Has anyone ever said love would be easy? If they did, they were lying or ignorantly mistaken. Why do I say that? Because the giver of love is people and people are imperfect vessels that love to receive love, but aren't always the greatest at showing appreciation or giving it.

If you have a spouse, a teenager, a friend, or someone that you love, but that is definitely not being, (in your opinion) as loving back as they could or should be when you extend love to them, then trying to maintain great feelings of love toward them is probably a challenge.

Some teenagers and young adults work too hard at becoming independent and almost become narcissistic in the process. Their life becomes all about them and what they want. It’s like they lost their sense of empathy, thanks, and compassion for others. Reciprocating expressions of thanks and love seem to have been erased from their memory bank. As far as having or showing real affection or appreciation for the sacrifices parents make - that seems eons away from the big hugs and kisses that they showered mom and dad with when they were little.

All this is the reason why it’s so critical to understand that although good feelings of love can feel wonderful, love is much deeper than feelings. Jesus did not leave Heaven, come to the earth, be rejected by mankind-His very creation, and die for our sins to give us eternal life because of feelings. His actions were born from love – pure love. He actually loved us while we were rejecting Him.

Isaiah 53:3 says:
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
God's Word says we did not esteem Jesus while He was loving us and sometimes others don't esteem us while we are showing them love. There are no good feelings in rejection. Jesus demonstrated that love runs deeper than feelings and that’s why we can’t let our life and relationships be governed or ruined by feelings.
Every one of us falls short every day in what we "owe" God. In actuality, we don't "owe" God anything. We don't because He doesn't see it that way. Jesus taught that acts of kindness should lead to thanksgiving and appreciation. We all know the story of the ten lepers! He taught that love should be returned.

But, looking too hard for the kind of love and appreciation that should come as a response to your kind thoughts and actions, may only leave you disappointed and discouraged. Instead of looking for those loving responses from those that may be missing their mark of appreciation toward you, instead focus on giving that appreciation toward Jesus – the one who has continued to show you His love despite your thanklessness and disobedience. It didn’t stop Jesus and we can’t let it stop us.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by what God has done for me. I was so messed up when I came to the Lord 35 years ago. He forgave my sins and has been patient with me as He helped me turn my life around. He has taught me how to think, how to forgive, how to love, and much about godly character. He has given great purpose to my life and filled it with every good thing. He has taken me from debt to abundance, from sickness to wholeness, from discouragement to joy unspeakable, from wandering through life to a purpose-filled life.

When I think on these things, I am overwhelmingly thankful. It produces greater feeling of love from me toward Him. It also creates more patience from me toward others that have forgotten how to say thank you. They did not esteem Jesus. People that should, might not show their appreciation toward me. And I am sure I miss the mark on showing appreciation toward everyone that I should!

Being in the place of ministry that I am, I am constantly in the place where people cry out for help. It's normal and helping people is a part of what God has given me to do. It's what He's called us all to do! Ministering to the many needs of people is a never-ending task. Sometimes when people "get what they need," they are happy, move on and forget you even helped them. That has been my majority experience. It happened to Jesus. He healed ten lepers and one came back to thank Him.

We may or may not be appreciated, but know that our love and kind actions toward others never escape God's sight. And know this: "Love never fails...."(1 Cor. 13:8 NIV)

When our motivation for loving is pure and we've kept on loving despite how others treat us, we have pleased God. He is our ultimate rewarder and promises to do so. Remembering that we, too, have had times of unthankfulness to Him helps us follow the example of Jesus – loving others just because it’s right; not because of how we feel or because they are succeeding and reciprocating our love. Love gives, so keep busy giving love! It's the highest road!

John 13:35 (NLT) "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

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