With Valentine’s day now a faint memory and all the chocolate candy hearts eaten, it seems wise to consider how we are doing in loving those around us.
Most of us, on most days, wake up with the goal of loving each other well. We try our best, but our efforts only take us so far. The truth is, because of our sinful nature, we end up hurting and disappointing those we love. I see this reality played out daily in my family. Couple of careless remarks, some impatient looks, often loud words and sometimes even silence make it just too easy to hurt each other. When this happens, isn’t it incredible that God pulls us out of these dreadful places of discouragement and shame! He miraculously turns our stone hearts to flesh, allows us to be humble to accept that we are more capable of hurting others than loving them!
So getting back to our goal, how can we love better? (I know, such a simple question, right? I might as well have asked you why we are here on Earth!)
On our own, without God, in the guise of being loving, we will fight to prove our worth to another. In trying to prove our worth to another, we will do everything in our power to prove how valuable we are to them. Do you see that this is not very loving?
But with God, we are now able to take the focus off of proving ourselves and begin to have eyes to see others. We can now focus on others, with no care to prove our worthiness to them. This doesn’t mean that we don’t care about what others think about us, we most certainly do! Actually, we care a lot because we love these others, but we no longer rely on them to define who we are. When we do begin to question our worth, especially during times of discouragement and shame, moment by moment, we ask God to remind us that we are his most beloved sons and daughters.
Jude 21 has this phrase, “…keep yourselves in the love of God…”, and this, my friends, might be key in our quest to love better!
Think about this for a minute, on an airplane, when the stewardess instructs us that in case of an emergency, we will need to put on our own oxygen masks first, before we try to help others. This makes 100% sense to us, as we will not save anyone if we ourselves are suffocating while trying to place the mask onto our loved ones’ faces!
The same way, Jude 21 reminds us that if we are not filled with God’s generous love for us, we will forever be trying to prove our worth to others. When we are convinced of God’s love for us and see our worth through his eyes, when our security and identity comes from God, we are able to love others unselfishly, expecting nothing in return. To the extent that our needy hearts believe this truth, is how extravagantly we will love others.
One final note, in our effort to love others better, do this one thing: think about that one person who you might have not loved well. Next time you interact with them, turn your body and heart towards him or her, however slight the turn may be. Be empathetic, interested, and curious! Jesus showed us how to love beautifully; his focus was not on himself, it was on those he loved and he went about caring for their souls and bodies.
Please take a moment to meditate on the many ways that God shows his love to you.
May you be inspired to turn towards another, and to do so with much humility, realizing that there is nothing that you need from that person, only to love them well.