“Charity suffereth long …” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Not all suffering is alike. Some things hurt worse than others. Sticks and stones can break our bones, but words inflict even more long lasting damage. And hurtful words coming from those who should care the most for us are the most painful.
Turning the other cheek is not a natural response to being slapped in the face. Neither is blessing those who curse us; or doing good to those who hate us. We don’t do unto others what we would like them to do unto us; we do to them what they’ve done to us. We repay evil with evil. We hate those who hate us. Loving our enemies is the last thing on our mind. But it is the very heart of Christ.
We can no more love those who mistreat us than we can heal the sick or raise the dead. The love God calls us to is not ours naturally. It is a supernatural miracle that can only be displayed through the power of Christ within us. The greater works that Jesus called His disciples to do were not greater miracles than He did; but the demonstration of a supernatural love in the face of the greatest pain. They were greater works than His miracles. What does it profit us if we have faith to move mountains, but lack love which bears all, believes all, hopes all, and endures all? If our love is no greater than the love of those who don’t know God, do we know God? If we can only love those who love us, is there any grace at work in our life?
Paul knew the love of Christ which passes knowledge. He knew the kind of love that suffers long and does not stop loving. He said to those who treated him miserably: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” (2 Cor. 12:15)
Is this the kind of love we desire to have and express in our lives? Then Christ in us must be our hope of glory. We must aspire to “the greater works ministry.” We will need supernatural power and grace to love through the pain we feel when we are given less love and honor than we deserve.
Are we willing to enroll in the school of Christ? There are many classrooms in it that are filled with pain. Only by abiding in our Lord will we pass the tests we will face at the hands of those who love us less than we desire or deserve.