Matthew 24 concerns the difficult days prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (v. 15-20, 24). Jesus speaks of political turmoil, famines, earthquakes and persecution that will result in some losing their faith so that they “will betray and hate each other” (v. 10). He then states that “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (v. 12). The more evil prevails, the more people are tempted to guard and protect themselves—to turn inward rather than outward.
Anyone can love when the going is good, but it takes maturity and character to love in adversity. How can we keep our love from growing cold?
- Think “us” rather than “me.” Instead of looking at everything through the lens of self (as we’ve been inculterated to do), look at life through the prism of community. Recognize the truth that we’re all in this together and live like it. This means you can’t be the best version of yourself if you’re not actively helping others do the same.
- Learn to appreciate and value the differences between yourself and others. They exist due to differences in personality, upbringing, and experiences in life. Most of the time these differences are complementary and enriching if they are handled with the right way.
- Look for the good in others. Everyone has liabilities, issues, and weaknesses. For the most part, these are not hard to spot and it takes no talent to dwell on them. Love however, refuses to view a person solely in light of their shortcomings. It is a miner that looks for the gold even though it often lies beneath the surface.
- Freely forgive. We are to forgive as we have been forgiven. Forgiveness is releasing a person from whatever pain they have caused you by having goodwill toward them.
- Learn to think of people as part of your (extended) family. You accept and associate with the members of your family because your relationship with them transcends personal likes or dislikes. You share a bond with them and have a responsibility to each other.
- Find ways to move ahead. Relational obstacles shouldn’t be ignored but neither are they to be maximized. We are to learn the art of working around them.
- Practice good will toward all. Treating others the way you’d like to be treated begins with thinking of others as you would like to be thought of—in a kind and generous way. Give people the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.
- Remember that you never gain ground by throwing dirt. Refuse to engage in criticism wars. Have bigger things going on in your life than the need to belittle someone else.
- See people for what they can be, not just what they are. Jesus chose twelve disciples not because of what they were, but because of what they could become. Most people just need someone to believe in them.