‘This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.’ John 15:12-15
The reason God gives us the commandment to love is because love is a choice, not a feeling. Love is a decision. It is a verb, an action word.
We can always choose not to love. We can turn our back on a brother or sister in need. We can hold on to a grudge, refuse to forgive, nurse old wounds. We can tell ourselves that this or that person has hurt me and doesn’t deserve my love.
And we may be right.
In my meditation today I recalled a conversation I had with my daughter’s boyfriend. He believes that none of us ‘deserve’ love, that all love is a great gift, to be treasured when and where it is received. Part of me agrees that we don’t deserve love. As God’s creatures, we can never merit the love He gives us, anymore than we can earn our salvation or justify our lives.
And yet, as a parent myself, I also know that a helpless infant denied love will not survive. We need love. It isn’t a question of whether or not we deserve it; we don’t. But we still have to have it. We are still commanded to give it to each other.
He gave us the commandment to love each other for our own good. I derive more tranquility, joy and gratification from the love I give than from the love I receive. Withholding love from someone brings neither peace of mind nor emotional satisfaction. It does shrivel the heart and shrink the soul.
Today I choose to love.