“This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves” (1 John 3:16-20).
I heard something today in a sermon that struck home. The pastor, Aaron Bryant, basically said that many of us are so concerned about loving people that we neglect to love the person in front of us at any given moment. We can get so caught up in the theoretical idea of love in a general sense that we fail to love our neighbor in a very practical sense.
It’s one thing to talk of loving people, but quite another to love that difficult co-worker or that annoying neighbor. Maybe it’s a brother or sister that you don’t get along with and haven’t spoken to for weeks or months.
God does have a sense of humor. When you ask God for patience, He will send you to a situation or a person who will try what little patience you have. When you pray for someone to love, often He confronts you with someone who while not completely unlovable is far from easy to love.
Remember in those times that you were once that unlovable person. In loving you, God made you lovable. Maybe when you love someone else with that kind of love, they will become lovable as well. The most effective testimony is loving people well, especially those of the faith. The calling card of the early Church was how well they loved each other.
How can you love not just in general but specifically and practically? It starts with making time for that person. Making a phone call, sending a text, paying a visit, meeting that person for coffee, or making them feel welcome when they move into your neighborhood.
There’s a word for people who claim to love God but don’t love His people– hypocrites. If you say one thing and live another, you automatically invalidate your message.
As the Apostle John said, let’s love not just in word or speech or in theory but in deed and truth.