Unrequited Love

Michael Beck

“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” (2 Corinthians 12:15)

There is no finer expression of the love of God than Paul’s poignant declaration of unrequited love to his spiritual children at Corinth. He told them that despite how constricted their heart was toward him, his heart remained open toward them. (2 Cor. 6:11,12)

Here is the apostle at his Christlike best. His love toward them did not cease because it was not being reciprocated. He would not retaliate and give them what they deserved for their lack of love toward him. He continued to “spend and be spent,” not grudgingly, but “very gladly.”

This labor of love is the “greater works” that Jesus told His disciples they would do. (John 14:12) If we’re not displaying this kind of supernatural love, every spiritual gift we manifest is vain. (1 Cor. 13:1-3) Jesus said: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)

Human love needs requiting to survive. The love of God never fails – even in the face of hatred. God does not stop giving because He is not given to. Though He gets nothing in return, His heart and hand remains open. And so, Jesus calls us to be perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect. “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” (Luke 6:35)

The great apostle Paul lived out the words of Jesus. His discipleship was put to the test – and he continued in the words of his Master. Each of us will surely face this test. Our deepest trials won’t come from our enemies, but from those closest to us, those we’ve done the most for and deserve the most from.

What will our response be when the love we have shown is not returned? Will we stop loving, or will we love with a love that is the greatest miracle of all? Be a sign and a wonder to a world that so rarely witnesses the miraculous love of Christ.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.