Conditional Love

Emily Teterud – Marketing Coordinator

Have you ever based your love toward others on how well they love you? I think children display this concept wonderfully at times…in fact most times. You know what I’m talking about, right? I can think back to countless times when I felt completely justified in calling my sister a name if she called me a name. Or maybe I could act a certain way toward her because she treated me a certain way. Fair is fair as a child, and it takes much effort (or was it just me?) to learn that we do not act based on what others do to us. But instead, we should treat others the way we would want to be treated regardless of their response.

As adults, after the childish lessons have been learned—like you don’t take someone’s toy if they took yours, etc.—the concept of loving others only based on what they do to you sounds silly if we’ve been raised with Christian morals, right? You don’t treat someone well because they treat you well. You treat them well because it’s the right thing to do. Of course it’s much easier said than done. There may be people who are easier to love unconditionally than others. Some people we have to work at loving well, am I right? There are people who offend, people who hurt, people who tear us down and don’t really seem deserving of love. But we know in our heads that regardless, we don’t base our actions on others’ actions.

There is a standard of love laid out for us in the Bible, giving clear and practical ways we are to love each other.
I Corinthians 13:4-8 sums it up beautifully:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

The truth is, I think we should base our love toward others on how well we are loved. But, the source should be Jesus’ love always. I John 4:19 clarifies what I’m trying to say in one succinct verse: We love because he first loved us.

Plain and simple. Jesus showed us what real love is, and now we have a pattern laid out for the rest of our lives. I appreciate verses that are clear and direct. I also appreciate that we have a clear explanation for why we are to love others. It makes so much sense to have a foundation for the “why” behind something.

When you come to a situation where love isn’t the first response in your heart, just remember to love—not because of what this person (fill in the blank) has done for you or how they are acting toward you, but because of what Jesus has done and how He has loved and continues to love you.

I’m sitting here writing this and thinking, yeah—duh—we love because Jesus loved us. And I almost scrapped the whole blog because it seems like there’s not much to it. But I decided to still write it, because I think we all still struggle with the concept of loving each other. Watch the news for 5 seconds and you’ll probably catch a story that involves hateful actions. Follow your train of thought for a day and catch the times when love is not your first response or when you don’t act on the foundation of love.

It matters that we understand Jesus’ love for us. It also matters that we express that love to others. We love because he first loved us. The example has been set. Now, we follow!

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Conditional Love

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About The Author
- I am the programming coordinator at Central Christian Church AZ. I also moderate the Central Teaching Blog. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!