This title has been in my head since last week through the things I’ve done for my family and friends. It has followed me through my devotion readings. It even made an appearance as I listened to last Sunday’s sermon. That’s when I knew it would be a good title for today’s blog.
So, what’s rugged love? It’s a term I made up so I want to take my time laying out a definition. First, and foremost, it has to do with the Scripture lesson I heard on Sunday. From Luke 6:27-28, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Jesus’ own words to show us how we need to treat everyone who comes across our path.
Luke goes on to share the examples Jesus shared so His listeners would know how He meant for them to act. From Luke 6:29-31, “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
I read Jesus’ words, and rugged love immediately comes to mind. Loving our enemies. People who don’t want good things to happen to us. We’re supposed to do good things for them and love them. I don’t know about you, but this is a hard thing for me. Especially if I know the other person has ill will towards me. I need to reach deep into myself to live these words. To that place in my soul where the Holy Spirit resides. For those of you who are believers, you are probably saying, “Of course. Relying on God’s power is the only way we can love our enemies.” Bear with me though. My point will become clear in a minute.
As I think about Jesus’ words, I think of rugged love as being a love that is forged in a fire. Not dependent on feelings or warm fuzzies. Just wishing for the best to come to that person no matter what they may say or do. That love is a strong love, and that’s why I call it rugged. I don’t succeed at doing or being like that all of the time, and I’m pretty sure the rest of us don’t either.
I want to add something else to my definition of this kind of love. I believe rugged love also comes into play with those we say we love or those we’re supposed to love like our families, friends, and Christian brothers and sisters. There have been plenty of times when someone I love has asked me to do something, and I haven’t wanted to do it. There have also been times I should have reacted to someone with a loving attitude, and I haven’t. I think those times require rugged love as well.
Then, there’s the other side. I’m sure those of us who are parents have told our children no or disciplined them for something they weren’t supposed to be doing. And then there’s the time when it would have been better to keep my mouth shut, and I didn’t. In this life of ours, there are plenty of times where we can speak love and give love to the people around us. For a lot of those times, that love needs to be rugged.
As I said before, we fail at this most of the time. Our pride makes us think of all the ways we should show love and not the ways Jesus tells us to show love. (Love, regardless or rugged love in case I haven’t made the connection clear enough. 🙂 ) We also are selfish and don’t want to take the time to show love unless it can benefit us.
But, when we fail at showing rugged love, God gives us something I want to leave you with. Grace. God’s grace. Ephesians 2:8-9, the theme verses for this blog, say this, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works so that no one can boast.” We can’t show this love by ourselves. It has to come from where God has planted Himself in our hearts.
God bless you all!