I am fascinated by love. It is something that I think about often. Love of friends and family. Romantic love. Love of things. Love of God. A few posts back I wrote about grace and hospitality and how I am often lacking in it. And well today, I am here to tell you about how I am often lacking in love — in particular love for the Lord and others — and how I am learning to be better at both.
Over the summer, my boss had my coworkers and me read through “Love Does” by Bob Goff (one of my Best Reads of 2018). This was when I was first confronted with the reality that I was not loving God or others well. I began to realize that I was mostly talk and little action. I was challenged by the fact that Bob Goff lives his life so devoted and surrendered to the Lord that he cannot help but overflow with love for others. I knew for a fact that if I wanted to be love, my actions would have to show it.
Loving others is not easy. We all know that. And yet, we find in the Scriptures that we are called to it over and over again.
In Luke 6:27-36 we learn that we are supposed to “love our enemies and do good to those who hate you.” But it does not stop there. We need to turn the other cheek when someone slaps us, give away our coats upon demand and give to anyone who asks without expecting or return or payment! And the real kicker here is when Jesus is telling the crowds that are following him that they will not get credit for loving the easy people because even the people who do not claim Jesus are doing that already!
As Believers, we know that we are supposed to be imitators of Christ, living lives full of love (Ephesians 5:1-2). If we claim Jesus as our Savior then we are held to that standard. We then have no excuse to not love even the most difficult of people. We see again in Romans 12:9-10 that we must really love others and hate what is wrong. Our love should be genuine! It needs to be a love that is willing to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:12-13.)
But where does the love start? Where does it come from? I certainly do not have enough strength or ability to love others the way that I am called too!
It starts with a whole-hearted pursuit of Jesus.
We can only overflow what we are putting in. When we are full of the Holy Spirit and in daily communication with our Father, love for others will spill out of us. I love the way that Francis Chan puts it in his book Crazy Love: “As we begin to focus more on Christ, loving Him and others becomes more natural. As long as we are pursuing Him, we are satisfied in Him. It is when we stop actively loving Him that we find ourselves restless and gravitating toward other means of fulfillment.” I know for myself that I am unable to love others well and in a Christ-like manner when I am seeking fulfillment from anywhere but Christ. I come up empty when my source for love, comfort, and identity comes elsewhere.
I can love others best when I am loving Jesus most. Active pursuit of Jesus will result in active love of others. I want my life to be filled with love for others — to do that I need to be filled with Jesus first.
“That’s because love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does.” – Bob Goff