Loving Others Wholeheartedly
What is the great desire of God’s heart? It is to love Him with all of our being. However, it is also to love others wholeheartedly as well. While we may think that we have these 2 great commands down, a closer look at what love is, reveals that loving others is more difficult than one might think.
What is love? According to the Bible, there are 3 essential elements of true love. It is not so much a feeling, but rather it is these three things:
First, love is loyalty. In order to truly love someone, you will remain loyal to them even during difficult times. In fact, you will even continue in your faithfulness and loyalty to them when after they have wronged you. We know that love is loyalty (commitment, faithfulness, allegiance) because at every wedding, the groom and bride always swear a vow of commitment and loyalty. They vow that they will remain loyal to the other regardless of the circumstance of life.
Application: Think of the people in your life. Ask the Lord to reveal to you someone that you can have a greater loyalty (love) toward. It may be someone who is very close to you, such as a spouse, child, friend, or parent. However, it may be someone that, until now, you have never given a second thought to. Perhaps there is a neighbor or coworker that you could be committed and faithful to and even sacrifice of your time, treasure, and talents for no other reason than to glorify and please Jesus who sacrificed His life out of eternal loyalty and faithfulness to you!
Second, love is adoration. Do we have to like the people that we love? Absolutely. Imagine if God said to you that He was willing to be loyal and committed to but would probably never like you because of your sins, flaws, and weaknesses. Would you feel loved? Probably not. Thankfully, God has given Christians a new heart that has the ability to see the beautiful Christ-like attributes of kindness, goodness, joy, faithfulness, integrity, etc. in others. Unfortunately, if someone has been rude or unkind to you in the past, our minds focus on those negative aspects of others. We often have a difficult time seeing past people’s sins. However, with our new hearts, we can love others with a great adoration that pleases and honors God if we allow the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of our hearts.
Application: Think about the people in your life. Pray and ask God to open the eyes of your heart to see the beautiful Christ-like attributes in others. Ask Him to help you to see beyond the sinfulness and flaws of others and instead to show you His wonderful image in others so that you can love them with the kind of adoring love that He intends for you to have for others.
Third, love is action. 1 John 3:18 says, “Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” It is not enough to simply love others in our hearts. We must love others in tangible ways with our hands and feet. Even though almost every parent loves their child dearly, how often do we hear their children grow up to say that they never felt loved by their parents. Why the disconnect? Even though loving our children in our hearts comes naturally for us as parents, loving our children with actions in ways that they can actually experience our love is very difficult. We have to remember that others cannot read our minds or hearts. We cannot assume that because we love someone greatly, that they automatically experience that love. Loving and kind actions are not only a way that we “show” our love for others, it is love. If we are not constantly loving our spouses, children, siblings, friends, and neighbors through action, we falling short of the kind of love that God calls us to have.
Application: Think about the people that you love. Are you loving them through actions? When was the last time that you loved them in a very tangible ways through sacrificial actions? Do you know the love language of each person in your life? Pray and ask the Lord to open your eyes to those who are in need of love through action.
As we think about love as loyalty, adoration, and action, the first thing that should come to our minds is how far short we fall of loving others with a true, complete, and biblical love. The truth is that we have such a difficult time loving others because our natural focus is to look out for #1. However, we are motived, inspired, and moved to love others with a Christ-like others when we realize that despite our lack of love, God continues to forgive and to love us perfectly…through His neverending, never-failing loyalty, adoration, and actions towards us.