“We are here to love. Not much else matters.” – Francis Chan
In his book Bold Love, Dan Allender tells a story about what his daughter thought were the most important lessons to learn about life. She said, “To work hard, to always do your best, and to never lie.” While those were good answers, Allender couldn’t quit asking himself why the word “love” was conspicuously absent from her list. That’s because love matters most in our lives. The most loving thing we can do for others is to love God and love others.
Loving God and others sound pretty good. But can we do it? Some people are just annoying. Others are irritating. Sometimes it’s hard enough to love our own family. So, how do we make love a dominating characteristic of our lives? First, we need to have a clear definition of what it is: Love is the deliberate act of valuing someone more than you value yourself. Love is the deliberate act of caring for, and listening to others. Love is wanting others to succeed, to be happy and fulfilled.
A critical first step is to make loving others a priority in your life. Even though we have the freedom to set our own priorities, Jesus made a point of defining certain ones of them for us: “’Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-39). Love is not a gray area. There is no wiggle room. Jesus gave love priority over all other Christian characteristics. Every thought, response, and act of goodwill must be reflected in love, or it means nothing at all.
The more we begin to love, the more we begin to change from within. All of a sudden, we don’t find it as hard to love others anymore, and we get a better picture of what it means to love God—and how deeply He loves us. When we truly, actively begin loving others, we also learn how to love God better.
A struggle for many people is that they think they can’t love others until their heart motive is “right.” So they spend a lot of time checking their heart, asking God to make them more loving. There are so many creative ways to love others, and you don’t have to wait. Venture out in faith and loving feelings will follow the loving actions.
We need to remember that believers are God’s advertisement to the world around us. When we love as He has loved us, it will make all the difference. People will notice. They will know we are Christians by our love.
- What does it mean to you to reflect God’s love to others? What are some practical ways for you to give others a taste of what the love of God is like?
- Is loving others loving as God loves? Is this even practical?