How to Really Love Others

[Note: We are learning how to really live together. This isn’t an instruction guide. The posts in this series are my open journal.  Please include your thoughts in the comments. Let’s find out together how to really live!]


When I was in the seventh grade, I learned an unforgettable lesson on how to not love others. I was a Christian and made the fact known. Most days, I really tried to honor God in my junior high world. I even prayed for my unsaved classmates.

I ran hurdles (try not to laugh, because, lo, it was funny) for my school. My biggest competitor was a teammate. She was faster, better and I didn’t like it. At the District meet, I walked up to a group from my school and I started talking ugly about her. I gossiped and criticized and completely left Jesus in the bleachers. One of the girls caught my attention and pointed to the girl sitting at my feet: the very one I was talking badly about.

I was dumbfounded. Convicted. Embarrassed. And pretty much spent the rest of the school year, rebuilding my reputation as a Christian.

I’ve learned well how not to love others. I’m still in school on learning how to love others well.

I will tell you this: We cannot really love God, if we do not really love people (even, especially the ones that are hard to love).

It’s one of the hard sayings in the Bible: “If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.” -I John 4:20-21

So. How can we really love people?

Put Others in Front of Ourselves

Practice Really Loving God


Put Others First
-Let’s face it: our natural tendency is to take care of ourselves. We are good at it-experts! We know what we like, when we like it and we want it our way. This crazy, commandment, the second greatest of all by God is basically impossible. Loving other people, as much as or more than we love ourselves?

Practice Really Loving God-That takes us right back to the first commandment. When we really, truly love God, He gives us the supernatural capacity to really love others-more than we love ourselves.

[Of all the people in the world, moms are the closest to really getting this. We love our kids more than we love ourselves. We give them the first bite, lay in bed for weeks on end to keep their unborn lives safe, endure years of painful infertility, give them a kidney…the list is endless. Moms love their kids unselfishly. But we still struggle with loving others, putting them in front of ourselves.]

I’m learning and asking God to expand my love for others.

How do you really love others?

******************************

Further Resources:

Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself part 1

Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself part 2–these are powerful sermons by John Piper.

List of 100 tangible ways to love others

Comments

  1. 2

    says

    What a beautiful post. I’m so glad that I found your blog. We cannot really love God, if we do not really love people: what an amazing message.

  2. 3

    says

    Thank you for this post. I love it. I have a lesson I’m preparing for church, and it’s on the pride of the world, and so this has so so so been on my mind. It’s like we’re all clammering to be better than one another; trying to be “special”– we’re searching for self-esteem. We think it’s all me me me. And the sad thing is, we’ll never find that “special”-ness, or that we’re better than other people, if we look to worldly things. And yet, God loves us. We can turn to Him. And when we lose ourselves to others, that’s when we’re happiest.

    I swear that came out a lot better in my head. :)

  3. 4

    says

    There times when putting others first means doing for them. There are times when putting others first means letting go of yourself (selfishness, hurt feelings and desires). I want to grow in this area. I can always improve.

  4. 7

    says

    What a great post. I completely agree that we are not truly loving God when we are not treating His people with love and compassion. I was reminded of this just yesterday morning when I was getting off the subway. Everyone immediately crowds around these narrow stairs and tries to get up them as quickly as possible. Normally I would do the same without thinking about it, but for some reason yesterday morning I really looked at the person standing next to me, and I let her go first. Suddenly a scripture popped into my head: “he who is last shall be first.” I think sometimes we are so intent on being first everywhere in our lives, that we forget the humble obedience to God in letting others go first. Obviously letting someone up the stairs first isn’t any huge sacrifice, but I think doing those little things, just realizing that those around us are children of God too, gets us in the habit of loving each other.

  5. 8

    says

    If love is a VERB then I loe others by being active for them. In my prayer life, as well as my daily life. I believe making myself -*my heart* available is the best way I can love….

    It’s certainly the way I want to be loved !

  6. 9

    says

    I’m loving this series. I desire to love others selflessly, but although my spirit is willing, sometimes (often times) my flesh is so very weak. We’re trying to teach our boys to show love to others, too, and it’s interesting and convicting to watch my oldest struggle with it sometimes just like I do.

    Going to go click on your links now!

  7. 10

    Renee says

    For the past two months my husband has been a living example of Christ’s love to a woman at his office. She was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer just before Thanksgiving. A single mother with four children, three at home and one in college, struggling with other family members living in her home but not contributing, Claire had no one to depend on in her time of need. So my husband, who had prayed with her and helped her many times over the past few years, came along side her and walked with her all the way to end of her journey. He went to doctors’ appointments with her, stayed at the hospital so she wouldn’t be alone, helped her and her 22 yr old daughter with family matters and decisions that no 22 yr old should have to make alone, read scripture and prayed with her, introduced our pastor to her who helped her come to terms with her salvation, and he was by her side when she passed away last Thurs. It was a humbling experience to watch my husband through this and to support him as best I could by taking care of things at home with our four children so he could be with his friend. I pray they will learn from his example and grow up to be just like him.

  8. 11

    says

    Hi there,
    I just found your blog today and LOVE IT!!!! I’m blogging about living a life of love this week too. Today I wrote that we need to “Become a testimony.” If we don’t love others, how will they ever know of God’s love.

    Thanks for the encouragement!!!!

    God bless!

  9. 12

    says

    I think that the ability to truly love others is in a direct proportion to understanding and seeing the big picture. When I was a little girl, I saw a man beating up a woman on the streets of Philadelphia, where I was raised That’s when I made my first decision to try to love others because there were nasty people in the world After I became a Christian and traveled to some interesting places, I realized even more that my life was to be an extension of God’s love…..His hands and His feet….PERIOD. Killing my flesh daily has been interesting though! Love your blog.

  10. 13

    says

    One example: Not just sponsoring a child, but investing beyond the monthly cost of sponsorship… communicate, nurture, ask, answer, pray, love, encourage, celebrate, cherish, visit… connect. That child isn’t a photo on a refrigerator, but a heir to the King. Lift them up to Him.

  11. 15

    says

    Great message! I think the “practice really loving God” ties in well with your first point with “putting others first”. Having a servant heart is so important to share God’s love with others. 1 John 4:7 also reaffirms that, we know love because we know Jesus.

  12. 16

    says

    When I was in seventh grade, I gossipping came back to bite me in a big way. It made for a really painful year, but it is one of the biggest lessons I have ever learned in my life. It sticks with me today. Love this postd! You are so right if you love God a love of people is a natural by product. Y

  13. 18

    says

    Oh I love this post. This is so my hearbeat not to just know how to live but to actually DO IT. I don’t always get it right though. I think just getting over ourselves is the biggest obstacle and realizing God’s plans are so much better than ours.

  14. 21

    Adina Schenkenberger says

    I love the turn your blogging has taken in recent months. You’ve always come across to me as someone who is doing her best to be genuine and real, and that quality of your blogging has stayed the same. But God is taking you deeper, and I see that every time I check in here.

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