Jesus’ teachings set such a high ideal of a selfless, loving life that most of us probably feel overwhelmed and discouraged. How can we, who are selfish by nature, love our neighbor unselfishly? Moreover, is it even possible for us to love our enemies? From a human point of view it is utterly impossible.
But the Lord would never ask us to love and serve those who are hateful and unlovable without providing us also with the means to accomplish it.
This standard is not one to which we cannot attain. In every command or injunction that God gives there is a promise, the most positive, underlying the command. God has made provision that we may become like unto Him, and He will accomplish this for all who do not interpose a perverse will and thus frustrate His grace. — Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 76.
What is the promise underlying the command to love our enemies? It is the assurance that God is kind and merciful to the unthankful and evil (Luke 6:35-36), which includes us. We can love our enemies because God loved us first, even though we were His enemies (Rom. 5:10). When we daily reaffirm our acceptance of His loving sacrifice for us on the cross, His self-denying love pervades our lives. The more we realize and experience the Lord’s love for us, the more His love will flow from us to others, even to our enemies.
What is the relationship between abiding in Christ and His love, and loving our neighbor? See John 15:4-12.
Our daily need is not only to accept Christ’s death for us again but to surrender our will to Him and abide in Him. In the way Jesus Himself did not seek His own will but the will of the Father (John 5:30), so we need to depend on Jesus and His will. For without Him, we can do nothing.
As we choose every day to submit ourselves to Jesus, He lives in us and through us. Then
it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (Gal. 2:20, NKJV) and changes my egocentric attitudes into a selfless loving life.
Read again John 15:4-12. What is the joy that Jesus is talking about there? How can we experience for ourselves the joy that comes from serving him, even when we don’t necessarily feel happy about our immediate circumstances?