Surely we all look around and we all see people who are able to love their enemies, and people who cannot. Some people can be hurt so badly, and yet forgive and forgive and forgive, while others never forget a pain you have caused them. I have seen this so up-close and personal in the turmoil in my home. It took a long time, but I think God has given me a glimpse of why this is, and why I need to let this experience change me.
People can only love to the depth they feel loved.
We all carry around what I will call a “love bucket”. The bucket changes in size to hold the love we have accepted from others. That doesn’t mean your bucket is the size of the love others have shown you. Others may show us tremendous love, but if we don’t accept that love, it doesn’t make our love bucket any bigger.
Now think of this: If someone has accepted only love on a human level, that is all they can give. What do I mean by love on a “human level”” What I call human love is love based on what that love does for me, or what I admire in the person I love. When someone says “I love ______ because they make me laugh,” or “I love __________ because they are kind,” that is human love. A very shallow bucket can carry that type of love.
Now if you are a Christian ask yourself this question: Why does Jesus love me? I bet you can’t answer it. That is because it is a totally different love. I’ll try to explain but it is almost impossible. Another attempt at describing Jesus’ love is in the article “Jesus Loved Me When I Was Vomit”.
When I watched the movie “The Crucifixion of Christ”, this is what I saw.
I was the Pharisee who hated Jesus for no reason. I spit in Jesus’ face. I was the Roman soldier who whipped Jesus over and over and then laughed at his pain. I beat him when he fell under the weight of the cross. I drove the nails through his wrist and feet. I pulled the cross up and dropped it into that hole with no regard for the surge of pain I caused Jesus. I stood and watched his pain with no remorse or pity.
You see, my life without Jesus was so sinful, I could relate to all those characters. My love bucket without Jesus, is just a big bucket of yuk. Your bucket without Jesus is also, if you’re willing to admit it. Look at the pain we’ve caused others. Hear the harsh words we’ve spoken. How many people in the world have gone hungry so we could pay for our new cloths? Everyone’s love bucket is just a big bucket of yuk without Jesus.
Now what is Jesus’ love bucket like? “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 or “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22
Jesus shows his love bucket in “The Crucifixion of Christ” when he was hated but did not hate, when he was spit on remained silent, when he was scourged mercilessly to show us mercy, when he carried our cross, when he held out his hands to be nailed, when he endured our pain. More loving words were never spoken than “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”, and “This day you will be with me in paradise.”
And how big is Jesus’ love bucket. Lets say your love bucket is the size of your body. Or if you think you’re a loving person (very dangerous), make it twice that size. Well Jesus’ created the entire universe. Scripture in Ephesians 1:23 says Jesus “fills everything, in every way”. His bucket is at least the size the entire universe.
Now understand this: When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior and invited him into my life, he took my little bucket of yuk, and dumped it into his huge bucket of glory. I and him became one, so I no longer am working with my little bucket of yuk, but with his huge love bucket. I suppose I will spend all eternity discovering the depth and breadth and width of his love bucket. But that is the bucket I now have, and when I don’t share it with others, I am sinning.
So how does the love of Christ change how we act in a trial?
Lets start with the pain. The depth of your bucket determines how much pain you can hold before you start pouring out your pain on those around you. We have all seen people who as soon as they are hurt with a sharp word lash out and say something harsh in return. We have all been that person. Often times we would hurt not just the person who hurt us, but anyone else who crossed our path that day. That is because our bucket was full of pain. There was no more room for any more pain so when we were hurt again the extra pain just overflowed out of our bucket and anyone nearby got hurt.
Jesus’ love bucket never overflows. When I feel the pain, I am reminded of the pain I caused Jesus with that whip, and I don’t hurt so bad anymore. I can take that pain and put it in that huge love bucket (nail it to the cross) and let it go. The bucket is so huge, my small amount of pain will just disappear in Jesus immense ocean of love. Now, I may choose to sin and hold onto that pain. I may choose to lash out and hurt the one hurt me. But I no longer have to do that. I have a choice and my choice is either grace, or sin.
Jesus huge love bucket also gives us an endless supply of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (the fruits of the Spirit). We can truly give the love described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.” You see, a Christian can, if we want to, repay hate with love, anger with kindness, pain with healing. If we turn to Jesus we can always forgive “one more time”. Knowing and accepting Jesus’ love, changes everything.
So how do I need to apply what I’ve learned.
I can’t expect people who don’t know the love of Jesus to repay hate with love or anger with kindness. When the shouting starts and I hear one harsh word answered with another, I must accept that they really are doing their best. It is all they can do. Instead of being disappointed in them, I need to pity them. That shallow bucket is all they have and it is full of pain. They can’t take anymore.
I am called by Christ to be there with them when their bucket over-flows. I have a huge bucket to turn to. When their pain is spilling all over the place, I need to be there, take it in, feel it, and throw in Jesus’ huge love bucket. It may be the only glimpse of Jesus love they will get. How can they ever know Jesus’ love if they don’t see it? And if I choose to lash out and throw the pain back at them, I am guilty of a far greater sin than they are. They don’t have a choice, I do.
I can’t expect anyone to love me like Jesus does. When someone who doesn’t know Christ lets me down or makes me feel unloved, I shouldn’t be surprised. How can they, with their little love buckets, compare to the immense love of Jesus? If I need immense love, I can turn only one place: Jesus. He is the only true fountain of life and love.
So if you know Jesus, share freely from his “love bucket” with others. You cannot empty it. If you don’t know that kind of love, or you are in the middle of a trial, and the pain is so immense you think you will die, ask Jesus to show you his love and he will. And when you fail to share that love, and we will fail, and you later feel guilt and sorrow, remember to back to him for he is always there for you.
Thomas Less 05/24/2010