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Friday, May 23, 2014

How Can We Possibly Love As God Commands?

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Jesus told the Pharisees, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37b-40).

And, it’s true. If you read the Ten Commandments, the first four are about loving God, and the last six loving others. (Exodus 20)

We read in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 the characteristics of love. 
  • Perseveres (verse 4)
  • Is kind (4)
  • Isn’t envious (4)
  • Doesn’t boast (4)
  • Doesn’t behave badly (5)
  • Isn’t selfish (5)
  • Doesn’t get easily angered (5)
  • Doesn’t think ugly thoughts (5)
  • Doesn’t rejoice in evil (6)
  • Rejoices in truth (6)
  • Forbears (7)
  • Is committed and trusting (7)
  • Hopes (7)
  • Endures (7)
  • Never ends (8)

Jesus also gave The New Commandment: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34).

God instructs husbands to love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). Also, Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them (Colossians 3:19).

Older women are to teach younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. (from Titus 3:4)

So, how can we do this? How can we love each other as Jesus loved, as God wants us to love?

I believe it’s possible for men to love their wives and for wives to love their husbands and children. God doesn’t command us to do the impossible. (The impossible is His job!)

A lot has to do with our approach to love and understanding of love. God’s love is our model. It’s an active love, a giving love, a sacrificial love. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

Love is viewing others as having more value than we do. It is totally unselfish. It’s being willing to yield rather than fight. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).

So how do we practice love?

Here are some ideas:
  1. Get an accurate view of self. You are a sinner saved by grace. You are not better than anyone else.
  2. Be humble. (Philippians 2:3, above)
  3. Value others as very important. Jesus gave His life for them. They should be important to you, too. (Romans 12:10)
  4. Work on specific 1 Corinthians 13 goals. (For example, if you tend to think negatively about others, ask the Lord to help you think good thoughts and give others the benefit of the doubt. Ask God to help you love those who have very real and obvious issues.) Develop 1 Corinthians 13 love in your daily life. You might want to concentrate on one at a time, maybe one a month. In a year, you’ll be a different person!
  5. In the family, show love with concrete, practical actions. Say “I love you” often and sincerely. Show your love in hugs and sincere compliments. Build up. Work on controlling anger. Work out any issues instead of letting them simmer. Help your children show courtesy and love.
  6. In your church, determine that you will be known as an encourager. (Barnabas is a great biblical model. See my post about Barnabas here.)
  7. Look for ways to show love to others. Become conscious of others’ needs.
  8. Pray for love for the difficult people in your life. Remember that the action of love depends on you, not on the objects of your loving actions.
  9. Let Jesus’ love shine through you. Get close to the Lord yourself, and you will freely love others, naturally.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 
(1 John 4:7)

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