Love

Guest Post by Mrs. Kim Harris

Love. When you hear the word it typically brings warm fuzzies, cute and cuddly images of people, family or friends, or special memories with them to our mind. But real love, God’s love, is that and so much more. Love is not just a strong emotional response or even an abstract idea, but a way of life and direct command from the Lord. It is how we are identified as believers in Christ. Love is deliberate, intentional, consistent, resilient and unshakable. Love is the very the character of God.

Loving others the way God commands us to can sometimes be hard because we don’t get to pick and choose who we love. Jesus said that if we only love those who love us, how are we any different? Even the ungodly do that. Love is a decision we make to be obedient to God to extend the same love He gives us to others, whether or not we think they are worthy. The Bible tells us we have to love our enemies, pray for and even bless them. In some situations, it may have to be from a distance but nevertheless, we have to do it. What does that look like on a daily basis? Maybe praying for the guy who cut you off on the way to work. Maybe it’s praying for and blessing the coworker who is rude to you. Maybe showing and sharing God’s love is just being kind to the frazzled mom with three kids in front of you at the grocery store.

There are a million little ways and opportunities each day that we can love other the way God wants us to if we will just stop and ask the Lord to show us how. You will be amazed at how it will change your whole perspective and increase your joy simply by being obedient and loving others the way God tells us to. Remember, His love never fails.

The one who doesn’t love has yet to know God, for God is love. ~ 1 John 4:8 TPT

Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:6-7 TPT

However, I say to you, love your enemy, bless the one who curses you, do something wonderful for the one who hates you, and respond to the very ones who persecute you by praying for them. For that will reveal your identity as children of your heavenly Father. He is kind to all by bringing the sunrise to warm and rainfall to refresh whether a person does what is good or evil. What reward do you deserve if you only love the loveable? Don’t even the tax collectors do that? How are you any different from others if you limit your kindness only to your friends? Don’t even the ungodly do that? ~ Matthew 5:44-47 TPT

Unconditional Love

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.–John 15:12

Let us love one another for love is of God. And everyone that loveth is born of God. And knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; For God is Love. –1 John 4: 7-8

The definition of unconditional reads, “absolute and not subject to any special terms or conditions; it’ll happen no matter what else happens.” This past year was difficult for everyone on the planet.

Period!

Being a teacher for over 16 years, I have learned that unconditional love requires an abundance of grace. It requires inclusion, patience and loving others as they are, not as you wish them to be. As a follower of the Christian faith I became increasingly disappointed this year with our response to the pandemic crisis which brought forth division in our country.

This division revealed a need for us to do better at loving one another. My purpose in writing this is to inspire you to do two things; (1) Take a deeper look at how you love others (2) Choose and commit to loving someone unconditionally.

Take a deeper look at how you love others

As we dive into the first commitment in looking at how we love others, let this quote sink in and resonate with your heart.

“You cannot accept God’s grace for your life until you let go of your own righteousness.”

The definition of righteousness is to act in accord with divine or moral law; to be free from guilt or sin. The later part of that definition is where we need to be honest with ourselves. None of us are free from sin. Is there righteousness, judgement or exclusion for those who look different from us or love, believe or think differently from us?

As Christians we don’t get to pick and choose who to love. One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou reads, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Let us not forget that our job is actually quite simple…to love one another. Everyday we have an opportunity to decide to live with an open heart. To choose to offer a warm hug, a friendly pat on the back or an encouraging word. That is Christ-like love!

Choose and commit to loving someone unconditionally.

As a child I always thought about people who lived in underdeveloped countries. The burning questions in my mind were… “What if no one tells them about God? What if the messenger never arrives? How can they be saved if they don’t know about the savior?”

With age comes wisdom and I know now that the answer is this….God is within us. Not just in some of us but in all of us. God is in every part of the earth, in every living creature, in every soul. So what should we do if we meet someone who is searching for inner peace and looking to nurture their soul? Maybe they are looking for spirituality, a higher power or something to believe in. Couldn’t we become the messenger simply by showing them love?

Providing a long list of all the things they need to do in order to become a Christian is not where we start. It starts with a genuine message that they are loved as they are and from there to model acceptance, grace and tolerance. To be an example not just in our word but in our actions.

We can say we believe that light and love can drive out hate, but are we showing love in action when confronted with hate? Do we show love in everything we do? Or are we stopping to wonder whether or not they are worthy of love? Not just love but unconditional love? I challenge you to choose someone this year to love unconditionally. This person should be someone who is not easy to love. It could be a coworker who doesn’t share your political views, an acquaintance who has a negative attitude or maybe it’s a complete stranger who needs someone to show them unconditional love.

I realized this year that it’s easy to love others when everything is going great but what about when things aren’t so great. Choosing to love is not easy. It requires a disciplined heart that chooses love over hate, light over darkness and compassion over judgement. In times of struggle and division we must realize the importance of being good to people and contemplate what is best for all of us, not just some of us. May we not let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and fearful. But instead let them make us kinder, more open to what could be, to choose wisely how we respond and more importantly…. how to love unconditionally!

You Must.

Guest Post by Mrs. Kylie Lyday

What keeps us from loving God and loving others the way we should?

Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT)

“Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I love how Jesus’ words in this scripture simply say “you must”. We do not have a choice.

That’s deep.

But what does it truly mean? I’m talking about loving the Lord with ALL of your heart, soul, and mind. It means every part of you is for him. This is not something to take lightly. We do this by giving up the life we want and seeking the one He wants for us. We have to allow our heart to truly beat for Him. Our mind also belongs to Him – not this world. We must sacrifice our personal wants, desires, and ways of this world the way He sacrificed his own life for us.

– It’s guarding your heart with His armor and strength.

– It’s allowing Him to work through you.

– It’s not allowing your mind to be filled with the worry, hurt, sins of this world but His truth only.

– It’s not trying to figure it all out on our own. But finding peace with where He has us. (Matthew 5:9)

Finally, if you’re going to love yourself, you have to see it through the Father’s eyes. If we’re going to love the person that cut us off in morning traffic, beat us to the front of the line, or let us down when we were counting on them, we’re going to have to see them through the Father’s eyes. Patient and forgiving. He is sufficient for what we need to live out his commands.

We must realize this. We must.