@omnarchy Great question - I wish I had the answer! We are indeed feeble creatures when it comes to love. Here are a few bits of advice from others that have helped me attempt to love better, though I so often fall far short.
Reflect on God’s Grace
After the Pharisees neglected to wash Jesus’ feet and a woman who had lived a sinful life anointed His feet with her tears, Jesus said this “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Self-righteousness smothers love faster than anything else in the world. Whatever you can do to remember the amazing grace of Christ - His love for us who deserve it not at all - we were blind, naked and poor before the Lord of Glory lifted us from the roadside, washed our wounds and clothed us in His righteousness. Oh that the King of Heaven was stricken for us - it is that truth above all else that can teach the heart to love!
Behave As if You Already Feel Love
C. S. Lewis said “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”
I think there is great wisdom there - the issue is not whether we feel love. But rather that we live into love. I think loving ‘truly’ is not about feeling but about action and the Holy Spirit. I do not think pretending to love is any use without the Spirit. It is the Spirit who gives life to our hearts and who empowers us as we obey God’s commands. God is love and the Spirit can fill us with that love and work through us in the absence of our feelings.
Love in Secret and Pray
I think the following excerpt from D. L. Moody is a good description of much of the love we find in the world - it is displayed publicly when necessary to maintain appearances. But in secret - in the heart - it is not there. To truly love others we must somehow - by God’s grace - love both in and out of their presence. We must not gossip about them or despise them in our hearts - but rather pray pray pray for their life, their family and their soul. Prayer and secret love are great teachers.
"There is a good deal of what you might call sham love. People profess to love you very much, when you find it is all on the surface. It is not heart love. Very often you are in a person’s house, and the servant comes in and says such a person is in the front room, and she says: “Oh, dear, I am so sorry he has come, I can’t bear the sight of him ;” and she’ll get right up and go into the other room and say, “Why, how do you do? I am very glad to see you!” [Laughter] There is a good deal of that sort of thing in the world.
I remember, too, I was talking with a man one day and an acquaintance of his came in, and he jumped up at once and shook him by the hand - why I thought he was going to shake his hand out of joint, he shook so hard - and he seemed to be so glad to see him and wanted him to stay, but the man was in a great hurry and could not stay, and he coaxed him and urged him to stay, but the man said no, he would come another time; and after that man went out my companion turned to me and said, “Well, he is an awful bore, and I am glad he’s gone.” Well, I began to feel that I was a bore, too, and I got out as quickly as I could. [Laughter] That is not real love. That is love with the tongue while the heart is not true. Now, let us not love in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth. That is the kind of love God gives us, and He wants the same in return."
Make a List of How You Can Put Others First Daily
If I am not intentional I do nothing - I just go about my daily routine and ignore others. I have a lot to get done. But I think it would help to make a list of practical ways I could respond in love - just like Daniel purposed in his heart to do what is right while in Babylon. Here are a few suggestions from a blog that I thought were helpful.
What are some that you guys would add to the list???
- Welcome people like friends rather than strangers
- Look to the needs of others
- Show hospitality
- Allow others to take off their masks
How to Deal with Overwhelming Need
Sometimes it seems like there are so many ways we can serve, how can we choose? I really like what Andy Stanley says - “Do for the one what you wish you could do for the many”. We cannot support every cause or love everyone as they need - we need to narrow down what and who God is calling us to in this season of our life. Being overwhelmed can cause us to do nothing, but having focus can help us love others better.
Invite God Into the Process
This song was one that helped me invite God into the process when I was first saved. I think we are all unique and have different times in our lives where different songs, sermons, pictures help us engage with God in the process.
Looking forward to what others have to share! This is an area in which I need to grow - it is so easy to judge others rather than loving them.