[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?
Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself part 2–these are powerful sermons by John Piper.
List of 100 tangible ways to love others