“Let brotherly love continue.”–Hebrews 13:1
Love is one of the most powerful motivators. A perfect example of such motivating love comes in the form of an old Baptist preacher from early America. The American Revolution was just beginning in the hearts of the American people, and many were pushing for the colonies to go to war with England. Unknown to many people, English loyalists, who supported their homeland, despised the Americans’ audacity to break free from England, and sought to defeat the colonists from inside their own country. One such man was Michael Wittman, an evil loyalist who lived in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. In the same town lived a Baptist minister named Peter Miller who was close friends with George Washington. Miller did all he could to reach out to everyone in Ephrata and invite them to church, but by far his biggest critic was Wittman. Wittman did all he could to publicly humiliate, denounce, and ridicule Pastor Miller, but Miller continued to love him.
As was bound to happen, word came out that Wittman was a loyal defender of England and a traitor of America. He was brought before a judge and was condemned to death. Because of his love for Wittman, Miller walked seventy miles from Ephrata to the military prison in Philadelphia where Wittman was being held. Knowing General Washington was in charge at the military compound, Miller sought him out and pleaded for the release of Michael Wittman. Washington replied, “I am truly sorry, Peter, but I cannot release your friend Michael.” “My friend! Why, he is my worst enemy,” remarked Miller. Washington was shocked, “You mean you traveled seventy miles on foot to plead for the life of your enemy? Why that does put things in a different light. Wittman will be released.” That day Wittman and Miller walked home not as enemies, but as friends.
What made the difference in Washington’s view of Miller’s request? The fact that Miller would go to great lengths for an enemy, a man who had wronged him many times, showed his genuine love for Wittman and swayed Washington’s approval of the pardon. Miller didn’t simply show love when it was convenient; he truly cared about Wittman.
The ultimate example of true love is in Jesus Christ. His love for others, even those who rejected Him, led Him to endure this world’s trials and die a cruel death on a rugged cross. His wasn’t a convenient love, but a genuine love to all.
Often a person’s actions can affect our love for them. We’re wronged, mistreated, forgotten, or abused in some way, and as a result our love for that person ceases. Have you ever been wronged by someone and simply wrote them off your “list” as a result? God reminds us that just as He was rejected and rebuked, so sometimes we will be as well.
People will make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes will adversely affect you. Sometimes a hurtful word will be spoken, or some action will offend. God’s desire is that apologies would be made and relationships would be restored, yet some people would rather ignore someone for years rather than making things right.
“Let brotherly love continue.” God’s desire is for you to love all people, the friendly ones and the bitter ones. Even when others mistreat you, let love continue. Even when you’ve been backstabbed or wronged, let love continue. Even when the other person wants no part in your love, let love continue.
Is there someone whom you’ve stopped loving? Don’t allow petty arguments, hurtful words, bitter feelings, or mistakes affect your love for another person. If Christ can endure a crowd of His people yelling for His crucifixion and still pour out His love for them on Calvary, you can forgive someone’s wrong actions and continue loving them. Seek today to let your love continue to all people.-By Dr. Paul Chappell