“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1
There is a famous quote that encourages us to “love like you’ve never been hurt.” After we’ve been hurt, offended, betrayed, slandered, and overlooked it’s hard to get back up and love again. Yet without being able to receive and give love, life has little meaning. So how do we live a life of love?
First, receive God’s love. You and I love the most generously when we feel loved first. People may or may not love you; some people are so broken that they couldn’t love you if they tried. But God’s love is full, free, and unwavering. “As dearly loved children… live a life of love.” It is as we grow in receiving His love and delight in us, even in our brokenness, that we are able to extend love to others even when they’re broken. Did you know that you are dearly loved? Believe it, receive it, embrace it, and then confess it. The enemy will try to keep us feeling condemned, so that we have nothing but condemnation for others. Don’t let him do it!
Then forgive those who have hurt you as part of your love for God. Jesus gave Himself up for us while we were hurting Him and it was received by the Father as a fragrant offering. We give the same pleasing fragrance to God when we choose to forgive others for His sake. Jesus didn’t ask Peter how much he loved the sheep; He asked, “Peter, do you love Me?” Do you love Jesus today? Then He has something He wants you to do to prove it; forgive those who have hurt you. Learn to live a life of love in practical ways. Notice the people around you; ask them questions and care about their answers; do what you can to lighten their burden and pray for them. Simple, yet profound.