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Love Is Easier on Paper

Luisa Collopy

Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 23, 2024
Love Is Easier on Paper

Paul would not have addressed the loving acceptance of fellow believers and reminded us how Jesus accepted each one of us if this wasn’t an issue.

Our women’s group decided to pick a book on love for our Bible study, but what we thought would be very easy for us to breeze through turned out to be a challenge and required a lot of soul-searching. 

We discussed love in action and our examples mostly centered on marriage and family relationships. Not one of us cringed at the thought of serving our families. We cleaned our homes, cooked meals, supervised the kids in their homework, and watched their games until we all became empty nesters. We talked about how we show patience towards our husbands and our children, how we give counsel, and constantly extend forgiveness and overlook hurt feelings. 

All those things seemed to fall within the confines of how God shows His love for us. We know He takes pleasure in taking care of our needs. We know He warns and protects us from danger, even from our own foolishness, so we don’t get hurt. We know He graciously forgives our sins—and this part we like the most!

But the nitty-gritty of love started to get harder with Jesus’ new command. He said, “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35). Before Jesus spoke of the new command, He just washed and dried their feet and talked about servanthood. Jesus, their Lord and Teacher, did not hesitate to do this lowly task. Even Peter was hesitant to have Jesus wash his feet. 

Jesus also talked about a betrayer, someone sitting at their table. They were surprised but didn’t really understand how one of them could be spoken as such. They lived together and did everything together for the last three years. They were tied to the hip! How can Jesus speak of such a person? 

Jesus never pointed a finger at Judas and gave him a scolding. Instead, He said to all of them, including Judas, that “this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me’” (v. 18). He knew this was going to happen; yet He did not withhold the Word of God from and sharing meals with Judas. Even when Jesus saw Judas standing with the Roman soldiers and Temple guards to arrest Him, He didn’t say anything to Judas to guilt trip him. He continued to love him.

Love Is an Example

Love is easier on paper! But Jesus said to “prove to the world that [we] are [His] disciples” (John 13:35). First, we’re encouraged to reach out and welcome our brothers and sisters in Christ…quirks and all! The Apostle Paul said, “Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory” (Romans 15:7). Think of the “noisy, attention-seeking” member of your church. The woman who “loves to hear her voice” at gatherings. The “righteous one” who sits in the corner because there is dancing. Paul would not have addressed the loving acceptance of fellow believers and reminded us how Jesus accepted each one of us if this wasn’t an issue.

Love Is a Refusal to Abuse and Manipulate

Second, we must “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). What was happening among the Ephesian believers then is still happening today. Preceding that forgiveness reminder, Paul said, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (v. 31). How did we turn into emotional abusers and torturers? Where is the joy in lying about someone and desiring to destroy that person? How did we become so angry and bitter at someone, at life, that we cannot see the beauty in anything? And we all claim to love Jesus yet walk around as emotional and psychological manipulators!    

Love Is a Reconciliation

Third, we are told to reconcile with one another. We got stumped with this instruction again. How do we restore a relationship with someone who does not want it? What if it’s you who does not want to be in a relationship with someone again? It doesn’t matter what you want or what the other wants! Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment… Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:22-24). 

Think of the number of times you exchanged heated words with your spouse or your child while you were preparing for church. You all got in the car, but everyone was avoiding looking into each other’s eyes, and some were seething with anger. The tension was so thick. Were you really prepared to worship and listen to the Word of God? 

Fourth, we are to remember that we are one, a community, the fellowship of Christ. Paul reminded us that believers in Christ should put away falsehood and should be able to “speak the truth” with one another (Ephesians 4:25). He went on to say, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as first the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (v. 29). We sometimes say we have forgiven but won’t let go of the pain. In our still-desperate state of clinging to self-preservation, we continue to practice self-righteousness and restart the cycle of tearing up the person we claim to have forgiven. We lie again to protect ourselves. And in so doing, we say words that disrespect the other, hoping to lift our own honor. Remember that God knows and sees our hearts and He hears every word we say. He is our judge!

Knowing that God pursues us with His everlasting love should encourage us to love others well. He has given us every single spiritual tool we need to make it happen, including sending His Son to teach and model love for us. Yes, everything is possible with Christ. 

Yes, love is easier on paper… only if left to us.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/john_jennings

Luisa Collopy is an author, speaker and a women’s Bible study teacher. She also produces Mula sa Puso (From the Heart) in Tagalog (her heart language), released on FEBC Philippines stations. Luisa loves spending time with her family over meals and karaoke!