Unconditional love is a term we throw around rather casually. Yet I am learning that if we are endeavoring to truly live this way - in unconditional love, the way Yeshua taught it to us - we had better be prepared for and willing to accept the consequences and the likelihood that we will receive nothing in return. At least not in this life!
Webster's Dictionary defines the word unconditional this way: not limited by conditions; absolute; complete.
No conditions, no strings attached. Nothing expected in return. Yeshua teaches it this way:
12 “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14)
So we who follow His teachings are instructed to show love, concern, care and hospitality to those who cannot repay us, expecting nothing in return. This would be a "complete" love, a heart satisfied that our love was really given unto God, and whether or not it was appreciated by the person we blessed, does not matter. We blessed the Lord.
Author Jim Hale puts it this way: "I suppose the greatest lesson of love is that love is its own reward. Whether our thoughts, words, prayers, or actions are received by others or not, love brings us closer to God. In truth, when we are rejected while loving others, we are never nearer to God's great heart."
My husband and I have extended love, care, concern and a great deal of energy to quite a number of people the past few years, who not only rejected this love and care, but actually retaliated in one way or another. In every one of these situations, we opened our homes and our hearts to family members or believing brothers and sisters, pouring out the Love of Messiah as we were led by the Spirit, only to be betrayed, rejected, and in some cases verbally and physically attacked. It finally left us feeling wounded and somewhat jaded about whether we should continue in this walk of "unconditional love"! But in my process of seeking the Lord about what all this meant, I ran across a quote by Mother Teresa that answered my questions and soothed my aching heart. May it comfort you also, brothers and sisters, if you are feeling betrayed and rejected by others. It was never between you and them anyway!
And in the end, being betrayed, rejected and attacked by your own is the very picture of our Savior! "When we are rejected while loving others - we are never nearer to God's great heart."
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway!
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Kelly Ferrari Mills