Love?! What is that?

We hear a lot about love in our world and in our church. But what does it mean? And more importantly, how do I show love to others?

The world says love me by not disagreeing with me. Lovers say love me by meeting all my selfish desires. One church says love people by telling them about Jesus. Another church says love people by helping at a soup kitchen or mission.

While these have some element of truth to them, they all fall short of being satisfactory to me. The Apostle Paul said:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, 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. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV)

Now I am starting to see what is but I still don’t get how to do it. From the gospels:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)

He then went on to tell a story about a man:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’  “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:30-37 (NIV)

I think maybe I finally understand:

  • I must get out of my comfort zone to really show love to people.
  • I must get face to face with people to find out what their needs are.
  • I must not care so much about what the right crowd might say about me being with ‘those people’.
  • I must give of ‘my’ stuff to ease the sufferings of others.
  • I must go out of my way to check in on them.

So, what does that mean to me in my day to day existence? How do I get face to face with people when I may have only 20 minutes of actual face to face contact with all people in an average day? How do I check in on people from hundreds of miles away? Should I give to panhandlers on the street when I see them smoking and wearing better clothes than I have?

  • Maybe a good start would be to actually notice others in the truck stops instead of going in on a mission with my head down. Hmmm, actually notice other people?!
  • Maybe getting out of the truck and going in would help too instead of just sitting alone in the cab. Meet real people!
  • Maybe make up some give away food bags that I can hand out as needed.
  • Actually smile and be nice to people, even ones that are… grumpy.

To quote a movie (Mask of Zorro), ‘this is going to take a lot of work’….

Love & Hate

I am shocked! I think I have discovered one of the reasons there is such discord between Christ followers and unbelievers. We have wildly different definitions of words.

First this is how the words are defined to the world (from Merriam Webster):


  • strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
  • attraction based on sexual desire :  affection and tenderness felt by lovers
  • affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests 
  • intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury
  • extreme dislike or antipathy
  • an object of hatred

And this is how I have always understood them to be defined:

Love, whether used of God or man, is an earnest and anxious desire for and an active and beneficent interest ins the well-being of the one loved.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Hatred: A feeling of strong antagonism and dislike, generally malevolent and prompting to injury (the opposite of love); sometimes born of moral resentment.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Please note the difference especially in the definition of Love. The world says if you love me, you must like me, and if I don’t like what you do, I must hate you because I fear you. The church says love wants what is best for you. So when we tell someone that what they are doing is, according to our understanding, harmful or detrimental to their spirit, then are we not being loving? Of, course we can say it in a way that demeans or disrespects and then we have stooped to hatred. But to just say what we believe to be true should not be taken as hatred.

But the question is often asked, ‘what right have I to criticize another’s actions?’ The right of a Brother living in the same Family.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2 (NIV)

That is assuming that I am truly interested in helping my brother and not just playing some game of ‘I’m right, He’s wrong’, or one-upmanship. Now when there are honest differences of opinion over what is right or wrong, we should carefully go to the source of our knowledge (the Bible) and make sure we are hearing from it what God is saying.

Another common question is ‘Doesn’t the Bible tell us to not judge?’ Let’s take a look at that.

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  Matthew 7:1 (NIV)

The word translated Judge is also used elsewhere with the fuller meaning of condemn, as in pronounce eternal judgement. We are not to take the place of God and pass judgement on someone but we are to inspect each others’ lives and help them to be more Christlike.

My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back,  remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20 (NIV)

To those outside the Family I believe the first thing is to clearly show that we Love them and want what is best for them, then cogently lay out God’s salvation plan:

  • God loves each and everyone of us and wants to have a relationship with us.
  • Each of us has chosen our own way and spurned Him, thus killing any relationship with Him.
  • Jesus is the ONLY way back to a relationship with the Father.
  • All we have to do to have that relationship is to trust Him and believe.

After that the only thing we have to say is what Jesus said:

 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:34-38 (NIV)

Resolution or Covenant?

Today many people will be making promises to themselves to ‘do better’  this year. Whether it’s to lose weight, get in shape, get organized, or any number of other good things. We lightly call these resolutions. As we all know, these resolutions last, uhh, a short time! I too have made my share and very few, if any, were really followed for any length if time.

Instead of a resolution I am instead entering into a covenant with God.

What is the difference you ask? A resolution is a decision that I make and unilaterally implement. As such, anytime it becomes hard I can choose to reject that decision without any regret because, after all, it was just my own choice. A covenant involves two persons and is an agreement between them for a particular purpose and for a particular time. So, while I may still break the covenant, I know that I will be disappointing the other person if I do. This gives me accountability and gives me pause to consider should I want to abandon my decision.

I covenant before God:

  1. As He gives me the grace and power, and

  2. Until He gives me leave to stop,

  3. I will devote myself to fulfilling my life’s mission statement:

To know and be known by GOD through regular study and worship, and to make HIM known to family, friends, co-workers, and strangers in need, by speaking the truth in love, acts of service, and sharing GOD’s provision. Ever more consistent, honest and open, quick to forgive and ask forgiveness. Choosing to make evident the Fruit of the SPIRIT in my life, asking in all circumstances, “What Would Jesus Do?

  • Practicing daily spiritual disciplines as He leads, and

  • Reviewing and refining my daily actions to conform to the goals laid out here:

Upward – My experience with GOD


Inward – Learning to live as He would have me


Outward – Relating to other people in His name