Romans 15:5-7 (ESV) May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Does your love have a limit? Tough question. I have recently discovered that my love threshold does have a limit. A barrier that must be broken. This morning started with one simple verse that pierced a place in my heart. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another…” I didn’t think I was being unloving. Maybe a bit overprotective, yet not unyielding. Judgmental? Absolutely not. Well maybe… How important is love anyway? Well, according to Jesus, it is number 1 and 2 on the list of obedience. I love God. I love Jesus. I love the Holy Spirit. I love everything about the Trinity. Now the second part is more difficult, I am to love my neighbor as myself. The entirety of our obedience to God depends on the fulfillment of these two verses in our life. Neighbor can be defined and is often referred to in the Word of God as one another. The only debt owed to anyone should be love.
Luke 21:19 (ESV) By your endurance you will gain your lives.
Without going into the different types of love, let’s focus on the potential of endurance when connected with our love. I cannot love without endurance. Endurance is pointless when love is not primary. Whatever I do consistently should be connected to the Cross. The Cross is covered with love. Therefore, to love anyone rightly is to love with endurance. What about someone I don’t want to love? Well, it’s time to get over it to put it lightly. There will be unlovable people who you do not want to love that will hinder your Kingdom success due to limited obedience. Every person put in our path is on purpose. Every single one good, bad and indifferent is there to see a reflection of Jesus Christ and the Light of God’s love. Every single one. Enduring love will gain your lives. It will be the game changer in successful ministry and sharing the one true gospel – God is love.
Hebrews 10:35-36 (ESV) Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
Endurance produces a great reward. To love others with unconditional love is to show confidence in God’s Love and Care for us. It is evidence of expectation well-placed by removing it from people to solely trust in the Lord. It is a lifelong endeavor. Overwhelming emotions and feelings must become subject to God who is greater than our feelings. To daily crucify our flesh and be infused by the Holy Spirit transforms us into excellent and enduring lovers.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
The great cloud of witnesses are not looking for a religious performance but searching for radical and ridiculous love. Jesus is the example of true love. Selflessly laying down His Life for everyone. Sin separates us all from God. Sin is anything contrary to His Word, His Will and His Way. A choice to refuse to love someone is an abomination to God even when well supported by character flaws, faults and failures. To refuse to love them is to refuse God’s Love as perfect and complete. We must lay aside EVERY weight. Every sin. Everything that would set apart from Christ in order to be seated with Him.
Revelation 3:10-11 (ESV) Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
There is a reward for faithfulness. Patient endurance is required. The greatest act of endurance in my opinion is to love the unlovable. To reach out to those who believe contrary to Christ or are ignorant of Him in order to share the Light of His Love. The enemy will put people in our path that rub us the wrong way but God turns it into an opportunity to love them anyway. To affirm them with the Love of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Before they see Jesus, they will encounter you. Will they encounter Jesus in that moment? To identify areas that lack full obedience is an opportunity to open up the windows of Heaven a little wider over our life through repentance and submission to the Word of God in that area. Loving others is probably one of the most difficult because people can be so hard to love. Love them anyway. This is enduring love and it is our calling. We are created to be lovers of all.