In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1 John 5:3-4
Loving difficult people is grueling sometimes. Constructive conversations dissolve into arguments as their strong will pursues a personal agenda above all else. Perhaps you know someone who struggles to possess genuine empathy for others. It’s hard not to want to put them in their place and let them know how hard it is to get along with them. Showing them kindness feels more like a burden than a privilege.
Unfortunately, I was having similar thoughts not too long ago. My bible reading was in I John and I experienced heavy conviction as I came to chapter 5 verse 3, which says, The commandments are not burdensome. Reality hit me like a sudden slap across the face: I was allowing myself to be crushed by the weight of faithful responsibility. God has called me to demonstrate the fruit of the spirit because His spirit is in me. I was allowing His tree of life to wither with criticism and judgment. Grace had become foreign to me. I wanted the other person to know just how much I disapproved of their behavior.
But that’s not what God calls me to do. God has given two specific instructions: to love Him and to love my neighbor. Matthew 22:37-40 says, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Those two commandments are the core values of our faith and without them, we are only a resounding gong or clanging symbol. (1 Corinthians 13:1) Love is the essence of who Jesus is and why He sacrificed Himself for us. Love conquers death. It shows grace to life-long criminals. Without love, there would be no kindness.
As a child of God, I have the responsibility to turn my heart towards Him. Doing so reminds me that my calling is not to put others in their place, but to point them to Jesus. Showing kindness isn’t a burden when I take myself out of the equation and allow God to love them through me. Because, who knows, we may be the only glimpse of Jesus they ever get to see.