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 neighbour as yourself. – Matthew 22:37-39
God loves everyone—and He calls us to do the same selflessly, without expectation of something in return. Love is given utmost importance in His Word the Bible. We are expected to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind—and to love our neighbour as the Lord Jesus tells us in Luke 10:27 – He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”.
What is love?
The ‘Love Verse’ at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is an oft-quoted Scripture that reminds us love is patient and kind; not envious, boastful, or full of pride. How can we apply this in 2021?
We build our relationship with God mainly through Bible Study, praying and fellowship with other believers. The Lord has provided His Word as a means to grow in our faith. Praying regularly, going to church, and spending time with our church family will also encourage us in our love for God, but there is more we need to do. We may love Him, but how can we truly serve Him if we ignore the most important thing we are commanded: to love? Loving God means loving others—an important detail we must never overlook. GOD IS LOVE.
…if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:2
LOVE IS BIGGER THAN FEELINGS
Love is more than just an emotion. Feeling can be a part of love—we have romantic relationships, share friendships, and develop a fondness for other people—but that does not define love. Love is also action, service, courtesy, and forgiveness. Sending an encouraging card or words of sympathy when someone is going through a difficult time will remind them that they are loved—by God and the people in their life. You don’t have to carry the feeling of love in order to share love with others.
Love is a choice. We can choose to respond thoughtfully in any situation when we allow our decisions to be guided by His love.
Let all that you do be done in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:14
LOVE IS HOSPITALITY
Let’s open our hearts to others. Hospitality is not hosting a party to impress others, but rather a way to show our love for our family, friends, and neighbours.
We don’t need to go beyond our means to show our loving care. Meet a need in someone’s life—provide a ride to a doctor’s appointment for an elderly person from your community or send a jacket and packaged meal to someone who may be less fortunate. Offering what you can in someone’s time of need shows the love we are expected to have for our neighbor.
Jesus was able to offer Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, His unconditional, irrevocable, pure love and forgiveness for her sins. Mary responded with an act that showed her gratitude to Jesus—she poured out her love and devotion when she washed His feet with her tears, dried them with her own hair, then anointed Him with an expensive perfume as we read in John 12: 1- 8. When onlookers criticized the act as wasteful, Jesus reminded them that her great sins had been forgiven through an act of His own love—in return, she provided Him a beautiful gesture of love in the way she was able.
WHEN LOVE IS DIFFICULT
Love can be a sacrifice, as God Himself showed when He sent us His Son. Jesus showed us the same love when He went to the cross to die for our sins. Loving somebody may be difficult as well, but Jesus calls for us to love our enemies. Who are the enemies in our lives? Who are difficult to love? Maybe we have an overbearing relative, someone from work we don’t get along with, or a neighbour who just seems impossible.
Loving our enemies simply means we treat them with respect—regardless of whether they show us respect in return. We must pray to the Lord for strength and guidance in order to fulfill His commandment, especially since we cannot often find it within ourselves. Loving our enemies may mean pledging not to cause harm—even to their reputation or feelings. We do not speak ill of those with whom we do not get along, nor do we wish them ill. Loving someone may mean offering forgiveness or withholding judgement. “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” – Luke 6:35
THREE STRATEGIES TO CHOOSE LOVE IN 2021
1) Love through prayer. The Lord has commanded us to love, but He does not expect us to do it on our own. Let us pray for His guidance, asking Him to help us see people through His eyes. Through God, we can gain the strength to love those who may be difficult to love. Let’s humble ourselves before the Lord—because sometimes we may be difficult to love as well.
2) Love through action. Though love isn’t all service, it is a large part of it. We serve God by loving each other, and we can serve others in love. Let’s put love into action by volunteering, helping our neighbour with some work, or introducing someone to the love of God found in His Word.
3) Love through attentiveness. Family and friends love to feel loved. Let us offer recognition of the time and effort put into the dinner on the table, concern when they’re unhappy, or words of affirmation when they need some encouragement. Simply being available can show our love in big ways.
We know how it feels to be on the receiving end of love, so let us joyfully spread love to others. When we consider the gift of God’s unconditional love, we realize how truly blessed we are to be loved by Him. Loving others is therefore how we show Him we are listening and want to do as He does. Not only does sharing love make others feel good, it lifts you up as well. Go into the new year with a heart full of love. Jesus puts it beautifully in John 15:9-11: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
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