Conditional Love

Here is the awkward truth of my life, and likely yours…

I talk a lot about the unconditional love of God, and showing it to others, but mostly the love I show is conditional.

This was recently pointed out to me in and through the writings of Thomas Merton. If you’ve never read him, I encourage you to do so. But, beware, it’s likely to challenge you. So, you’ve been warned.

He says this…

“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbours worthy.” – Thomas Merton

There is more depth in that one paragraph then in pretty much all I’ve ever written combined. Because, the truth is, when I reflect on it, I realize that when it comes to love, I far too often first assess whether or not someone is worthy of my love.

Before I give love, I try to see if the person meets my requirements or conditions first. Sometimes this doesn’t happen, and sometimes it happens in a split second, but this assessment of another’s worthiness does seem to happen way too much.

What I’m drawn to in Christianity, and in the quote by Merton, is that when Jesus died for all of us, He didn’t think about who was worthy or not. He didn’t just give His love to the ones who earned it. He didn’t just give His love to the ones who deserved it.

Jesus didn’t just give His love to others with conditions.

Rather, He gave His reckless, unconditional, everlasting love to the whole world. To ALL of us.

And, while I’m far from loving at that depth, that is the call upon me.

As I seek to follow Jesus, I want to learn to love like Jesus. To love without conditions. To love without first judging if someone is worthy, but rather to realize that in loving others truly, deeply, and from my heart and actions, I find the kind of worthy actions to which we are called.

Because, they are Jesus’ actions.
So, I write all this to remind myself of something I know, that might be the same for you. That often my love has too many limits and conditions.

But, as I learn to follow Jesus, I need to learn to love more like Him. Not first asking if someone is worthy, but first stepping out with love, being obedient and being changed in the process.

Worthiness is God’s business, not ours. Our business is to love.

And, I know I need that challenge, and that reminder.


3 comments on “Conditional Love

  1. Pat on

    Wow, so right, wish you hadn’t put it so plain. We all need to just “do” instead of “thinking, are they worth my love”. Thanks for the wake up call.

  2. Harry Huizer on

    You had to sneek the word reckless in there describing the love of Jesus!
    The word is rarely ever used in a positive sense and that’s why it just doesn’t feel right to use it.
    Reckless often and usually implies out of control or foolish or wild.
    Now reckless often applies to my golf game at times but not to my love for others.
    Maybe in time I will be more comfortable with this term.
    I assume it is a word which applies to the love of God (not to God’s character) which goes everywhere without regard to consequences. So you see that I do get why it is used here.
    Maybe in time using the word reckless will disappear as an adjective for God’s love . That other term that I thankfully haven’t heard lately is ” it’s a God thing”!
    I am being very vulnerable even sending this reply!

    • Andrew Mills on

      Hi Harry – thanks for being vulnerable and honest. You know I love that!

      And I think your right, the word reckless refers to the gift (in that he gives his gift of love freely away without counting the cost) but not to God’s character (in that he’s not ever out of control).

      And you’re also right that language and words come and go – like how the phrase “it’s a God thing” isn’t used as much. I know for you the word reckless doesn’t resonante, but thanks for being honest and gracious with your thoughts. I do so appreciate that!!


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