Lately, I feel that God has been reminding me at every turn the paramount importance of love. After all, isn’t love at the very heart of our Christian walk? Not only does love strengthen and sweeten every other Christian character trait, but it should also provide an underlying motivation and guidance for everything we say and do. Ultimately, we are reflecting the character of Christ when we practice the character trait of love. It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of love when we have these commandments from Christ Himself:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 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.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40 NIV)
We might know what it feels like to love a spouse, children, or best friend … but what does love look like and how can you practice and demonstrate love toward “your neighbor”? When you deal with coworkers, clients, classmates, church-mates, bosses, people in stores, people on the road, strangers – how does this translate?
The Bible gives some very practical advice on what love looks like in your life.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV)
Love is one of our ministry’s core values … arguably the most important one. We asked our volunteers for practical ways to show love in the ministry & their everyday lives. There were several common themes:
- Show a sincere heart, concern and regard for others.
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5 NIV)
- Sincerely greets everyone with a smile and a word of encouragement.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as, in fact, you are doing. ( 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)
- Suspend all judgement and seek to understand others for where they have been and where they are now in their walk.
“Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37 NIV)
- Take the time to listen with your full attention and respond in a way that conveys you are interested in what they are saying and feeling. “Being listened to is so close to being loved, that most people can’t tell the difference” – David Augsberger
- Look for the person who might be feeling alone and isolated and help them feel included.
“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” (Psalm 26:16 NIV)
- Look for the gold in everyone, God gave each of us gifts.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)
- Look past outward appearances, but seek out the inner beauty in everyone.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV)
As you interact with others throughout your day, and especially when you are challenged by the behavior of others, think about Christ’s command to “love your neighbor…” Take the opportunity to act according to one of the suggestions above. That will be LOVE in ACTION!