Loving those that love us is easy.  What is difficult is loving those who do not love us and may not care for us at all.  The powerful thing is that the greatest reward is derived when “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:46-48; NASU)  You would probably say the same thing I would say:  “How could I be perfect especially in this area.”  Well the scriptures teach us, The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.” (1 John 2:4-5; NASU)  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-9; NASU)

Two families living side by side in the mountains of Kentucky had been fighting and quarreling for years.  The feud started when Grandfather Smith’s cow jumped over the stone fence of Grandfather Brown and ate his corn.  Brown shot the cow.  Then one of the Smith boys shot one of Brown boys, in fact, two of them, while the Browns had shot only one of the Smiths.  Bill, the oldest of the Brown family, decided to even up matters, especially since it was his own father who had been killed.  But Bill was called away to war.  While he was away his mother had a hard time providing for the family.  One Christmas the head of the Smith family took his wife and children to church.  Usually he stayed outside, but it was so cold he decided to go in and wait.  The sermon was on Christ, the Prince of Peace.  It struck Smith’s heart.  On his way home he passed the home of the Browns and he began to realize what a crime he had committed in killing the breadwinner.  He prayed.  He did more.  He determined secretly to help them.  He hired a small boy to carry a basket of food to the Browns every day.  When Bill came home, and heard of this kindness, he decided to find out who the generous helper was.  He followed the little boy – to the door of Smith’s house.  He could not believe his eyes.  Then Smith explained to Bill how he had come to a change of heart.  He had heard the story of the Prince of Peace.  It changed him.1

“We know love by this that he laid down His life for us; that we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)

  1. Tan, Paul Lee:  Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations:  A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers, Garland TX:  Bible Communications, 1996, c1979