If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13
It’s one of my favorite verses, and also one of the hardest directions (love others). It goes into further details…how to love.
Note, it’s not a direction on how to feel love or loved, but how to physically act out love.
Love is a choice to action – much bigger, and harder, and longer than a mere feeling.
And we are called to actively love everyone, not just the lovely or kind or those who make our hearts beat fast.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6: 27-36
This part is hard. I spent a little over a year seriously trying to muster up feelings of love towards some family members I wasn’t the fondest of.
I wasn’t successful. I was going about it all wrong. You can’t create feelings that don’t exist (at least I can’t).
I can make a choice to love them though, to actively show them love. Even when they don’t deserve it (in my opinion). After all, I so don’t deserve the many mercies and blessings tossed my way.
And here’s the strangest thing of all – with every act of love I give away, I grow a little less bitter. A little less frustrated…and maybe, just maybe, the feelings of love are beginning to grow a little too.