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God loves everyone—and He calls us to do the same selflessly, without expectation of something in return. Love is given utmost importance in His Word. We are expected to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind—and to love our neighbor, too. What is love? The ‘Love Verse’ at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is an oft-quoted Scripture that reminds us love is patient and kind; not envious, boastful, or full of pride. How can we apply this in 2019?
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39)
You build your relationship with God when you create entries in a journaling Bible or through personal Bible study. The Lord has provided His Word as a means to grow in our faith. Praying regularly, going to church, and spending time with our church family will also encourage us in our love for Him, but there is more we need to do. We may love Him, but how can we truly serve Him if we ignore the most important thing we are commanded: to love? Loving God means loving others—an important detail we must never overlook. God IS love.
...if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)
Love is more than just an emotion. Feeling can be a part of love—we have romantic relationships, share friendships, and develop a fondness for other people—but does not define it. Love is also action, service, courtesy, and forgiveness. Sending an encouraging card or words of sympathy when someone is going through a difficult time will remind them that they are loved—by God and the people in their life. You don’t have to carry the feeling of love in order to share love with others.
Love is a choice. We can choose to respond thoughtfully in any situation when we allow our decisions to be guided by His love.
Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14)
Open your heart—and home—to others this year. Hospitality is not hosting a party to impress everyone on the block, but rather a way to show your love for your family, friends, and neighbors. An invitation to dinner or an evening relaxing by the fireplace with cups of cocoa can light up someone's day. When you provide a welcoming atmosphere and companionship, you share love.
You don’t need to go beyond your means to show your loving care. Meet a need in someone’s life—provide a ride to a doctor’s appointment for an elderly person from your community or send a jacket and packaged meal to someone who may be less fortunate. Offering what you can in someone’s time of need shows the love we are expected to have for our neighbor.
Jesus was able to offer Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, His unconditional, irrevocable, pure love and forgiveness for her sins. Mary responded with an act that showed her gratefulness to Jesus—she poured out her love and devotion when she washed His feet with her tears, dried them with her own hair, then anointed Him with an expensive perfume. When onlookers criticized the act as wasteful, Jesus reminded them that her great sins had been forgiven through an act of His own love—in return, she provided Him a beautiful gesture of love in the way she was able.
Love can be a sacrifice, as God Himself showed when he sent us His Son. Jesus showed us the same when He went to the cross to die for our sins. Loving somebody may be difficult as well, but Jesus calls for us to love our enemies. Is there an ‘enemy’ in your life who is difficult to love? Perhaps you have an overbearing relative, someone from work you don’t get along with, or a neighbor who just seems impossible.
Loving our enemies doesn’t mean we need to go to a movie together and chat about the work week. It simply means we treat them with respect—regardless of whether they show us respect in return. We must pray to the Lord for strength and guidance in order to fulfill His commandment, especially if we cannot seem to find it within ourselves. Rather than wondering how you can possibly show love to this person, look deeper. Loving our enemies may mean pledging not to cause harm—even to their reputation or feelings. We do not speak ill of those with whom we do not get along, nor do we wish them ill. Loving someone may mean offering forgiveness or withholding judgement.
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. (Luke 6:35)
1) Love through prayer. He has commanded us to love, but He does not expect us to do it on our own. Pray for His guidance, and He will direct you. Ask God to help you see people through His eyes. Through God, you can gain the strength to love those who may be difficult to love. Humble yourself before the Lord—because sometimes you may be difficult to love as well.2) Love through action. Love isn’t all service, but it is a large part of it. We serve Him by loving each other, and we can serve others in love. Put love into action: volunteer, help a neighbor with yard work, or introduce someone to the love found in His Word.3) Love through attentiveness. Family and friends love to feel loved. Offer recognition of the time and effort put into the dinner on the table, concern when they’re unhappy, or words of affirmation when they need some encouragement. Simply being available can show your love in big ways.
> Exhibiting patience rather than frustration at the person ahead of you in line> Offering forgiveness when you feel you have been wronged> Setting aside time to spend in His Word each day> Focusing on courtesy in your everyday interactions with strangers and family alike> Praying for a friend, family member, acquaintance—or someone you don’t get along with
We know how it feels to be on the receiving end of love, so how wonderful it is also to spread love to others. When we consider the gift of God’s unconditional love, we realize how truly lucky we are to be loved by Him. Loving others is how we show Him we are listening and want to do as He does. Not only does sharing love make others feel good, it lifts you up as well. Go into the new year with a heart full of love.
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Therefore encourage one another
and build each other up as you are already doing.
1 Thess 5:11 CSB