When Loving HurtsBy Marby Iglesias
April 15, 2020
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the sounds of playing toddlers filled our home that morning. My heart could explode. I was having coffee with my friend…but months before we had broken each other’s hearts and I truly believed nothing could have repaired it. We sat down for coffee and spoke candidly. Loving hurts…and though God had repaired this particular relationship, it was not without first revealing some deeply rooted idols and expectations that had been lying dormant in my heart. Disappointments are characteristic of loving others deeply. We open up ourselves, we sacrifice much, we waste ourselves away serving those we love, but in the middle of this narrow road we find that the thorns of a difficult life and the sins of others against us slowly harden our heart and make us cynical and withdrawn.
Ministry seems at times to be the melting pot of varied disappointments. Relationships are inevitable and hurt a factor in almost every stage of life. But how do we move forward when loving hurts? How do I not become that woman that only goes through the motions to avoid being vulnerable and hurt once again?
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” 1 Peter 4:8 (ESV).
‘Earnest Love’ takes work
The Greek work for ‘earnest’ in 1 Peter 4:18 is “ektenes.” This is a word that was used to describe something that was stretched or extended to its maximum capacity. It was hard work. The Greek sometimes used it to describe an athlete that through practice and endurance would stretch his body to its maximum capacity. “Earnest love” likewise is when you are weary of loving but reach out one more time. Earnest love is seeking the good of others more desperately than our own, it is way beyond our comfort zone and initially it is very hard.
This type of love is not based on reciprocity—whether we are admired or appreciated in return. The basis and foundation of this love in on the value and overflowing love we have in Christ. It is far more than a feeling and is best described in 1 Corinthians 13 as “long suffering,” willing to suffer for a long time. Earnest love takes work because it must do what it doesn’t “feel” many times before it has stretched to its full capacity. As you can now imagine, earnest love is completely impossible in our depravity and strength but a fruit of the Spirit empowered by the gospel.
‘Earnest Love’ begins with the Gospel
Earnest love is not a change of behavior, a list of to-dos to satisfy someone’s love language, but the result and overflow of being frequently reminded that we have been earnestly loved beforehand. When you least sought God, He pursued you and loved you earnestly. He gave you ears to hear and a softened heart. His earnest love flowed in blood on a cross and now overflows in our hearts in how we love Him and others.
“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,” 1 Peter 1:22 (ESV).
Peter reminds us once again of this earnest love that flows from a purified soul and pure heart. This purity is not attained through spiritual disciplines but instead imputed on our behalf and “activated” by our faithful submission to God’s will and appreciation for his work on the cross.
When a strained relationship has made me reach the end of myself, when hurts and disappointments overwhelm me, it is his unwavering grace towards my own sins that allows me to love once again. The gospel is Christ in me, and the more I meditate on his goodness, the more I can extend goodness to those who have hurt me.
‘Earnest Love’ chooses forgiveness
With reheated coffee warming our hands and home overpowered by toys and diapers, my friend and I finally had that conversation. So many months lost, so many tears shed. It was at the end, the sum of many small decisions that had allowed us to restore our friendship once again. Our hearts were now knit more than ever and Peter’s words that “love covers a multitude of sins” became real and tangible.
“Earnest love” doesn’t cover up sin and it doesn’t minimize or rationalize sin…it just forgives it. It takes the sin at face-value. It grieves the hurt it has caused and then makes the decision to toss it to the deepest oceans and not hold the sinner accountable for it ever again.
“He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” Micah 7:19 (ESV).
Earnest love, love that keeps loving even when it hurts, is the greatest testimony to a dying world. Sinners loving sinners, in a fallen world, because of a Savior who loved them first.