Do you believe loving people is difficult to do sometimes?
When you get caught up in bad traffic, sometimes it’s tough trying to respond with a loving spirit.
Or maybe you have trouble dealing with difficult coworkers or customers at work. You try to think about how Jesus would respond, but that’s really hard to do in the moment!
I won’t even bring up the challenge it can be to show love on social media! Online interaction can be another outlet to show the love of Jesus, but it can also be another cause of frustration.
But we all know loving people is part of being a follower of Jesus. So why is it so hard to do sometimes?
There is a better way to go about loving people. And I mean really loving them the way God wants us to.
Let’s take a look at what Jesus has to say about loving others:
“‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’Matthew 22:36–39 TPT
Jesus answered him, ‘Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you.’ This is the great and supreme commandment. And the second is like it in importance: ‘You must love your friend in the same way you love yourself.'”
Here’s the interesting part about Jesus’ response. He was asked to name the greatest commandment, but he felt compelled to name not one, but two.
Many people don’t have a problem with loving God with everything in them; they just often fall short of learning to love people. But I’ve found that when I learned to love people passionately, my love for God increased!
Have you ever heard that saying, “While we teach, we learn?”
This principle comes into play when we start putting love into practice. As we begin loving others, we are also teaching ourselves just how much God loves us. We realize: “If I am able to forgive and give grace to people who are hard to love, then just how deep is God’s love for me?”
“Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!”Ephesians 3:18–19 TPT
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.
But how can we start putting love into practice practically?
A struggle for many people is that they think they can’t love others if they don’t “feel like it.” They want their heart-motive to be “right” before they start trying to love people practically. And they spend a lot of time checking their heart, asking God to make them more loving.
There’s another way to go about this. Yes, prayer can change your heart and God can certainly give you a new perspective for a person or situation. But you can also use your actions to lead your heart. This strategy helps you learn to be spirit led, not emotionally led.
For example, if you’re having issues with a particular coworker, you don’t have to wait for those good, warm feelings to come before you start loving. Just ask yourself: “What would I do if this person were my friend?” Then act in that way!
Maybe you can bring them their favorite beverage in the morning. Maybe you can go out of your way to help them with their workload. Or maybe you can simply ask them to go out with you for lunch.
There are so many creative ways to love others, and you don’t have to wait until you feel like it! Simply act, and the loving feelings will follow the loving actions.
Still don’t know where to begin when it comes to loving others? It’s okay. You don’t have to walk this journey on your own.
There are people out there who are great at being loving. You’ve probably met these people. They’re the ones who seem to always know how to offer hope in terrible situations, or they are the people others look to for wisdom and counsel.
It’s okay to follow their example! Even Paul encouraged others to follow his example as he followed Christ.
“I want you to pattern your lives after me, just as I pattern mine after Christ.”1 Corinthians 11:1 TPT
You’re not starting from scratch. Others have walked this journey of loving people and they had obstacles in their paths, too. You can overcome these obstacles by doing small acts of love consistently over time.
When I was still working out the kinks in my loving-others strategy, I used to sit alone and read my Bible on my lunch break at work. Reading the Bible is a great thing to do, but it also can cause us to separate ourselves from others.
There’s this idea that if we follow Jesus, we must only surround ourselves with others who follow him, too. But we don’t want our goal to be separating ourselves from those who need God’s love. Of course not! We need to love them.
Jesus understood this, and even hung out with people who were considered sinners. People even went so far as to accuse him of being a glutton and drunkard.
“Yet when the Son of Man came and went to feasts and drank wine, you said, ‘Look at this man! He is nothing but a glutton and a drunkard. He spends all his time with tax collectors and other notorious sinners.'”Luke 7:34 TPT
Yes, Jesus was accused of hanging out with the wrong crowd, but he gave us an example that he wants us to follow.
I recommend you find ways to connect with people and not worry about what they believe. Going to coffee or lunch or watching a sports game are great starters if you do not do this already. You might be surprised at how much people want to be around you, especially when they realize you do not judge them.
Just be a good friend, a good coworker, someone pleasant to be around. If you can do that, you’re already well on your way to loving people in a powerful way!
Loving others the way you love yourself isn’t always easy, but it’s always rewarding and so worth it! If you can learn to love by putting it into action through the practical steps revealed above, soon it will come more naturally!
Get ready to understand God’s love for you more than ever before!
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