“Most people don’t really want to love; what they want is to be loved; and the two things are quite different.” What an astute observation from Scottish minister and author, William Barclay. It challenged me to examine my heart and assess my motives. Barclay goes on, “We want to be loved. But we are far less conscious of the duty of making ourselves into the kind of person we want others to be” [italics mine]. Is it really my duty to make myself into the kind of person I would like others to be? What do I look for from others? How do I expect my friends and loved ones to behave towards me? Am I prepared to be that kind of person?
Yahshua put significant emphasis on the need for loving. “I give you a new commandment...Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another” He said, on the night before He died [John 13:34, Classic Amplified]. He loved selflessly and completely: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” [John 15:13]. Yahshua ‘laid down His life’ in the most noble and selfless way possible, and He did it through personal choice.
After Yahshua’s resurrection, the apostles urged His followers, again and again, to love each other. Paul encouraged service by love [Galatians 5:13]; devotion in love [Romans 12:10]; patience and humility in love [Ephesians 4:2]; and, remarkably, consideration of “the continuing debt to love one another” [Romans 13:8]. I believe it’s possible for each of us to choose to ‘lay down’ our lives every day, by accepting and doing what Barclay describes as ‘the disturbing duty of loving others’. It’s a way to contribute to that continuing debt of love!
The greatest commandment is to love Yahweh with all our heart [Matthew 22:37-38]. We long for Him to love us, but how do we love Him? Do we approach Him only when we are in trouble or need help? All true love involves giving as well as receiving. Barclay warns against drifting “unconsciously, into a position in which we desire all the privileges of being loved and…refuse all the responsibilities of loving.”