somehow. It actually feels plain impossible. It could possibly feel like a concept that is simply too complex to grasp, let alone execute. And even if you try very, very hard, you will probably not succeed easily.

Yet, I cannot help but to think that the secret lies in trying every single day.

You probably won’t feel a burning love in your heart from the get-go, but you can try to relate to the world in a loving manner.

And it is doable: To show love to a stranger or someone we do not even like, in the manner in which we respond to them when they ask for something or say something we disagree with, it is the way we greet, the way we react when we are in uncomfortable or even challenging situations. We can try to respond with love and respect and, in so doing, ensure that our behaviour shows that we are trying to live out Jesus’ love.

And I wonder whether that is not the sensible first step. If we tackle it in this way, one loving step at a time, who knows where the path will lead?

Prayer: Dear God, in your Word, time and again we hear that we need to love our neighbour. Yet it is usually a difficult command. Help us, dear Father, to demonstrate love with our deeds, notwithstanding who we are dealing with. Let your love be evident in our conduct every day. Amen