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When Love Becomes Tainted

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

When sin entered this world, it tainted everything… including our ability to love. As the darkness spread, it tried to convince us that its presence had no significant impact on our actions. Even today, we still believe this to be true as we try to separate our struggles and shortcomings from our ability to express love. We forget that we are who we are, in its entirety. Our characters do not have defined starts and stops. Should we lead from a place of fear, trauma, ego, covetousness, comparisons, and/or resentment, we’ll love from that place too. Yet 1 John 4:16 states that: “…God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” So when our love becomes tainted, it’s also a sign that our relationship with God is as well. We’ll think we’re acting with love, but unfortunately, it’s darkness instead.

Scripture gives us examples of this, one being the story of when Peter cuts off the ear of a servant of the high priest as Jesus is about to be arrested. Found in all four gospels (John 18:3–11; Matthew 26:47–56; Mark 14:43–50; Luke 22:47–53), it’s important to note that this situation happens after two key events involving Peter earlier that night. The first occurs when Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 26:31, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night.” Peter, however, does not believe that this will happen to him and tells Jesus in verse 33: “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Spoiler alert – he definitely stumbles after Christ is arrested. Also – Jesus is never wrong, but sure Peter – have your opinion.

Are You Still Sleeping?

The next situation happens later that evening as they reach the Garden of Gethsemane. In the garden, Jesus asks the disciples (minus Judas) to pray for Him. He then takes Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee further with Him. As they walk away, Jesus says to them in Matthew 26:38. “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” Jesus then goes off even further to pray, but when He returns, He finds the disciples asleep. He says to Peter in verses 40-41: “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Jesus then goes off to pray some more and comes back to find them asleep – yet again. In verses 45-46, Jesus says: “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” As Jesus is soon arrested, we find out in John 18:3–11, that it’s Peter who pulls out a sword in defense of Christ and cuts off the ear of a servant of the high priest.

Is This Really An Act of Love?

While some might find Peter’s defense of Christ to be admirable, it actually has a plethora of issues attached to it. First, Jesus never asked to be defended. He even says in Matthew 26:53, “do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? It’s interesting to consider that for all Peter had seen with Jesus, he was still egotistical enough to believe that Jesus needed his help against the soldiers. Maybe this was the guilt speaking, since he had already fallen asleep on Jesus twice in the garden. Or maybe this was his way of showing that he would not deny Jesus. No matter the reason, the execution was not coming from a place of light. It was coming from a place of self.

Understand that as Jesus spent time with His disciples, He was also trying to ready them for His crucifixion. Nonetheless, the disciples wanted to see Christ’s journey manifest itself based on their own misguided desires. And technically, it’s not a sin to want something. It becomes one when we prioritize our own wants over God’s instruction. That night, as Peter pulled out his sword, he wanted to show his love for Christ in the way he thought was best. Too often, we do the same. We love in a way that’s convenient to us, but not attuned to the needs of others. A more pure reflection of Peter’s love for Christ would’ve been to stay awake in the garden earlier that night. Yet when sin enters, as stated earlier, love becomes tainted. Did Jesus not warn Peter to be careful – lest he enter into temptation?

Desiring Darkness in Love

If we’re being honest with ourselves, we’d have to admit that sometimes we like the darkness in love. We prefer swords over prayer. We want to feel as though people who care about us are willing to be like Peter, or that we ourselves are willing to do what’s necessary to defend those we love. Nevertheless, the scriptures teach us in Ephesians 4:26 to “Be angry, and do not sin”. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay that Peter didn’t want Jesus to be arrested, but our anger should not be rooted in darkness or blind us to God’s instruction. If so, then we overlook the idea of what it means to reflect the character of Christ in our lives. And if we do not abide in Christ, then the ways in which we love will also be missing His spirit.

Furthermore, we might find ourselves willing to make exceptions to what we know to be true in defense of those we love. We’ll make excuses for hurtful behavior. We’ll lie to spare the feelings of others. We’ll cheer on toxic behavior, as to avoid the confrontation. Still, no matter how difficult it may be, the truth, when given in love, remains an option. If we want to spread Christ’s ministry, then we must also spread God’s truth. We are held accountable for the ways in which we hinder or help those in our lives. Not everyone will be receptive, but it is God’s calling for us to show one another love in the way that Christ intended. If we choose to do differently, then what we’re really saying is that love in the parameters that God has defined, isn’t enough. We need toxicity too.

To Love the Lord

Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 22:37 to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This directly reflects the first four commandments found in Exodus 20 with the first one being: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” If we aren’t careful, it’s not just money or material possessions that become our gods, it’s also the people we love too. We end up prioritizing their perceived well-being (and our own) over our relationship with God. As an example, we’ll guide our children in ways that allow them to best fit in, as opposed to how to best stand up for God. Our words will become deceitful. Our actions, questionable. Just like Peter, we’ll blind ourselves to seeing Christ in His fullness because we’re leading from a place of self.

The biggest warning, however, for you and me is that Peter probably thought he was making the right decision. Afterall, he didn’t even believe in the possibility that he could stumble. Peter allowed darkness to enter because he didn’t have enough humility to realize the importance of guarding the avenues of his soul. If we would only spend more time nurturing our heavenly relationships, God would give us the wisdom and discernment needed to navigate through our earthly emotions. Our love does not have to become tainted. Who we serve is our choice, and what we do next will always be a reflection of that decision.

#GodBless from #LovesAnAction

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