Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see someone who can love as Jesus loves?
When we think of love, I’m thinking of how Paul, an early follower of Jesus, defines love in his letter to Christians in Corinth.
4 Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, 5 it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, 6 it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13)
Paul further down the letter writes:
11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, reason like a child, think like a child. But now that I have become a man, I’ve put an end to childish things. 12 Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known. 13 Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)
He paints this picture of looking in a mirror but not seeing ourselves clearly. Paul is writing to people who had no idea what selfies are. They may have access to a bronze mirror, but there were no cameras to take the “perfect picture.”
They didn’t have a clear picture of who they were, but God saw them clearly. God sees us clearly too. God knows that the work of Jesus Christ on the cross transforms us, making us new. When we are made new in Christ, we are able to love as Jesus loves.
This is hard for us to think about. It’s hard for us to consider loving perfectly everyday. We think, “This is not possible. I’m not Jesus.” And yet, Jesus tells us,
34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” (John 13)
In other words, Jesus tells His followers, “Love as I love.” Is Jesus teasing us here? Is he telling us to try and do something that he knows we can’t do? That doesn’t seem too loving. It makes more sense that he is calling us to do something that he knows we can do. It’s almost like he knows us better than we know ourselves.
Does this mean we will always love as Jesus loves? Probably not. So what do we do when we find ourselves “not loving”? What do we do when we find ourselves impatient, easily upset, boasting or envious of others?
Here is my suggestion for you. Notice those times when you are “not loving.” Even more, be thankful that you are noticing the times when you are “not loving.” Then offer a prayer similar to this one.
Thank you Jesus for forgiving me. Thank you that I am aware of this in me and that is no longer who I am. Thank you that you have given me a new heart. Thank you. I choose to see me as you see me, holy and blameless. I choose love.